What an Honest UN Security Council Referral of ISIS to the ICC Would Look Like


Justice in Conflict

An Islamic State militant (Photo: Reuters) An Islamic State militant (Photo: Reuters)

There has been a lot of chatter on the internet about the need to refer the Islamic State or ISIS / IS / ISIL to the International Criminal Court (ICC). In fact, the subject has received so much attention that ICC Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda felt compelled to issue a statement declaring that her office was unlikely to bring forward any prosecutions against ISIS militants unless Syria or Iraq were referred to the Court.

There is no doubt that accountability for atrocities committed by groups in Iraq and Syria would be a welcome development. The real question is how best to do so and, more specifically, whether referring a particular actor – rather than a state or a territorial situation – would help or hinder the pursuit of justice. In this context, even if there is a growing consensus that, one, ISIS atrocities should…

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