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The International Criminal Court, Then and Now

JURIST has an interesting column today by David Scheffler, former US Ambassador at Large for War Crimes Issues (1997-2001), now at Northwestern University School of Law, about the 10th anniversary of the establishment of the ICC:

True to its anti-treaty philosophy, the new administration abandoned any credible effort and took the unprecedented step of de-activating my signature and launching an assault on the court that realists in Washington only recently have begun to roll back. The neo-cons stoked such paranoia about the court and international justice that the administration’s self-destructive plunge into criminal conduct against detainees in the so-called war on terror demonstrated a hideously consistent attitude. In Washington many lost sight of the court’s aim to bring to justice political and military leaders who orchestrate massive atrocity crimes against thousands in lawless regions where national justice fails. The court, entering its seventh year of work, struggles to meet that challenge in Darfur (with Sudan’s President Bashir now facing a possible arrest warrant for genocide), Uganda, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and the Central African Republic. As the American negotiator I argued that the court would need the United States to function effectively on the global stage. But following years of misconduct under the Bush administration, one might ponder whether it is the United States that needs the International Criminal Court to help restore its credibility and reassert fundamental principles of humanity.