Monday, January 29, 2007

Can the ICC Put Teeth in Human Rights Law?

The International Criminal Court announced today that it would prosecute Thomas Lubanga, for recruiting child soldiers during the Democratic Republic Congo's civil war. Advocates of the ICC argue that it has the potential to enforce basic human rights standards worldwide. While the Clinton Administration signed the Treaty of Rome creating the ICC, President Bush "unsigned" the treaty in 2001 and has opposed the ICC. See this BBC article on the Lubanga prosecution. One of the most important questions for those who study and practice law is whether and how the law can meaningfully confront the atrocities committed in conflict all over the world.


Propagandhi said...

Amnesty International: US Threats to the International Criminal Court

"The United States of America is the only state that is actively opposed to the new International Criminal Court. US opposition to the Court can be traced back to the adoption of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (Rome Statute) in 1998, where the USA was one of only 7 states to vote against adoption of the Statute. Reportedly a major reason for not supporting adoption of the Statute stems from the refusal of the international community to grant the United Nations Security Council (of which the USA is a veto holding permanent member) control over which cases the Court considered, instead favouring an independent Prosecutor who - subject to safeguards and fair trial guarantees - would make such decisions."

I personally believe we should sign it and help form an international system to prosecute these matters.

That being said if you read....

Article. VI.

Clause 2: This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding.

That means that this treaty would take precedence over our constitution which many people I know find to be a weakening of national sovereignty. My father who was in the Army is concerned that countries with negative feelings towards the U.S. would use the ICC to prosecute soldiers on the field and that fear of false prosecution would prevent the U.S. from deploying where they are needed.

Despite that concern I am in support of the ICC should it prove effective in its goal and if proper UN oversight is evident.

Professor Davis said...

Excellent points, propagandhi. Advocates of the ICC argue that there are numerous safeguards against politically motivated prosecutions.