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International Criminal Court – ICC

Obama Ambassador Proud to Advance Selective Justice


By Shawn Macomber Lawfare Tyranny

Did you know the United States has an “Ambassador-at-Large for War Crimes Issues”?

Yes, well, don’t feel too badly if you didn’t. It’s essentially the definition of an obscure post. Still, Stephen Rapp — the man who has held it for the vast majority of the Obama Administration’s reign — is giving himself a public pat on the back for what he calls his “quite successful” part in “reversing our strategy of hostility to the ICC and engaging with the ICC supportively.”

Here’s what Rapp recently told JusticeInfo.net when asked, “What is the thing that you have been most proud of?”:

Well I think first our engagement in a positive way with the International Criminal Court, having come out of a period under the Bush administration, at least the first term of George W. Bush, when they wanted to kill this court in the cradle. Under the Obama administration, we took up our position as observers and looked to our law, which restricted us to some degree (a law passed in 2002), but allowed us to assist the court on a case by case basis. So we’re working closely to try to help the court succeed.

The Court, of course, needs all the help it can get — we’re talking about an institution that has blown more than a billion dollars over the last thirteen years to secure exactly two convictions of obscure African warlords; that chases atrocities rather than deterring them; that fancies itself as above reproach as it selectively enforces murky law according to its own rent-seeking needs and whims.

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Failure Is a Growth Industry at the ICC


By Shawn Macomber • Lawfare Tyranny

Steven Freeland, a professor of international law at the University of Western Sydney, has studied the current track record of the International Criminal Court — i.e. thirteen years, a billion dollars, two convictions of obscure African warlords, pure impotence everywhere else — and decided it is time to add a new task to the aspiring transnational behemoth’s plate.

Specifically, he would like to see the ICC’s founding document, the Rome Statue, amended to allow the Court to prosecute “rampant and excessive environmental damage during armed conflict.”

Here’s what Freeland had to say about the enterprise to Lawyers Weekly:

Those who engage in warfare have to recognize that, of course, we must always take every necessary action to minimize damage and suffering to human beings, but that in no way means that the environment is open slather.

I suppose if this all works out environmentalists can get behind womenKurds, and many others in the long line of victims waiting for the ICC to fail them.

Hope Less

By Shawn Macomber Lawfare Tyranny

Via the Kurdish media network Rudaw:148558Image1-1

Commemorating the Day of International Criminal Justice, Halabja civil society organizations, authorities, civil society activists and victims of chemical weapons renewed their call in a joint statement demanding Iraq ratify the Rome Statute and join the International Criminal Court.

“In order to stop future genocides or stop the repetition of past genocides, the Iraqi government, to reassure the people of Kurdistan, must sign the Rome Statute and become a member of the International Criminal Court,” the statement read.

After decade upon decade of watching the innocent suffer and die in Iraq, this grasping hope is painfully understandable.

Alas, does anyone seriously think the Kurds or any other oppressed minority within Iraq will be “reassured” by the supposed umbrella of protection offered by an institution which after more than a decade and $1 billion dollars has precisely two convictions of obscure African warlords? Are we to believe a wannabe Saddam or ISIS will tremble at the thought of facing an organization the mostly issues self-aggrandizing press releases and lectures the world on why it will not apologize for its failures?

No. The ICC is chasing atrocities not deterring them, as is readily apparent to anyone not already in the tank for the Court.

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The Scales Continue to Fall From the World’s Eyes


By Shawn Macomber Lawfare Tyranny

Though we’ve obviously been beating the drum for quite awhile in this space, opposition to the International Criminal Court is becoming a less and less marginal position every day in the national and international conversation at large.

A couple weeks we noted the Chicago Tribune‘s stinging rebuke, but even that brutal salvo pales in comparison to the devastating critique offered up by former U.S. ambassador and current Council on Foreign Relations senior fellow Jendayi Frazer in the Wall Street Journal.

