Challenging sovereignty? The USA and the establishment of the International Criminal Court

Article English OPEN
Wind, Marlene (2009)
  • Publisher: Co-Action Publishing
  • Journal: Ethics & Global Politics (issn: 1654-6369, eissn: 1654-4951)
  • Related identifiers: doi: 10.3402/egp.v2i2.1973
  • Subject: The ICC; U.S.; opposition to the Court; Sovereignty; International law; exceptionalism

Does the establishment of a permanent InternationalWar Crimes Tribunal (International Criminal Court - ICC) constitute a challenge to national sovereignty? According to previous US governments and several American observers, the answer is yes. Establishing a world court that acts independently of the states that gave birth to it renders the idea of sovereignty meaningless. This article analyzes the American objections to the ICC and the conception of sovereignty and international law underlying these objections. It first considers the structure and intent behind the criminal court and attempts to unveil the logic hiding behind the idea of ‘America’s historical uniqueness.’ It touches on the diverging US and European conceptions of sovereignty and ends up arguing that governments that stick to traditional conceptions of sovereignty and international law in the employment of their foreign policy may lose the moral legitimacy that has proven increasingly important for winning the sympathy of allies and regaining world leadership.Keywords: The ICC; US opposition to the court; sovereignty; international law; exceptionalism(Published: 19 May 2009)Citation: Ethics & Global Politics, Vol. 2, No. 2, 2009, pp. 83-108. DOI: 10.3402/egp.v2i2.1973
  • References (119)
    119 references, page 1 of 12

    1. Gulio Gallarotti and Arik Y. Preis, 'Toward Universal Human Rights and the Rule of Law: The Permanent International Criminal Court', Australian Journal of International Affairs 53, no. 1 (1999): 95 117; Andrea Bianchi, 'Individual Accountability for Crimes against Humanity: Reckoning with the Past, Thinking of the Future', SAIS Review 19, no. 2 (1999): 97 131; Marc Weller, 'Undoing the Global Constitution: UN Security Council Action on the International Criminal Court', International Affairs 78, no. 4 (2002): 693 712.

    2. Jeremy Rabkin, 'Nuremberg Misremembered', SAIS Review 19, no. 2 (1999): 81 96.

    3. For a radical critique of the Nuremberg trials, see Jeremy Rabkin, 'Nuremberg Misremembered', SAIS Review 19, no. 2 (1999): 81 96. As he writes, the Nuremberg Trials were: ' . . . more concerned with vindicating Allied war aims than with establishing a new standard for all nations.' (Jeremy Rabkin, 'Nuremberg Misremembered', SAIS Review 19, no. 2 (1999): 86); See also David A. Nill, 'National Sovereignty: Must it be Sacrificed to the International Criminal Court?', Brigham Young Journal of Public Law 14, no. 119, (1999): 2.

    4. Jeremy Rabkin, 'Nuremberg Misremembered', SAIS Review 19, no. 2 (1999): 86 87.

    5. Hazel Fox, 'An International Tribunal for War Crimes: Will the UN Succeed Where Nuremberg Failed?' The World Today 49, no. 10 (1993): 194 7.

    6. Gulio Gallarotti and Arik Y. Preis, 'Toward Universal Human Rights and the Rule of Law: The Permanent International Criminal Court', Australian Journal of International Affairs 53, no. 1 (1999): 1.

    7. John Ashcroft cited in: David A. Nill, 'National Sovereignty: Must it be Sacrificed to the International Criminal Court?', Brigham Young Journal of Public Law 14, no. 119 (1999): 8.

    8. Lee A. Casey, 'The Case against the International Criminal Court', Fordham International Law Journal 25 (2002): 841.

    9. The campaign included several elements, as Marc Weller has pointed out ' . . . from the deployment of national legislation against the court, to the obstruction of crucial decisions of the UN Security Council and to pressure directed against individual states to contract out of the ICC regime they had just joined.' (Marc Weller, 'Undoing the Global Constitution: UN Security Council Action on the International Criminal Court', International Affairs 78, no. 4 (2002): 694; See The Economist, March 15 21, 2003, 30, for a discussion of which countries have signed these agreements.

    10. John R. Worth, 'Globalization and the Myth of Absolute National Sovereignty: Reconsidering the ''Un-signing'' of the Rome Statute and the Legacy of Senator Bricker', Indiana Law Journal 79, no. 8 (2004): 245 65; Attila Bogdan, 'The United States and the International Criminal Court: Avoiding Jurisdiction through Bilateral Agreements in Reliance on Article 98', International Criminal Law Review 8 (2008): 1 54.

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