Conference: Sufficient Gravity before the International Criminal Court
April 11, 2018
The assessment of sufficient gravity has played a pivotal role in recent proceedings before the International Criminal Court (ICC). Under the ICC Statute, situations are investigated and individuals are prosecuted if a case is of a sufficient gravity. However, the ICC Statute nowhere defines gravity, nor are there any indications regarding the elements that are relevant in the assessment of sufficient gravity. The Appeals Chamber has not offered any interpretation of the gravity threshold, while the references provided by the ICC Pre-Trial and Trial Chambers have been scant and inconclusive. Accordingly, the Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) has enjoyed great discretion on whether to open an investigation or to initiate proceedings on the basis of its assessment of the sufficient gravity threshold. For instance, in 2006 the OTP refused to open an investigation on alleged international crimes committed in Iraq due to a lack of sufficient gravity. Similarly, in 2014 the OTP refused to open an investigation regarding the boarding of the Mavi Marmara vessel by the Israeli Defense Force as the situation was not considered sufficiently grave: although this decision was reversed by the ICC Pre-Trial Chamber, on 29 November 2017 the Prosecution confirmed its assessment regarding the lack of sufficient gravity. The conference discusses the issue of sufficient gravity under the ICC Statute in a comprehensive manner. The conference brings together experts of international criminal law and of other areas of international law in order to answer some questions about gravity never explored before.