The Islamic Republic of Iran and the ICC

Posted: 29 Feb 2008

See all articles by Hirad Abtahi

Hirad Abtahi

European University Institute - Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies (RSCAS)

Date Written: July 2005


Like many states, Iran has an ambivalent position towards the Statute of the International Criminal Court (`Statute`), ranging from enthusiastic support to open scepticism. On account of its experience in the Iraq-Iran war, Iran is interested in exploring the Court`s jurisdiction over aggression and war crimes; in addition, it sees the possible adoption of provisions on the crime of aggression as a tool against greater powers` domination. Major issues for Iran are, however, some of the penalties provided for under Iranian criminal law, including capital punishment as well as whipping, stoning and the sectioning of limbs as well as the treatment of minorities and gender. Another problem may be the presence of non-Muslim Judges at the Court, who, it is feared, may not be familiar with and sensitive to Shari`a principles; in addition, under theological principles, Muslims may not be judged by non-Muslim Judges. This question paradoxically constitutes an incentive for Iran to consider ratification of the Statute. So far, Iran has signed but not ratified the Statute. Studies are under way with a view to presenting the Statute to Parliament for ratification. However, problems of conflict between some provisions of the Statute and the principles of Shari`a law may arise if the Statute is ratified.

Suggested Citation

Abtahi, Hirad, The Islamic Republic of Iran and the ICC (July 2005). Journal of International Criminal Justice, Vol. 3, Issue 3, pp. 635-648, 2005, Available at SSRN:

Hirad Abtahi (Contact Author)

European University Institute - Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies (RSCAS) ( email )

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