The court will try war crimes cases
The world's first permanent war crimes tribunal, the International Criminal Court, will be presided over at The Hague by 18 judges. Here follows brief biographies of the 11 men and seven women.
The seven female judges:
Maureen Clark (Ireland)
Maureen Clark has served as a judge at the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY).
She is an expert in criminal law and has experience of both prosecuting and defending serious crimes such as rape, murder, money-laundering and fraud.
Elizabeth Odio Benito (Costa Rica)
Judge Benito has been both a judge and a vice-president of the ICTY.
She has extensive experience within the United Nations, working on a key anti-discrimination report and heading the UN's anti-torture group.
Fatoumata Diarra (Mali)
Fatoumata Diarra served as a judge at the ICTY in The Hague and was vice president of the International Federation of Women with Legal Careers.
She is particularly recognised for her work in the protection of women's and children's rights.
Akua Kuenyehia (Ghana)
Professor Kuenyehia is dean faculty of law of the University of Ghana.
She specialises in women's affairs and has coordinated research on women and law in Anglophone West Africa.
Navanethem Pillay (South Africa)
Navanethem Pillay became the first woman to start a law practice in Natal Province, South Africa in 1967 and was the first black woman to serve in her country's high court.
When practising law she defended many opponents of apartheid.
Judge Pillay has been president of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) since 1999.
Sylvia Steiner (Brazil)
Judge Steiner has extensive experience in criminal law and is an expert in international human rights and humanitarian law.
She has been a judge in the Federal Court of Appeals in Sao Paulo, Brazil since 1995.
Anita Usacka (Latvia)
Anita Usacka has been a judge at the Constitutional Court of the republic of Latvia since 1996.
She has led international research projects on the rule of law and democracy in Eastern and Central European states.
From 1994 to 1996, she was the Executive Director of the Latvian branch for Unicef.
The 11 male judges:
Rene Blattman (Bolivia)
Judge Blattmann is a former minister of justice and human rights and has extensive experience in international law, criminal law and human rights.
He notably set up human rights offices in conflict zones, particularly in indigenous areas.
Adrian Fulford (Britain)
A barrister since 1978, and a queen's counsel from 1994, Judge Fulford is currently a British High Court judge.
He has extensive criminal and human rights law experience.
His particular areas of expertise include violence against women and children, murder, terrorism and the handling of sensitive information.
Karl T Hudson-Phillips (Trinidad and Tobago)
A graduate of Cambridge University, Mr Hudson-Philips was called to the bars of the UK and Trinidad and Tobago.
He went on to become attorney general and minister of legal affairs of Trinidad and Tobago in 1969 to 1973.
He has defended and prosecuted a number of high-profile cases in the Caribbean region.
Claude Jorda (France)
Claude Jorda has been the president of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia since 1999.
In France, he has been attorney general of the Paris and Bordeaux appeals courts and was director of judicial services for the French Ministry of Justice.
Hans-Peter Kaul (Germany)
Judge Kaul was head of the public international law division at the German Foreign Office from 1996 to 2002.
Since last year he has been the foreign office's ambassador and commissioner for the International Criminal Court.
Philippe Kirsch (Canada)
Judge Kirsch chaired the preparatory commission for the ICC from 1999 to 2002.
He is an expert in the development of international criminal law, particularly on terrorism.
Erkki Kourula (Finland)
Judge Kourula has pursued a distinguished career with the Finnish Ministry for Foreign Affairs and is director general for legal affairs.
Judge Kourula is an expert in human rights law.
Georghios Pikis (Cyprus)
Judge Pikis has been president of the Supreme Court of Cyprus since 1995.
He has also served at the European Court on Human Rights and on the UN Committee against Torture.
Mauro Politi (Italy)
Mauro Politi was legal advisor to the Italian delegation at the United Nations from 1992 to 2001 and was also a judge at the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia.
Tuiloma Neroni Slade (Samoa)
Judge Slade was formerly attorney general of Samoa and from 1993 to 2003 he was Samoa's permanent representative to the United Nations.
Sang-Hyun Song (South Korea)
Judge Song is a member of the advisory committee to the South Korean Supreme Court and the South Korean Ministry of Justice and as such has participated in national reforms.