Atrocity crimes — war crimes, crimes against humanity, genocide and the crime of aggression — threaten national and global security by violating our most fundamental international norms and the rights of civilian populations. Responding to such crimes is therefore a global responsibility, one frequently led by the International Criminal Court (ICC). With atrocities ongoing in Ukraine and elsewhere, the ICC prosecutor plays a critical role in holding perpetrators accountable and delivering justice to victims.

On April 26, USIP hosted a conversation with ICC Prosecutor Khan and Ambassador David J. Scheffer to discuss the ICC’s efforts to secure justice for victims of mass atrocities, the challenges faced by the ICC in responding to ongoing atrocities in Ukraine and elsewhere, and Prosecutor Khan’s priorities for his tenure in the office.

Elected ICC prosecutor in 2021, Karim Khan has worked to advance justice for victims of mass atrocities, to raise the profile of the ICC’s work and to explore new models for achieving accountability for atrocity crimes. Khan recently presented opening arguments in the prosecution of a senior Janjaweed commander allegedly responsible for the atrocities committed by the regime of former Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir. The trial is the first prosecution of any senior leader for the atrocities committed in Darfur and fills a considerable gap in providing justice to victims of these crimes. 

Khan also responded swiftly to the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine, opening an investigation and working with Ukrainian officials to facilitate evidence collection. Further, Khan has expanded the ICC’s investigative capacity, including through the establishment of a fund that allows the ICC to use technological tools to collect evidence. Khan has also worked to support states and regional bodies in holding perpetrators of mass atrocities accountable, allowing the ICC to fulfill its role as the court of last resort.

Ambassador Scheffer was the first U.S. Ambassador at Large for War Crimes Issues and led the U.S. delegation to the U.N. talks establishing the ICC. He signed the Rome Statute of the ICC on behalf of the United States on December 31, 2000. He negotiated the creation of five war crimes tribunals and chaired the Atrocities Prevention Inter-Agency Working Group from 1998-2001.

Take part in the conversation on Twitter with #USIPICC.

Speakers

Lise Grande, moderator 
President and CEO, U.S. Institute of Peace 

Karim A. A. Khan, QC 
Prosecutor, International Criminal Court

Ambassador David Scheffer
Senior Fellow, Council on Foreign Relations

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