Friday, December 18, 2009

Law of the I.Sea.Sea.

The Dutch Navy released all these Somali Pirates today because no country was willing to prosecute them... (full article here)

Okay, Earth, it's called the International Criminal Court. I wrote a whole article about this last year. The ICC is not just for war criminals, it's original purpose, as defined by it's creator whom I interviewed last year, was for TRANSNATIONAL CRIMES. There is just so much I want to say about this right now.

But instead, let's just... Paste that article from The Planet HERE

The International Criminal Court (ICC) is currently known for its high profile trials of dictators and in conjunction with terms like “crimes against humanity”, “genocide”, and “”war crimes,” but was this the original intention of this body? According to a recent conversation I had with one of the people who helped pass the original draft document on the issue, not at all.

Professor Roy S. Lee, B.C.L., LL.M., Ph.D., who currently teaches at Columbia University's School of Law, was pivotal in creating the wording of the document that created the ICC under the International Court of Justice of the United Nations. He worked with the United Nations since 1969 in the upper levels of the secretariat, on a variety of issues such as human rights, the law of the sea and the law of international institutions. Perhaps the most substantial contribution was in the mid-1990s, while he was in charge of the International Law Commission, the Sixth (Legal) Committee of the UN General Assembly and of the Diplomatic Conference which eventually led to the creation of the International Criminal Court, adopted in 1998.

According to Lee the original intention of the ICC was to deal with issues that were outside single state jurisdiction, not matters of war crimes after civil conflict. He highlighted two specific incidents, in fact, that he felt could have been avoided had the ICC been used effectively as he had intended, the Iraq-American weapons of mass destruction debate in 2002-2003 and the Russia-Georgia Ossetia territory dispute currently underway. He said that the United States could, and should had utilized the ICC in this international claim and that a legal dispute could have prevented war in both cases.

However, he did make the concession that the body is operated exactly as he envisioned in 1998 and it only works on a case when the countries involved approve of it. The major concern in early years regarding the creation of any international court system and legal body was the respecting of state sovereignty and the claim of international jurisdiction over that of the state’s own laws. Bypassing state sovereignty and national laws would lead to the disintegration of trust and thereby ruin any legitimacy the ICC has as a place where grievances can be ruled upon in an unbiased manor. The balancing act of enacting international law, which is still being written in many ways, is one major reason why issues such as border conflicts between hegemonies and smaller countries are unlikely to go to the court. Would going to an international court be a sign of weakness, or prove that the ICC was the strongest its ever been, solidifying its place as the highest court in the world, thus fulfilling its original intention?

While it is unlikely that a conflict like the Ossetia dispute or American WMD claim would ever have made it to the ICC, lets hypothesize briefly on the what if scenario. What if in 2002 when Colin Powell went to the United Nations to present materials it was not to convince nations to send allied troops into Iraq but rather subpoena Saddam Hussein, et al. to the ICC for a hearing on his WMD holdings and usage on not only his own people, but threatening the international community. Would we have approximately 90-93,000 civilian Iraqis deaths, over 4,080 Americans dead and 30,000 wounded since May, 2003? Would the trial even be completed yet?

It is useful to hypothesize a world where war can be avoided by taking matters of international dispute to an international court, where issues such as China-Taiwan, Israel-Palestine, Cyprus, and the Kuril island disputes could be decided. Even something like which nation is responsible for refugees who have existed outside of their home country for more than 20 years but refuse to return home could be decided through the ICC, but in the case of Afghanistan, no attempts to go to the ICC have been made.

When I met him at a conference on how climate change affects island states, it would seem that currently Lee wanted the ICC to deal with issues such as who has jurisdiction over the middle of the Pacific Ocean and should clean up the garbage that collects there. As the global warming and changes the focus of nations around the world, perhaps in the future we will see fewer crimes against humanity and more trials on crimes against humidity.

Thanks for reading and best regards,