The concept of gravity permeates the entire Rome Statute, and has a key role with regard to different phases of the proceedings before the ICC. Despite this significance, the Rome Statute does not provide any clarifications of the content of gravity and its constitutive factors. This omission is one of the reasons for the harshest criticisms against the ICC, which has been accused of African bias and of neglecting international crimes allegedly committed by nationals from powerful countries.
This book presents a considered evaluation of the role of gravity in international criminal justice. It develops a unified theory of gravity, which can be applied to the different stages of the proceedings before the ICC. Undertaking a critical legal analysis of the law and practice of the ICC, it also draws on relevant jurisprudence of other international or internationalized criminal tribunals, as well as on the documents of the International Law Commission. The critical methodology constitutes an indispensable instrument in outlining the possibilities for the refinement and improvement of the Court’s practice in future cases. It is argued that it is necessary to explore the challenges posed by the ICC’s normative system in relation to the central concept of gravity. In this regard, the critical approach adopted here differs from that followed by a part of academic literature, which is inclined to opt for the abolition of every form of international criminal justice as an expression of neo-imperialistic dominance. In contrast, the methodology adopted here does not propose an a priori rejection of the ICC’s normative framework. Indeed, while retaining a strong critical orientation, the internal analysis of this normative framework aims to clarify the content of gravity in the different stages of the proceedings before the Court.