Bringing the guilty to justice: Can the ICC be self-enforcing?

Nada Ali

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Even though the International Criminal Court was instituted with the express goal of ending impunity, its lack of enforcement powers threatens to undermine its credibility as well as the effective administration of international criminal justice. While proponents of the court are content to rely on questionable means of enforcement such as military interventions, ICC skeptics are adamant that granting amnesties will ensure the removal of dictators from power. But, could there be a median solution between the extremes of at-any-cost accountability and outright exemption from punishment? Gatne theoretic analysis of the ICC offers a glimmer of hope for the effective enforcement of arrest warrants. A model developed by Michael Gilligan in 2006 suggests that in certain conditions the court may be self-enforcing and may have a deterrent effect. This, as Gilligan posits, occurs because the ICC provides corrupt leaders with a cogent but costlier exit strategy than asylum in the event of imminent regime collapse. However, the model does not account for the fact that the ICC prosecutes leaders and opposition groups alike and may therefore quell some opposition groups from rebelling. I develop a model of incomplete information involving the interaction between a leader and an opposition group to examine this effect. The results suggest that the ICC could inhibit certain opposition groups from rebelling, thereby positively affecting the survival rate of corrupt regimes
Original languageEnglish
Article number3
Pages (from-to)408-452
Number of pages45
JournalChicago Journal of International Law
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2014

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