Dual Nationality and International Criminal Court Jurisdiction

The International Criminal Court (ICC) can exercise jurisdiction over nationals of states parties. However, it has never been clear whether the Court will automatically recognize a nationality that has been conferred by a state party under its domestic law, nor what criteria it would use to evaluate that nationality should it not be automatically accepted. In December 2019, the Office of the Prosecutor made its first formal pronouncement on the question, finding that the ICC does not have jurisdiction over North Koreans, despite their being South Korean nationals under South Korean law, because North Koreans are not able to exercise their rights as South Koreans until accepted as such by application, and on occasion their applications might be refused. In this article, I reject the Prosecutor’s analysis as misguided. I also reject the other main approaches to nationality recognition suggested by scholars, namely a ‘genuine link’ requirement, a deferral to municipal law, and a deferral to municipal law except where a conferral of nationality violates international law. Instead, I propose a functional approach that would respect municipal conferral of nationality unless that conferral unreasonably interferes with the sovereign interests of a non-state party.

Andrew Wolman, Dual Nationality and International Criminal Court Jurisdiction, Journal of International Criminal Justice, 2020.