The Victims' Court?, cover page

Victim Participation at the
International Criminal Court

In November 2015, at the 14th session of the Assembly of States Parties of the International Court in The Hague, the Human Rights Center's Atrocity Response program released a major, multi-country study of victim participants at the International Criminal Court. The independent study, requested by the ICC's Victims Participation and Reparations Section (VPRS), was based on in-depth interviews (between July 2013 and February 2014) with 622 victim participants and 41 ICC staff members/victims' advocates in Uganda, Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, and Côte D’Ivoire ("where the ICC had initiated investigations and prosecutions of serious international crimes" [p. 7]), and at the ICC in The Hague.

The report found "that the ICC has reached a critical juncture in its victim participation program" (p. 2) and must invest more resources and think more creatively about how it can meet the programmatic and psycho-social needs of thousands of victim participants, or revamp the program entirely. In November 2016, an internal investigation of the ICC concluded that "the Court can be greatly assisted by the survey efforts" of entities such as the Human Rights Center (see below).

The Victim's Court? introduces the study's objectives, concepts of procedural justice and victim participation in criminal trials (and at the ICC in particular), the process of victim participation, and the individual country findings, followed by the conclusions and recommendations. Its source material apart from the interviews includes ICC documents and scholarship on distributive and procedural justice and international criminal law.

The report was authored by Stephen Smith Cody, Eric Stover, Mychelle Balthazard, and Alexa Koenig.

The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the National Science Foundation's Law and Social Science program, and the Ministry of Finland generously supported the study.

Assessing Study Impact via Citation-Monitoring

Geoff Dancy and Florencia Montal, "From Law versus Politics to Law in Politics: A Pragmatist Assessment of the ICC’s Impact," American University International Law Review, vol. 32, no. 3 (2017): 645–705.

Jo-Anne M. Wemmers, "Victim Participation in the Criminal Justice Process," chapter 10 in Victimology: A Canadian Perspective (University of Toronto Press, 2017).

Ellen J. Kennedy, "Women and Genocide: Ending Impunity for Sexual Violence," in Alleviating World Suffering: The Challenge of Negative Quality of Life, edited by Ronald E. Anderson, 319–34 (Springer, 2017).

Pietro Sullo, "The International Criminal Court Reparation System: Punishment, Retaliation, Restoration," in On Retaliation: Towards an Interdisciplinary Understanding of a Basic Human Condition, edited by Bertram Turner and Günther Schlee, 257–82 (Berghahn Books, 2017).

Bhavani Fonseka and Joanna Naples-Mitchell, "Victim-Centered Transitional Justice in Sri Lanka: What Does It Really Mean?" (discussion paper, Center for Policy Alternatives [CPA], Sri Lanka, 2017).

Stephen Smith Cody, "Procedural Justice, Legitimacy, and Victim Participation in Uganda," in The Legitimacy of International Criminal Tribunals, edited by Nobup Hayashi and Cecilia M. Bailliet, 376-98 (Cambridge University Press, 2017).

International Criminal Court, Second Court's Report on the Development of Performance Indicators for the International Criminal Court (International Criminal Court, November 11, 2016).

This report "is part of a continuing effort to improve the efficiency of the [ICC] and to respond to the request to the ICC by the [Assembly of States Parties] in 2014 to '[…] intensify its efforts to develop qualitative and quantitative indicators that would allow the Court to demonstrate better its achievements and needs, as well as allowing States Parties to assess the Court’s performance in a more strategic manner.'" (p. 1)
"the Court can be greatly assisted by the survey efforts of other entities, such as those contained in the recent reports of the Human Rights Center of UC Berkeley School of Law of 2014 and 2015" (p. 18)

Stephen Smith Cody, Alexa Koenig, and Eric Stover, "Witness Testimony, Support, and Protection at the ICC," in Africa and the ICC: Perceptions of Justice, edited by Kamari M. Clarke, Abel S. Knottnerus, and Eefje de Volder, 301–22 (Cambridge University Press, 2016).

Leila Ullrich, "Beyond the ‘Global–Local Divide’:  Local Intermediaries, Victims and the Justice Contestations of the International Criminal Court," Journal of International Criminal Justice, vol. 14, no. 3 (July 2016): 543–68.

Thomas Obel Hansen, In the Shadow Politics: Victim Participation in the Kenyan ICC Cases (Impunity Watch, June 2016).

John Kiess, "Restorative Justice and the International Criminal Court," in “Ramping Up Strategies for ICC Arrests: A Few Lessons Learned,” in “Restorative Justice” special issue, edited by David M. McCartthy, Journal of Moral Theology, vol. 5, no. 2 (June 2016): 116–42.

Kristina Lažauninkaitė, "Victims of Sexual Violence Affected by the Lord’s Resistance Army Conflict: Addressing Sexual Violence within Ugandan National Law and the International Criminal Court (ICC)" (master's thesis, Victimology and Criminal Justice program, Tilburg University Law School, June 2016).

Luke Moffett and Rachel Killean, HRC Response to the Office of the Prosecutor's Draft Policy Paper on Case Selection and Prioritisation (Human Rights Centre, Queen's University Belfast School of Law, April 2016).

Stephen Smith Cody, "The ICC, A Victims’ Court? It Could Happen," Justice in Conflict (blog), April 21, 2015.

Highlights in other material:

"Spring 2016 Newsletter," Association of American Law Schools.


Last update: June 12, 2017