Thursday, June 03, 2010

International Criminal Court / Crime of Aggression

A Jurisdiction the International Criminal Court Does Not Need
By David Kaye
The Los Angeles Times, June 1, 2010
"[...] Placing the power to investigate claims of aggression in the hands of the ICC's prosecutor -- even with judges' approval -- would undermine the court's independence and legitimacy. It would be buffeted by political attacks, adding to the charges of politicization it already fields and distracting from its historic role of bringing the worst criminals in international law to justice. The court's very existence could be at stake. It if becomes a place for governments to argue about who was responsible for armed conflicts, ICC parties such as France, Britain and Canada may become disillusioned. Those who favor humanitarian intervention -- for instance, to stop a genocide or bring assistance to a war-torn region -- may back away if there is a chance that their action will be seen as contrary to a new rule against aggression. And adding aggression to the court's jurisdiction would only strengthen its opponents in the United States, which is not yet a party to the ICC.
They fear that a politically motivated prosecutor, without checks on his authority, could try to haul American political and military officials into court. These may be cynical ways of looking at the issue of adjudicating aggression, but they are realistic. The ICC is a young institution, hardly tested in its core function of trying war criminals and those accused of genocide. It needs time to develop and prove its competence. It needs and deserves broader international support, especially from the United States, and the Obama administration has made it clear that it is willing to cooperate with the court in many areas. For all these reasons, human rights groups around the world fear the implications aggression has for the ICC. The Open Society Institute, together with about 40 organizations from around the world, urged governments to postpone the discussions, while Human Rights Watch issued a report that, among other things, expressed concerns that pursuing jurisdiction over aggression could 'diminish' the role of the court in international justice. [...]"

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