San Diego International Law Journal


Jerry Fowler

Library of Congress Authority File


Document Type



Sovereignty concerns were central to the negotiations over the ICC Statute. To be sure, the future court will relate to individuals and States, as well as inter-governmental and non-governmental organizations, in a way that differs from the international institutions created at mid-century. But by designing an institution that must work through and with sovereign States in crucial aspects of its functioning, the ICC Statute presupposes the continued existence of a system based on sovereign States. The Statute's details reinforce the notion that "[d]irectly or indirectly, the entire edifice of international human-rights law is built on state sovereignty." Seen in this light, there seems little basis for predicting that the ICC will cause the sovereign State to fade away. Moreover, the ICC may actually strengthen individual States by acting both as a judicial model for effective domestic institutions, where they do not now exist, and as a prod for states to deal domestically with crimes within the court's subject matter jurisdiction. To that extent, it is consistent with a growing realization that weak states can be as much of a threat to human rights as strong states. This does not mean, however, that the relationship between the future ICC and sovereign States is one that will be accepted by the U.S. political system through the process of advice and consent to ratification. That judgment remains to be made.