Structure of the ICC

The ICC is an international judicial body that was formed by a multilateral treaty called the Rome Statute. The ICC, which is independent of the United Nations, is based in The Hague, the Netherlands, although it may sit elsewhere.

Structure of the ICC

The International Criminal Court (ICC) is an international judicial body that was formed by a multilateral treaty called the Rome Statute. The ICC, which is independent of the United Nations, is based in The Hague, the Netherlands, although it may sit elsewhere.

The ICC is composed of four primary organs: The Presidency, the Judicial Divisions, the Office of the Prosecutor, and the Registry. The Assembly of States Parties serves as The Court’s oversight body and not an organ of the Court.


  • Represents the ICC externally
  • Organize the Judicial Chambers
  • Perform a select number of judicial functions

The Presidency is responsible for the overall administration of the Court, with the exception of the Office of the Prosecutor, and for specific functions assigned to the Presidency in accordance with the Statute.


The Presidency is one of the four Organs of the Court. It is composed of the President and First and Second Vice-Presidents, all of whom are elected by an absolute majority of the Judges of the Court for a three year renewable term. The judges composing the Presidency serve on a full-time basis.


The Presidency has three main areas of responsibility: judicial/legal functions, administration, and external relations. In the exercise of its judicial/legal functions, the Presidency constitutes and assigns cases to Chambers, conducts judicial review of certain decisions of the Registrar and concludes Court-wide cooperation agreements with States. In the exercise of administration, with the exception of the Office of the Prosecutor, the Presidency is responsible for the proper administration of the Court and oversees the work of the Registry. The Presidency also coordinates with and seeks the concurrence of the Prosecutor on all matters of mutual concern. In the exercise of external relations, the Presidency maintains relations with States and other entities and promotes public awareness and understanding of the Court.

Photos courtesy of ICC-CPI.


  • Issue Arrest Warrants
  • Determine Jurisdiction and Admissibility
  • Confirm or Reject Charges
  • Adjudicate Cases
  • Hear Appeals

The Chambers consist of eighteen judges organized into the Pre-Trial Division, the Trial Division, and the Appeals Division. The judges of each Division are then divided into Chambers which are responsible for conducting the proceedings of the Court on specific cases and situations at different stages of the judicial procedure.


The judiciary of the Court is composed of three Divisions: The Appeals Division, the Trial Division and the Pre-Trial Division. The Appeals Chamber consists of all five judges of the Appeals Division. The Pre-Trial and Trial Chambers consist of three judges each from their respective Divisions. In addition, many of the functions of the Pre-Trial Chamber may be carried out by a Single Judge sitting as his own Chamber. The Presiding Judge of a Chamber is elected by the judges of the Chamber in question. The Appeals Chamber decides on a Presiding Judge for each appeal.


The Pre-Trial Chamber plays an important role in the first phase of judicial proceedings and makes the decision whether to confirm the charges against the potential accused. After charges are confirmed, the Trial Chamber determines the innocence or guilt of the accused, imposes a sentence on a convicted person, and may order a convicted person to pay money for compensation, restitution, or rehabilitation for victims. If either the Prosecutor or the convicted person appeal the decision of the Trial Chamber, the Appeals Chamber may decide to reverse or amend the decision or sentence or order a new trial before a different Trial Chamber.

Photos courtesy of ICC-CPI, Link to Poland, Tufts Alumni, and LinkedIn.

Office Of The Prosecutor

  • Analyze Jurisdiction and Admissibility
  • Work with Governments and other Actors to Facilitate Cooperation
  • Investigate Crimes
  • Prosecute Individuals

The Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) is responsible for receiving referrals and any substantiated information on crimes within the jurisdiction of the Court. OTP examines these referrals and information, conducts investigations, and conducts prosecutions before the Court.


OTP is composed of three Divisions. The Prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, makes the final decisions on the commencement of investigations and prosecutions. The Deputy Prosecutor, James Stewart, is in charge of all the Divisions; Phakiso Mochochoko is the Head of the Jurisdiction, Complementarity and Cooperation Division; Fabricio Guariglia is the Head of the Prosecutions Division; and Michel de Smedt is the Head of the Investigations Division.


