Ratko Mladic at the International Criminal Court

2011-05-31

in Bombs and rockets, Law, Politics, Security

It is encouraging whenever the ICC or ad hoc international criminal tribunals manage to get their hands on someone accused of war crimes or crimes against humanity. Such prosecutions have the promise of producing a credible record of what took place, potentially providing some comfort to surviving victims, and perhaps somewhat improving the conduct of other political and military leaders elsewhere in the world.

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

oleh June 2, 2011 at 12:40 am

The International Criminal Court is a potentailly very useful forum. It is tweaking its procedures and will take some time to take full effect. It also must handle the politics of any prosecution that it undertakes. For those that wish to see a documentary on the ICC, you can consider “The Prosectuor”.

. June 8, 2011 at 9:43 pm
. July 14, 2011 at 9:49 pm

“One of the roots of this phenomenon is the existence of the International Criminal Court (ICC), which became operational in 2002 in The Hague, Netherlands. The ICC has jurisdiction, under U.N. mandate, to prosecute individuals who have committed war crimes, genocide and other crimes against humanity. Its jurisdiction is limited to those places where recognized governments are unwilling or unable to carry out their own judicial processes. The ICC can exercise jurisdiction if the case is referred to the ICC prosecutor by an ICC state party signatory or the U.N. Security Council (UNSC) or if the prosecutor initiates the investigation him or herself.

The current structure of international law, particularly the existence of the ICC and its rules, has an unintended consequence. Rather than serving as a tool for removing war criminals from power, it tends to enhance their power and remove incentives for capitulation or a negotiated exit. In Libya’s case, Gadhafi’s indictment was referred to the ICC by the UNSC, and he was formally indicted in late June. The existence of the ICC, and the clause that says that it has jurisdiction where signatory governments are unable or unwilling to carry out their own prosecutions, creates an especially interesting dilemma for Gadhafi and the intervening powers.

Consider the case of Slobodan Milosevic of Yugoslavia. Milosevic, like Gadhafi, was indicted during a NATO intervention against his country. His indictment was handed down a month and a half into the air campaign, in May 1999, by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), a court that was to be the mold, to a large extent, for the ICC. After the intervention, Milosevic clung to power until 2001, cracking down on the opposition and dissident groups whom he painted as traitors during the NATO air campaign. Milosevic still had supporters in Serbia, and as long as he refused to cede his authority, he had enough loyalists in the government who refused to prosecute him in the interest of maintaining stability.

One of the reasons Milosevic refused to cede power was the very real fear that regime change in Serbia would result in a one-way ticket to The Hague. This is exactly what happened. A few months after Serbia’s October 2000 anti-Milosevic revolution, the new and nominally pro-Western government issued an arrest warrant for Milosevic, finally sending him to The Hague in June 2001 with a strong push from NATO. The Milosevic case illustrates the inherent risk an indicted leader will face when the government falls in the hands of the opposition.”

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