Comment on the Deterrence Lecture Question: “To what extent is the deterrence of mass atrocities an attainable goal of the ICC?”
The goal of deterring war crimes of all types not just "mass" atrocities is expressed to be the goal of the ICC as set out in the Statute. But this is only possible in a world in which all countries are equally subject to its jurisdiction and in which the prosecutor can and will act independently and go after who ever is responsible no matter how big or powerful. This is not possible at present when for example the USA which is responsible for war crimes of untold numbers and magnitude refuses to be subject to the ICC and even threatens to use force to release any of its people who might be arrested by the ICC. This outright intimidation passes with little comment. It is no use going after small African commanders for alleged crimes especially when they all appear to stand in the way of western interests while others who commit crimes (eg Kagame. Museveni et al) who are US allies are not touched. The policy of politically selective prosecution has brought the ICC into fatal disrepute and made it appear to be a tool of the USA. whether it is in fact or not. Selective prosecution means that certain war criminals are given immunity. So their crimes are encouraged (Kagame being the most famous Africa example where the ICTR (of whom Bensouda was a part of the prosecution team) gave him complete impunity from his crimes in Rwanda and thereby encouraged him in his belief that he can get away with more mass atrocities in Congo.
So, the ICC is fatally flawed from the beginning and until it is a requirement that all countries be subject to it and that the ICC have absolute jurisdiction (that is countries cannot evade it by claiming to deal with war criminals in their forces and governments themselves -an absurdity) then the goal is a complete impossibility.
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