First, OTP performs preliminary analysis on the referrals and information on crimes that it receives to determine if they meet the jurisdictional requirements to merit an investigation. If OTP determines that the situation meets jurisdictional requirements, then it conducts an investigation into the situation. Should the investigation yield enough evidence to merit the issuing of arrest warrants, OTP applies to the Pre-Trial Chamber for the issuance of a warrant or a summons to appear. After the accused has been arrested or summoned to court voluntarily, OTP presents its charges and its evidence to the Pre-Trial Chamber and the Pre-Trial Chamber determines whether to confirm the charges. After charges are confirmed, OTP conducts the entirety of the prosecution at trial.

Photos courtesy of and ICC-CPI.


  • Administer Court Services
  • Assist External Defense and Victims Counsel
  • Organize Witness & Victims Protection
  • Facilitate Victim Participation and Reparations

The Registry provides judicial and administrative support to all organs of the Court and carries out its specific responsibilities in the areas of defense, victims and witnesses, outreach and detention.


It is headed by the Registrar who is the principal administrative officer of the Court and oversees various offices and sections that perform specific administrative and supportive tasks.


In addition to providing all administrative support for the Court’s activities both at the headquarters in The Hague and in the field, the Registry has specific responsibilities in particular areas of the Court’s mandate. In the area of defense, the Registry protects the rights of defendants by administering the legal aid program for indigent defendants and providing various forms of assistance to defense counsel. The Registry provides a similar counsel support function to victims as well as ensuring the safety and support of witnesses and victims. The Registry also performs an essential outreach function by ensuring that affected communities in situations subject to investigation or proceedings can understand and follow the work of the Court through the different phases of its activities. The Registry is also responsible for administering and coordinating the detention of all those detained under the ICC’s authority.

Photo courtesy of Brandeis University.

Assembly of State Parties

  • Change ICC Law and Procedures
  • Elect Judges and Prosecutors
  • Determine ICC's Budget

The Assembly of State Parties (ASP) is the management oversight and legislative body of the Court.


The ASP is composed of representatives of the States that have ratified and acceded to the Rome Statute. In addition, the ASP has a Bureau that consists of a President, two Vice-Presidents and 18 members elected by the Assembly for three-year terms that supports the work of the ASP. It is not an organ of the Court but rather its oversight body.


The ASP sets the rules and regulations of the Court and decides on various items, such as the adoption of normative texts and of the budget, the election of the judges and of the Prosecutor and the Deputy Prosecutor(s).

Photos courtesy of Flickr.

Trust Fund for Victims

  • Support victims and their families through reparations and assistance.

The Trust Fund’s (TFV) dual mandate serves victims of crimes that fall within the Court’s jurisdiction through the provision of 1) general assistance including physical rehabilitation, psychological rehabilitation, and/or material support and 2) implementation of reparations awards ordered by the Court against a convicted person.


The TFV is comprised of a five-member Board of Directors elected by the ASP for three-year terms. The five seats are distributed according to the five major world regions. Each member serves in an individual capacity on a pro bono basis.

TFV projects are funded through fines and forfeitures of convicted persons, voluntary donations by member states and individual donors. To implement services and programs, the TFV collaborates with national and international partners through a grant-making process.


The two mandates of the TFV, general assistance and reparations, were established to provide support to victims of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes committed. The key difference between the assistance and reparations mandates is that reparations are linked to accountability, arising from individual criminal responsibility of a convicted person, whereas the assistance mandate is not.

The TFV’s assistance mandate enables victims and their families to receive assistance prior to a conviction by the Court. The assistance mandate is crucial in helping to repair the harm that victims have suffered, by providing assistance: 1) in a timelier manner than the judicial process may allowed, and 2) to a more extensive range of victims who are affected by the broader situations before the Court, regardless of whether the harm they suffered stems from particular crimes charged in a specific case.

The TFV is responsible for implementing reparations as ordered by the Court. The Court determines the most appropriate forms of reparation in light of the context of the case, and in light of the rights and wishes of the victims and their communities. Reparations may be individual or collective, and can take many different forms, including restitution, compensation and rehabilitation. However, reparations are not limited to just individual, monetary compensation; they may also be awarded in more collective or symbolic forms, as measures that can help to promote reconciliation within divided communities.

Since 2008, the Trust Fund has implemented projects in Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, providing support to over 110,000 victims of crimes under the jurisdiction of the Court. Over 5,000 survivors of sexual and gender-based violence including girls abducted and/or conscripted and sexually enslaved by armed groups, and children of women victimized by campaigns of mass rape and displacement have been supported by Trust Fund projects.