The independent news organization of Duke University

Say nay to ICC

In the aftermath of the creation of the International Criminal Court, the United States has backed down from its initial pledge to withdraw all peacekeepers from world conflicts without blanket immunity. Since then, however, the United States has tried to tie military aid to foreign countries to their support for immunity from the court.

What is unfortunate in this conflict between the ICC and the United States is that superficially the fundamental values of the ICC--the rule of law, respect for human rights, and accountability and justice for those who violate universal human rights--are values shared with America.

The United States and the ICC, however, remain at loggerheads. Although former President Bill Clinton signed the Rome treaty creating the court at the of his term, his successor President George W. Bush withdrew the United States's signature. Furthermore, neither sent the ICC treaty to the Senate, where it would surely be rejected.

Furthermore, as the United States stands as the clear world superpower, it also responds more often to international cries for help. In the last dozen years alone, America has intervened in Iraq, Somalia, Haiti, the Balkans and Afghanistan. In aiding nations torn apart by violence and protecting the freedom of the world, the United States must sometimes use military force and inevitablly and unfortunately kill civilians in the process. Simply because the United States is so often involved in these just military actions, the chances are even greater that those with anti-American agendas and the targets of American action might try to bring American generals or political leaders before the court.

There are also serious problems with the structure and jurisdiction of the court. It has ill-defined paramters of what it can and cannot prosecute, leaving the door open for the abuse of its power and ex post facto problems. There are no guarantees that defedants rights will be upheld by the court. And the court inherently infringes upon American sovereignty by purporting to excerise its power over all people, everywhere, while not being accountable for its actions to any group of people.

The court needs to work harder to ensure American rights and safeguards because in order to have any effectiveness whatsoever, the ICC needs American support. Without American support, the ICC will be swept into the dustbin of history along with the League of Nations. Additionally, the ICC needs American military muscle to bring tyrannts and murders to justice.

In the short term, the best policy is for the court to grant the United States immunity so that the United States can continue in its role as the protector and savior of the downtrodden worldwide. In the long term, however, the court should demonstrate that it will act responsibly in its mandate, and further reassure the United States that it poses no threat to American humanitarian and peacekeeping missions.


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