Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Date



One of the most important issues surrounding international courts is whether they can further the dual causes of peace and justice. None has been more ambitious in this regard than the International Criminal Court (ICC). And yet the ICC has been the object of a good deal of criticism. Some people claim it has been an expensive use of resources that might have been directed to other purposes. Others claim that its accomplishments are meager because it has managed to try and convict so few people. And many commentators and researchers claim that the Court faces an inherent tension between the dual objectives of securing the peace and ending impunity for perpetrators of some of the most egregious crimes, including genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and crimes of aggression.

This chapter assesses the ability of the ICC to deter. In so doing, we follow the lead of the introduction and think not only about the Court’s performance in the narrow sense (e.g., how many people have been tried?) but rather think about the ways in which the ICC has contributed to a broader culture that refuses to tolerate impunity for violations of international criminal law. Because we must limit our topic to manageable proportions (and because we are social scientists and not lawyers) our focus is primarily on outcome performance rather than procedural performance. We focus on two outcomes alluded to in the introductory chapter: 1) reaching desired goals, and 2) deterring atrocities against civilians.


Empirical legal studies, International Criminal Court, ICC, Rome Statute, crimes against humanity, genocide, war crimes, prevention, deterrence, domestic law, jurisdiction, outcome performance evaluation

Publication Title

The Performance of International Courts and Tribunals

Publication Citation

In The Performance of International Courts and Tribunals (Andreas Follesdal, Theresa Squatrito, and Geir Ulfstein eds., Cambridge 2018)