On 14 March 2012, Trial Chamber I (hereinafter ‘the Chamber’) of the International Criminal Court (‘ICC’ or ‘the Court’) delivered the long awaited first judgment of the Court (‘the judgment’). This comment focuses exclusively on the legal issues dealt with in the judgment but pretends to do this comprehensively. It critically analyses the following five subject matters with the respective legal issues: definition and participation of victims; presentation and evaluation of evidence; nature of the armed conflict; war crime of recruitment and use of children under fifteen years (Article 8(2)(e)(vii) ICC Statute); and, last but not least, co-perpetration as the relevant mode of responsibility, including the mental element (Articles 25, 30). While this article follows the order of the judgment for the reader’s convenience and to better represent the judgment’s argumentative sequence, the length and depth of the inquiry into each subject matter and the respective issues depend on their importance for the future case law of the Court and the persuasiveness of the Chamber’s own treatment of the issue. The article concludes with some general remarks on aspects of drafting, presentation and referencing.
The article analyses whether international criminal procedure is "adversarial", "inquisitorial" or mixed. It examines the law of the ICTY and the ICC, including the relevant case law. This law has developed from an adversarial to a truly mixed procedure by way of various amendments of the ICTY's Rules of Procedure and Evidence (RPE) and the drafting of the Rome Statute merging civil and common law elements in one international procedure. It is no longer important whether a rule is either "adversarial" or "inquisitorial" but whether it assists the Tribunals in accomplishing their tasks and whether it complies with fundamental fair trial standards. As to an efficient trial management an UN Expert Group called for a more active role of the judges, in particular with regard to the direction of the trial and the collection of evidence. In this context, it is submitted that a civil law like judge-led procedure may better avoid delays produced by the free interplay of the parties. Ultimately, however, the smooth functioning of a judicial system depends on its actors, procedural rules provide only a general framework in this regard. A truly mixed procedure requires Prosecutors, Defence Counsel and Judges who have knowledge of both common and civil law and are able to look beyond their own legal systems.