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Inventing the Laws of Gravity: The ICC's Initial Lubanga Decision and its Regressive Consequences

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It now appears likely that Thomas Lubanga Dyilo will be the first person tried before the International Criminal Court. In 2006, the Pre-Trial Chamber of the ICC authorized the issuance of a warrant of arrest for Lubanga, the leader of a military organization in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. In so doing, the Pre-Trial Chamber examined the ICC Statute's admissibility requirements for cases and held that only cases that meet a prescribed standard of "aggravated gravity" are admissible before the Court. In this article, the author argues that the Pre-Trial Chamber's Lubanga decision will have several long-term negative consequences on the ability of the ICC to fulfil its mandate. As a direct result of the Chamber's decision on gravity, the ICC will be unable to replicate many of the successes and advances made in international justice by the International Criminal Tribunals in the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda.

Affiliations: 1: Faculty of Law, University of Otago, New Zealand; BSc (Alberta), LLB (Queen's), LLM (Harvard)


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