International criminal law is principally manifested in the workings of the two judicial bodies, the International Court of Justice and the International Criminal Court. The International Court of Justice is the principal judicial branch of the United Nations and it was established under the U.N. Charter. All member states of the United Nations may appear before the Court. Its jurisdiction extends to legal disputes between member states and advisory opinions related to matters sanctioned by other authorized United Nations bodies. Only states may appear before the Court, as it has no jurisdiction to try the cases brought by individuals or any non-state parties. The International Criminal Court, unlike the International Court of Justice, has the ability to try individuals accused of genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and, once it is defined, crimes of aggression. The Rome Statute, the Court’s founding document, came into force in 2002 and the court has jurisdiction over cases mostly in those states that are parties to the Convention, unless a state voluntarily submits or a referral is made by the United Nations Security Council.
Many national or transnational crimes may not necessarily fall under the mandate of the abovementioned tribunals; however they still comprise a vital sector of international criminal law. The United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime came into force in 2003 and along with its subsequent protocols. It addresses issues of human trafficking, arms trafficking and money laundering. The United Nations appointed the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime as the implementing body for the Convention and its chief program areas of work concern issues of organized crime and trafficking, corruption, criminal justice reform, prevention of illicit drug abuse and terrorism prevention.
The Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment is another key instrument in the body of international criminal law. States parties are required to implement the Convention in a manner that prohibits and prevents torture and related activities within their borders and to prevent the transport of persons to countries in which it is strongly believed that they will be tortured.