EUROPEAN FOREIGN POLICY SCORECARD 2016

International justice

13 - European policy towards the ICC and international criminal tribunals

Grade: B-
Unity 4/5
Resources 3/5
Strategy 2/5
Impact 2/5
Total 11/20
Scorecard 2010/11: B+ (15/20)
Scorecard 2012: B+ (15/20)
Scorecard 2013: B+ (14/20)
Scorecard 2014: B- (12/20)
Scorecard 2015: B- (11/20)

The EU struggled to defend the ICC from African criticisms, while the ICTY made progress towards winding up big cases on the former Yugoslavia

The International Criminal Court (ICC) continued to face questions over its approach, as African governments claimed that the court was too focused on their affairs. In June, Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, who has been indicted by the ICC, avoided efforts by a local court to detain him on a visit to South Africa. Facing heavy criticism, South Africa threatened to withdraw from the ICC, while the chief prosecutor admitted that real progress on Darfur is unlikely. In November, Kenya tried to interfere politically with evidence used in the prosecution of its deputy president, but EU members and other governments blocked this manoeuvre.

Meanwhile, the ICC expanded its activities in 2015, announcing an investigation into crimes committed during the 2008 Russo-Georgian War and continuing to investigate possible crimes in Afghanistan. Palestinian officials, having joined the ICC in January, are building a case against Israel. Many EU members harboured doubts about the Palestinians’ entry to the court, but did not try to stop the case. There was no progress on earlier French efforts to have the ICC deal with Syria (which Russia and China oppose). Overall, the ICC appears to be gaining more independence, despite running the risk of further political rifts over both African and non-African cases.  

The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) continued to work through a series of high-profile cases, including those of former Bosnian Serb leaders Radovan Karadžić and Ratko Mladić and Serbian hardliner Vojislav Šešelj. This has not been straightforward: there are claims of evidence tampering and a witness in the Mladić case was murdered in 2015. Nonetheless, the Karadžić hearings ended in October, and a verdict is expected shortly. Despite its flaws, the tribunal has succeeded in making a broad reckoning of crimes committed in the Balkan wars, thanks to strong political support from the EU. Demonstrating the ongoing sensitivity of these issues, in August Russia vetoed a British Security Council resolution that described the Srebrenica massacre as “genocide”, at Serbia’s request.