The International Criminal Court in The Hague opened its doors 10 years ago amid buoyant optimism and sharp criticism. Supporters of the ICC hope that a permanent criminal court ensures the worst human rights offenders -- those who have committed genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity -- are brought to justice, and that nation states will progressively structure their own criminal systems so that genocidaires will face a fair trial before their own people and their own courts. Some critics of the ICC argue that the Court is biased against countries like the U.S., and that it jeopardizes national sovereignty through falsely claiming to be apolitical. Other critics say that the ICC is biased against the entire region of Africa, noting that so far the ICC has indicted only Africans. Still others say that the ICC process is slow and expensive, noting that after ten years the Court has only completed one prosecution.
One decade later, how should the international community assess the ICC? How fair are allegations against the ICC of bias and politicization? Have nation states really given over their national sovereignty to the ICC? Have the ICC, the ad hoc tribunals (the ICTY and the ICTY) and hybrid tribunals (those in Sierre Leone, Cambodia and East Timor) had a deterrent effect on would-be genocidaires? More broadly, what are the pros and the cons of the international criminal justice system, and its less formal cousins such as truth and reconciliation commissions and gacacca? Does the ICC present a fairer and cheaper alternative to war?