All eyes on prosecution after Palestine ICC accession

13 January 2015 by Stephanie van den Berg

Speculation continues to mount over the next step of the office of the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) after, in the final hours of 2014, Palestine officially ratified the Rome Statute to become the 123rd member of the court.

ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda. Copyright Flickr/ICC-CPI
Image caption: 
ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda (Flickr/ICC-CPI)

The move, made possible after Palestine received a status upgrade at the UN to ‘non-member observer state’ in 2012, opens the possibility for Israeli and Palestinian citizens to be prosecuted by the Hague-based court for war crimes and crimes against humanity committed on Palestinian territory. Israel and the United States immediately condemned the development, calling it an “escalatory step” and stressing that negotiations were the only “realistic path” towards peace.

While, according to the Rome Statute, the ICC does not acquire jurisdiction until 60 days after a state accedes to the court – in this case, 1 April 2015 – Palestine has filed a request to give the court jurisdiction over prior events. It picked the date of 13 June 2014, thereby including the latest Gaza conflict.

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