Why it matters: The International Criminal Court is an intergovernmental organization and international tribunal tasked with prosecuting the worst crimes committed against human rights. The court is now prosecuting cyberwar crimes as well, and cybercriminals are already retaliating.
The International Criminal Court (ICC) recently reported a cybersecurity incident involving its “information systems.” The court detected some unspecified “anomalous activity” on its systems at the end of last week, taking immediate measures to respond to this incident and mitigate its impact.
The ICC is hosted in the Dutch city of The Hague, and Dutch authorities are already assisting the Court with the investigation. The ICC hasn’t provided any details about the incident yet, but the fact that Dutch authorities are working with the organization is likely proof of a serious breach in the ICC’s IT infrastructure.
An ICC official statement says that the Court is still analyzing and trying to mitigate the impact of this incident, while priority has been given to ensuring that the core work of the organization continues unabated. Collaboration with the “Host Country” (i.e., the Netherlands) is “excellent,” the Court says, with immediate response and support provided after the breach was discovered.
While working to mitigate this past week’s incident, the ICC is also strengthening its cyber-security framework for the future. The Court has decided to “accelerate” the adoption of cloud technologies, even though there are no guarantees that the cloud will provide more security at all.
Furthermore, the ICC also states that support from national states and other stakeholders remains critical to enhance the Court’s institutional resilience “under challenging circumstances.” The ICC has 123 member states, including all the countries of South America, nearly all of Europe, most of Oceania and half of African nations. The US, China and Russia haven’t signed the Court’s statute, while 31 other countries have signed but not ratified the statute yet.
The ICC prosecutes international crimes related to genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and aggression. The organization, which works independently from the UN and its International Court of Justice, issued an arrest warrant against Russian President Vladimir Putin for Ukraine invasion in March 2023. The recent security breach could be a retaliation attempt by state-sponsored Russian hackers, or it could be related to the recently stated intention of the Court’s lead prosecutor to also investigate any hacking crimes that violate existing international laws.