The International Criminal Court came into being in July 2002, when 60 States had ratified the Rome Statute from 1998. The Court is an independent and permanent institution, mandated to bring to justice those who have committed the gravest international crimes, such as genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.
The Court can consider situations where the alleged crime was committed in the territory of a State party or was committed by a national of a State party, irrespective of the location of the alleged crime. Furthermore, the Court can consider a case if the UN Security Council has decided to refer it to the Court for its consideration. The Court's jurisdiction is complementary to that of national courts, in the sense that the International Criminal Court can only consider a case when it has been established that national courts are unable or unwilling to carry out the criminal proceedings.
Currently the Court has opened investigations in four areas, namely Uganda, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Central African Republic and Darfur, comprising in all 13 individuals. The situation in Darfur was referred to the Court by a decision of the UN Security Council whilst the other three situations were referred to the Court by the respective States themselves. The Court has 18 judges and its seat is in The Hague.
Today there are 110 State parties to the Rome Statute. The high number of parties obtained over such a short period of time sends a clear signal from the international community that there shall be no escape or safe haven for those who commit serious crimes. However, the Court cannot function effectively without States' full cooperation in all aspects of the Court's work. The need for States to strengthen the cooperation with the Court is one of the main points of Ambassador Wetland's statement, made in the General Assembly 29 October.