JUNE 2, 2010: The U.S., China Should First Embrace the ICC

The U.S., China Should First Embrace the ICC
SOURCE: The New Vision
WORLD super powers, the US and China, have warned the International Criminal Court (ICC) review conference in Kampala to take caution in defining crimes of aggression and giving the Hague-based court powers to prosecute individuals and states involved in the crime.

While the two countries are free to air their views, their caution is likely to delay the ratification of the Rome Statute by more countries, thereby undermining the court's powers at the time the it is seeking to widen its mandate beyond just handling war crimes and crimes against humanity.

The warning by the two powerful nations that are not even parties to the Rome Statute is likely to create more suspicion among the 111 states that have already ratified the treaty, the majority of them from the developing world. This may pose a big challenge for the ICC, particularly in executing the arrest warrants and reinforces the argument that the court was created specifically for the developing world.

Although the Third World have borne the brunt of some of the worst human rights abuses at the hands of dictators, the ICC would have more faith if the powerful countries like the US and China had ratified the treaty.

As observed by the UN Secretary General, the court had reshaped the international criminal justice system and needs everybody's support. All perpetrators of crimes against humanity, whether they are rank or military commanders, civil servants following orders or top political leaders, will now account for their actions.

The best the US can do, as the world's leading democracy and champion of human rights protection, is to ratify the Rome Statute. By staying out, the US will raise a lot of suspicion by insisting that crimes of aggression should be a reserve for the UN Security Council, where it has veto powers.

Whatever the case, the US should not bulldoze the 111 states parties into taking her position, otherwise impunity will not end soon.