Politics Commentary – The International Criminal Court (ICC)
The special report of the UPI’s website, released on the 18th this month, indicated that the ICC’s activities in Libya, i.e. the removal of the regime of Muammar Gaddafi, sent a message to others accused and observed by the ICC. Moreover, the article also mentioned the possible shift in the world’s perception of the importance of the existence of an international court and its influence on International Law and the war against impunity.
According to the official website of the ICC and the paper of Bernhard Graefrath, “Universal Criminal Jurisdiction and an International Criminal Court”, in the last decades, from the First World War until today, many conventions and activities on an international level were driven by the idea of the pursuit of a universal criminal jurisdiction or the dream of the establishment of an international criminal court. Many obstacles and unclarities, however, were needed to be overcome in order to make a step forward towards one of the two outcomes stated above. For example, it had to answer basic legal questions concerning sovereignty, drawing a clear line between ICC and the existing order of international law, jurisdiction of a country, a member of the ICC (who will be the one to judge- the national court or the ICC), a possible contradiction to international politics and national interests, and others.
Although the idea dates back to the 1920s,when it was suggested in the Genocide Convention, only during the 1970s some international NGOs made proposals of an international court, as well as the ILA presented a complete draft, which was adopted in Paris in 1984. In 1998, the Rome Statue of the International Criminal Court was adopted (120 votes). Some countries, such as the United States, Israel, Libya and Qatar were against the ICC.
In general, there are many positive, as well as negative aspects of the idea behind an international criminal court. According to a debate made over the internet about the ICC, some of the positive points mentioned were: the idealism behind the idea of a prosecution of international crimes against humanity, such as genocide and the consideration of humanity, human rights and humanitarian values; a further step towards universal rights and international law, the fact that the court will not be able to apply its jurisdiction if the national court of a specific country can handle the situation, meaning the preservation of sovereignty. Further, it makes it possible to advance a universal jurisdiction on war crimes; it tries to bring order, and to control politicization and abuse.
On the other hand, the negative aspects were also not a few: the creation of the ICC and joining it may cause a conflict with the UN’s objectives, it makes it more difficult to catch tyrants, the ICC’s rules of war may encourage the existence of a war, the inefficiency of the ICC in stopping war, the ICC may be seen as a weapon for accomplish specific countries’ goals, the ICC lacks of Democracy, and many others.
Considering those general points addressed above and recalling the latest developments in Libya should raise concerns in most people. According to the official website of the ICC, Libya is not a member state of the International Criminal Court. Thus, looking at the core ideas and laws established about the jurisdiction of the ICC, one should conclude that it does not have the jurisdiction to interfere in political and national matters of countries, which are non members. From one side, one can say that the outcome in Libya was pro the human kind. From the other, however, this ruins the idea of keeping the sovereignty of the country at stake.
Furthermore, the ICC decided in 2011, by itself, that Libya is under its jurisdiction, breaking its own rules.
Going back to the UPI’s report, where the British Foreign Minister demonstrates his appraisal, saying that the ICC is very relevant to the world and proves that it aims to stop crimes against humanity and fight impunity, one can conclude that this type of statement is rather subjective than objective.
In conclusion, one of the statements in the article is probably right: “The ICC now has its highest ever profile” (Bellingham). The ICC succeeded to increase the level of international social trust. However, the facts remain the same- the laws of the ICC were broken, the sovereignty of Libya was bridged, a huge step away from Democracy and International Law, when an interference could have been made in a different way. Whether stopping crime against Humanity was the real aim behind the “Libya mission” or not, only time will show. It is more than horrifying to think about the ways the ICC could use its power and jurisdiction in the future, in the interest of specific countries, thus, unable to escape what was aimed to be escaped from – politicization.
Bernhard Graefrath, “Universal Criminal Jurisdiction and an International Criminal Court”, (http://www.ejil.org/pdfs/1/1/1146.pdf), 20.11.2011
David Morrisson,” Referring Libya to the ICC is Blatant Hypocrisy”. March 2011, http://www.david-morrison.org.uk/libya/libya-icc.htm, 20.11.2011
ICC Official Website, www.icc-cpi.int, 20.11.2011
Rob Weekes, “International Criminal Court”, February 19, 2002, http://www.idebate.org/debatabase/topic_details.php?topicID=146, 20.11.2011
United Nations Documentation, “Meetings Conducted/Actions Taken by the Security Council in 2011”. http://www.un.org/Depts/dhl/resguide/scact2011.html, 20.11.2011
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