Center for American Progress

RELEASE: CAP Report Takes Stock of International Justice Over the Past Quarter Century
Press Release

RELEASE: CAP Report Takes Stock of International Justice Over the Past Quarter Century

Washington, D.C. — Nearly 20 years after the founding of the International Criminal Court (ICC), a new report from the Center for American Progress takes stock of the progress and challenges facing international justice.

The report takes a comprehensive look at the record of the ICC and other international tribunals that have investigated and prosecuted those responsible for genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity, and other atrocities.

While the evolution of international justice has been remarkably rapid over the past two-and-a-half decades, the report notes that progress has been highly uneven, often deeply controversial, and not entirely impartial in its application. At the same time, the number of those held accountable for the most egregious acts against human rights has steadily risen, and even heads of state now realize they can no longer act with absolute impunity.

Overall, these tribunals have investigated more than 300 cases, indicted more than 700 individuals, and obtained more than 250 convictions. Of those indicted, 36 percent have been convicted, including Liberian President Charles Taylor, Bosnian Serb general Ratko Mladić, and Congolese Vice President Jean-Pierre Bemba.

Still, the challenges ahead are stark, the report says. The professionalism, competency, and impartiality of these tribunals varies greatly. And the power of the ICC is limited by the failure of all nations to sign the court’s founding treaty, the Rome Statute. The United States is the most high-profile nation not to have signed on, though it remains among the ICC’s most important supporters. The treaty is now supported by more than 120 countries, but for international justice to be truly effective, it must become a global standard to which all are held equally, the report says.

“As international justice reaches a critical crossroads, the need for defenders of the rule of law, international justice, and accountability to step forward and make their voices heard has never been more pressing,” said Carolyn Kenney, senior policy analyst for National Security and International Policy at CAP and co-author of the report.

Read the report: “International Justice on Trial? Taking Stock of International Justice Over the Past Quarter Century,” by Carolyn Kenney and John Norris

For more information on this topic or to speak with an expert, please contact Sam Hananel at or 202.478.6327.