International criminal law (ICL)

While each state defines criminal law for itself, international criminal law (ICL) codifies a body of law that addresses international crimes such as genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and crimes of aggression. Evidently, these are the sort of crimes that take place in the course of conflict, and hence often relate directly to humanitarian crisis. In contrast to much international law, ICL does not focus on the conduct of States – it establishes individual criminal responsibility. The main sources of ICL are the 1946 Statute of the International Court of Justice and the Rome Statute creating the International Criminal Court (ICC).

Scale symbol on wall of a courthouse

Photo: Phil Roeder

Key actors

The International Criminal Court (ICC) investigates and, where warranted, tries individuals charged with the gravest crimes of concern to the international community: genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and the crime of aggression.

Advocates for effective national and international justice mechanisms, and investigates and reports on international justice

Global civil society network focusing on global justice through national courts and the ICC

Key references

Article on the cooperation of humanitarian actors with the ICC, its opportunities and challenges

Basic information about the ICC, the crimes that are within its mandate, its procedures, and referral organs

Tools for the job

Comprehensive database on international crimes adjudicated by national, international, and internationalized courts

Learning resources

Online lecture series on individual criminal responsibility

PHAP certifications

Certification badge for International Legal Frameworks for Humanitarian Action (ILFHA)

Knowledge about international criminal alw is covered by the International Legal Frameworks for Humanitarian Action (ILFHA) certification (competency domain 5).

Information tools

Latest news related to international criminal justice

Latest news from the ICC

External blogs

Law blog on international criminal law

Upcoming courses:

29 April-3 May:
Geneva

24-28 June:
Brussels

8-12 July:
Beirut