Monday, March 21, 2005

ICC Watch: Ugandan Leaders Seek Delay in Arrest Warrants

As I sip my half pint of Weiznenbier "Edelweiss" here at Cafe Leopold in Vienna, I thought I would blog a few short posts using the cafe's free WLAN:

Representatives from North Uganda visited the Hague last week to ask the ICC to hold off on arrest warrants for leaders of the Lords’ Resistance Army. As I have noted before, the Uganda situation presents the ICC with an important first test of its political (rather than legal) judgment. Should the ICC issue arrest warrants here? Or should it hold back to allow Ugandans to work out a settlement with the alleged war criminals that may end up saving many more lives? I don’t know what the right decision is, but I am fairly confident any decision the ICC makes should not be governed by strict legal principles, but with a healthy sensitivity toward the political issues involved here.


Blogger Peggy McGuinness said...

Julian -- "Gruess Gott!" as they say in Wien. Your point on "political judgment" is precisely the thin ice on which international prosecutions should not skate. I will watch and see, with guarded optimism, but am not convinced that prosecutors are the best actors to make these decisions. Bis spaeter,

3/21/2005 1:01 PM  
Blogger Sasha Greenawalt said...

Hello guys. Sasha Greenawalt here. I've been admiring this blog from afar but thought I'd jump in on this topic which is close to my heart (and which I am currently writing about).

I agree with both comments to an extent. It is impossible to conceive of an ICC that does not involve political judgment to some degree--and certainly none of the historic precedents have offered a model of such apolitical judgment (whether in the form presented by the current example or any number of other guises that could fill pages). At the same time, it is undoubtedly the case that prosecutors are not the best actors to make these decisions. Which is of course the very tension upon which the ICC is built. The inevitability of that tension, I think, is the best argument against the ICC.

I'm not willing to go as far as to condemn the institution purely on that basis (and you can make arguments of course that every criminal justice system--or indeed any legal institution--is unstable for similar reasons). I do think it will be interesting to see how these issues get worked out, and whether they get worked in any sort of transparent manner (and one can debate whether that would even be for the best). Certainly I do not think there is any easy solution.

Of course, for an institution as dependent upon political actors as the ICC is, the ultimate concern is not the spectre of an omnipotent rogue court. The real battle is the court's struggle to make itself relevant.

3/21/2005 5:07 PM  
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