In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section The International Criminal Court

  • Introduction
  • Primary Materials
  • Introductory Materials to the ICC
  • Legal Reference Works
  • Toward a Permanent International Criminal Court
  • The Building of the International Criminal Court
  • Prosecutorial Discretion
  • Relationship with the Security Council
  • Criminal Procedure at the ICC
  • Practices At and Around the ICC
  • The Kampala Amendments to the Rome Statute (2010) on the Crime of Aggression
  • Victims and the International Criminal Court
  • The ICC in a Political World
  • The ICC and Other Forms of Global Governance
  • The ICC in Situation Countries
  • The ICC and Africa
  • The ICC and Peace
  • The ICC and Gender
  • Critical Reflections on Scholarship about the ICC

International Law The International Criminal Court
Sarah M.H. Nouwen, Richard Clements
  • LAST REVIEWED: 24 February 2021
  • LAST MODIFIED: 23 August 2022
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199796953-0156


The International Criminal Court (ICC or “the Court”) is the world’s first permanent international court enforcing international criminal law. The ICC has attracted enormous scholarly attention from both lawyers and non-lawyers. Entire journals have been filled with commentaries on its legal framework—primarily the Rome Statute by which it was created—and the case-law developing that framework. But as the breadth of research on the ICC in non-legal disciplines demonstrates, the Court’s relevance goes far beyond the application and development of international criminal law; even without much judicial activity, it produces wide-ranging consequences in the world. Much material on the ICC is subsumed in literature on international criminal tribunals or international criminal law generally. This article focuses on literature specific to the ICC rather than international criminal law (ICL) to include a different set of engagements and questions than substantive criminal law (for instance genocide, modes of liability, or defenses). Separate Oxford Bibliographies entries exist for these topics.

Primary Materials

Before reading any of the secondary material, one should consult core primary material such as the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (keeping in mind the amendments, and the procedures for the entry into force of the amendments, reflected in Depository Notification C.N.533.2010.TREATIES-6, Depository Notification C.N.651.2010.TREATIES-8, Depository Notification C.N.7.2016.TREATIES-XVIII.10), Depository Notification C.N.116.2018.TREATIES-XVIII.10, the Rules of Procedure and Evidence and the Elements of Crimes. It is advisable to check the literature against these primary materials: some secondary material is based on assumptions about, rather than a careful reading of, the legal framework. For the case law, see International Criminal Court or the ICC Legal Tools database.

  • Depository Notification C.N.533.2010.TREATIES-6: Adoption of Amendment to Article 8.

    This depository notification of the Secretary-General of the United Nations contains the amendment to Article 8 of the Statute adopted by the Review Conference of the Rome Statute, and the procedure for the entry into force of the amendment. As a result of the amendment, the Court now has jurisdiction over three offenses involving the use of certain weapons when used in situations of non-international armed conflicts.

  • Depository Notification C.N.651.2010.TREATIES-8: Adoption of Amendments on the Crime of Aggression.

    This depository notification of the Secretary-General of the United Nations contains amendments adopted with respect to the crime of aggression by the 2010 Review Conference of the Rome Statute, and the procedure for the entry into force of the amendments. The amendments include, inter alia, a definition of the crime of aggression and provisions on the Court’s jurisdiction over the crime.

  • Depository Notification C.N.7.2016.Treaties-XVIII.10: Amendment to Article 124 of the Rome Statute (2016).

    This depository notification of the Secretary-General of the United Nations contains the amendment to Article 124 adopted by the Fourteenth Assembly of States Parties, and refers to the provisions for its entry into force. The amendment deletes Article 124, a “transitional provision” that allowed a state, upon becoming a party to the Statute, to declare that for a period of seven years it would not accept the Court’s jurisdiction over war crimes committed on its territory or by its nationals.

  • Depository Notification C.N.116.2018. TREATIES-XVIII.10: Amendment to Article 8 of the Rome Statute.

    This depository notification of the Secretary-General of the United Nations contains the amendment to Article 8 of the Statute adopted by the Sixteenth Assembly of States Parties. The amendment makes it an offence to use weapons containing microbial or other biological agents or toxins during armed conflict.

  • Elements of Crimes.

    As per Article 9 of the Rome Statute, the Assembly of States Parties has adopted Elements of Crimes to assist the Court in the interpretation and application of the articles containing the definitions of the crimes within its subject-matter jurisdiction.

  • ICC Legal Tools.

    This free online database includes much more than ICC records, but when it comes to finding ICC decisions, it is more user friendly than the ICC’s website.

  • International Criminal Court.

    The Court’s website contains many essential primary materials on the Court’s work, including decisions and judgments. The updated website has made it easier to search for specific documents. For case law, one can either search per investigation and case (click on the tab “situations and cases”) or use the “documents” shortcut to “court records.”

  • Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.

    Adopted in Rome on 17 July 1998, the Statute is the treaty that both creates and governs the ICC. After sixty ratifications, the Statute entered into force on 1 July 2002. In addition to a preamble setting forth the aspirations of the States Parties, the Statute contains provisions on the Court’s establishment, jurisdiction, admissibility and applicable law, general principles of criminal law, composition and administration, investigation, and prosecution, as well as the trial, penalties, international cooperation, the Assembly of States Parties, and treaty law.

  • Rules of Procedure and Evidence.

    In accordance with Article 51(1) of the Statute, the ICC’s Rules of Procedure and Evidence were adopted by the Assembly of States Parties at its first session in September 2002 (ICC-ASP/1/3). In the case of conflict between the Statute and the Rules, the Statute prevails (Article 51(5) Statute). The Assembly of States Parties periodically amends the Rules (ICC-ASP/10/Res.1, ICC-ASP/11/Res.2, ICC-ASP/12/Res.7, and ICC-ASP/17/Res.2), so it is useful to consult the ICC website to ensure one is reading the latest version.

back to top

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content on this page. Please subscribe or login.

How to Subscribe

Oxford Bibliographies Online is available by subscription and perpetual access to institutions. For more information or to contact an Oxford Sales Representative click here.