“Sadly, the early hope of ‘universal jurisdiction’ ending impunity for perpetrators of genocide and crimes against humanity has given way to cynicism, both in Africa and the West,” she writes. “In Africa it is believed that, in the rush to demonstrate their power, these courts and their defenders have been too willing to brush aside considerations of due process that they defend at home.”

Ah, yes, do as we say, not as we do…


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An End To Impunity For Thee, But Not For Me

bensoudaBy Shawn Macomber  •  Lawfare Tyranny

Via the Irish Times:

The prosecutor at the International Criminal Court (ICC) has refused to appear before the Kenyan High Court, despite being summonsed in a case aimed at revealing a secret list believed to have named those allegedly behind post-election violence in the country in 2007 and 2008.

Fatou Bensouda has written to the Kenyan ambassador to the Netherlands, Rose Muchiri, stating that she is “immune” from summons by the Kenyan judges, who have “no jurisdiction” over her personally, over her office or over the ICC as an international institution.

Of course, this is no surprise to us…

(Photo via ICC Flick’r page.)

Here We Go Again: UNESCO Doubles Down On Impotency and Posturing


By Shawn Macomber •  Lawfare Tyranny

Surprise, surprise.

Once again we are breathlessly being told that the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) will refer yet another batch of apocalypse-minded Islamist enemies of culture to the International Criminal Court — this time over the destruction of 15th century Muslim shrines in Timbuktu by al-Qaeda affiliated insurgents.

“Two months ago I met the prosecutor and I believe they are progressing rapidly, and I hope they will be ready to present the case before the ICC,” UNESCO General Director Irina Bokova said according to this AFP report.

Sounds great, but — as we asked back in March when Bokova was congratulating herself for referring ISIS to the ICC over the annhillation of artifacts in Mosul and promising her bold buck-passing would “mobilize a big part of the international community” — to what end? And mobilize how?

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A Critics’ Chorus Grows: Desmond Tutu Vs. the ICC


By Shawn Macomber Lawfare Tyranny

The Desmond and Leah Tutu Legacy Foundation has released a statement regarding the recent kerfuffle between the African National Congress, a South African judge, Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, and the International Criminal Court.

And while the Tutus are considerably more optimistic about the future potential of the ICC to be a legitimate bulwark against impunity than we are, it nevertheless cogently expands upon — from an African perspective — points we made in this space concerning why the Court is not trusted even amongst those who vehemently oppose al-Bashir:

By refusing to submit to the jurisdiction of the court‚ some of the most powerful nations in the world have created an environment in which no world leaders feel the need to be held to account — least of all those who stand accused by the court of war crimes and crimes against humanity‚ as Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir does.

These powerful nations have created the rationale for the South African government to allow al-Bashir into the country despite the international warrant of arrest hanging over his head‚ and then to allow him to travel home despite a South African High Court order to the contrary.

What that says about South Africa’s moral fabric (the same government has thrice refused to allow His Holiness the Dalai Lama into the country) is a moot point. It is the further eroding of the ICC’s ability to function equitably that will concern lovers of peace across the world.

The parting shots are equally brutal…

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Universal Failure

Is failure baked into the International Criminal Court cake?

icc6Even some of the Court’s staunchest supporters seem to believe the answer is a resounding Yes.

Or so we are led to surmise by a post entitled “At the ICC, there is no deterrence without resources” over at the pro-ICC online clearinghouse openDemocracy which places the cognitive dissonance inherent in trying to defend the Court’s decade-plus record of wastepreening impotence, and rent-seeking, selective enforcement in stark relief.

First, at the opening of the post we find the usual complaints that the Court “lacks the political, diplomatic and financial support necessary to fulfill what it was created to do”:

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Abuse of Power Will Never Be Remedied By More Power


By Shawn Macomber Lawfare Tyranny

As he awaits his fate at the hands of Dutch immigration authorities, Mathieu Ngudjolo — the first person acquitted of crimes against humanity charges by the International Criminal Court — has given a fascinating interview about his nearly five years imprisoned at the Hague wherein he discusses his bafflement at his charges (“There were people who were much more powerful. The leader of the FNI, [Floribert Ngabu] even testified as a witness, but no charges were brought against him. The Congolese president [Jospeh Kabila] was never indicted either,”) his daily activities (case-building, tennis, football), the strange bedfellows an international prison makes (“When I arrived in 2008 it was calm because there were not many people. Lubanga and Charles Taylor [ex-president of Liberia] were there already; Jean-Pierre Bemba [ex-vice president of the DRC] and others came later. But there were no problems at all. Never. At night we all had dinner together”), and a host of other interesting tidbits.

What’s most surprising, however, is Ngudjolo’s undeterred support for the Court (!):

I still support the court. The world needs a strong ICC and I’m the first one to back it. But currently it is not functioning well. We need people and politicians who support it so the court can prosecute everyone. At the moment many people are not prosecuted for political reasons.

Here are three thoughts on the epic understatement, “currently [the ICC] is not functioning well”:

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The International Criminal Court: Money Well Spent?


By Shawn Macomber  • Lawfare Tyranny

Kenya recently settled its outstanding 2014 “contributions” to the International Criminal Court with a €26,110 ($28,542) payment, according to the Court’s Report of the Committee on Budget and Finance issued last week.

This might seem like a princely sum to the average Kenyan subsisting in a nation with a per capita GDP of less than $1500, but it is an atomic particle compared to how much the ICC has spent on its reportedly “very, very amateur” pursuit of Kenyan leaders:

Notification of 26 June 2014 for €1,369,900 ($1,522,091) and further notification of 10 October 2014 of the revised estimate of resources required of €782,900 ($870,295) for the purposes of funding prosecutorial activities related to offences against the administration of justice under article 70 of the Rome Statute and for witness relocation and assisted moves in the situation in Kenya.

Of course, even a money furnace like the ICC can revise costs downward amidst ignominious failure — while, naturally, deflecting blame and insisting an unwilling world play army on its behalf — but, considering the Court’s sorry record, it is exceedingly difficult to believe those funds wouldn’t have better served the Kenyan people via direct aid and/or civil society nurturing organizations.

A gaggle of starry-eyed world government apparatchiks bumbling in and out of volatile internecine conflicts, frequently making bad situations worse, then leaving has not exactly worked out. (Good luck, Israel/Palestine!)

Perhaps it is time to try a fresh approach?

Curiouser and Curiouser: Hague Hypocrisy As Wonderland

icc 3By Shawn Macomber  •  Lawfare Tyranny

We’ve noted previously the hammer-of-international-justice-for-thee-but-not-for-me phenomenon that seems to go hand in hand with pleas for International Criminal Court intervention, and this week has provided no exception to the rule.

First, via PressTV (“the first Iranian international news network, broadcasting in English on a round-the-clock basis”), comes this nugget:

At a Wednesday summit with high-ranking judiciary officials in Tehran, Ayatollah Sadeq Amoli Larijani voiced regret over the bombardment of the impoverished country, saying the monarchy’s measures inside Yemen amount to war crimes according to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.

“The Saudi regime’s officials should be prosecuted at the International Criminal Court like Nazi criminals,” he said.

And yet curiously Iran has chosen not to ratify the Rome Statute and join the ranks of these supposed neo-Nazi slayers at the Hague!

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Pay No Attention to the Aspiring Transnational Behemoth Behind the Curtain


By Shawn Macomber Lawfare Tyranny

Perhaps you’ve been concerned about the International Criminal Court because of the shamelessly selective enforcement of its purported mission. Or the rent-seeking tendencies hardwired into its DNA. Or its unjust inefficiencies. Or the vast, profound, and seemingly endemic waste of financial resources that could be put to better use by a host of NGOs elsewhere.

Well, University of Arizona professor and Divided Sovereignty: International Institutions and the Limits of State Sovereignty author Carmen Pavel is here to sweep those piddling trepidations away with a single Oxford University blog post in which she accuses Court opponents of attempting to “evoke dark forebodings of a global leviathan.”

