Thursday, March 15, 2012

International Criminal Court has zero legitimacy

The International Criminal Court rendered its first verdict yesterday, convicting some black african warlord of using child soldiers. While it certainly shocks the conscience of first-world people who live their lives between the cubicle farms of their employment and the McMansions they call home, we live in a world of gross disparities, where norms of behavior deviate wildly.

For the cushioned set reading on the web or viewing on widescreen TV, there must be a sense that the machinery of civilization and order is functioning normally. All these far-off villains are getting the come-uppence, so we can go about our lives without morally breaking a sweat:
Is International Criminal Court verdict a wake-up call for war criminals? - World - CBC News: "The treaty that created the International Criminal Court came into force almost ten years ago, on July 1, 2002. The treaty, the Rome Statute, provided for the creation, for the first time, of a permanent international criminal court to prosecute the most serious cases of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity.
On March 14, the ICC brought down its first verdict, which fuelled discussions about what took so long, and even whether the court is worth the expense."
On the other hand, where are the war criminals from first-world countries, the ones who've waged aggressive wars of choice against resource-rich but militarily weak adversaries, leading to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of innocents?

We fail to see the likes of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney in the dock, or the partner in crimes against humanity, Tony Blair. Are the crimes of Thomas Lubanga so much more heinous than those of his peers in the world of infamy? Hardly, as one needs to go back to the likes of Hitler and Stalin to find evildoers of equal stature.

Of course, the US is not a signatory to the treaty that established the ICC, and for good reason. It isn't because the US' standard of justice is so superior to the rest of the world's, either, but an implicit admission that the US doesn't feel bound to the same standards of behavior in international relations to which it routinely holds others.

So, while we comfort ourselves with the vision of Thomas Lubanga biding his time in some prison, we can simply ignore the war criminals in our own midst, and whose assent we've passively given by our collective inaction.

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