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The International Criminal Court and Indigenous People's Opportunities and Limitations

Washburn, John

The International Criminal Court (ICC) is a permanent international criminal court that tries individuals for the most serious acts, namely genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes. It tries only individual persons, not governments or corporations. These persons are those with the ultimate responsibility for such atrocious crimes: they have made the decision to have the crimes committed and given the orders for them to be executed. Thus, although the Court cannot try a company, it can try its officials who decided to commit crimes which would serve the company’s interests. The creators of the Court very much had crimes against Indigenous Peoples in mind, when drafting the Court’s Rome Statute. Crimes against Indigenous Peoples were frequently mentioned in the negotiations that took place. Two aspects of the Statute and the Court are especially important for Indigenous Peoples. First, no formal complaint or procedure is necessary to bring a crime to the attention of the Court. Also, the Statute requires the Court to give special attention to crimes against women and children and to take particular care and have special facilities to help and support them and other victims and witnesses to participate in its work.


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Indigenous Peoples’ Access To Justice, Including Truth And Reconciliation Processes
Institute for the Study of Human Rights, Columbia University

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Academic Units
Institute for the Study of Human Rights
Published Here
March 30, 2015


This is a chapter from "Indigenous Peoples’ Access to Justice, Including Truth and Reconciliation Processes". The entire volume is available in Academic Commons at