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Kali
member
Location: Berlin, Germany
Member Since: 29th Apr 2002
Total posts: 577
Posted:So I don't normally start threads, but this is something I'm really interested in getting other people's perspectives on.

I was at a panel discussion tonight on the International Criminal Courts and the U.S. refusal to be a part of them and have to say I'm really disillusioned at the way that the U.S. is handling itself.

For those of you that don't know or are in anyway confused about what I'm talking about here's a quick rundown which hopefully is accurate, but feel free to point something out if it isn't.

The ICCs are set up by the UN to try four types of crimes - Crimes against humanity, war crimes, genocide, and crimes of agression (which haven't really been defined yet, so technically they can try 3 types of crime). These are permanent courts set up for the prosecution of international human rights violations, as opposed to the ad hoc ones set up in Nuremberg and Tokyo after WWII. They are courts of last resort, trying cases where the country that has jurisdiciton is unable to prosecute and function complentarily to domestic courts (meaning whoever has jurisdiction will be able to try the case first). Cases tried there have no statute of limitations and the ICCs have universal jurisdiction. Cases that can be tried there are ones where the victim or perpetrator country is a memeber of the ICCs, when the perpetrator agrees to the trial, or in special cases, when referred by the Security Council of the UN.

Now, the U.S. signed the treaty for the creation of these courts in Rome in 1998, but now not only have they decided not to ratify it, but they are putting pressure on other countries not to as well and trying to get their signature removed from the treaty!

Basic argument against the courts has been that the U.S. would be unfairly singled out by all those countries that have it out for them, which is complete bullshit because all the legislation for the ICC is built against such things happening. They further argue that it puts the armed forces at risk for wartime actions, making it sound like if some private gets drunk and steps out of line, they will be hauled into the ICCs and prosecuted. THe ICCs aren't being set up to check into the private lives of every soldier out there. THey will, however prosecute heads of state (like Milosevic), generals, and officials that commit crimes that result in widespread human rights violations. So I find the fact that the U.S. has until now been greatly involved in the prosecution of lots of human rights abuses combined with the current stance on the ICCs really confusing and disturbing.

On the bright side, one of the speakers was a guy involved with the Coalition for the International Criminal Courts and I have to say that group is a prime example of grassroots organization at its best. It started out in 1995 pretty much as a guy, an intern, and a computer in the basement of a building across the street from the UN building in New York and is now a $3 million dollar organization with support from 2,000 non governmental organizations worldlwide. Things like this make me happy and give me hope. So I thought I would include that in this post so it isn't just me ranting.

So, what does everyone else think about anything to do with this? Do you know what your country's position is on it and do you agree with it?


Beauty is the conscious sum of all our perversions.-Salvador DaliHope without action is hopeless.


toneman
member

Member Since: 18th Oct 2001
Total posts: 195
Posted:I've kinda been following that and I'm not quite sure why we're trying so desperately to get out, unless we're worried about people getting prosecuted for things that they did during the Korean/Vietnam conflict. We also did some pretty brutal things in S America that could probably put some past heads of state in a prosecutable position. And who knows, maybe we're backing out because we have some really nasty plans...

There seems to have been a general decline in the past couple of decades in which (rich)criminals have used every means to not get prosecuted. Good current examples are Enron and WorldCom. These execs have ties to everyone in power, and I have a feeling that everyone has been running their operations in a similar greedy manner, public and private. How much money would be needed to start a revolution in a 3rd world country? Do you actually think that we would allow someone to punish wrong doers in our country?



Nephtys
Nephtys

resident fridge magnet
Location: Utrecht, The Netherlands
Member Since: 3rd Oct 2002
Total posts: 835
Posted:ooooh, Kali, i get SO wound up over this issue! The ICC is located in the Netherlands, where i live, next to the Peace Palace in the Hague, so obviously - thankfully - the Dutch government supports it (and therefor has ratified the treaty). The US has actually threatened to attack my country if a US citizen were to be tried here in the ICC! Now i personally am not too worried about the threat itself, but i'm extremely worried about what what the threat implies about the US's stance on the subject.
You already mentioned that the ICC is complimentary to national courts, what the UN site about the ICC says on that is this: "The entire premise of the Court is based on the principle of complementarity, which means that the Court can only exercise its jurisdiction when a national court is unable or unwilling to genuinely do so itself. The first priority always goes to national courts. The International Criminal Court is in no way meant to replace the authority of national courts. But there may be times when a State's court system collapses and ceases to function. Similarly, there may be governments that condone or participate in an atrocity themselves, or officials may be reluctant to prosecute someone in a position of great power and authority." (from: http://www.un.org/News/facts/iccfact.htm
)

