International Criminal Law Debates
Comment on the Peace Lecture Question: “To what extent can the ICC advance peace around the world?”
Convenor Pace's comparison of the costs of UN/NATO spending versus the amount spent on international justice, suggests that there is a significant disparity in the amounts being spent on conducting war and the amount spent on fostering peace. Convenor Pace argues that the money spent on war-making could be much better spent in promoting peace and international justice. However, from a cynical perspective, it is difficult to argue that governments and international bodies will spend more on peace measures when security actions remain prerogatives that trump all other foreign policy alternatives. Convenor Pace argues that the ICC is least costly of all justice measures, a calculation that may be empirically true, but is difficult to justify amongst nation-states who solve geopolitical crises more rapidly and efficiently through security measures than through the ICC.
Justice can still be applied in this world, Convenor Pace argues. He cites Seamus Heaney's poem, “Troy”: “Don't hope on this side of the grave,” and refutes this sentiment by arguing that the ICC is the institution that indeed grants hope on this side of the grave. As the greatest human rights initiatives, the ICC has the unprecedented advance of promoting international justice and peace, he argues. However, while laudable in concept, given the ICC's very slow track record, how can governments be convinced that long-term international justice is preferable to short-term but effective security mobilization?
I think what Convenor Pace was making a normative rather than a positive argument. From what I understand, he argued that it is less expensive to invest in the International Criminal Court than it is to invest in war-making. As such, this is where the focus should be, even though this is not where the focus currently is, as you point out. I agree with you that states view security as a top priority in foreign policy and that states may think that “security measures” (which I assume means use of force) are the most rapid and efficient way to solve geopolitical crises. But I think this is the problem that Convenor Pace was pointing too: promoting peace is not seen to be related to increasing security. However, perhaps if greater priority was given to promoting peace and justice, then this could increase security by preventing or at least mitigating future crises. I do not think anyone doubts how difficult it is to change this thinking, but I do not think that the fact that it will be challenging to convince governments to change their practices diminishes Convenor Pace’s argument that they should.
As an judicial organization which has only convicted one person, the ICC's main power is symbolic. An organization which warns international terrorists that there will be repercussions for their actions, the ICC's power to advance peace lies in the the fact that it is an organization which has the power to convict international criminals. As argued by Mr. Pace, the amount the UN Security Council spends on peace efforts may be negligible, but it is important to recognize that the UN acts as a peace body itself. Thus, although the UN may support the ICC, the ICC must make efforts to advance peace by convicting those whom they recognize as most dangerous on a global scale.
While I agree the point Mr. Pace was making was to draw attention to the tremendous amounts of money spent on war and security vs. peace and justice, personally, I find this to be a false dichotomy. Comparing the costs of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq to the yearly costs of the ICC is misleading as they are not directly related. While it is immensely important that we understand how much money is spent on waging war and conflict (in order to drastically reduce such expenditures in the future), I fail to understand how reallocating resources towards peace will solve the problem. Simply throwing more money into the ICC or other peace and development efforts ignores the local factors that perpetuate and cause wars. More money does not mean a more peaceful world.
Additionally and unfortunately, the international community is extremely limited in efforts to prevent or stop war (look no further than Syria, the DRC, continuing instability in Afghanistan, Iraq, etc.). The role of the ICC in advancing peace is impossible to quantify and in my opinion is rather inconsequential today (though if the ICC can promote reconciliation in a specific country, that can have impact in mitigating future conflicts). However, the role of the ICC could grow in this arena to be a significant one, dependent on how far norms of peace proliferate and are respected.
The international community, including the US, does not properly respect international justice or international jurisprudence - there are far too many violations of the rights of citizens codified by the UN's Declaration of Human Rights in democratic and non-democratic countries. This in turn hurts the ICC's efforts to advance peace. Until its signatories ensure the rights of its own citizens are properly respected, the ICC will be constrained in its ability to advance peace.
