The ICC is a landmark in the historical evolution from a culture of impunity to a more mature age of accountability. The Court is a cause for celebration not so much because of what it will achieve in the future, but because of what it signifies about the past. To the extent that law reflects existing mores of conduct, the ICC is first and foremost a monument to humankind's gradual renunciation of atrocities as an instrument of statecraft. In the abiding shadow of total war, and in the midst of a global hypertechnological economy, the inexorable dictates of interdependence have radically redefined mainstream power. The annihilation of alien peoples as a means of conquest and supremacy-long the leitmotif of history-is increasingly an aberration, albeit one that still haunts our conscience with disturbing frequency. A system of international criminal justice is finally within reach because crimes against humanity have become the exception rather than the norm.
The ICC process unfolded parallel to, and was accelerated and shaped by, the haphazard emergence of an international criminal justice system consisting of ad hoc international tribunals, hybrid or "mixed" tribunals, and national courts, supplemented by other accountability mechanisms such as truth commissions. In particular, the International Criminal Tribunals for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) and for Rwanda (ICTR)-established by the Security Council as Chapter VII enforcement measures-served as laboratories within which abstract, post-Nuremberg conceptions of justice took shape and became reality. The indictment of sitting heads of state, such as Slobodan Milosevic, became a defining moment for the rule of law in its most stark sense, embodying the proposition-captured in the Nuremberg Judgment's aphorism-that "[c]rimes against international law are committed by men, not by abstract entities, and only by punishing individuals who commit such crimes can the provisions of international law be enforced.