The In­ter­na­tional Crim­i­nal Court

The Washington Post Sunday - - SUNDAY OPINION - let­ters@wash­post.com

The Sept. 10 news ar­ti­cle “U.S. poised to threaten re­tal­i­a­tion for pros­e­cu­tions in in­ter­na­tional court” re­ported on na­tional se­cu­rity ad­viser John Bolton’s di­a­tribe against the In­ter­na­tional Crim­i­nal Court. The ICC at­tempts to sub­sti­tute a sup­pos­edly au­to­matic, apo­lit­i­cal le­gal process for a diplo­matic one. But some­times diplo­macy is bet­ter. We want Syr­ian Pres­i­dent Bashar al-As­sad and those of his ilk to step down. Does fac­ing them with cap­ture and pros­e­cu­tion no mat­ter where they run make that more likely? Or does ex­pos­ing any na­tion that would ac­cept them to the risk of it­self be­ing ac­cused by the ICC? So they cling to power.

The fi­nal U.S. po­si­tion in the ICC ne­go­ti­a­tions would have made the court a part­ner of diplo­macy: The ICC would act only when asked by the U.N. Se­cu­rity Coun­cil. That would have given us a new lever to get the bad guy to flee. And we might have got­ten it if Bolto­nian paranoia hadn’t blocked it un­til ICC zealots al­ready had won.

Nev­er­the­less, the United States ben­e­fits from hav­ing a for­mal struc­ture for pros­e­cu­tion of war crimes and crimes against hu­man­ity. The ear­lier ad hoc tri­bunals for the for­mer Yu­goslavia and Rwanda were stun­ningly ex­pen­sive and in­ef­fec­tive. The old U.S. po­si­tion, that we would co­op­er­ate with the ICC case by case, served us in a num­ber of in­stances.

Wil­liam Wood, Wash­ing­ton The writer ran the State De­part­ment U.N. bureau when the In­ter­na­tional Crim­i­nal Court was

fi­nal­ized and was a rep­re­sen­ta­tive to an In­ter­na­tional Syria Sup­port Group work­ing group. Re­gard­ing the Sept. 12 ed­i­to­rial “How a pet peeve be­came pol­icy”:

The reach of the statute of the In­ter­na­tional Crim­i­nal Court is in­ap­pro­pri­ate be­cause it breaches sov­er­eign in­ter­ests of coun­tries not party to it in a man­ner not con­sis­tent with in­ter­na­tional norms. It sub­jects cit­i­zens of non­par­ties to its ju­ris­dic­tion. Hence, the tire­less ef­forts of na­tional se­cu­rity ad­viser John Bolton and oth­ers to thwart this un­law­ful ap­proach are jus­ti­fied.

The no­tion that a mem­ber of the U.S. mil­i­tary cap­tured on for­eign soil could be uni­lat­er­ally trans­ferred to the ICC and pros­e­cuted for al­leged crimes of “ag­gres­sion” by the ICC can­not be le­git­imized. As with the at­tempted in­ter­fer­ence with U.S. sov­er­eign in­ter­ests by the U.N. Law of the Sea Con­ven­tion, such vi­o­la­tions of in­ter­na­tional norms need to be re­sisted. Harry R. Mar­shall Jr., Chevy Chase The writer was prin­ci­pal deputy as­sis­tant sec­re­tary of state from 1982 to 1986 and se­nior le­gal ad­viser

at the Jus­tice De­part­ment from 1991 to 2000.

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