Establishment: The Rome Statute creating the ICC was adopted in Italy on 17 July 1998. It came into being in July 2002 after the treaty was ratified by 60 countries. By now, 98 countries have endorsed the treaty.

Jurisdiction: It is a court of last resort that will act only when countries are ''unwilling or unable'' to dispense justice themselves. It may prosecute individuals responsible for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes committed after its creation. A fourth crime, aggression, has yet to be defined.

Cases: First indictments are expected this year against suspects in Uganda and Congo.

Composition: The court has 18 judges elected for terms of three to nine years. The lead prosecutor is Luis Moreno-Ocampo from Argentina. The President is Judge Philippe Kirsch from Canada.

US position: The United States was one of seven countries that voted against the Rome treaty in 1998. But the-then-President Bill Clinton signed it on 31 December 2000. President George Bush, citing fears Americans would be unfairly prosecuted for political reasons, renounced the signature and initiated bilateral immunity deals with dozens of countries barring them from handing US citizens to the court's jurisdiction.

Budget: About 70 million euros ($91 million) in 2005, paid by the countries in the ICC's governing body, the Assembly of States Parties.

Staff: As of 31 March, the court has 380 full-time employees.