The United States and the ICC
November 5, 2012
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Mark Kersten recently wrote an article on the Justice in Conflict blog that I believe complements our in class discussion on whether or not the United States should, or will ever sign the ICC treaty.
Kersten writes that “It appears that the United States is inching towards a much closer legal, political and institutional relationship with the International Criminal Court (ICC).” For example he writes that there are whispers on capital hill of extending the rewards for justice program to individuals wanted by the ICC.
The rewards for justice program gives monetary rewards for individuals who help apprehend terrorist suspects. It has, though, been used in the past to help apprehend subjects wanted by the ITCY and the ITCR. This kind of program, it seems, would be generally supported by most in our class. It gives the ICC a valuable monetary and intelligence resource, and represents the United States sincerest efforts to assist in establishing transnational and transitional justice around the globe.
My concern, though, is not that this program would harm the ICC, I agree that it will be very beneficial to court, instead I worry that programs like this are used as a justification for the United States not signing the ICC treaty. If the US is serious about supporting global justice, and deterring human rights abuses, it should not simply help when it is convenient. While I agree that signing the ICC treaty is not in the best political self-interest of the nation, I do not believe that self interest supersedes an ethical obligation to justice, which the United States claims it stands for. If people are worried that American leaders will get tried for war crimes, especially in instances of drone strikes, than maybe we should stop using them. Surely there are ways to protect the national security of the country without breaking the fundamental human rights laws outlined in the Rome statute.
What do you guys think? Do you think it is good enough that the United States help the ICC only when it is the nation’s best political interest? Or do you think that the United States, if it believes in the justice goals outlined in the Rome Statute, has an ethical obligation to oblige by those same fundamental human rights norms, even if it is an inconvenience in America projecting its hegemonic power internationally?