The effectiveness of the ICC in delivering justice

On the show this month, we’re in conversation with international criminal and human rights lawyer, Kate Gibson who talks about what shapes the workings of the International Criminal Court (ICC).

The ICC is made up of 123-member states, but many governments are not ICC parties, having not signed up to the Rome Statute, which governs it. These countries include the United States, China, Israel, Russia and India. Kate talks about the importance of all states signing up the court, cooperating and believing in it in order for there to be more widespread enforceability of international criminal justice and accountability for grave crimes.

In its 21-year history, the International Criminal Court has publicly indicted 52 people. With the exception of 5 Russians indicted during the current conflict in Ukraine, all other ICC indictees have been African or Arab. Kate believes it’s because international criminal justice is a very politicised environment and questions why some states are willing to subject themselves to the jurisdictional reach of the court and others aren’t. She says this is why international justice, “doesn’t yet have this universal reach” and “why we only see certain types of defendants in the dock”.

Among others, Kate has represented former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic who is serving a life sentence after being convicted of genocide for the July 1995 Srebrenica massacre of more than 8,000 Muslim men and boys by Bosnian Serb forces. And she’s also acted as co-counsel to the former Liberian President Charlies Taylor – who is serving a life sentence for his role in the conflict in Sierra Leone.

Kate talks about her career of nearly 20 years representing those accused of serious international crimes and the impact the delivery life sentences have, and her view of the defence being crucial to the workings of justice.


Presented and produced by journalist Evelyn McClafferty, who specialises in justice and climate issues.
With thanks to our donors: Irish Aid.
Note: The views and opinions expressed in this episode do not necessarily represent those of IRLI or Irish Aid.



International Criminal Court (ICC)

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