Criminal Law Forum

, Volume 26, Issue 1, pp 73–99 | Cite as

R2P and the ICC: At Odds or in Sync?

  • Kurt MillsEmail author


The first years of the new millennium witnessed two global normative and institutional developments in efforts to deal with mass atrocities. These are the responsibility to protect (R2P) norm and the International Criminal Court (ICC). R2P provides a normative framework for preventing and stopping mass atrocity situations, such as genocide and crimes against humanity, in particular through the United Nations. The ICC goes beyond the normative to provide a global, if not universal, institution designed to punish perpetrators and, hopefully, deter future atrocities. They are both tied into the twentieth century global human rights project, as well as the highest reaches of global geopolitics. Both have featured in recent conflicts, yet there is an uneasy relationship between the two which can make conflict management more difficult. In this article I will examine this relationship. I begin by briefly outlining the development of R2P and the ICC. I then discuss the potential positive and negative interactions between the two, using recent cases to illustrate key points. I conclude by considering how the international community might support the use of R2P and the ICC together, including considering the implications of referring an ongoing conflict to the ICC, making clear that all parties to a conflict are subject to potential ICC investigations, and providing normative and practical support for the ICC by, for example, facilitating the arrest of ICC suspects by UN peacekeeping forces.


Security Council International Criminal Court International Criminal Rome Statute Military Action 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of GlasgowGlasgowUK

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