Strengths of the International Criminal Court

Strengths of the International Criminal Court

Arizona State University

Although the International Criminal Court system (ICC) that stems from the Rome statue of 1998 is relatively new, the court has had rising levels of success over the years. However, many see the ICC as a failure because of the high inactivity and lack of results they have produced. Although, in the last few years, the ICC has been figuring out how to become more effective and have also been trying to define what the court’s powers are limited and not limited to. The ICC has the responsibility and right to investigate and put on trial anyone who is enacting; crimes against humanity, war crimes, or in some extreme cases genocide. Having been created in 1998, the court did not come into effect until 2002. Now an international organization representing 123 different states, the ICC is growing a long with its reputation. However, the ICC is still under criticism for the lack of results it has produced; only one verdict has been released during the courts thirteen years of operation. Although the ICC has been criticized for the lack of results produced, the ICC is effective and steadily growing into a strong, beneficial, international organization.

The ICC functions as a court of last resort, if a particular state’s jurisdiction is not working, the ICC steps in and helps the state resolve the conflict. Note that this is still only when analyzing trials relating to the jurisdiction of the ICC, war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocides. According to the Political Handbook of the World (2014), the ICC has indicted thirty-nine criminals all across the world. However, out of those thirty-nine indicted criminals only one of those trials have actually produced a verdict and that was in 2012 dealing with Thomas Lubanga Dvilo. Accused of violating numerous amounts of people’s human rights, Dvilo was indicted by the ICC in 2006 and the verdict was announced in November of 2014. The verdict was a fourteen-year sentence, which many believed to be controversial because of the amount of humanitarian violations he was charged with. In the ICC’s defense however, at the time there was no precedent for the ruling to be based off of. Although many believe the ICC mistakenly provided too short of a sentence, the ICC claimed in the future they will implement stronger verdicts, and used this case as a stepping stone to grow into a more recognizable organization across the globe. Seeing beyond the criticism that stemmed from the verdict, the trial was successful and proved the ICC can be effective.

Although the ICC has provided only one verdict, the court currently has many criminals on trial. Accused of leading militia in the Central Africa Republic, Jean Pierre Bemba is a citizen who the ICC is investigating and have put on trial. Arrested in Belgium in 2008, the Political Handbook of the World (2014), claims the ICC started Bemba’s trial in 2010. Although the process might seem slow, considering it has been five years and no verdict has been produced yet, the ICC does a remarkable job in proving their legitimacy of their indicted criminals with supported evidence. As a result, Bemba will get the correct punishment that he deserves and this can be seen as a lesson learned from the court’s first verdict dealing with Dvilo. Besides the trial of Bemba, the ICC also has Bosco Ntaganda, a criminal who is being prosecuted for crimes against humanity in Mali, on trial. Ntaganda was convicted of 13 war crimes and 5 crimes against humanity in June of 2014. By putting Ntaganda on trial, he will receive the justice he deserves similar to Bemba. Although the trial might not be ending towards the year 2020, the most important thing is that the criminal is in custody currently. Therefore, the ICC is doing spectacular work by halting Ntaganda’s influence throughout the world. Due to the criminals being on trial, and therefore behind bars, the ICC is benefiting the world by providing safety.

Globally, the ICC is making an impact through their investigations of on going situations. All throughout the world the ICC is doing research to find out where criminals are, and also working with states to send out arrest warrants for alleged criminals. To date, the ICC has twenty-one open cases regarding eight different situations throughout the world. A situation can be defined as any type of conflict where there is believed to be on going war crimes, crime against humanity, or genocide. The eight on going situations that the ICC are looking into deal with the following countries and places, Libya, Kenya, Côte d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda, Central African Republic, Mali, and Sudan. According to Political Handbook of the World (2014), the ICC is working together with people from each state to quickly resolve the problems with each specific state. However, in some cases states do not want to cooperate which results in more complicated and complex work for the ICC. Regardless of whether states cooperate or not, the ICC has been determined to undermine all of the criminals in each respective state. Covering the eight situations, through investigation the ICC believes there are ultimately thirty main criminals promoting negative influence throughout the eight states. Out of the thirty warrants that have been set out for these criminals, eighteen have already been resolved and those criminals are now in custody of the ICC awaiting trial. Although not perfect, with twelve outstanding warrants, the ICC is doing all that they can to resolve the conflicts in each state. As each warrant gets fulfilled, the ICC continues to steadily grow and sustain positive growth as an international organization.

