Sunday, March 09, 2003

ICC Preventing the War?

Could the ICC have prevented a war with Iraq?

We hear a lot in the press about President Bush and the UN Security Council. However, in an ideal world, there would rule of law governing international affairs, and a court would be involved in the international issues of human rights abuses, genocide and regime change. Perhaps, this is a job for an International Criminal Court (ICC).

There are good reasons for a regime change in Iraq. First and foremost is the the torture and misery that Saddam Hussein inflicts on his people. The suffering of his own people is followed by his funding of international terrorism and failure to adhere to UN resolutions and international treatises. The risk of not removing Saddam Hussein is equal if not greater than the risk of forcefully removing him.

The unilateral actions of Bush, however, have created a situation where it is easy to question the motivations of the American government. America's whining over its lost twin towers looks petty to those nations that have lost entire cities and millions of citizens to wars in the last century.

Bush is an oil man, from an oil family. Failure of the American government to even begin to acknowledge the problems that oil money has caused in the region only add fuel to anti-American sentiment and international envy.

If the issue of regime change had come before the ICC, it would be easier to hold the high moral ground before preceding with such a war. This leads to the question of whether or not the ICC would stick with the letter of international law, or fall into petty politics that we see in the security council.

Would the ICC be a proactive agency that aggressively sought the removal of dictators that harm their own citizens, or would it be yet another layer in the dysfunctional bureaucracies of the UN?

One of the biggest problems that occurred in both Yugoslavia and Iraq is that the dictator can make better use of delays than the UN. The US armed presence in Iraq is extremely costly. The US cannot keep up the military presence forever. Meanwhile, it is clear that Saddam Hussein is building up his war machine faster than the inspectors can take it down.

Even a half baked fool can win time by getting branches of dysfunctional bureaucracies to fight one another. The inevitable result of delays is that Saddam will get stronger, and the forces against him weaker. The year plus delay that the French hope to create in military action is likely to do little more than increase the number of casualties of an inevitable war.

UN watchers need to look at this conflict and ask if the ICC would expedite the issue, or if would it simply be another obstacle to delay action? What would be the result of a conflict of view between the ICC and security council?

I tend to optimism. I think a strong ICC could help establish a precedence for regime change. Military actions taken in accordance with a ruling by a court would appear less like an oil grab and more like legitimate concern for the people.

At this stage of the game, it is too late for the ICC to play a proactive role. However, we can hope that after the current crisis is resolved that the US will re-enter negotiations in the formation of the ICC. is an US organization urging the US to re-enter the ICC negotiations.

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