This should make the US's fears groundless: US citizens who have commited crimes against humanity, war crimes or genocide can be tried in the US, and the cases will never go to the ICC. The US certainly doesn't fall under the category of countries where the court system has collapsed and ceased to function. This suggests that it has a government that "that condone[s] or participate[s] in an atrocity themselves, or officials may be reluctant to prosecute someone in a position of great power and authority"
This, from a state that preaches freedom and justice!??! AAH!

glad you're interested in the subject, too



Charlotte


everyone's unique except me


Nephtys
Nephtys

resident fridge magnet
Location: Utrecht, The Netherlands
Member Since: 3rd Oct 2002
Total posts: 835
Posted:Oh, and Toneman, even worries about US war criminals from Vietnam/Korea/South America being prosecuted would be unfounded: the statute of the ICC says explicitly that it will only prosecute crimes that were committed after it entered into force in July 2002. I can't think of any other reason for the US to want out than the "really nasty plans" for the future that you mentioned...

everyone's unique except me


Kali
member
Location: Berlin, Germany
Member Since: 29th Apr 2002
Total posts: 577
Posted:What Nephtys said about the nonretroactive clause is right. This was probably put in to encourage other countries to ratify in case they were planning on not joining based on past human rights abuses.

I'd hate to think that the U.S. has something really nasty planned under its sleeve and if you look at history we have been consistent in rallying for and financing other tribunals. We were the ones that wanted the Nuremberg Trials (whether they actually successed in obtaining justice or not, if you even can for such crimes), while the British and Russians wanted to have public executions. Without those trials, these courts would never have been a possibility.

I think that definitely the U.S. doesn't want its officials, generals, etc. head accountable, even though the legistlation of the ICC makes it pretty much an impossibility for this to happen without the U.S. consenting to it. The main complaint is something along the lines of the ICCs would take away or impose on the United States' feeling of sovereignty. Sadly, it seems to me that the U.S. is getting more and more full of itself and feels it can play under different rules than the rest of the world. This isn't the first time a country has done such a thing and the recent elections are making me think things are going to get much worse before they get any better.

The U.S. hasn't just threatened to attack the Netherlands. It has threatened to attack or to cut off aid to country's that depend on it and are a lot less well off than the Netherlands (I'm not saying the Netherlands aren't important, Nephtys, just pointing out that its not an isolated attempt at intimidation). Basically, the States are acting like a bully and its amazing that the treaty is still getting rattified in some ways.

I'm sure I have more to rant on about and will probably do so later...



Beauty is the conscious sum of all our perversions.-Salvador DaliHope without action is hopeless.


Astar
member
Location: Nova Scotia, Canada.
Member Since: 8th Nov 2002
Total posts: 1591
Posted:I think they are mostly worried that the ICC will become a medium for anyone who has a political agenda of makeing the US look bad with it's foreign policy. The said politicians cannot really exert any power agaisnt the us but indirectly they sure can make a lot of stink and put a lot of pressure on things.

I think if the US isn't doing anything wrong then they can quickly shoot down any political pressure comeing from the ICC. So in conclusion the US should honour past agreements and sign the damn thing.

I find it funny how the US will always back out of agreements made by previous administrations that either result in them possibly loseing money or hindering their general war mongering activitys. But if a past administrations make an obligation to any cause that involves aggression towards foreign powers even if it has absolutly nothing to do with american security, the US is more then happy to support the past obligations.

The bay of pigs in cuba is a good example.



Nephtys
Nephtys

resident fridge magnet
Location: Utrecht, The Netherlands
Member Since: 3rd Oct 2002
Total posts: 835
Posted:I wasn't trying to suggest that it was Kali, sorry if that didn't come accross right! And believe me, i know how well off Holland is and how much worse off a huge proportion of the rest of the world is! It's just that the physical building of the ICC is situated here, and the US has threatened to physically attack to free any US citizen that would be held in detention here - but as i said, i'm not worried about the threat itself, only what i think it implies about US policy...



Charlotte


everyone's unique except me


Doc Lightning
Doc Lightning

HOP Mad Doctor
Location: San Francisco, CA, USA
Member Since: 28th May 2001
Total posts: 13919
Posted:Amerika Uber Alles

-Mike )'(
Certified Mad Doctor and HoP High Priest of Nutella

"A buckuht 'n a hooze!" -Valura


bender
still can't believe it's not butter
Location: Melbourne, Australia
Member Since: 14th Nov 2001
Total posts: 6979
Posted:quote:Originally posted by MikeGinny:
Amerika Uber Alles
Non-Https Image Link

right on, mikey!