For the first time, two countries are threatening to withdraw their membership from the ICC, however; these acts of defiance are promoting the legitimacy of the ICC. Kenya and South Africa both recently have had disputes with the court and are leaning towards leaving the court. Kenya believes that the court has been discriminating against them in the recent trials of their Vice President William Ruto (York, 2015). Furious, Kenya has repeatedly demanded that their requests be met and the for the trial to go on how they perceive it should. However, the ICC does not acknowledge the threats of Kenya wishing to remove themselves from the court as a big deal. The ICC does not take orders from member states, if the court did it would alleviate the legitimacy of the court and it would further hurt the courts reputation. The ICC responded to Kenya by acknowledging their demands as simply “noise” and a threat to the courts independence. By not giving in to Kenya’s demands, the ICC has further established the court as a legitimate, strong, balanced court that will not stand for influence by other nations in anyway.

With that being said, as much as the ICC wants Kenya to be apart of the court they will not stand to allow anyone get away with crimes against humanity, genocide, or war crimes. In the article, Independence of the ICC Must Be Enhanced (2015), Kenya’s William Ruto has constantly provoked crimes against humanity by violating the rights of his citizens and the ICC has continued to back their stance that no one gets a free pass when it comes to crimes against humanity. By backing their stance on what they stand for and what they represent, the ICC is proving their strength by not allowing any criminals to promote their illegal actions and get away with it. The same goes with the ongoing situations in Libya and Mali, just because the criminals have a large influence on the people, does not mean that they will have any influence on the court or even more importantly the courts decisions. Regardless of the situations at hand, the independence of the ICC has been growing as they stray away from being influenced by member nations and continue to push forward with the actions they feel are right.

Similar to anything else in the world, there are strengths and weaknesses of the ICC. Although the strengths heavily outnumber the weaknesses, it is still important to analyze both sides. For example, a strength on the topic of growing; since the creation of the ICC fifty-seven new nation states have joined. As a result of fifty-seven new countries joining, the court now has the jurisdiction to continue investigating in those respective countries expanding the power that the court has (Donovan, 2012). Evident by this, not only is the court growing in terms of members, but also in terms of the amount of land they are responsible for. With increasing jurisdiction all around the globe, the ICC will continue to strengthen its powers and therefore will be more recognizable all throughout the world. Another utterly important strength that the ICC has however is that it has the ability to take over bias cases in states. For example, president Al-Bashir of Sudan for the crimes committed in Darfur in which his country will never consider indicting him out of fear of betrayal. Although Sudan citizens are afraid to give up their prominent leader, the ICC is not afraid to take action against Al-Bashir. As a result of the ICC stepping in and getting involved in Sudan, the country will remove Al-Bashir and hopefully start moving in the right direction.

Opposed to the strengths there are also the weakness arguments of the ICC, which all deal with the time it has taken the ICC to produce its first verdict and lack of inactivity. Opened in 2002, the first case did not emerge until late 2009 and many critics believe that those six years of inactivity were too long and wasteful. However, it is important to realize that now the ICC is up and moving and is constantly starting new investigations where reports have been given to them about war crimes, crimes against humanity and possible genocides. Besides the length of their original inactivity the other complainant stems from the fact that the court has only produced one verdict and that took over three years to produce. A three-year case is not so much the problem as to the fact that the ICC has been around for years and only produced the single verdict. Once again, it is important to remember that the ICC is growing now and they have produced warrants for criminals all over the world and have trials going on dealing with other criminals. Although the time it has taken the ICC to get active has been long, the court is moving in the right direction and becoming more efficient as they learn to cooperate with other nations and quickly advance trials.

