Columbia International Affairs Online: Policy Briefs

CIAO DATE: 04/2013

The Relationship Between the ICC and the Security Council: Challenges and Opportunities

Till Papenfuss

March 2013

International Peace Institute


As the principal organs responsible for prosecuting the world’s worst war criminals and maintaining international peace and security, the International Criminal Court (ICC) and the UN Security Council share a complex and delicate relationship. This substantive meeting note examines the challenges and inconsistencies in this relationship and outlines concrete ways in which the relationship could be improved to produce better outcomes for international peace and justice. Among a number of recommendations, the report suggests that the Security Council could: 1) devise a coherent accountability strategy, apply consistent standards, and articulate its policy regarding ICC referrals; 2) make use of the wide range of diplomatic tools at its disposal to buttress the court and enforce ICC arrest warrants; and 3) stop imposing limitations on the ICC’s jurisdiction, on the obligations of states to cooperate with the ICC, and on UN sources of funding for the court in referral resolutions. It further proposes that ICC states parties assemble a dedicated caucus to encourage the Security Council to improve its practice in justice and accountability, and that the court itself proactively engage with the Security Council in New York and The Hague.