The International Criminal Court as a Political Object (La Cour Pénale Internationale: Objet Politique)

19 Pages Posted: 23 Apr 2010 Last revised: 9 Sep 2010

See all articles by Frederic Megret

Frederic Megret

McGill University - Faculty of Law

Date Written: April 23, 2010


This draft chapter (in French) for an edited collection on the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court aims to characterize the ICC as a "political object." It suggests that whilst the ICC is premised on an aspiration to transcend politics, it finds it very difficult to achieve that goal in practice. On the one hand, the ICC is an improvement on victors' or ad hoc hoc justice, and it is shaped by a cosmopolitan vision of its role that sees itself as profoundly a-political. Politics, from thereon, are always seen as external to the Court, a contamination from the outside world to be minimized as much as possible in the courtroom. On the other hand the ICC can be seen as its own source of "politics": it is in itself a form of "soft power," if only that of its state parties; the prosecutor's discretion can hardly be described as anything but political, even in the best sense of the term; and, most importantly, the Court is called upon to implement an at least rough form of "foreign policy" if it is to achieve anything. All in all, the Court ends up being deeply reliant on some of those very practices that it is prone to condemn. The easy way out is to go for marginal targets and at least ensure that the Court fills its docket, but there is a very real risk that the ICC will become an instrument of politics, rather than a tool to challenge its worse aspects.

Note: Downloadable document is in French.

Keywords: international criminal justice

JEL Classification: K33

Suggested Citation

Mégret, Frédéric, The International Criminal Court as a Political Object (La Cour Pénale Internationale: Objet Politique) (April 23, 2010). 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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