According to The Washington Post, the ICC issued its first verdict in its 10 year history Wednesday against a Congolesewarlord for using child soldiers.
Thomas Lubanga will be sentenced later this year and faces a maximum of life in prison.
This verdict is hailed as a “legal landmark in the fight against impunity for the world’s most serious crimes,” according to the article. It came at a time when the ICC is facing scrutiny for its lack of ability to arrest and convict people suspected of committing grave war crimes, like Joseph Kony whose face became a household name with the recent KONY 2012 video. The ICC is also facing a lot of scrutiny for not being able to intervene in the growing humanitarian crisis in Syria.
The ICC can only open investigations into countries that have recognized its jurisdiction in their country, and only 120 countries have done so. Syria is not one of them, which means that the ICC has no authority to investigate. The ICC can also launch an investigation if a state not party to the Rome Statute wasto accept the ICC’s jurisdiction or at the request of the U.N. Security Council. However, the U.N. Security Council has not been able to make such a request because its members are deadlocked.
The U.N. Security Council consists of five permanent members- China, U.S., U.K., Russia and France- and 10 non-permanent members. Russia and China have vetoed efforts to refer the case to the ICC, and since all five permanent members have to agree, the case has not been referred.
So far, all seven of the court’s investigations have been in Africa.