Monday, May 14, 2012

On the Role of the International Criminal Court: Faith in the possibility of justice being done

The International Criminal Court (ICC) was established on July 1, 2002 with the intention of acting as a permanent tribunal for heinous international offenses (crimes against humanity, genocide, war crimes, and more recently, crimes of aggression).  Unlike the International Court of Justice—the judicial branch of the United Nations—the scope of cases, jurisdiction and mandate of the ICC are extremely narrow.   Given its limited function, it is not surprising that the ICC has only opened 7 cases and indicted 28 people.   The utility of such a court has been the subject of much debate and continues to spark controversy in political, military and academic circles.
Throughout the twentieth century, the international community contemplated the establishment of a permanent tribunal as a means to bring justice for serious international crimes and to hold accountable the perpetrators of those crimes.  Particularly after WWII, and then again following the genocides in the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda, the outrage against these criminals drove many countries to take action.  Ad hoc tribunals were established to hold accountable those responsible for war crimes and massive ethnic killings.  Although these temporary courts were deemed successful in their limited scope, further atrocities demanded consideration of a permanent judicial body that could potentially deter future crimes. 

Crime is down in Tacoma, I read in the paper this morning. But globally, crimes against humanity, genocide, war crimes, and more recently, crimes of aggression are not. A man held responsible for terrible crimes in Sierra Leone is up for sentencing. Permanent international institutions for meting out justice were foreseen in the Baha'i Writings. -gw
Olara Otunna, the UN Under-Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, one of two keynote speakers, stressed the importance of the International Criminal Court as a mechanism for accountability, truth-seeking, and healing in cases of extreme conflict — especially those involving children.xHe also said that religious groups have a key role to play in healing and reconciliation. He said, for example, that religious leaders and women's groups were among the first actors to denounce rebel atrocities in Sierra Leone .

Further, Mr. Otunna said, faith and religion were often the last resort of innocent people in the face of extreme conflict.

Posted via email from Baha'i Views

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