International Justice

CJ354 Endicott College

Is the ICC worth its cost?

David Davenport, a writer for Forbes magazine reported recently that in the last 12 years of the International Criminal Court’s lifespan, only two convictions have occurred at a cost of more than $1 billion dollars.  President Kagame is also currently set to face trial, but the withdrawal of witness testimony and lack of evidence appears to be holding the case from proceeding.

The ICC is also currently investigating other potential cases worldwide, but should we be spending money on an international court if that money can be put to better use at the national level of justice?  Would it make more sense for $1 billion to go toward the building of judicial systems within countries with atrocities?  Many of the readings we have read in class have provided the advantages to the location of courts within the borders in which atrocities occurred, so why not focus on that aspect?  Why not make the ICC a more mobile court, in which ICC staffers and those with knowledge help national courts to prosecute perpetrators themselves and help to build a stable foundation in which the help of the international community would no longer be needed.  National courts have proven to be more efficient:  the Rwandan and Yugoslavian tribunals are both good examples.  They may have been expensive, but they were able to convict perpetrators.

Sources:  International Criminal Court:  12 Years, $1 Billion, 2 Convictions


3 responses to “Is the ICC worth its cost?

  1. gracen0te5 March 14, 2014 at 9:20 pm

    Convicting perpetrators does not necessarily measure the success of an ICC, but the costs spent on cases, many with extremely costly delays, should be budgeted to more nation-focused cases as you mention above. The delays seem to be attributed to the lack of state cooperation. Would it be a good idea for ICC to set a timeline for some cases? ICC is underused and too expensive. Too many cases seem to go unresolved. The gathering of more data and more truth may go into valuable use, but overall, ICC has stood as an ideological symbol with many countries and superpowers that have not ratified to the Roman Statute.

    This reference: ICC “10 Years Later: Appraisal and Prospects,” gives a run-through of:
    How ICC has failed to elicit the cooperation of states.
    Whether the Roman Statute created a toothless ICC.
    Whether the ICC is fundamentally a political and European institution bent on imposing its ideological view of the world on developing (African) nations.
    The potential overreach in its provisions regarding the indictment of sitting heads of state.
    Whether the ICC can operate with full efficiency and with effective power without the support of the United States.

    These are just a few good points to consider in assessing the value of the ICC.
    I think there is a lot of significance that the ICC was initiated in the first place. There is still a lot of room for the ICC to consider improvements. ICC could make more efforts to collaborate with national court systems. ICC still has a ways to go to gain the trust of many African countries. Even though a majority (almost all) of the Latin American countries have signed on to the Rome Statute of the ICC, the ICC still seems to be a Court for African situations.

    ICC’s legitimacy and credibility seems to be lower without as much United States engagement. What reasons (pros and cons) exist for the United States to consider becoming a party to the Rome Statute? In an increasingly globalized, multicultural world of international rule of law, does the lack of U.S. participation diminish Rome Statute? I think for the U.S., not ratifying the Rome Statute allows more preservation of our own political traditions. But for countries that have ratified the Rome Statute, the allowance of greater American participation in the ICC might not be the most cooperative situation.

    The “worth” of the ICC is very debatable, and to a point, priceless in the promise of universal justice.

    “In the prospect of an international criminal court lies the promise of universal justice. That is the simple and soaring hope of this vision. We are close to its realization. We will do our part to see it through till the end. We ask you . . . to do yours in our struggle to ensure that no ruler, no State, no junta and no army anywhere can abuse human rights with impunity. Only then will the innocents of distant wars and conflicts know that they, too, may sleep under the cover of justice; that they, too, have rights, and that those who violate those rights will be punished.”
    — Kofi Annan, 7th United Nations Secretary-General

  2. blondellm March 14, 2014 at 10:16 pm

    In addition to Grace’s comments, there are definite benefits to the ICC making more efforts to collaborate with national court systems. In doing so, it would prove (to an extent) that the ICC is not trying to force Western ideals of justice on non-Western nations. Instead it would be a first step for the ICC to partner with a national court system to ensure that international standards of justice are met. But in practice this idea could just as easily backfire. One of the definite positives to the ICC working on its own is the fact that it is an institution that is able to analyze conflict situations from a more objective standpoint. When many post-conflict nations struggle to develop court systems that are unbiased toward one side (i.e. Rwanda, Kenya, etc.), the ICC working with these nations does not automatically make these one-sided institutions legitimate/unbiased.

    It is very difficult to determine the “value” of the ICC given the continued controversy that surrounds its existence. However, especially given the recent ruling in Spain in regard to its universal jurisdiction, it is important to have the ICC defending the prospect of universal justice.

  3. tmago2014 March 17, 2014 at 4:16 pm

    This is a really interesting evaluation of the ICC because often the focus of criticisms of the ICC do not center around the funding aspect, but the cases it takes and the way they are handled. That being said, I think it’s also important to note how many national courts are also very ineffective because resources are allocated poorly. To that end, I’d be curious to see if there had been any budgetary evaluations done of the ICC in terms of how resources are allocated and whether that is done efficiently. It seems likely that similar to national courts, the ICC would have resources ineffectively allocated or that systems that worked when it was established may not be useful anymore.
    I do agree that this is an important hint that the ICC should work with local institutions more when conducting cases. This could be manifested not only with partnering with national court systems, but also through partnering with NGOs, etc that have a good foothold in the region. This would likely decrease the ICC’s costs considerably in terms of conducting investigations. It is important to note however, that this would introduce a difficult element of evidence credibility into many cases, in which case the burden would be on the ICC prosecutor to prove that the organization whose data or employees that were utilized collected evidence in a reliable manner and thus the evidence should be considered.

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