The principle of the separation of powers was introduced in the eighteenth century by Montesquieu to protect citizens from the unbridled power of the state. It would enhance the legitimacy of the International Court to apply this principle to a greater degree, argues Geert-Jan Knoops in his inaugural lecture.
Legal systems exist not just to protect society from individuals, but particularly to protect the individual against the power of the state. That is the reason for the emergence of the separation of powers, a principle that decrees that the executive, legislative and judicial powers should operate independently of each other. However, the system of the International Court in The Hague has a number of features that are at odds with this principle. One is that, according to the system of the International Court, judges can have the nature of the alleged crimes or the form of liability the accused is subject to changed, without the prosecutor having asked for this. In his inaugural lecture Knoops makes a distinction between internal separation of powers (between the bodies that make up the International Court) and external separation of powers (between the States Parties and the International Court) and illustrates the importance of observing both. If they are not, there is a risk that verdicts will not have sufficient legitimacy, and this could have a negative effect on the public image of the Court, which is already receiving criticism.
G.G.J. Knoops, professor by special appointment of Politics of International Law: Separation of powers at the International Criminal Court.
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