Source: (2006) Human Rights Review. 7(3): 5-25.

The war in the DRC has resulted in one of the world’s worst humanitarian crisis with over 3.4 million displaced persons scattered throughout the country. An estimated 4 million people have died as a result of the war. The most pressing need to be addressed is the question of justice and accountability for these human rights atrocities in order to achieve a durable peace in the country and also in the Great Lakes region. It is particularly true in post-conflict situations where justice systems have been either partially or completely destroyed, that national courts are not capable of arriving at a uniform stance, or willing to provide justice for atrocities in the immediate future. As a result, international justice seems to be a crucial and last resort that must continue to be fortified against efforts to undermine it. However, even if the ICC achieves its full potential, it faces a number of challenges. Firstly, it is realistically not able to address all situations in which national courts are unwilling or unable to prosecute perpetrators. Secondly, there are temporal and other jurisdictional limitations on what cases the ICC can hear. Accordingly, the ICC will only have the power to try people accused of the gravest human rights violations committed after 1 July 2002; the date the Rome Statute which established the ICC took effect. As a result, only a small number of individuals responsible for the atrocities committed will be tried by this Court. Thirdly, is the establishment of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), one of the civilian institutions that emerged from the peace talks, meant to end impunity or to cover up gross violations of human rights committed in the DRC? It remains to be seen how it will function and interact with the courts. (Excerpt).