February 19, 2005

Considering the ICC

This article by Thomas Barnett led me to consider the ICC a bit more. The idea of "moving the pile" and reconfiguring dialogues so that they don't just go nowhere is a powerful one but I wonder if all the variables are properly defined as variables.

The fundamental problem with the ICC is that it exists at a supranational level and is a part of the corrupt UN constellation. Judges are already the hardest part of the government process to keep honest and reigned in with accountability. By their nature, they need to be divorced from immediate political accountability in order to render retail justice without favor to the powerful. If they go rogue, independent justices pose a difficult problem in reigning just the rogues in without destroying systemic independence.

The current iteration of balancing the two classic problems of a judiciary is not to our liking, so we're sitting this institution out right now. So where are we? Are we just a late signer onto a fundamentally sound institution or are we the last hope of rescuing the world from a fatally flawed implementation of international justice.

Dr. Barnett's right that we will eventually need something that fills the organizational space that the ICC currently occupies. That doesn't mean that it's ever going to happen with the ICC as it's currently constituted. For advocates of us signing on to the ICC, accountability questions have to still be answered in light of a world where the UN system was so obviously corrupted by a 3rd rate dictator like Saddam Hussein. For those who do not think the ICC should have US participation, the question remains of what do you put in its place that would be workable. Would a pay to play system work acceptably where the proportion of contribution to the judiciary is calculated by the 5 year average of your contribution proportion to the SysAdmin force?

Both the US and the UN had early false starts (the Confederacy of the United States and the League of Nations respectively). There's nothing magic about the ICC treaty that mandates that we have to accept the first round if it's fundamentally flawed. But that doesn't excuse us from moving the pile forward and committing to a structure that would be better. If the ICC is fundamentally flawed, it'll eventually collapse. It would behoove us to be ready with version 2 when the time comes.

Posted by TMLutas at February 19, 2005 11:37 AM