The International Criminal Court (ICC) turns 18 years old in 2020. As such, we can look back on the Court’s ‘childhood’ and forward to its first year as an adult. Like all childhoods, there have been ups and downs, successes and lessons learned. There have been four final convictions against individuals for crimes against humanity and war crimes, and reparations ordered for hundreds of victims in three cases. There have also been acquittals (most recently of Mr Gbagbo and Mr Ble Goude regarding crimes during post-election violence in Côte d’Ivoire) and cases terminated (such as those in the Kenya situation). The Court has drawn criticism for its lengthy and expensive trials, limited success rate, and faced allegations of politicisation and double-standards. While States continue to ratify the ICC’s Rome Statute (like Kiribati most recently), two States have withdrawn – Burundi and the Philippines. While criticism has, of course, come from those outside the Rome Statute system, in 2019 many of the Court’s greatest supporters raised their own critiques. Given this backdrop, five issues to follow in 2020 include: 1) an independent expert review of the ICC; 2) the election of a new Prosecutor and Judges; 3) investigations in Myanmar/Bangladesh and (potentially) Afghanistan; 4) conclusion of the cases against Mr Ongwen and Mr Ntaganda; and 5) the unexpected.
Reparations are an old concept in both domestic and international law. Victims have long been repaired in some way for the harms they suffered themselves, to their families or property. Following World War II, victims received some type of reparation, usually paid by the State, for their profound losses, and just last year the Dutch Railways NS announced that it would pay reparations to victims for its role in transportation for the Nazi regime. In the USA there have been enduring discussions about the yet unpaid reparations for slavery. Along with these developments, there have been changes to the approaches taken to reparations. Firstly, reparations have been recognised as part of a victim’s right under international law. Secondly, critiques have arisen regarding the traditional approach of reparations that seeks to restore victims to the position they were in before the harm occurred. Academics and practitioners have criticised this approach as failing to address socio-economic disparities and unequal power structures, which may have led to the victimisation in the first place. The recent transformative justice movement, and transformative reparations in particular, grew out of the belief that it is ineffectual to place marginalised victims back into positions of marginalisation following serious harm. This blog, based on a recently published article, critically examines transformative reparations within the human rights and criminal context, and explores whether the concept of transformation is changing the game.