Library of Congress

Law Library of Congress

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

International Criminal Court; South Korea: Examination of Recent Incidents as Possible War Crimes

(Dec. 9, 2010) On December 7, 2010, Luis Moreno Ocampo, the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), stated that following the receipt of communications from Korean citizens on the matter, he is considering the question of treating recent incidents in the Republic of Korea (South Korea or ROK) as war crimes. The two events in question are the November 23, 2010, shelling of Yeonpyeong Island, which caused deaths and injuries to both military personnel and civilians in the ROK, and the March 26, 2010, sinking of a warship, the Cheonan, during which 46 people died. The allegation in the March incident is that a torpedo from a submarine from the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (North Korea) caused the disaster. (ICC Prosecutor Looking into Possibility of War Crimes in Republic of Korea, UN NEWS CENTRE (Dec. 7, 2010),

“The work to do now is to check if these inicidents that they mentioned are war crimes and then [to determine] if we have jurisdiction,” Ocampo stated. (Id.) The ROK has been a party to the Rome Statute, the document that created the ICC, since November 2002 and the agreement came into effect for the country on February 1, 2003. (Republic of Korea, ICC website,
(last visited Dec. 8, 2010); Rome Statute (in force since July 1, 2002), ICC website,
.) The ICC thus now has jurisdiction of war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide cases committed in the ROK or by its nationals. The prosecutor's office, which is given the responsibility under the Rome Statute for determining whether an investigation into alleged war crimes is needed, has already begun preliminary examination of the two incidents. (UN NEWS CENTRE, supra.)

Ocampo made the statement in New York, during a meeting of all the parties to the Rome Statute. He also said that his office is going to present two cases this month related to the post-election violence in Kenya in 2007 and 2008. Other incidents currently being investigated occurred in the Central African Republic, Sudan (Darfur area), the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Uganda. (Id.)