International Justice

CJ354 Endicott College

Tag Archives: US

The U.S Announces its take on the Crime of Aggression

In 2010 the ICC held a Review Conference in Kampala that would suggest an amendment to the Rome Statute that would allow for the ICC to prosecute crimes of “aggression. The American Society of International Law gathered to discuss this amendment at their annual meeting earlier this month. Not surprisingly, the U.S stance on the expansion of the ICC’s power was negative; the panel sited three reasons to oppose the crime of aggression that would take effect in 2017 if ratified.

First the ASIL raised concerns that a crime of aggression would deter member countries from aiding in joint military action for risk of legal prosecution. They claim that these military endeavors could be the actions needed to prevent the very crimes that the ICC wishes to stop like atrocity crimes. The ASIL argues that mobilizing allies to intervene in humanitarian catastrophes is difficult enough as is, and an addition legal deterrent would hinder the process further.

Second the US is worried that the aggression law would limit the international communities ability to resolve conflicts. The idea is that if two countries are willing to end a conflict through mutual cooperation, the crime of aggression law could upset this balance by forcing the leaders of the countries involved to be prosecuted for their crimes. The ASIL speculates that the ICC could insist that these crimes be investigated at any cost and thus disturb fragile diplomatic efforts.

Third the ASIL points out that the ICC is struggling as is to apprehend defendants and “sustain a record of effectiveness” in prosecuting atrocity crimes and an added responsibility would be too much for the ICC. The panel also pointed out that crimes of aggression would be deeply political and could compromise the court’s obligation to impartiality.

While the ASIL brings up valid points, It seems that this report is another example of the US shying away from the ICC in fear of its own prosecution. No doubt the US could be considered to have committed crimes of aggression in territories within the courts jurisdiction so the ASIL’s stance is not surprising. Here is the report do you think the ASIL is genuinely concerned with the state of International Law or its own self interests?

Putin and Russia Lift Ban on Missile Sales to Iran

On Monday, President Vladimir Putin approved the delivery of a missile system to Iran. The missile system could possibly complicate the negotiations on Tehran’s nuclear program that Washington has been working so hard on. Additionally the sale potentially undermines the efforts of Obama’s administration to sell Congress and foreign allies on the nuclear deal. This is problematic since the U.S. and Iran are still struggling to complete the deal. Also if Iran has advanced air defense missile, Israel and/or the U.S. will have a harder time threatening Iran with airstrikes if they ignore agreements. No timetable has been announced for the deliverance of the weapons to Iran, but the sale was suspended five years ago because of a flurry of UN sanctions against Iran.

Russia has said that the missile sale will not complicate negotiations; instead it will help Iran along. They believe that the missile they are selling (S-300) is a defensive weapon and does not pose a threat to Israel. The Obama administration fears that this deal could be the first of many between Russia and Iran including a deal that would exchange food for oil and this would raise potential sanctions concerns.

A display of S-300 missiles in Russia. These are the missiles that are being sold to Iran.

While Iran has denied repeatedly that it is using its civilian nuclear program to mask their efforts of building a bomb, much of the West is dubious. Arming Iran with missiles is not appeasing these fears.

Read more here.

International Perspectives on the U.S. Election

Global Views on the U.S. Election

With election night drawing closer by the hour, it is interesting to take a minute to pause and step back from the US perspective on the election, and consider this election through the eyes of the international community. The New York Times posted a video entitled “Global Views on the Election” which present the views and opinions of individuals from outside of the US concerning their interpretation of the Obama administration thus far and their evaluation of Governor Romney’s proposed policies. 

The participants in the video talk candidly of whether or not they felt that President Obama was a felt presence in their own state governments and how they predict the potential nomination of Governor Romney could impact their countries’ politics. It is therefore interesting to consider how the actions of our President and the policies recommended by Governor Romney are interpreted on the international scale and just how representative the role of President of the United States is to the rest of the world. For me, it really put this election into the perspective.  When considering the greater framework of the world of international politics, it is interesting to understand how the United States is perceived by others, especially when considering, at least myself personally, am most definitely not up to date on government elections in many other nations around the world. This video, for me, was the reminder that this election does not just effect Americans, but will also potentially impact the lives of individuals around the world. 

The Emergence of Justice Norms

An interesting article from the Guardian reports that Winston Churchill favoured executions and life imprisonment without trial for Nazi leaders. These revelations come from this week’s declassification of the diary of Guy Liddell, who was the head of counter-espionage at MI5 (so a pretty reliable source). Churchill’s position was opposed by before Stalin, who wanted to use trials as propaganda, and Roosevelt, who felt the American public would want trials. It seems Liddell also personally disliked the idea that Nazi leaders would be prosecuted for waging a war of aggression because of the precedent it set.

