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The history of the establishment of the International Criminal Court (ICC) spans over more than a century. The journey to the Rome Statute was a long and contentious one.  It can be traced back to the early 19th century.

In 1872,  Gustav Moynier, one of the founders of the International Committee of the Red Cross, proposed a permanent court in response to the crimes of the Franco Prussian War.  The establishment of an international tribunal to judge political leaders accused of war crimes was first made during the Paris Peace Conference in 1919 by the Commission of Responsibilities.  In 1937, the issue was addressed again at a conference held in Geneva by the League of Nations, but ended without any outcome.  In 1948, after the Nuremberg and Tokyo Tribunals, the United Nations General Assembly recognized the need for a permanent international court prohibiting crimes against humanity.  At the request of the General Assembly, the International Law Commission drafted two statutes by the early 1950s but the Cold War made the establishment of an international criminal court impractical.

The idea was revived in 1989 when the prime minister of Trinidad and Tobago proposed the creation of a permanent international court to deal with the illegal drug trade.  While framing the draft statute, the international community established ad hoc tribunals to try war crimes in the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda emphasizing the need for a permanent international criminal court.  In 1998, at a United Nations conference in Rome, governments approved a statute to establish a permanent International Criminal Court.  In 2002, the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court received more than 60 ratifications and the treaty came into force.

Inside History