The International Criminal Court and the Failure to Mention Symbolic Reparations

22 Pages Posted: 29 Sep 2008

See all articles by Frederic Megret

Frederic Megret

McGill University - Faculty of Law

Date Written: August 13, 2008


The International Criminal Court (ICC)'s reparations regime seems very geared towards material reparations such as restitution, compensation and rehabilitation. However, a growing number of international instruments, particularly in the human rights field, anticipate that more symbolic forms of reparation such as satisfaction and non-repetition are mandatory. The Article explores what reasons may have led the ICC drafters to not even at least mention symbolic reparations and finds that, apart from a possible trend towards commodification of reparations in general, the perception was probably that only states can grant symbolic reparations, and that ordering individuals to do so might raise human rights problems. None of these arguments are conclusive. Individuals can provide symbolic reparations, and these could be encouraged rather than ordered to avoid the human rights issue. More importantly, the role of the ICC and the Victims Trust Fund will be to use monies as reparation, and nothing will prevent them from using awards so made for symbolic purposes. In fact, strong principle and policy arguments militate in favor of granting a larger role to symbolic reparations in the ICC context, thus helping to make the Court into more of an institution of transitional justice.

Keywords: international criminal court, victims, reparations, symbolic reparations, remedies, Trust fund

JEL Classification: K33

Suggested Citation

Mégret, Frédéric, The International Criminal Court and the Failure to Mention Symbolic Reparations (August 13, 2008). Available at SSRN: or

Frédéric Mégret (Contact Author)

McGill University - Faculty of Law ( email )

3644 Peel Street
Montreal H3A 1W9, Quebec

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