The International Criminial Court (ICC): The ICC was established by Rome Statute. The ICC only has the power to investigate and prosecute four core international crimes: genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and the crime of aggression. These crimes have no statue of limitations (it’s quite common for these types of crimes to be tried years, sometimes decades, after they’ve been committed because they can be very hard to prove.) The ICC only has jurisdiction in cases in which states are “unable” or “unwilling” to prosecute these cases themselves. The ICC also only has jurisdiction over crimes if they are committed in the territory of a signatory state or committed by a citizen or national of a signatory state. The exception to this is if the United Nations Security Council awards jurisdiction to the ICC.
- Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACHR): The IACHR was established in 1979 out of the American Convention on Human Rights held by the Organization of American States (OAS). It was created to enforce and interpret the provisions of the convention, allowing the court to both advise member states and make rulings in cases involving them. The U.S. is not party to the IACHR. Alongside the IACHR is the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, which studies human rights issues in member state, rather than rule on them.
- European Court of Human Rights (ECHR): The ECHR has the authority to make decisions on any complaints filed against its member states. These complaints must detail a state’s violation of the European Convention on Human Rights. Its accompanying non-legal body is the European Committee of Social Rights (ECSR).
- African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR): The ACHPR also makes decisions on complaints filed against its member states. Its non-legal partner is the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR) whose members are any and all African states party to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights.
- There are several regions that do not have a human rights court. Many do, though, have non-legal bodies dedicated to human rights like the regions above: