Thursday, August 06, 2009

International courts

My girl Hillary, in Nairobi, expressed regret once again that the United States is not a signatory to the International Criminal Court treaty. We talked a lot about the ICC during law school (where, as you know, I was of the International Law concentration). For those who have absolutely no idea what the ICC is, think roughly a permanent court for things like Judgment at Nuremberg and/or somewhere to try, for example, perpetrators of the Rwanda genocide.

Many people are opposed to the U.S. becoming a signatory (= submitting to its jurisdiction) to this ICC treaty, including more likely than not one of your state's politicians. And it takes two-thirds of the Senate to ratify a treaty, as you may recall from AP History class. There are many valid things to say about the benefits, flaws, and intricacies of international institutions and I won't get into all of them here and now; what I will question is one argument against the court that has been presented often and was noted again today. Some people oppose the ICC because they don't like the prospect of U.S. soldiers being tried there for war crimes.

Why is this argument presented/taken seriously? We don't want to allow this court jurisdiction over us because then "they" would try "our" soldiers? Um, hello? What's good enough for the rest of the world is apparently not good enough for us. Does it occur to these people that maybe our U.S. soldiers should not be committing war crimes in the first place?!

This infuriated me every time we discussed it in law school, and it infuriates me now. Instead of arguing against torture, war crimes, murder of civilians, etc., the blowhards Congresspeople and their minions constituents shudder to think of their "heroes" (criminal soldiers) having to be accountable for what they have done.

No comments: