International criminal law deals with the criminal responsibility of individuals for international crimes. There is no generally accepted definition of international crimes. A distinction can be made between international crimes which are based on international customary law and therefore apply universally and crimes resulting from specific treaties which criminalize certain conduct and require the contracting states to implement legislation for the criminal prosecution of this conduct in their domestic legal system. The international core crimes - crimes over which international tribunals have been given jurisdiction under international law - are: genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and aggression. International criminal law finds its origin in both international law and criminal law and closely relates to other areas of international law. The most important areas are human rights law and international humanitarian law as well as the law on state responsibility. The sources of international criminal law are the same as those of general international law mentioned in article 38(1) of the Statute of the International Court of Justice: treaties, international customary law, general principles of law, judicial decisions and writings of eminent legal scholars. The Nuremberg and Tokyo trials signaled the birth of present-day international criminal law, i.e., the prosecution of individuals for international crimes before international tribunals. In the early nineties of the previous century international criminal law received a major stimulus with the establishment of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia and the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda by the United Nations Security Council. The creation of various internationalized or mixed criminal courts and the proposals of the International Law Commission, which resulted in the creation of the International Criminal Court in 2002, contributed to the rapid development of international criminal law during the last two decades.

This Guide is intended as a starting point for research in the field of International Criminal Law. It provides the basic legal materials available in the Peace Palace Library, both in print and electronic format. Handbooks, leading articles, bibliographies, periodicals, serial publications and documents of interest are presented in the Selective Bibliography section. Links to the PPL Catalogue are inserted. The Library's subject heading (keyword) International Criminal Law is instrumental for searching through the Catalogue. Special attention is given to our subscriptions on databases, e-journals, e-books and other electronic resources. Finally, this Research Guide features links to relevant websites and other online resources of particular interest.


Sources of international criminal law



UN Declarations and Resolutions

Soft law

Reference works

Selected books and articles

Periodicals, serial publications

  • Anckarsäter, H. (et al.), “Mental Health and International Crimes”, in I. Bantekas and E. Mylonaki (eds.), Criminological Approaches to International Criminal Law, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2014, pp. 263-286.
  • Bernaz, N., “Corporate Criminal Liability under International Law: The New TV S.A.L. and Akhbar Beirut S.A.L. Cases at the Special Tribunal for Lebanon”, Journal of International Criminal Justice, 13 (2015), No. 2, pp. 313-330.
  • Borda, A. Z., “How Do International Judges Approach Competing Precedent? An Analysis of the Practice of International Criminal Courts and Tribunals in Relation to Substantive Law”, International Criminal Law Review, 15 (2015), No. 1, pp. 124-146.
  • Bufalini, A., “The Principle of Legality and the Role of Customary International Law in the Interpretation of the ICC Statute”, The Law and Practice of International Courts and Tribunals: A Practitioners’ Journal, 14 (2015), No. 2, pp. 233-254.
  • Cimiotta, E., “The First Steps of the Extraordinary African Chambers: A New Mixed Criminal Tribunal”, Journal of International Criminal Justice, 13 (2015), No. 1, pp. 177-197.
  • Clarke, K. M., “Refiguring the Perpetrator: Culpability, History and International Criminal Law’s Impunity Gap”, The International Journal of Human Rights, 19 (2015), No. 5, pp. 592-614.
  • Combs, N. A., “Seeking Inconsistency: Advancing Pluralism in Criminal Sentencing”, Yale Journal of International Law, 41 (2016), No. 1, pp. 1-49.
  • Davidson, C., “Explaining Inhumanity: The Use of Crime-Definition Experts at International Criminal Courts”, Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law, 48 (2015), No. 2, pp. 359-425.
  • Ford, S., “The Complexity of International Criminal Trials is Necessary”, The George Washington International Law Review, 48 (2015), No. 1, pp. 151-201.
  • Freckelton, I. and Karagiannakis, M., "Fitness to Stand Trial under International Criminal Law", in Mackay, R. and Brookbanks, W. (eds.), Fitness to plead: international and comparative perspectives, Oxford, United Kingdom, Oxford University Press, 2018, pp. 273-297.
  • Freeman, L., “Digital Evidence and War Crimes Prosecutions: The Impact of Digital Technologies on International Criminal Investigations and Trials” Fordham International Law Journal, 41 (2018) No. 2, pp. 283-335.
  • Gil Gil, A., “Current Trends in the Definition of "Perpetrator" by the International Criminal Court: From the Decision on the Confirmation of Charges in the Lubanga Case to the Katanga Judgment”, Leiden Journal of International Law, 28 (2015), No. 2, pp. 349-371.
  • Goetz, M., “Reparative Justice at the International Criminal Court: Best Practice or Tokenism?”, in J.-A.M. Wemmers (ed.), Reparation for Victims of Crimes against Humanity: The Healing Role of Reparation, London, Routledge, 2014, pp. 53-70.
  • Groome, D., “Evidence in Cases of Mass Criminality”, in I. Bantekas and E. Mylonaki (eds.), Criminological Approaches to International Criminal Law, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2014, pp. 117-158.
  • Hale, K. and Cline, D., “Holding Collectives Accountable”, Criminal Law Forum, 25 (2014), No. 1-2, pp. 261-290.
  • Hamilton, T., “Case Admissibility at the International Criminal Court”, The Law and Practice of International Courts and Tribunals: A Practitioners’ Journal, 14 (2015), No. 2, pp. 305-317.
  • Jalloh, C.C., and A. Dibella, “Equality of Arms in International Criminal Law: Continuing Challenges”, in W.A. Schabas (et al.) (eds.), The Ashgate Research Companion to International Criminal Law, Farnham, Ashgate, 2013, pp. 251-287.
  • Kelder, J. M., Holá, B. and Van Wijk, J., “Rehabilitation and Early Release of Perpetrators of International Crimes: A Case Study of the ICTY and ICTR”, International Criminal Law Review, 14 (2014), No. 6, pp. 1177-1203.
  • Knoops, G. A., “Pursuing the ICC Crime of Aggression: Law or Politics?”, Justice, 56 (2015), pp. 26-33.
  • Kyriakakis, J., “International Legal Personality, Collective Entities, and International Crimes”, in N. Gal-Or, C. Ryngaert and M. Noortmann (eds.), Responsibilities of the Non-State Actor in Armed Conflict and the Market Place: Theoretical Considerations and Empirical Findings, Leiden, Brill Nijhoff, 2015, pp. 79-104.
  • Lovat, H., International Criminal Tribunal Backlash (September 2018). in: Heller, Mégret, Nouwen, Ohlin, Robinson (eds), Oxford Handbook of International Criminal Law (Oxford University Press, Forthcoming 2019). Available at SSRN:
  • Mohamad, R., “Access to International Justice: The Role of the International Criminal Court in Aiding National Prosecutions of International Crimes”, in P. Keyzer, V. Popovski and C. Sampford, Access to International Justice, London, Routledge, 2015, pp. 35-46.
  • Nemane, V. V. and Gunjal, I. D., “Article 124 of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court: “Transitional Provision” or “The Right to (Convenient) Opt-out”", International Criminal Law Review, 15 (2015), No. 5, pp. 949-969.
  • Post, H., “Reflections on the Future of International Criminal Law”, in K. Wellens (ed.), International Law in Silver Perspective: Challenges Ahead, Leiden, Brill Nijhoff, 2015, pp. 57-95.
  • Roberts, P., “The Priority of Procedure and the Neglect of Evidence and Proof: Facing Facts in International Criminal Law”, Journal of International Criminal Justice, 13 (2015), No. 3, pp. 479-506.
  • Rosenberg, S. P., “Audacity of Hope: International Criminal Law, Mass Atrocity Crimes, and Prevention”, in S. P. Rosenberg, T. Galis, A. Zucker, Reconstructing Atrocity Prevention, New York, NY, Cambridge University Press, pp. 151-174.
  • Soufi, J. and Maurice, S., “Structure, Functions and Initial Achievements of the Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals”, International Criminal Law Review, 15 (2015), No. 3, pp. 544-564.
  • Werle, G. and Burghardt, B., “Establishing Degrees of Responsibility: Modes of Participation in Article 25 of the ICC Statute”, in E. Van Sliedregt and S. Vasiliev, Pluralism in International Criminal Law, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2014, pp. 301-319.