Laugh Often, Smile Much, Post lolcats Always


Dom
Dom

Carpal \'Tunnel
Location: Bristol, UK
Member Since: 19th Dec 2001
Total posts: 3009
Posted:The US ICC denial of the ICC is annoying and their stated reasons are not accurate. There are checks in place which prevent the ICC from being a political weapon by anyone who doesn't like another country.

I think a lot of the reason they won't sign up fully to the ICC is ego. The Us is currently very, very big on throwing it's weight around and the ICC would erode the feeling of superiority and imperialistic lordship that many in the government are very comfy feeling.



Kali
member
Location: Berlin, Germany
Member Since: 29th Apr 2002
Total posts: 577
Posted:Bender, that was one of the scariest things I ever saw!

Okay, here's something else I was thinking about. I don't know if I posted this in my earlier rant, but the US is also trying to get the European powers to sign a bilateral agreement (I think that's the right term) that would exempt it from the rulings of the courts. Not even going into how messed up and scary this is in and of itself I really wonder why the EU seems to be putting up with this shit?! I mean why hasn't anyone stood up to the US government and said what they are doing is wrong? Or have they and I just haven't heard about it? Because I can understand other countries that are dependent on US being afraid to say anything, but I really feel the EU especially should be more vocal on this. We all know what happens when no one does anything so why isn't someone doing something??? I mean of course there's all kinds of NPOs that are doing that, but has any national government or international institution made comments about the US?
Nephhtys, have you heard of anything from the Netherlands?


Beauty is the conscious sum of all our perversions.-Salvador DaliHope without action is hopeless.


Doc Lightning
Doc Lightning

HOP Mad Doctor
Location: San Francisco, CA, USA
Member Since: 28th May 2001
Total posts: 13919
Posted:While I wish that we could have a world without weapons, the only thing worse than a world where two parties have weapons and are glaring at each-other is a world in which only one party has weapons and basically has complete domination.

I wish the EU would pool resources and put together a decent unified military. This may sound completely abhorrent, but it's the only way that the U.S. can be kept in check. And frankly, I'd rather see two democracies being well-armed than a democracy and a totalitarian regime.

As it stands right now, the U.S. can do whatever it wants with complete disregard for the interests of other nations. This is simply not healthy for the world at large.

The EU needs to develop the oomph to keep the U.S. in check. It need not be an arms race, but rather, enough of a threat to stop the U.S. from walking all over the rest of the world as it pleases.


-Mike )'(
Certified Mad Doctor and HoP High Priest of Nutella

"A buckuht 'n a hooze!" -Valura


Dom
Dom

Carpal \'Tunnel
Location: Bristol, UK
Member Since: 19th Dec 2001
Total posts: 3009
Posted:The EU does stand up to the US quite a lot, but we've different minds to you guys. We're not so brash and we work subtly with lots of governments, which is why we were happily telling Iran that we actually liked them while the US was ranting about an axis of evil.

Vive la differance and all that, but I'd rather be European. The EU could mass together, get a big army, push itself around more. But a phrase springs to mind "Never argue with an idiot, he'll drag you down to his level and beat you with experience." Sorry, but the US is the idiot in the equation.



Doc Lightning
Doc Lightning

HOP Mad Doctor
Location: San Francisco, CA, USA
Member Since: 28th May 2001
Total posts: 13919
Posted:Well, Dom, when you look at my "Soul Searching" thread, you'll see that I agree with you.

Now, if only we could get the EU to put more money into research...


-Mike )'(
Certified Mad Doctor and HoP High Priest of Nutella

"A buckuht 'n a hooze!" -Valura


AardvarkOnAcid
member
Location: San Francisco Bay Area
Member Since: 5th Jul 2002
Total posts: 92
Posted:quote:Originally posted by MikeGinny:
While I wish that we could have a world without weapons, the only thing worse than a world where two parties have weapons and are glaring at each-other is a world in which only one party has weapons and basically has complete domination.

I wish the EU would pool resources and put together a decent unified military. This may sound completely abhorrent, but it's the only way that the U.S. can be kept in check. And frankly, I'd rather see two democracies being well-armed than a democracy and a totalitarian regime.

As it stands right now, the U.S. can do whatever it wants with complete disregard for the interests of other nations. This is simply not healthy for the world at large.

The EU needs to develop the oomph to keep the U.S. in check. It need not be an arms race, but rather, enough of a threat to stop the U.S. from walking all over the rest of the world as it pleases.See! See! You're a liberal and you hate America!!!


Is that all life comes down to? To be lying face down with an overenthusiastic guy in pink pin-striped pants sitting on top of you and grunting? -- Random MusingsSex, Drugs and Psytrance.



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