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Briefing: A rocky start for war crimes world court

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"The ICC system exists to complement domestic jurisdiction – they fit hand in hand," says Mike Newton, a law professor at Vanderbilt University who helped negotiate the document that defines crimes within the court's jurisdiction. "So only the most serious cases, only the crimes of international concern that are of sufficient gravity, are the ones intended to be handled. Everything else is supposed to be handled by domestic courts."

The court has jurisdiction over cases in which the accused is a national of a member state, the crime took place on the territory of a member state, or the UN Security Council refers a situation to the court. It can only prosecute crimes committed after its inception.

The court has opened cases in Uganda, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Sudan, and the Central African Republic. Critics have called it "white man's justice" since all 12 ICC cases so far have been against African suspects.

Is the ICC's global pursuit of justice actually undermining peace in Africa?

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