The Future of the International Criminal Court : Reform, Consensus and Relations with the USA book cover
1st Edition

The Future of the International Criminal Court
Reform, Consensus and Relations with the USA

  • Available for pre-order on June 7, 2023. Item will ship after June 28, 2023
ISBN 9781032442044
June 28, 2023 Forthcoming by Routledge
280 Pages 3 B/W Illustrations

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USD $160.00

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Book Description

This book presents the argument that solution-driven policy and treaty changes, if faithfully implemented, will rekindle the relevance of the International Criminal Court (ICC) in combatting and prosecuting atrocity crimes. This work examines how the International Criminal Court could be re-envisioned to perform optimally, and why such reform is urgent. It also discusses the position of the USA towards the court and explores why it has been unable to transition from marginal engagement to full spectrum support by signing and ratifying the Rome Treaty 1998. The conceptual frameworks deployed range from how the US construes its ‘national interest’ to geo-political balancing and the present rudderless state of the rules order, in addition to the personal predilections of US Presidents and the Court’s dysfunctional state. The objective is to show that if the ICC does not engender reforms internally, it will not survive the fissiparous tendencies innate in the presently fractured rules order. The work argues that only foundational reforms around treaty amendments along with institutional realignment of roles and responsibilities of the Court’s principal officers will yet rescue it. The book will be of interest to researchers, academics and policy-makers working in the areas of International Criminal Law and International Relations.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1

The Establishment of The International Criminal Court: Prospects, Challenges, and Tensions

Introductory Background

Framing the Research: Identiofying the Gaps and Problem Statement

Norms: Formation, Duration, Consolidation, and Internalization

Is the Rules-based Order Constraining the Court?

Theoretical and Conceptual Framework

Scoping the Book

Critical Questions: Legal Propositions and Factual Arguments

Framing and Negotiating U.S. Decision Regarding the Court: National v. Vital Interests
Interrogating the Fate of the Court and its Impact

Competing Visions of Global Order

Reviewing the Literature

Is the Vision still Frealisable

The Literature on the Court’s Survival

The Problematics of U.S. Relationship with the Court

Sovereignty, Non-intervention, and the Modern Nation-State

Political and Constitutional Sovereignty

America Firstism

United States’ Broad Aversion to International Law

Concluding Thoughts on the Relationship

A Synopsis of the Issues: Positionality Statement

Chapter 2

How History and Geopolitics Shape the Formation of International Courts

Introductory Overview

Why History Matters

The Primacy of Building Political Consensus Among Major Powers

Legal Framework: The Rome Statute 1998

Current Institutional Design and Organizational Structure

Assembly of States Parties - ASP (The Assembly)

The Chambers and the Prosecutor: Overlapping Authority?

The Chambers and Presidency

The Office of the Prosecutor – OTP

The Trust Fund for Victims

The Rome Conference: Was an Alternative Treaty Regime Feasible?

Between the Prosecutor, UNSC and the Chambers: Working at Cross Purposes?

Admissibility Test: Complementarity and the Gravity Threshold

Waiver of Immunity and Irrelevance of Official Capacity


Chapter 3

Between the Court’s Performance and U.S. Hostility: Will the Court Survive?

General Overview

Constructing National or Vital Interests: A Framework for Understanding U.S. Position

Appraising Bill Clinton’s Engagement Strategy

George Bush II: Confrontation and Roll-back

Barack Obama’s Re-engagement Strategy

Trump’s Belligerence and "Principled Realism"

Does it Matter if the United States Continues to Remain at the Margins?

Bringing it all Together

Domestication: U.S. Executive and Congressional Procedures

A Vision Unmatched by Performance

Legal Metrics

A Range of Non-legal Metrics

How Funding Shape Perceptions

Staffing: Dearth and Quality

Perception as Realities

Pining for Regional Courts

Geopolitics and National Interest: A Balancing Act

Reconciling National Interests Writ Large

Africa’s Geopolitical Question: Perceptions of Justice

Closing Summary


Chpater 4

Competing Visions of Global Order, the Court, and International Crimes


The Way the World Works or Should Work

The United Nations System and International Crimes

Variations in Global Order

Polarizing the World

Unipolarity, Bipolarity, and Multipolarity

A Multiplex World

Global Concert Model

Regional Worlds Model

Conclusion: What Comes Next?

Will a New Court Cut it?


Chapter 5

Mechanics for Rescuing the Court: Toward a "Pragmatist Realist" Vision


Norms: Defiance and Hierarchy

Defining Norms

Typology of Norms

Peremptory Norms or Jus Cogens

Defying the Statute, Resisting the Court

A Grotian Moment?

A New Institutional Design

Reforms and Recommendations

The Office of the Prosecutor and 7 Deputy Prosecutors

A Rule of Law Prosecutor

Why Regionalizing the Prosecutor’s Office Matters

Legal Pluralism: Incorporating Local Justice Initiatives

Redrawing Boundaries: The Prosecutor and Chambers

Reviewing the Politico-Strategic Decisions

Enlarging the Political Role of the ASP/President: Why it Matters

Amending the Statute: Reworking Policies and Strategies

Part 2 of the Statute

Part 3 of the Statute

Part 4 of the Statute

Part 5 of the Statute

Part 9 of the Statute


Chapter 6

Reforming the International Criminal Court, Building Consensus, and Resolving the Survival Question

A Synopsis of the Hypothesis

On Re-envisioning the Court

U.S. Continued Engagement at the Margins: What it Forebodes and Why it Matters

Tangential Hypothesis

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Dr Iseghohime Daniel Ehighalua is a Human Rights lawyer. His research interests include international human rights law, international criminal law, justice sector reform and good governance. He is a former Secretary of the Nigerian Coalition for the International Criminal Court.


"US hostility and overfocus on Africa have undermined the International Criminal Court. Dr. Ehighalua’s The Future of the International Criminal Court sees a deeper problem, the breakdown of the US-led global order, and shows how the Court could regain its footing."

Dr. David C. Unger, former Editorial Writer, The New York Times.

"Dr. Ehighalua has written a deeply thought out, very well-researched, well-developed and in-depth work on the international criminal court, and the prospects for its survival in our emergent global order. One does not have to agree with its substantive arguments and conclusions to come to this realization. The book is simply a must read for any scholar or practitioner interested in international criminal law, and indeed general international law."

Professor Obiora C. Okafor, UN Independent Expert on Human Rights and International Solidarity; Johns Hopkins University, SAIS, Washington DC.