I think it is important to start by remembering that the ICC is a criminal court; as such, its objectives and responsibilities have less to do with peace, and more to do with justice for crimes against humanity and limiting impunity for war criminals. With its record of 1 conviction and 1 acquittal in 10 years, and its known difficulties in securing the arrest of its indictees, it is hard to argue that the court has a strong deterrence component; and it seems deterrence would be the outcome through which the advance of peace could best be achieved.
Mr. Pace’s argument that the ICC needs more money in order to better promote peace is based on the assumption that peace promotion is a fundamental objective of the court. While I do believe that a larger budget may enhance the effectiveness and efficiency of the ICC, this would result in increased justice but fail to effectively promote peace.
I completely agree that peace and justice are two separate entities. While the ICC is pursuing justice, I do not see the world becoming more peaceful as a consequence. I do not believe that leaders committing mass crimes are worrying about being indicted by the ICC. Nor do I think that they would be dissuaded from committing such acts by viewing others' trials, which should supposedly root out the source of conflict in the world. For example, a common saying regarding the Holocaust is, "Never again." While the Nuremberg trials brought justice to those who participated in such a horrific event, the trials did not bring peace to the world, and genocide and ethnic cleansing does continue to happen. While the ICC is somewhat different since it is a permanent institution, it cannot preemptively act, and as such, I do not believe that it can promote world peace. It can only attempt to bring justice for those who have already been wronged.
I believe that the ICC can affect peace around the world. The ICC serves as a symbol to us of how we can affect peace by cooperating with other governments. We have seen achievements in global health measures, and I believe we can have achievements in other areas as well, as long as we have the funding needed. I was shocked by the numbers that were presented to us on the amount of spending that goes into global governance verse other projects (even Stanford-specific projects). A crucial issue seems to be in allocation of funds--to advance peace around the world, we will need to invest further into global governance.
Covenor Case argues that the ICC, an organization that promotes peace, should receive funding proportional to that of the UN, an organization that promotes war and aggression. Although there is some truth to his assertion, I have to disagree with it on the basis that Case is over generalizing. Although the UN authorized the use of force around the world, its goal, as clearly stated in the UN charter, is
"to maintain international peace and security, and to that end: to take effective collective measures for the prevention and removal of threats to the peace, and for the suppression of acts of aggression or other breaches of the peace, and to bring about by peaceful means, and in conformity with the principles of justice and international law, adjustment or settlement of international disputes or situations which might lead to a breach of the peace."
Any force used by the UN is for the sole purpose of peace, and I think that Pace fails to credit this fact. Peace is the direct goal of every UN action, and force is only an indirect effect in achieving that goal. The ICC's direct aim, on the other hand, is to achieve international justice, with peace coming as a result of achieving that goal. In this light, maybe more funding for international peace SHOULD go to the UN rather than the ICC, especially since the ICC has been relatively ineffective in indicting war criminals (1 conviction in 10 years).
I think that the rule of law is the greatest deterrence of crime in the world. As a consequence, the extent to which the ICC is able to advance peace is linked to its capability of complying with its mandate: To hold accountable and bring to justice individuals responsible for the worst crimes, namely genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity. However, we have to bear in mind that if the ICC conducts investigations during or in the aftermath of a conflict, its actions could be a potential obstacle to immediate peace (for example, in cases where crime perpetrators are the ones signing a peace treaty). In that situation, I think the ICC should weigh if the benefits of peace (and the benefits of following its mandate) will outweigh the harm done to the cause of accountability. It is not an easy answer.
I cannot help but question the existence of the ICC upon the principle of promoting world peace. The role of ICC is not to advance world peace; just as in the state parties powerful legal institutions do not and should not guarantee peaceful communities (i.e. the U.S.), ICC cannot and should not promise the global peace. Following a set of legal codes titled the Rome Statue, ICC should make any arduous efforts to persecute its indictee, and this should be the only principle of the international institution. This does not mean that ICC has no influence in the world peace; however, it can only function so when it actually fulfills its duty, which is to have the accused enter the courtroom. Unfortunately, the records of 1 acquittal and 1 acquisition in the last decade severe the court’s efficacy and efficiency, and of course, the court’s much debated influences of deterrence and the world peace. The so-called symbolic effects of the existence of the ICC will wither gradually unless any significant additions to the records are made, the situation of which may end up exacerbating the world peace due to its politicized nature.
