The International Criminal Court and Reparations: Judicial Innovation or Judicialisation of a Political Process?

In: International Criminal Law Review
Author: Owiso Owiso1
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  • 1 Doctoral Researcher, Public International Law, University of Luxembourg, Luxembourg,
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The Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court bestows reparative powers upon the court, a significant development in international criminal justice. However, the court still struggles to effectively discharge this mandate. This article proceeds on the assumption that reparations for mass atrocities are best handled through domestic political processes rather than international criminal justice processes. The article interrogates the effectiveness of the court’s reparative powers by testing them as against the court’s practice, specifically in the Lubanga, Katanga and Al-Mahdi cases. The article concludes that despite noble intentions, practical realities and difficulties make doubtful the court’s suitability as a reparative forum for mass atrocities. Nevertheless, in the absence of a more suitable alternative for effective and meaningful reparations, the article proposes policy reforms to achieve robust reparative complementarity between the court and transitional states, and complementarity between the court’s reparative mandate and the Trust Fund for Victims’ assistance mandate.

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