International Justice

CJ354 Endicott College

Accusations of political bias for the ICC

On Tuesday Ocampo, the International Criminal Court prosecutor said that the examination into the alleged Israeli war crimes will be held off until the United Nations rules on Palestinian statehood. Accepting the Hague-based court’s jurisdiction in early 2009, the Palestinian Authority asked Ocampo to launch a investigation against Israel for war crimes. The Palestinian Authority claims the “acts committed on the territory of Palestine” goes as far back as late 2002.  A preliminary probe was opened to see if there was grounds to proceed with an investigation. On Tuesday news came that the ICC can only open an investigation if asked to do so by either the United Nation Security Council or by a recognized state. After this statement the ICC has received harsh criticism from human right groups and the community.   “This dangerous decision opens the ICC to accusations of political bias and is inconsistent with the independence of the ICC,” added Marek Marczynski, Head of Amnesty International’s International Justice campaign.


2 responses to “Accusations of political bias for the ICC

  1. ecadams April 4, 2012 at 10:55 am

    This article shows the potential conflicts between legality and morality. The meaning of statehood is very important when it comes to the triggers that initiate an ICC investigation whether it falls underneath state referral, UN referral and the prosecutor’s power to investigate independently. Some countries recognize Palestine as a state while others do not, and this can be very tricky for the ICC, as it relies on state party support to carry out investigations and arrests. As we have learned throughout this course, the cooperation of states is what either makes these endeavors successful or holds them up indefinitely (think about Kenya). Also, because of Palestine’s shaky identity as a state in the eyes of the world, it is hard to say, legally, that atrocities are being committed on state party territory, where that territory can still be contested as Israel’s. Israel, not being a state party, can deny ICC’s jurisdiction as it has in this article.

    Morally speaking, should the ICC investigate these crimes? Absolutely. The war crimes inflicted against Palestinian people have long been ignored by the international community. Ideally, the ICC as an independent body should investigate, especially if they have been asked to do so.

    Legally speaking, however, investigations could undermine the court’s legitimacy in the eyes of some states while potentially angering the UN, which, despite the ICC’s independence, still holds sway over many it’s activities. If the ICC wants to continue it’s work, if unfortunately also must play by the rules. Rules and procedure ore needed in every legitimate legal body, Unfortunately, rules and procedure can potentially block where justice is needed the most. Being a state or not does not take away from the fact that these people have suffered greatly, and not just in Palestine, but in other countries as well that are not state parties. Any ideas that could help get around these problems?

  2. Alana Tiemessen April 6, 2012 at 6:02 pm

    You’re both right that this represents a persistent tension between the morality and ethic of justice and protecting human rights versus the protection of state sovereignty. The ICC will be perceived as being “political” regardless of it decision in this case. If it proceeded with the case, it will be perceived as political because it seems as though the Prosecutor would be taking sides and ignoring the legal norms of sovereignty. If the Court rebuffs the probe it will be perceived as political in that it’s putting the politics of UN and state recognition over human rights and justice.

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