The International Criminal Court (ICC) is an independent body whose objective is to try individuals for crimes within its jurisdiction without the need for a special mandate from the UN. It is important to highlight that the ICC does not replace national criminal justice systems; it complements them. The Court can investigate and when warranted, prosecute and try individuals only if the state concerned does not, cannot, or is unwilling to do so. This might occur where proceedings are unduly delayed or are intended to shield individuals from their criminal responsibility, known as the principle of complementarity, under which priority is given to national systems. Unlike the International Court of Justice, the ICC prosecutes individuals, not groups or states. Any individual who is alleged to have committed crimes within the jurisdiction of the Court may be brought before it. The Office of the Prosecutor’s (OTP) prosecutorial policy is to focus on those who bear the greatest responsibility for the crimes and does not take into account any official position that may be held by the alleged perpetrators.
Topic A: The Situation in Georgia
Following years of mounting tensions within Georgia and its separatist regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, a five-day war began in 2008 that resulted in the deaths of 850 people and the displacement of thousands more. On January 27, 2016, following receipt of communications from 6,335 victims of the conflict and a preliminary examination conducted by the Office of the Prosecutor, a formal investigation into the conflict was authorized by the Pre-Trial Chamber I of the Court. Central to the work of the International Criminal Court (ICC), the build-up, duration, and aftermath of the War amassed a series of allegations of attacks against the civilian population, willful killing, murder, and forcible transfer of population on the behalf of the Georgian military as well as opposing forces; all of which form potential war crimes and crimes against humanity. The involvement of numerous parties, including the Georgian, South Ossetian, Abkhaz, and Russian military and militia forces, indicate the importance of addressing this situation within the context of an international armed conflict, changing the manner in which it must be approached within the Court. In this unique situation, considerations of ethnicity, statehood, national identity, and sovereignty are necessary to understand the humanitarian impact and extent of the effect of the alleged crimes. Forming a Pre-Trial chamber, Judges will be expected to develop independent opinions and work collaboratively to answer questions of jurisdiction, admissibility, the nature of alleged crimes, and persons involved.
Topic B: The Situation in the Republic of Mali
In January 2012, armed conflicts erupted over autonomy for Azawad, Mali’s northern region. Tuareg rebels and their Islamist allies in the region attacked Malian government forces, and by April 2012, key cities including Gao, Kidal and Timbuktu were overrun. This rebellion in the north reportedly involved deliberate damaging of shrines of Muslim saints, attacks on military bases, extrajudicial killings, looting, and rape. In March 2012, a coup d’état by a military junta led to the expulsion of President Touré shortly before the presidential elections that were originally scheduled for April 2012. It was reported that the overthrow involved alleged instances of enforced disappearances and torture. In response to the rebellion and coup d’état, Mali self-referred the situation to the International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor to investigate the alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity in June 2012. After a failed peace treaty in 2013, a ceasefire agreement was established between the Malian government and Tuareg rebels in 2015, but minor conflicts and occasional terrorist attacks continue to this day. Judges in this committee will be asked to examine the evidence known to the Court and debate the Court’s jurisdiction, the admissibility of the case, the individuals, and groups that should be charged.