Handbook on Complementarity An Introduction to the Role of National Courts and the ICC in Prosecuting International Crimes
This handbook is intended to explain the main issues of law and practice related to complementarity for those who are not legal specialists. It is aimed at civil society organizations that are not specialists on the ICC or criminal law issues, victims’ representatives, students, journalists, opinion makers, and others who have an interest in justice for serious crimes and who want to understand the basic legal issues as well as the broader contextual matters connected to complementarity. It is not a legal textbook and it is not an attempt to address in detailed scholarly fashion all aspects of this complex field. It is impossible, however, to address the legal rules on complementarity—and what the ICC has so far said about them—without some degree of technicality. For the most part, this handbook is descriptive. It generally avoids entering into a discussion about the merits and demerits of the ICC’s decisions and policies. It does not, for example, address the question of whether the ICC focuses unjustifiably on African situations. However, it is hoped that a better informed understanding of how the complementarity regime works in practice will help to make that debate more critical and less polemical. After reading this handbook, readers should have a basic understanding of the ICC, the concept of complementarity, how key cases on the issue have been decided, what the different stages of the admissibility process entail, what it means for national legal systems, and what it means for other national actors, including civil society and victims’ representatives.
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