Oct 4th, 2009
The International Criminal Court (ICC) came into existence in 2002. The ICC has been hailed by international community as a valuable instrument to combat impunity for serious international crimes.
Regardless of the very high hope and expectations of ICC enthusiasts, there is an intense debate going on between ICC’s opponents and proponents over its legitimacy and utility.
(Picture on front cover is courtesy of Thierry Falise.)
Proponents describe the court as the most significant new international institution created in so many years. The ICC, they claim, will be a powerful new weapon in the fight to end the prevailing “culture of impunity”, deter atrocities, promote national reconciliation in divided societies, and trigger major progress in efforts to promote the rule of law.
Critics view the ICC as an undemocratic and unaccountable institution. They also see it as a forum for politicized prosecutions which impose a threat to their national security. Making such allegations, some key actors in international affairs such as the US, Russia, China, India and Israel are refusing to become parties to the ICC.
The Court’s opponents and proponents agree at least on one main issue: the ICC has a potential to influence states’ national politics so much that it may trespass on national sovereignty.
Moreover, in addition to its potential threats to states’ national sovereignty, ICC’s standing has been scrutinized, and debated upon, on a few other important issues such as _ whether ICC will be able to maintain a strict political neutrality, who ICC will hold responsible for collective wrongs of crimes against humanity, whether or not ICC will have deterrence effect on potential human rights abusers, how ICC’s indictments and prosecutions will affect other peaceful means of national reconciliation, etc.
As soon as international human rights activists’ attempts to get ICC Prosecutor’s attention on Burma’s human rights abuses start to gain significant momentum, the Burmese military leaders and their regional allies will start challenging the ICC’s investigations on Burma; by throwing the usual criticisms at ICC, they will try to discredit, and defy, any ICC’s investigations on Burma’s human rights abuses. The main issue which the regime will raise with all vigour is that the ICC imposing its jurisdiction on Burma amounts to an encroachment on Burma’s national sovereignty.
So, the book “Challenges ahead on Burma’s Road to ICC” examines the background history and the whole regime of ICC, comparing and contrasting it with other similar parallel international or supranational institutions wherever appropriate, with a view to assess whether advances towards universal jurisdiction over human rights protection jeopardise states’ national sovereignty; and if so, what measures are available to reduce such an adverse impact, but also highlighting the fact that states may exploit any restrictive measures limiting the ICC’s jurisdiction to render it virtually powerless.
And, the ultimate aim of international human rights activists, and also the aim of this book, is to argue that the ICC, despite all its actual and potential weaknesses, is a welcoming development in international quest for a universal Rule of Law. It so would imply that Burma needs to, and can safely, embrace ICC to get justice eventually brought to her indigent people long suffering under the heels of various forms of dictatorship.
Proceeds from the sale of this book are all to be donated to non-governmental health-care charities in Burma.