Which is apparently ridiculous…

[I]nstitutions such as the ICC and others whose task would be to protect the most basic level of physical security, such as a stronger policing and enforcement agency, are unlikely to turn into a global government, with the power to create zoning laws, welfare reform, or the right to holidays with pay.

Got that? Until the ICC is actively fiddling with your beloved local zoning ordinances, pay no attention to the aspiring transnational behemoth behind the curtain.

And why?

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No Escape: How The International Criminal Court Will Impact the 2016 U.S. Presidential Race

unnamed-2By Shawn Macomber • Lawfare Tyranny

Over at The Washington Times today Center for Freedom and Prosperity President Andrew F. Quinlan presents the International Criminal Court as Exhibit A in his case for why, despite the fact that Americans “spare little mind for the goings-on of international organizations,” the activities of these aspiring transnational behemoths nonetheless will “not only have significant impact around the world, but could also play a role in the upcoming electoral contest.”

After noting a few of the same foundational flaws in the ICC’s mission that we have covered in detail in this space, Quinlan writes:

The United States chooses not to participate in the ICC, but that doesn’t mean its actions have no bearing on U.S. interests. Given the history of the Court’s involvement in ongoing conflicts and the negative results it can produce, the next president will have to keep a close eye on the current investigation and any potential proceedings that emerge from it.

He goes on to righteously excoriate the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), before tying the whole room together with this final warning:

The President of the United States is often called the leader of the free world. Increasingly, however, U.S. Presidents are watching from the outside as major world events are decided by unelected global bureaucrats. Whether they want to address the undertakings of these international organizations or not, the candidates vying to be the next president may similarly find that the decision is out of their hands.

Read the whole damning piece here.

The ICC Runs Into the World’s Largest Powder House Waving A Torch

ICC 1By Shawn Macomber • Lawfare Tyranny

Over at the Daily Beast Andrew Novak lays out a persuasive list of reasons why Palestine is “unlikely to see results from an [International Criminal Court] prosecution for many years, if ever.”

“Palestine’s referral to the ICC is fraught with risks,” Novak writes. “The ICC may prosecute all parties to a conflict, and that includes Palestinian crimes as well as Israeli ones. The allegations that Hamas fighters used human shields and fired unstable rockets at civilian areas, if proven, almost certainly constitute war crimes. By contrast, allegations against Israel are much more complex, and largely matters of proportion: for instance, whether the Israeli military provided sufficient warning before attacking residential buildings or caused excessive collateral damage pursuing low-level Hamas fighters. The legality of Israeli settlements is the most complex question of all — and not one that the ICC Prosecutor or judges are well-placed to answer as experts in criminal law. This would be a mess.”

A mess? Business as usual for the ICC then!

Obviously Fatah leadership must have gamed out something approximating these scenarios.

So why proceed?

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The International Criminal Court As Weaponized Hobby Horse

Burnside_Julian1By Shawn Macomber • Lawfare Tyranny

Over in Australia “prominent barrister” Julian Burnside has come up with a plan to break, however briefly, the International Criminal Court’s monomaniacal fixation on Africans…by luring the the aspiring transnational behemoth onto the flailing side of his nation’s domestic policy disputes!

Mr Burnside told Lawyers Weekly it was his personal view that Mr Abbott and Mr Morrison, as well as politicians responsible for the mistreatment of boat people in previous Liberal and Labor governments, are guilty of crimes against humanity.

“I’ve looked at it pretty carefully for quite a long time and I don’t think there is much scope for argument about it.

“The fact that our mistreatment of asylum seekers amounts to a crime against humanity, I think, is fairly clear,” he said.

Mr Burnside said he was preparing a communiqué to the ICC and was hoping that lawyers with international reputations might be prepared to lead the charge.

To be fair to Mr. Burnside, his proposal does nicely dovetail with two of the ICC’s most successful ongoing projects — i.e. ostentatious showboating and no substantive action — and the barrister appears to understand this well:

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