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With judges chosen, cases underway, and judgments rendered, the International Criminal Court has officially begun operations. As the Court has proceeded with its activities, its potential has become enhanced. The creation of the Court through the 1998 Rome Statute came through cooperation of an exceptionally broad coalition of NGOs with like-minded states. This article examines the historical background to the Court’s establishment, exploring why seemingly favorable conditions after the World Wars failed to result in a permanent judicial institution. Even post-1948 genocides in Southeast Asia, Central Africa, and elsewhere did not lead to international steps. Unexpected events, including the end of the Cold War and special tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda, reopened the possibility for action. Despite opposition from most Permanent Members of the Security Council, the Coalition for the International Criminal Court—the major focus of this study—coordinated a network of citizen groups to exert pressure successfully. The 2010 Review Conference for the International Criminal Court reaffirmed the Court’s basic directions, and broadened the areas over which it exercises powers of judgment. The 1998 “miracle on the Tiber” and subsequent steps strengthening the Court thus call into question long-standing assumptions about the relative significance of states and civil society.