The peace that the ICC creates through their acts against criminals is also another positive factor to analyze. For example, when looking at the on going acts of terror presented by the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) and their leader Joseph Kony, the warrant that the ICC has put out for Kony has promoted peace in two different ways. First of all, the warrant out for Kony’s arrest has put him into an act of hibernation and therefore has limited the crimes against humanity that he can order the LRA to commit. Due to Kony being in hiding, the people of Uganda will start feeling safer again. Also, it is important to realize that once the ICC has captured Kony and therefore can terminate the LRA, the peace for the citizens of Uganda will be long lasting (Kersten, 2014). No longer will the citizens of Uganda have to worry about being killed or live in fear after the ICC successfully captures Kony. As a result of capturing Kony the ICC will once again prove its legitimacy and further the growth of the organization as other nations and members of the ICC recognize the work that the organization has done. This is yet another example of the beneficial work that the ICC has done and will follow through with.

Arguably, the main goal of the ICC is to go after the “Lion’s and Fox’s that Machiavelli discussed. Being a “Lion” would represent a leader who is feared and is not unafraid to show authority (Ripley, Global Politics, 2015). For example, the LRA in Uganda and their leader Joseph Kony play the role of a lion. Forcefully, Kony has destroyed people’s homes, killed families, and done whatever he has to do to make sure he stays in power. The ICC recognizes his lion traits and that provokes them to start up an investigation against Kony. As far as being a fox goes, that can be defined as being devious or passive aggressive as a leader. All across the globe, there are examples of being a fox, constantly governments are slowly but surely talking to other countries and behind the scenes making progress towards their political agenda. When leaders are negatively impacting their country secretly, the ICC once again gets involved and starts up another investigation trying to figure out what the source of problem is. Quite often, for the ICC this can be more difficult than trying to analyze a problem in a country with a lion-type leader because the fox-type leaders are usually sneakier and sly.

As an international organization that tries to resolve conflict, the ICC could also be seen as an organization that promotes a utopian society. However, as we learned in class a Utopian society is basically impossible (Ripley, Global Politics, 2015). Although the ICC would love to ban violence across the world, considering it would make their job easier, it is not realistic to believe that the states across the globe will ever come together and agree to ban violence. With that being said, the ICC does implement a sense of utopianism by striving to figure out the violent problems that are going on in different countries across the world. This could definitely be seen as a strength of the ICC and having that extra security will promote people to feel safer and freer in their home state. Therefore, the ICC is doing all that they realistically can to provide a utopian society for the world, even though it might be impossible to do.

A colossal part of the ICC is dealing with what happens after international relations shift as a result of the rise and fall of governments, otherwise known as neo-realism. Quite often, when governments rise and fall there is a sense of anarchy that is going on throughout the state. This anarchy leads for criminals to emerge and dictators to step into power in these countries. Obviously, the ICC imposes on having dictators in government because as a result, usually the dictators exploit the people in the country. This in theory creates more work for the ICC because they have to deal with the dictators and do their part in trying to stop them from hurting the society that they represent. Neo-realism is seen constantly throughout the world and especially in Africa. When an African country falls, usually by form of a coup, a corrupt leader most likely swoops in and takes advantage of the land that seems to be in an anarchic state. Having a leader step up and be in power would not be a problem, however; the policy that these leaders implement is what causes the ICC to have to get involved. As a result of the ICC getting involved, they are able to secure countries and remove dictators all across the globe and eventually make the world a safer place for all that inhabit it.

The ICC is a positive international organization that has slowly but surely risen to influence the world. Through their acts against war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocides, they have been able to make a difference in the world and will continue to make a difference for years to come. With that being said, although many people criticize the ICC for being inactive in the early years of its founding, in recent years the ICC has grown with over fifty nations joining the ICC since its initial start up. As a result of the positive influence that the ICC has had in the world and the continuing success it will have in the future, the ICC is now seen as a legitimate international organization that more and more countries are starting to recognize as a strength to the world. Based off of the numerous strengths that come from the ICC, the court is heading in the right direction and eventually can help lead the world towards a utopian society.



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