I think a speculative answer to this question is impossible. I think it will work out different in every situation; in some cases there will be peace, in some there will not. Some will be deterred, others won't. Empirically, it seems as if no matter how many safeguards are set up against atrocities, they still seem to happen. Can the ICC change all this?
Yes and no. The ICC,as a deterrent institution in this case, can only do so much. Especially considering the lack of signatory state cooperation, it is a relatively weak deterrent at that. To become a better deterrent for peace, the ICC must (1) in some way really make a leap forward in cooperation and (2) get some jaws. People must actually fear the ICC. A leader will do whatever he/she wants as long as it is not believed that he/she is accountable. The ICC is a great organization to put some accountability on leaders, but as of now the arm is not strong enough.
I second the previous sentiments that the International Criminal Court is and can continue to be a force of peace around the world. Mr. Pace’s most powerful and logical argument was that despite all its flaws, the ICC, and international justice in general, is without a doubt the most effective and least expensive peacekeeping tactic. The previous ad hoc trials only dealt with one country and conflict, and in 10 years the ICC is dealing across countless countries, many of which have ongoing conflicts instead of only dealing with ex post facto crimes. The ICC cannot be expected to be perfect—that it exists and is progressing is commendable in itself. The rule of law is created for both punishment and deterrence, and the ICC is no exception. With time, effort, and practice, I believe it will become a powerful entity for the advancement of peace globally.
Convener Pace says so himself that he is not a legal expert and instead approaches the topic from a lens of the political architecture of developing strategic networks to impact international democracy evolution. I had some foresight then, that his take on the ICC would be from a different perspective than we’d seen thus far. I appreciated his argument that the ICC is an organization that can effectively promote peace, though disagreed with it only slightly. He moved further to explain that the ICC deserves to receive funding proportional to that of the UN, and organization that in comparison to the ICC, works against the promotion of peace and encourages aggression.
I believe that an image of an ICC whose purpose and impact has been to advance peace around the world is a bit idealistic. The ICC works towards and promotes peace, yes, though it has rarely been able to realistically secure it. A record of only 1 acquittal and 1 acquisition in the last decade are evidence enough of the ICC’s inability to prove its effectiveness in actually advancing world peace. By the Rome Statute, the ICC is to focus its intent on prosecuting individuals who have committed crimes against humanity, and through this process its advancement of world peace can be fulfilled. For this reason, I consider the ICC on a trajectory to understand how to better advance world peace, though at this point do not believe the Court can justifiably say that they advance world peace, and instead understand that they promote it. As of now, the intent to establish world peace is a symbol. I’d argue that until the ICC can successfully try those that they call to prosecution in the Court, their purpose to affect world peace is not yet a tangible reality.
Many discussion concerning the rise of the ICC focuses on the importance of the post-conflict, ad hoc tribunals in the distribution of justice and recognizing the need to eliminate impunity. The ICC, then, arose as a permanent institution with a mandate of more than just retroactive, retributive justice; prevention and peace promotion is one of its goals. In considering to what extent this is possible, it is important to keep in mind what the court can actually do and how this influences the rise of conflict in the first place. I would like to repeat the thoughts of several previous comments in that this is dependent on situation and location. Though we have seen that the establishment of global norms certainly do impact particular places around the globe, through the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, it is important to consider the local impacts of international law, as practiced by the ICC. Many of the greatest perpetrators of crimes against humanity are state, political, and military leaders—and these have been, appropriately, the subjects of ICC indictments. If the ICC functions properly as a mechanism to deter national and regional leaders from committing atrocity, then the ICC will indeed make great strides in contributing to world peace. However, I would like to consider the many other instances of crime around the world, crime which is not limited to that done on massive scale. In this case, I do not see the establishment of an international rule of law as an institution that holds much sway. We must consider that the majority of the world’s population is unaware of this court, and in their lives, the existing justice systems in their region of interaction will be the most influential legal body. Thus, the management of the majority of global conflicts depends on national and regional institutions. With this in mind, it is clear that the project of international justice is very much limited by the legal systems of individual nations. However, this is where the idea of contingency comes in. In nations without an established rule of law, where international justice is frequently articulated and where these legal norms are higher than any local justice standards, an effective ICC could perhaps greatly contribute to peace. Here I am thinking of the actions of the ICC in the Congo, and its notoriety in trying perpetrators of crimes against humanity. However, it is unrealistic to imagine the ICC serving as a substitute for local legal security in the Congo, and, moreover, for all other countries with similarly ineffective national justice systems. As it is difficult to judge possible peace-inducing influences of the ICC’s work in the Congo after the past 10 years, I would suggest that a greater focus be placed upon the establishment of local and regional rule of law in these contexts.
