Complementarity under the Rome Statute
The principle of complementarity has been accepted as a prime concept for the working of the International Criminal Court. This principle distinguishes the Court from other international justice institutions, such as the international criminal tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda (the ICTY and the ICTR), as these institutions had primacy over national jurisdictions. In contrast, the birth giving authority of the court, the Rome Statute recognizes the primary responsibility of the States to prosecute international crimes. Only when the national legal systems fail to fulfill this duty i.e. either they are unwilling or genuinely unable to do so, the ICC can exercise its jurisdiction. The foundation for this legal concept is laid not only for respecting the sovereignty of states, but also on considerations of efficiency and effectiveness for the ICC because as a single court, it faces feasibility issues. Another major factor that creates preferability for the states is the fact that they generally have the best access to evidence and witnesses as well as other resources to carry out proceedings. However, the rule of complementarity often ends up being used as a shield by states to hinder the process of justice. Usually this is the case where crimes are being perpetrated with the assistance and connivance of the national authorities. In such cases, this rule comes to their rescue as these states get an opportunity to pretend to investigate and prosecute crimes and conduct proceedings. It is for this reason that the rule of complementarity has been seen as a limitation upon the jurisdiction of the ICC. However, this does not stand true. An attempt has been made in this article to bring forth the elements as well as the positives of the concept of complementarity.
Keywords - Rome Statute, International Criminal Court, Complementarity, Admissibility, Unwillingness, Inability, Genuineness, Sufficient Gravity, International Crimes