Browse by Region
The relationship between the ICC and the Security Council is important and unique because:
- the ICC is an independent judicial institution but Rome Statute recognizes a specific role for the Security Council; and
- the Security Council regularly discusses issues and themes relevant to the mandate and activities of the Court.
From Security Council member tensions regarding ICC referral of the situation in Syria, to the US requests for immunity from the ICC for peacekeeping personnel, to regular US opposition to references to the ICC in relevant resolutions, to the referral of the situation in Darfur to the prosecutor of the ICC, the Security Council has been the theater of heated debate about the ICC in recent years.
This section documents the Security Council discussions pertaining to the ICC. In some instances, Security Council members have made efforts to undermine the Court, while on other occasions governments have promoted and advanced the Court.
This section provides information regarding recent Security Council themes and resolutions:
The Conflict in Syria
The UN estimates that since the start of the conflict in Syria there have been over 10,000 civilian deaths. Many nations and civil society groups hope for a Security Council referral of the situation in Syria to the prosecutor of the ICC. Despite a global outcry against the Syrian conflict, the issue of Security Council intervention remains hotly contested between permanent Council members, with Russia and China vetoing Council resolutions.
Resolution 1970 – Libya (referral of the situation in Libya to the Prosecutor of the ICC)
Unanimously adopting Resolution 1970 on 26 February 2011, the Security Council resolved to refer the crisis in Libya to the prosecutor of the ICC with the intention of denouncing former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi’s violently repressive regime.
The Situation in Côte D’Ivoire
On 27 July 2011, the UN Security Council issued Resolution 2000, recognizing that the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court requested authorization to investigate allegations of war crimes and crimes against humanity committed after the 28 November 2010 Ivorian elections. Although Côte D’Ivoire is not a state party to the Rome Statue (only a signatory), Côte D’Ivoire accepted the ICC’s exercise of jurisdiction after lodging a declaration of acceptance on 18 April 2003 pursuant to article 12, paragraph 3 of the Rome Statute.
The Situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo
The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) ratified the Rome Statute 11 April 2002. As a state party to the Statute, the DRC has accepted the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court and Thomas Lubanga Dyilo, a former military commander, was the first person to ever be convicted by the ICC.
Resolution 1593 – Sudan (referral of the situation in Darfur to the Prosecutor of the ICC)
On 31 March 2005, the United Nations Security Council voted, (11 countries in favor with 4 abstentions) to refer the situation in Darfur, Sudan to the ICC prosecutor. This Security Council vote was the first time the Security Council used its power to refer a situation to the ICC, giving the ICC jurisdiction over a non-state party.
Resolution 1422/1487 – United Nations Peacekeeping
Security Council Resolution 1422 (first passed in July 2002 and renewed as Resolution 1487 in June 2003) grants immunity to personnel from ICC non-states parties involved in United Nations established or authorized missions for a renewable twelve-month period. Coalition members support the conclusions of legal experts from many nations that this resolution is incompatible with the Rome Statute, demonstrates the improper use of the Security Council, and contradicts the UN Charter and international law.
Resolution 1497 – Liberia
Security Council Resolution 1497, adopted on 1 August 2003, authorized the critical deployment of a multinational stabilization force in Liberia. However, at the insistence of the United States, the resolution included a paragraph granting “exclusive jurisdiction” to troop contributing states not party to the ICC, effectively opening the door for permanent immunity from the ICC with regard to genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity.
Children and Armed Conflict
The Security Council holds a yearly debate on children and armed conflicts during which many states usually emphasize the importance of the ICC. Resolution 1998 passed in 2011 mentions the ICC’s role in ending impunity for perpetrators of crimes against children in conflict situations. The ICC’s first conviction (of Thomas Lubanga Dyilo) was obtained on charges of conscripting and enlisting child soldiers, thus cementing the ICC’s role in gaining justice for child victims of armed conflict.
Resolution 1998 (2011)
Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict
The Security Council holds a biannual debate on protection of civilians in armed conflict during which many states and UN officials reiterate the crucial role of the ICC in this effort.
Justice and the Rule of Law
In 2003, 2004 and 2006, the Security Council held an open debate during which governments discussed these issues and expressed their support for the ICC. On 24 September 2012, the UN will be a holding a high-level meeting on enhancing Member Parties’ commitments to the Rule of Law; one of the initiatives being advanced by the Secretary-General is gaining greater support among Member States for the ICC through pledges to accede to the Rome Statue.
Women, Peace and Security
The Security Council holds a yearly debate on women, peace and security during which many states mention the role of the ICC. In 2010 the UN Security Council issued Resolution 1960 expressing concerns regarding sexual violence against women and girls in armed conflict situations and stating that the ICC is one mechanism through which perpetrators can be held accountable.
Resolution 1502 – Protection of UN Personnel
Shortly after the bombing at the UN office in Baghdad in August 2003, the Security Council adopted Resolution 1502, addressing the need for greater protection for humanitarian workers and UN personnel. The adoption of the resolution was stalled, however, because of US insistence that all references to the Rome Statute and the International Criminal Court be omitted. While the final resolution does not explicitly mention the ICC, it includes language that “there are existing prohibitions under international law against attacks knowingly and intentionally directed against personnel involved in a humanitarian assistance or peacekeeping mission, which in situations of armed conflict constitute war crimes,” and calls on states “to end impunity for such criminal acts.”
Other Thematic Resolutions and Debates
UN Excerpts on the ICC
22 July 2008
06 July 2007