This article made me think about where the concept of transitional justice has developed and disseminated from. I think often the US claims responsibility for the emergence of universal human rights and transitional justice citing American exceptionalism, the Bill of Rights, Eleanor Roosevelt’s role in shaping the UN’s Universal Declaration, etc. The rest of the world seems to reject this position – perhaps because concepts of human rights and transitional justice are so ingrained in society that everyone would like to claim responsibility (and take the US down a peg). However, reading the Guardian’s article, it does seem that the impetus for transitional justice sprung from America. I’m interested in what everyone else thinks about the beginnings of transitional justice. Often I think I’ve been too dismissive of the role of the US in shaping normative values about justice, especially as other states and actors, such the EU/UN/any number of NGOs, are the current transitional justice vanguard. So should the US be credited more for the emergence of transitional justice?

Possible Presidential Debate Hot Topic: “Rewards for Justice” at the ICC?

As we head into our course unit on the International Criminal Court—and approach Monday’s foreign policy-focused presidential debate—it is interesting to examine the institution’s current standing with the United States, perhaps the most notable nonsignatory of the Rome Statute. According to a piece of news referenced in a recent post on Justice in Conflict (a blog maintained by a current PhD student in International Relations at the London School of Economics), the US appears to be inching towards a closer relationship with the ICC. After expanding the reach of its Rewards for Justice program (which offers significant monetary compensation to those who provide information leading to the arrest and/or prosecution of suspected terrorists) to cover those individuals indicted by the ICTY and ICTR, the US may take its involvement in the realm of international justice one step further by including ICC indictees on its list of those notorious enough to warrant coverage by Rewards for Justice.

This (potential) policy decision by the United States comes at a time of domestic political flux, considering the contentiousness of the upcoming presidential election. While the topics sure to dominate Monday’s debate will be all things Afghanistan and Libya, a better gauge of each candidate’s foreign policy outlook may very well be where they stand on the US’s role in facilitating international justice. As Justice in Conflict’s Mark Kersten points out, the relationship between the United States, though improving, has been rocky (to say the least) from the start; in today’s increasingly globalized world, though, the US cannot afford (in my opinion) to formally (at least on paper) disengage from transitional justice efforts. How each candidate would aim to further improve (or completely dismantle) US relations with the ICC—and US involvement in international justice efforts in any arena—could be more telling of the core of their foreign policy views than their ability to spew out death toll statistics.

United States of Transitional Justice

The United States is no friend of the ICC, sure, but it has been supportive and instrumental in other forms of transitional justice (including independent tribunals), not to mention the NGO leadership from the US. Yet, I continually wonder about the missing legacy of transitional justice within the US itself. As we have studied, mechanisms such as TRCs can be essential to establishing a common understanding of a legacy of mistreatment: an understanding that is occasionally critical to establishing a stable human-rights bound culture. On the flip-side, it is thought that these processes might re-open wounds, shaking national stability and driving groups apart in to “victims” and “perpetrators”. When it comes to our own history, I wonder how addressing our own injustices might affect us now. The mass slaughter of Native-Americans, the extensive slavery of Africans and their descendants, or the internment of Japanese-Americans all seem to be topics that our national mythology has only briefly addressed. Are there benefits to revisiting these unfortunate periods? Would a stronger congressional acceptance of abuses perpetrated against native tribes affect our current treatment of minorities as a whole? Would further revealing to the public view the extent of slavery improve our understanding of lasting economic inequality? Or, on the other hand, might these measures only propose racial divisions of a “forgotten” past. Can we still “transition” from the past?

US and Universal Jurisdiction

I know that today in class we talked a lot about universal jurisdiction and I did some research and found the answer to the US and its stance on universal jurisdiction.  What I found was that the US does not exercise universal jurisdiction.  The article that I read states that the US “is concerned that the exercise of universal jurisdiction by other states may result in politically motivated prosecutions of US citizens by foreign courts.”  This stance seems to come in handy especially in consideration with Iraq since complaints of war crimes were filed against George W. Bush, Donald Rumsfeld and George Tenet.  It is convenient for political purposes but I’m wondering what your own personal take on it is.  Should the US exercise universal jurisdiction or not?

What I read came from the American Non-Governmental Organizations Coalition for the International Criminal Court.  It is a question/answer type document about universal jurisdiction and the ICC which I think may be good just for some all around general information.  The link is:

The United States and the International Criminal Court

While the United States is not a State Party to the ICC, its policy toward the Court and international justice in general is complex and ever changing. The US actively participated in the Rome negotiations and many compromises in the powers and jurisdiction of the Court were made to appease the American position and ensure its signature.  But under the Bush administration the US sought to both oppose and undermine the ICC. The selected parts of the Schiff reading detail this policy background and the basis of US opposition.  The Obama administration’s position on the ICC is not one of ideological opposition, but rather constructive engagement while still staunchly remaining outside the reach of it’s jurisdiction.For more information, see the following resources:

USA and the ICC from the Coalition on the International Criminal Court

Info about the US & ICC from the American NGO Coalition for the ICC

Here are a few questions for us to think about and discuss:

1) What is the basis of US opposition to the ICC? Is it justified in terms of ensuring that the world’s superpower is not frivolously prosecuted and can provide for global security? Or is it inexcusable as a case of American exceptionalism?

2) Does it matter if the US is a State Party? How would the ICC be helped or hindered by greater US support?

3) What exactly IS current US policy and public opinion on the ICC?