Library of Congress

Law Library of Congress

The Library of Congress > Law Library > News & Events > Global Legal Monitor

Congo, The Democratic Republic of the: ICC’s Jurisdiction Challenged

(June 4, 2009) It was reported on June 1, 2009, that the International Criminal Court (ICC) commenced a proceeding to consider a motion brought by an alleged Congolese militia leader, Germain Katanga, who was arrested and transferred to the ICC in 2007 to face three counts of crimes against humanity and six counts of war crimes for a deadly assault in Bogoro, a village in Ituri Province of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The motion challenges the basis of the ICC's jurisdiction. Katanga's argument, which is based on the “principle of complementarity,” is that similar criminal charges have already been brought against him in the DRC. (ICC Considers Admissibility Motion in Case of Congolese Militia Leader, UN NEWS CENTRE, June 1, 2009, available at

The Rome Statute, a convention that established and governs the jurisdictional limits of the ICC, in its preamble and in the first article of its main text, states that the ICC “shall be complementary to national criminal jurisdictions.” Under article 17, the Statute expressly states that the ICC is to assume jurisdiction of a case that is otherwise admissible before the Court only if the country that enjoys jurisdiction over the matter is “unwilling or unable to genuinely carryout the investigation or prosecution.” (Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court [A/CONF.183/9 of July 17, 1998, as amended, in force on July 1, 2002], ICC official website,
/0/Rome_Statute_English.pdf z (last visited June 2, 2009).