ICC Office of the Prosecutor Launches New Policy to Bolster Principles of Complementarity and Cooperation

By: Remy Kane

Impunity Watch News Staff Writer

THE HAGUE, Netherlands – On April 25, 2024, in accordance with several new policies released recently, the International Criminal Court (ICC) Office of the Prosecutor launched a new Policy on Complementarity and Cooperation. The Policy is the product of a global consultation process that began in October of last year that engaged States parties, civic society, academic institutions, and affected communities.

ICC Prosecutor Karim A.A. Khan during a visit to Bangladesh. | Photo courtesy of ICC.

The goal of the Policy is to fortify the ICC’s application of the Rome Statute’s principles of complementarity and cooperation. The principle of complementarity calls for collaboration between national criminal jurisdictions and the ICC. In essence, while states have primary authority to investigate and prosecute international crimes, the ICC may step in on a case-by-case basis to ensure that these crimes are justly addressed.

The new Policy is aimed toward strengthening the ICC’s relationship with other criminal jurisdictions to serve the ultimate goal of investigating and prosecuting global atrocities. To effectuate this, the Policy proposes a two-track strategy that will promote cooperation and partnership with states as well as frequent complementary action, while remaining faithful to the ICC’s mandate to independently and impartially handle Rome Statute crimes.

This approach reflects the important balance the ICC seeks to maintain between its duties and that of other jurisdictions. If this equilibrium is disrupted, however, the principle of complementarity, which is bolstered by this new Policy, allows the ICC to take action. This notion is forthright in the body of the Policy which states, “if States step up, the Office will step out. But equally, the reverse is also true. If states do not step up, the Office will not hesitate to fulfill its mandate.”

The Policy, which is referred to as a “renewed partnership for accountability,” suggests four pillars for enhanced cooperation and complementarity: (1) creating a community of practice, (2) technology as an accelerant, (3) bringing justice closer to communities, and (4) harnessing cooperation mechanisms.

Each of the new ICC policies launched in recent months have put victims and survivors of crimes at the forefront, and this one is no exception. The Deputy Prosecutor, Mame Mandiaye Niang, expressed that the Policy’s partnership-centered approach stands to deliver more for victims by way of further increased vigilance to global atrocities.

To aid in the implementation of the Policy, the Office of the Prosecutor has established a trust fund specifically dedicated to complementarity and cooperation. Contributions to this fund will support complementarity activities, such as providing information and assistance to national authorities in the implementation of their Rome Statute obligations. Further methods of deepening the ICC’s relationships with other jurisdictions will be supported by the trust fund as well, including a Complementarity and Cooperation Forum and other accountability efforts.

For Further Information, please see:

ICC – ICC Office of the Prosecutor launches policy on Complementarity and Cooperation – 25 Apr. 2024

ICC – Policy on Complementarity and Cooperation – Apr. 2024

Legal Information Institute – Complementarity defined – ND


Author: Sydney Krause