Comment on the Deterrence Lecture Question: “To what extent is the deterrence of mass atrocities an attainable goal of the ICC?”
My initial reaction to this question is whether or not deterrence is/should be a goal of the ICC. Examining the preamble to the Rome Statute indicates that it is in fact a goal, on par with ending impunity, based on the clause: "Determined to put an end to impunity for the perpetrators of these crimes and thus to contribute to the prevention of such crimes." Considering the U.S. system of justice, I think for some people, the potential for punishment is a deterrent to crime, but I am optimistic enough about humanity to hope that most people don't commit heinous acts, like murder, not out of fear for repercussion but out of some moral imperative. In the case of the ICC, I think it will be quite difficult for the court to act as a deterrent to mass atrocities based on the very nature of these crimes: genocide, crimes against humanity, etc. I do not believe the genre of people who are willing to commit such grave acts are likely to consider the legal ramifications, and certainly not the moral ones. Thus, I fear the deterrence of mass atrocities is not a very likely consequence of the ICC.
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