International Criminal Court

The International Criminal Court (ICC) is a permanent and independent criminal court established to prosecute offenders of serious crimes in the international community. Specifically, the ICC is intended to prosecute the following crimes:

The ICC is meant to serve as a last resort when the courts of sovereign states are unwilling to prosecute. Therefore, the ICC is complementary to national criminal jurisdiction and does not supersede it. Additionally, the ICC serves a different purpose than the International Court of Justice, which resolves conflicts between nations.

The ICC was created by the Rome Statute, which came into force on July 1, 2002. As of July 2023, there are 123 countries that are parties to the Rome Statute of the ICC. The ICC is headquartered in The Hague, Netherlands and has other offices around the world, including one in New York City. Some of the ICC’s most significant indictments include those of Joseph Kony, Muammar Gaddafi, and most recently, Vladimir Putin.

For additional information see the Rome Statute and Elements of Crimes

[Last updated in July of 2023 by the Wex Definitions Team]

The official ICC website ( is an excellent resource for information relating to the ICC, including current investigations and texts of treaties and relevant documents.