Politicizing the International Criminal Court: The Convergence of Politics, Ethics, and Law


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This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves. This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access. Personalised recommendations. Cite chapter How to cite? That wake-up call, however, has little to do with the pessimism of realpolitik that so dominates the field; it is, instead, an appeal to invest the Court with the right sort of politics—a 'political legalism.

For those seeking to develop a timely interest in the ICC it is both useful and accessible. Roach's book remains a valuable addition to our teaching and contextual research resources. In proposing an answer, he draws creatively on, and attempts in a genuinely interesting way, to marry theories of politics and of international relations. The result is a significant contribution to the theoretical literature on global governance and human rights.

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Farer, University of Denver. Indeed, this time limit, while legally unassailable, has been criticized by a number of Acholi leaders and activists for establishing an arbitrary barrier that leaves the bulk of the war beyond the reach of justice. Third, it has been questioned whether the Uganda case was legally admissible according to the principle of complementarity enshrined in the Rome Statute.

Indeed, the law professors Mahnoush H. Arsanjani and W. Since then, the Ugandan government has threatened several times to withdraw its referral to the court, implying that it will cease cooperating if its own military becomes subject to prosecution, which is a concern for the ICC, since the termination of Ugandan cooperation could effectively close down the investigation. The criteria for selection of the first case was gravity.

We therefore started with an investigation of the LRA.

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At the same time, we also collected information on other groups from a variety of sources. We collected documents and conducted interviews. We will continue to collect information on allegations concerning all other groups, to determine whether the Statute thresholds are met and the policy of focusing on the persons most responsible is satisfied.

But these explanations have failed to convince many, for whom the decision to exclusively prosecute the LRA and not the Ugandan government, despite their shared responsibility for international crimes, signals an unacceptable selectivity on the part of the ICC, contravening justice and the rule of law.

Politicizing the International Criminal Court : The Convergence of Politics, Ethics, and Law

Human rights organizations and Acholi leaders have called for the ICC to show its impartiality and commitment to justice by prosecuting both sides, instead of taking sides, in the ongoing civil war. Demands for impartiality may simply be impossible to meet, however, if the ICC sees a tacit guarantee of immunity to the government as a necessary price to pay for ensuring its cooperation.

This reflects a dilemma at the heart of ICC practice.

With the Ugandan case under way, it has become evident that the problems relating to the ICC and state sovereignty in practice may end up being the opposite from what had been feared in the deliberations leading up to its creation. The overwhelming concern had been that the ICC, in imposing its jurisdiction, could run roughshod over the sovereignty of states.

Instead, in the Ugandan case, the invocation of the ICC by President Museveni has only increased the autonomy of his government, since the politicization of the ICC intervention serves his interests against those of the Ugandan people. These can be analytically separated into two related categories: first, those stemming from the discourse of global criminal law that informs the epistemology and practice of ICC intervention; and second, as a consequence of the first, those stemming from the removal of the responsibility for implementing justice out of the hands of the community that has been subject to violence and into the hands of an international body that is unaccountable to those it claims to serve.

The discourse of global criminal law that informs ICC interventions embodies a specific epistemology that interprets situations of violence through certain categories—namely, the criminal, the victim, and the transcendent judge. The LRA has mainly attacked the Acholis they claim to represent. For nineteen years the people of northern Uganda have been killed, abducted, enslaved and raped. First, by criminalizing the LRA leadership, the ICC denies the rebels the possibility of political relevance or of becoming a political force.

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Politics and the International Criminal Court | International Studies Review | Oxford Academic

Their leaders are to be hunted down and captured, and the rest of the LRA is to disintegrate. It denies that the existence of the LRA is a symptom of deeper national problems that would require a political solution involving the LRA, the Ugandan government, and the various political and social factions among the Acholi. Second, by reducing the Acholi to victims, ICC intervention rejects the possibility that the realization of justice might be a project within which the Acholi community organizes and acts to bring about a more just social and political order.

Instead, it turns the realization of justice into a pacifying process. These individual testimonies cannot lead to the articulation of common grievances and demands among the Acholi, as testimony in the public sphere would. Instead, testimony is divested of its capacity to produce meaningful collective action and becomes the raw material for arrest warrants, law journal articles, and international law. This leads to the related question of the effects stemming from the relocation of the decision about the meaning of justice from the people subject to violence to an international body that focuses on punishment at the expense of alternatives.

Thus, they argue, justice will in fact be made more difficult by the ICC intervention, since it precludes the possibility of community reconciliation by spiriting away key perpetrators, those who most need to be reconciled or dealt with by their communities. Instead, justice can best be realized by empowering elders and chiefs to take a central role in mediating the return of the LRA into Acholi society.

Allen argues that this agenda has silenced the voices of those Acholi in the camps who would like to see the LRA punished.

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He writes:. There is, I conclude, no such thing as a unique Acholi justice system.

People in northern Uganda require the same kinds of conventional legal mechanisms as everyone else living in modern states. Many of our informants are eager too to embrace international principles of human rights—for all their contradictions and imperfections. We found no widespread enthusiasm for mato oput ceremonies performed by the Paramount Chief.

Nevertheless, the illumination of the political interests behind, and the lack of consensus on, the traditional reconciliation agenda is important. Indeed, both the ICC intervention and the traditional reconciliation agenda suffer from the same flaw: each claims incontestable legitimacy for its own ideal of justice—one by invoking a universal language of human rights and crimes against humanity, the other by invoking the particular language of custom—and attempts to impose that ideal upon all Acholi.

In order to transcend this false dichotomy, we need to broaden our conceptual framework and reaffirm our normative orientation. Conceptually, the current debate has focused on a narrow understanding of corrective justice. But corrective justice is not the only concept of justice; indeed, there is also the broader concept of social or political justice , in the sense of establishing a social and political order in which the fundamental injustices that led to conflict and violence have been rectified.


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Indeed, in this sense, the insistence on a certain kind of corrective justice—such as punishment—may make the realization of social or political justice, arguably the broader and more fundamental kind of justice, impossible. The normative commitment to democracy and political autonomy that has informed this article dictates that the legitimacy of any specific model of justice for dealing with legacies of extreme violence will not come from putatively absolute, unquestionable sources, whether human rights or tradition, but only through autonomous, democratic processes of deliberation, organization, and action within the community, including those who have been subject to violence themselves.

Politicizing the International Criminal Court: The Convergence of Politics, Ethics, and Law Politicizing the International Criminal Court: The Convergence of Politics, Ethics, and Law
Politicizing the International Criminal Court: The Convergence of Politics, Ethics, and Law Politicizing the International Criminal Court: The Convergence of Politics, Ethics, and Law
Politicizing the International Criminal Court: The Convergence of Politics, Ethics, and Law Politicizing the International Criminal Court: The Convergence of Politics, Ethics, and Law
Politicizing the International Criminal Court: The Convergence of Politics, Ethics, and Law Politicizing the International Criminal Court: The Convergence of Politics, Ethics, and Law
Politicizing the International Criminal Court: The Convergence of Politics, Ethics, and Law Politicizing the International Criminal Court: The Convergence of Politics, Ethics, and Law

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