Comment on the Deterrence Lecture Question: “To what extent is the deterrence of mass atrocities an attainable goal of the ICC?”
To be quite candid, the two talks we've heard on the ICC seem to paint a rather negative picture. Born out of a great deal of coercion on the part of lawyers or NGOs, who used false pretenses to encourage many small nations to sign on, the ICC appears tainted from the start. It's abysmal conviction rate (one since its establishment in 2002), lack of enforceability, and outrageously lengthy criminal proceedings have done nothing to better the ICC's image. The issue of deterrence is yet another item on the list of the ICC's shortcomings. Many have already commented on the innate issues with deterrence when dealing with human rights violations (given the innate moral depravity of leaders willing to commit such atrocities, and the subsequent improbability that such leaders would think twice about the consequences of their actions). While I agree with this point, I think the issue with deterrence runs much deeper. Given the ICC's complete inability to enforce its indictments, a reality that is further complicated by the often-corrupt and inefficient local enforcement agencies, deterrence is simply impractical and impossible. If those indicted are never held accountable, there is nothing to deter others from committing similar crimes. Additionally, I see a problem with specificity. The remarkable breadth of the ICC's jurisdiction, as well as the ambiguous definitions for crimes such as "willful killing" and "outrages upon dignity," leaves the Rome Statute riddled confusion. This ambiguity also negates any possible deterrence effect, as those most likely to commit such crimes are likely quite unclear on what constitutes a crime and what doesn't (although the likelihood that such an internal/moral debate would ever take place in the first place is near nonexistent).
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