Overview of the Effectiveness of the International Criminal Court

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International Criminal Court: Effective?
Falyn A. Hahn
Lynchburg College

International Criminal Court: Effective?

As our society becomes more and more globalized, international relations have become a necessity. However, cooperation on an international level, between different cultures and countries, can be difficult. As a result, nowadays we have such organizations as the World Trade Organization (WTO), the United Nations (UN), and other that unite many countries by common goals such as preventing conflicts and solving existing disputes. Naturally, to fulfill this task there is a need for regulations and laws on an international level that all states are required to abide by. These regulations serve as a sort of “international playing field” for countries to come together. But unfortunately, where there are laws there are law-breakers. We can find a lot of examples of the criminal world spreading its influence internationally. In order to fight against these criminal influences the international community came to the realization that there must be consequences for these actions, and therefore a court with international authority and power became necessary. This led to the birth of the International Court of Justice, and finally, the International Criminal Court (ICC) (ICC, 2012; Wikipedia, 2012; Bracknell, 2011). This research paper will discuss the accomplishments that it has already achieved, the possible challenges that the ICC faces in the near future, and whether or not it is truly effective.

The ICC is a permanent international criminal court founded in 2002 by the Rome Statute to “bring to justice the perpetrators of the worst crimes known to humankind- war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide”, especially when national courts are unable or unwilling to do so (Wikipedia, 2012). As of July 2012, 121 countries have ratified the statute. The Court is located in The Hague, Netherlands (Institute, 2012). Although the ICC was formed with solely good intentions, and was a large step forward in international development, it may have some flaws. The ICC was supposed to deal with the crimes that violate principle human rights all over the world such as crimes against humanity, war crimes, or crimes against whole groups of peoples (genocide) (ICC, 2012).

Unfortunately, some countries feel their national law and interests are antagonized by the ICC’s intentions. Also, they fear interference in their inner affairs. This includes our own country, which has yet to participate in the ICC. Under the Bush Administration, the US administration at the time of the ICC’s founding stated that it would not join the ICC. The current Obama Administration has subsequently re-established a working relationship with the court (Wikipedia, 2012). Some definitions in the ICC treaties are unclear from a judicial point of view and there has been a general confusion of the interpretation of crimes, and how they should be punished. All in all, the ICC has been a great idea that has accomplished very little in actuality. Can multiple countries really agree to a set of regulations and actually follow through with due process on an international level?

Since its opening in July 2002 there have been only two cases that have actually made it to the trail stage in the International Court. However, the ICC has had many marked successes in dealing with situations in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda, Darfur, Central African Republic, Sudan, and most recently Libya. In relation to Libya, the investigation was initiated by the UN Security Council and is actually the first investigation to be backed by the United States (Bracknell, 2012). The Congolese “warlord” Thomas Lubanga Dyilo was the first person to be sentenced by the International Criminal Court for recruiting child soldiers for his rebel army in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2002-03. On January 26, 2009 the ICC opened its first trial in the case against Thomas...
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