Sunday, January 31, 2010

Will the International Criminal Court Be Ending Its Impunity for War-Starters?

Here's an interesting idea, relevant to recent Chilcot hearings where Tony Blair testified about Iraq: "This isn't about a lie or deception. It's about a decision."

At a special "review conference" in Kampala, Uganda, the nations which have signed the International Criminal Court (ICC)'s founding statute, including Britain, are considering a proposal to let the court try the "crime of aggression".

If the proposal, backed by more than 70 countries, passes, national leaders alleged to have launched "illegal" wars could be seized, transported to the Hague, tried and imprisoned. That would be the case even if such a leader was democratically elected.

UK law requires British police to enforce indictments and arrest warrants issued by the court.

Britain, a member of the court, is not against the plan in principle. But of course it is fighting furiously for safeguards that would protect Blair and future British prime ministers from arrest. Britain is understood to be fighting for a provision that no prosecution can be launched without the permission of the UN Security Council - giving the UK, as a permanent member of the council, an effective veto. However, other European and Latin American countries say there should be no such restriction.

The "crime of aggression" is included in the ICC's founding Statutes (1998 & 2002), as one of four crimes covered by the court. On the other three - genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity - the ICC already has the power to try individuals. It has indicted 14 people, three of whom are currently on trial in the Hague. Inexplicably, the Statute does not currently allow the court to prosecute cases of aggression. The Kampala proposal amends the Statute, providing a definition of the crime and bringing it within the court's jurisdiction for the first time.

But the Chilcot inquiry heard last week that Blair's own Foreign Office legal advisers unanimously believe that - in the absence of a second UN resolution - he did commit the crime of aggression. Even so, under the current ICC Statute Blair's actions in the Iraq war do not constitute a prosecutable war crime, genocide or crime against humanity.

Britain could refuse to ratify the amendment - or even withdraw from the court - if it decides that it is totally unacceptable, but that would be an embarrassment for a country that strongly supported the establishment of the ICC.

The US does not recognise the ICC and will not be able to vote at the Kampala conference, which takes place in June. However, it is expected to send a large delegation of observers to exert pressure against the amendment, which needs a two-thirds majority to pass.

Philippe Sands QC, professor of international law at University College, London, has commented,

I have heard very conflicting views about whether it will go through. Some people are optimistic and some are pessimistic.

If it happened, it could concentrate minds in the UK and perhaps have very significant effects.
Salutary effects, too!


  1. Great post, Vig!

    Of course we are not a member nation of the ICC.

    And, of course we are sending a "delegation" of non-voting "observers". Because: we are just innocent bystanders - right?

    We ain't got no dog in this fight.

  2. John King is leaving CNN Crowley Vs John King

  3. Howdo old bean and ta for the visit to me bloggy.

    Bliar (and no that isn't a spelling mistake) is the biggest areshole we in the UK have ever inflicted on the world. (and we have inflicted a few eh?)

    I didn't vote for the little shit ever but, never the less, I am so so sorry for my country inflicting the dick on the world.

    I would have shot him but I have no idea how to assassinate politicians....sadly...


    Nice to meet yer webby wise and I'll be back.
    - Some consider that a worry - ...;-)

  4. Tony Baloney is about as trustworthy as The Shrub.

    As for the ICC, it would be nice if The Big O made America a full participant..but I ain't holding my breath on that one.

  5. Chilcot to Bliar:

    "Why don't you just own up and say a big Texan boy made me do it."

  6. I would LOVE to see the ICC prosecute and convict Cheney, Bush, Rumsfeld, Addington, and Yoo for aggression, war crimes, crimes against humanity, genocide---you name it! (If they don't ever take this action, they may as well rename themselves "League of Nations", pack up, and go home). As for Blair, my personal belief is that he, too, should be tried, but his sentence should be less than the aforementioned, only because I believe he was duped by Cheney et al...

  7. The worst part of all this is that it has allowed a lawbreaker and war crime enabler like John Yoo to write another self-justifying book and go around the country on a speaking tour, crowing about how Obama's following Bush's lead which has vindicated his (Yoo's) beliefs in all-powerful war powers that trump the Constitution and treaties.

    When we stand vigil outside the University of St. Thomas Law School in Minneapolis where Professor Robert Delahunty teaches---Delahunty was co-author with John Yoo of 4 or 5 of the early OLC memos, including the one that said the Geneva Conventions do not apply to Afghanistan or Al Qaeda--his students come out who have been taught that international law standards can be waived when expedient. The hierarchy at the Catholic School somehow thinks all these issues re war of aggression, torture, etc. amount to nothing more than a difference of legal opinion.

  8. Yes, Coleen. Busheney are gone, but their destructive minions keep circulating and propagating. The St. Thomas Law School? Thanks for putting it on our map, (so to speak.)

  9. Blair to Chilcot:

    “My view is that if we had left Saddam there and he’d carried on, as we said, with the intent to develop these weapons and the know-how and the concealment program and the sanctions had gone, I have little doubt myself, but it’s a judgment and other people may take a different judgment, that today we would be facing a situation where Iraq was competing with Iran, competing both on nuclear weapon capabilities and competing more important, perhaps than anything else, competing as well as the nuclear issue, in respect of support of terrorist groups.”

    So, it was the Iranians all along! Don't cha' see?

  10. Sadly Bushco won't end up anywhere near a courtroom at the Haig. Blair was just Bush's lapdog and Bush was just a puppet for Cheney and the other rethugs.

    Interesting blog you have here.

  11. Prediction: If the ICC ever indicts Blair and the UK subsequntly withdraws from the ICC, the criminally minded Right in America will be saying it proves how "irrelevant" the ICC is. Just as they said the UN was "irrelevant" because it didn't rubberstamp the invasion of Iraq.

    It's stunning doublespeak, isn't it, to say a body is "irrelevant" when it doesn't rubberstamp something? Isn't being a rubberstamp the very definition of irrelevance?

  12. Ah BBC. Get kicked out of Swiftspeech again?

    Heck no, she is an idiot and I haven't looked at her blog for some time. :-)

    But women are going to fix things when they get the vote, ha ha ha

    And you're not going to get anything fixed with a bullshit blog like this either. But hey, carry on.

  13. You idiots that support and think you understand politics in this country amuse me. :-)

  14. Wow, wishful have these clowns tried...and committed...ahhh just the thought is enough to make me have a beer...beers...and put my feet up

  15. @BBC: Blogs are for discussion. Why not open your mind, consider ideas, and engage in intelligent discussion instead of throwing insults?

  16. I would like nothing better that to see this measure pass, to see Blair indicted, to see the US recognise the ICC, to see Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice, Gonzales and several others of the GOP Regime indicted, and to never see another comment from BBC. I'm not holding my breath on any of them.

  17. BBC has been booted from several blogs, and I understand why. I'm with TC. I would rather not read another rude comment from him..ever. As to Dubyah or the members of his gang ever being prosecuted...It ain't gonna happen. I'm not saying it should not happen, but it won't. Secondly, we have enough going on in our country, without wasting time with this issue.

  18. yea mike, but revenge is sooo sweet...

  19. As far as the argument in this thread is concerned, there is zero possibility of ex post facto prosecution of Bush, Cheney, and Blair being prosecuted by the ICC. The best I can hope for is that shoes be thrown at them every time they appear at a public event. But,like Bush said of Osama bin Laden, I don't spend that much time thinking about him any more.....