Therefore, I would say that the ICC can promote peace to the extent that it is effective in preventing international leaders from committing human rights abuses. Of course, this is assuming, in the most ideal sense, that the existence and actions of the ICC do serve as a deterrent.
I've seen several comments stating that the ICC is already an effective method for peace, some going as far as to claim it is the "most effective." I agree that the ICC is powerful in that it is not as restricted by national borders and does have a deterrent effect, I would not go as far as to claim that the ICC has even a large impact. To beat a dead horse, the ICC has only one conviction since its existence, and, although it does have more power than previous tribunals, its power is still limited by the cooperation of governments and the wheels of bureaucracy. I somewhat agree with the sentiment of the man in class who said something along the lines of, "The ICC is only something that exists to make nations feel good about themselves."
I recognize the potential of the ICC. However, it has had ten years to evolve and grow (a fairly long time in terms of international politics, longer than two presidential terms), in which not much has been accomplished. I can only hope that it undergoes more dramatic change for the better in the future.
While I understand your sentiment, I believe that judging the ICC based on the number of convictions it has made is a bit myopic. Clearly it is the case that its power is limited by the cooperation of governments and the "wheels of bureaucracy", but this would be the case for any international force and thus isn't an entirely valid criticism of the ICC in particular.
As for the problem of the ICC making little impact in ten years, again I share your frustration in this regard, but consider for example the fact that the League of Nations was founded in 1919 and essentially failed at its mission (given that World War II occurred) despite its ~30 years of existence, but actually laid the groundwork for the (arguably I suppose) successful United Nations. Though the first ten years of the ICC may have been frustratingly ineffective, I believe that it is a continuous learning process and that it will also pave the way for more effective movements in the near future.
I do not think the ICC's primary goal should be promoting a peace, but its ultimate goal may have to be. Sometimes, the ICC's jurisdiction could even be in conflict with "peace", because it originally supposed to pursue "justice". In Sudan Darfur's case, for instance, seven suspects have been indicted by the court including President Omar Hassan Al-bashir. The decision was historic but also highly controversial, because the progress seemed to reach stalemate afterwards. The Sudanese government publicly opposed to ICC's decision arguing that it actually interfered with a peace treaty with the rebels and even exacerbated situation. Such decision, of course, contributed to establishing authority of international juridical system, showing that the court and justice had independent power. However, it might stimulate the Sudanese government and provoke bloodshed.
Justice and peace are two core values that prop up international community. Once the U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon said "peace and justice should go along together, and no peace is sustainable without justice". In this regards, the ICC can and should play a role of promoting international "justice", but in a way that it harmoniously co-exist with international "peace".
I think that ICC is a symbol of peace around the world. Though it is limited in what it actually is able to achieve, the existence of the court can be a deterrence for criminals. I think that the court's role in promoting peace is primarily in just branding and image-- though this goes hand in hand with the quality of prosecutions it executes, the media attention it receives around the world surrounding court orders, and the quality of its advocates. In addition, I'd like to point out that if the ICC was removed as an international peace symbol holding international criminals accountable, I think that the response would be negative. Though the speakers we've had so far have talked extensively about the downfalls of the court, I think that the fact that it is there as an institution, as a threat, and as a deterrence, can help the promotion of peace throughout the world.
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