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International Criminal Law - Conclusion

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International criminal law has long been limited by the fact that criminal lawyers and criminal law judges rarely work with international law or international cases, while international lawyers and international judges tend to have little experience with criminal law. This changed as the work of the ICTY and ICTR, and the negotiations leading to the birth of a permanent ICC, brought the world's top specialists in international law into contact with specialists in criminal law from the various nations. The result was an unprecedented period of progress for international criminal law.

The jurisdiction of the soon-to-beestablished ICC will initially be very limited, but supporters hope that it will grow into a strong, independent, and effective institution of international justice. Critics oppose creating a stronger and more comprehensive system of international criminal law, fearing the loss of state sovereignty and national freedom of action. In light of this persistent attitude, it remains to be seen how far and how effectively the institutionalization of international criminal law will progress in the future.

The practices of state prosecutors in matters of international criminal law have developed in parallel to the development of international criminal courts. In 1999, a Spanish prosecutor's bold attempt to extradite Chilean General Augusto Pinochet from the United Kingdom marked the beginning of a radical new willingness of national authorities to prosecute for international crimes committed on the territory of another state. It also led to a historic decision by the House of Lords affirming that even a former head of state could be prosecuted for the international crime of torture. That case is likely to inspire more such prosecutions in the future, a trend that may prove as significant for the development of international criminal law as the establishment of the permanent International Criminal Court.

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