Comment on the Deterrence Lecture Question: “To what extent is the deterrence of mass atrocities an attainable goal of the ICC?”
Prosecutor Shamila Batohi brought up a range of fantastic questions, including the following ideas, which deserve further discussion. Does the ICC really prevent future conflict instead of responding to post conflict? Prosecutor Batohi argues that given the ICC's status as a permanent institution of international justice, it does require that states cooperate to bring justice for crimes committed. However, if the states don't cooperate or do not have the resources to cooperate, that is when the ICC gets involved, creating a situation in which states will deter crimes in order to prevent the an encroachment of sovereignty by an international institution, such as the ICC. Covering 121 states parties and 2.3 billion people, the iCC does have a lot of jurisdictional and may serve to as a determent to criminal acts by many countries because of the threat of ICC involvement.
However, Prosecutor Batohi made a good point that the degree of state involvement depends on how high up the people being persecuted go. If dealing with higher echelons of power and criminal actions, the states are much more reluctant to get involved, forcing the ICC to become involved. However, a state of noncooperation could be highly detrimental to the ICC's effectiveness, once again complicating the idea of ICC's deterrent effects. Does the threat of the ICC really create accountability when higher echelons of power are to be prosecuted? In reality, the ICC's power is lessened once powerful interests create a threat to its effectiveness.
The solution, then may be to have states internalize the principles of international justice. However, when states have such powerful economic and profit-based interests, can the issue of justice come to the forefront? Unity of thought and action may be hard to achieve, as Prosecutor Batohi suggested, but I wonder if there might be a way to calibrate the interests so that they also serve the cause of international justice?
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