By Benjamin Duerr*
The ICC Dictionary is a guide for everyone interested in the proceedings in The Hague. It contains almost 200 of the most important terms and concepts with short explanations in alphabetical order. Justice Hub is presenting a selection of some of the terms highlighted by the Dictionary.
Ne bis in idem / double jeopardy: Ne bis in idem is the Latin term for “not twice the same.” The doctrine holds that a person cannot be prosecuted or convicted multiple times for the same act. The ICC acts complementarily to national courts and recognises the ne bis in idem principle. Article 20 of the Rome Statute applies in various situations:
– the ICC cannot prosecute a person for the same conduct twice,
– it cannot prosecute a person that has been convicted or acquitted by another court for that particular conduct;
– and other courts shall not try a person that has been acquitted or convicted a person for the same conduct.
However, Article 20(3)(b) of the Rome Statute provides for two exceptions: in cases where the national authorities are unwilling or unable to prosecute a particular crime, ne bis in idem cannot be taken into consideration.
Non-international armed conflict: In contrast to international armed conflict, non-international conflicts usually are conflicts that do not involve two or more states armies. Non-international armed conflicts can be for example civil wars within the borders of a country or armed forces of one state fighting rebel groups. The fact that a state’s army fights insurgence abroad does not make a conflict international. Local uprisings do not constitute an non-international armed conflict. Instead, a certain level of violence must be reached to constitute an “armed conflict”.
Non-retroactivity: The ICC’s jurisdiction is nonretroactive. This means that the Court can only investigate and prosecute crimes that have been committed after the Rome Statute enters into force. The earliest date from which the ICC can have jurisdiction is 1 July 2002. If a state joins later, the Court can act after the Rome Statute has entered into force for that state, in accordance with the 60-day rule.
Notice of appeal: Parties show with a notice of appeal their intent to appeal a final decision. After the Trial Chamber has delivered the judgment on guilt or innocence, parties can appeal the decision. Within 30 days after the judgment they have to file a notice of appeal in which they briefly give reasons why they appeal the judgment. The other party has the right to respond to the notice. A notice of appeal is followed by a more detailed appeal brief which contains the grounds of appeal in more depth.
Nulla poena sine lege: The concept translates as “no punishment without law.” It is a basic principle of criminal law. Article 23 of the Rome Statute holds that a person that has been convicted by the ICC “may be only punished in accordance with this Statute.”
Nullum crimen sine lege: The Latin concept of “no crime without law” is a basic principle of criminal law. The concept holds that nobody should be punished without a pre-existing law. In other words, if there is no law that prohibits a certain act at the time when this act is committed, the person should not be punished. The Rome Statute recognizes Nullum crimen sine lege in Article 22.
Nuremberg Trials: The Nuremberg Trials were a series of trials after World War II in which numerous political and military leaders of Nazi Germany were tried. The first trial involved the major political leaders and was held in the German city of Nuremberg from 20 November 1945 till 1 October 1946. The so-called “Trial of the Main War Criminals” was held by the International Military Tribunal (IMT). In 12 follow-up trials between 1946 and 1949, other leading Nazi figures were prosecuted, among them medical doctors and legal professionals. The Nuremberg Trials became the foundation for the Yugoslawia and Rwanda tribunals and the ICC. In Nuremberg, the concept of individual criminal responsibility under international law was applied for the first time – never before had international law been applied to individuals.
Have a look at the other letters: A
and the Numbers 1-10
*Benjamin Duerr is a correspondent and foreign reporter covering the International Criminal Court and the war crimes tribunals in The Hague.