November 21, 2006Foreign Affairs

The other ICC

And India is not a part of this one. Nice for it to stay that way.

This is an archived blog post from The Acorn.

The Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court ‘may start an investigation upon referral of situations in which there is a reasonable basis to believe that crimes have been or are being committed’. Such referrals may be made by the states that have signed the Rome Statute that established the ICC, by the United Nations Security Council and even, in a less direct form, by individuals and non-governmental organizations. Four types of crimes fall under its jurisdiction—genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and the crime of aggression. Under the principle of complementarity, the ICC’s jurisdiction extends only to those crimes which national judicial systems have failed to address.

There is an obvious loss of sovereignty implied in this set-up. For a good cause, its supporters would argue. Those that commit grave crimes against humanity should not go unpunished, they contend. And they are not wrong. The fundamental assumption behind the ICC is that it even possible to achieve this, and in a manner that is just and equitable. Unfortunately, though, it is only the side that loses the war that finds its leaders put on trial.

Now, for their own reasons, India and the United States have stayed out of the ICC. In his speech to the Rome conference that discussed the institution of the ICC, Deepak Lahiri, the leader of the Indian delegation, outlined his objections: that placing the decisions of its judicial system under the review of a chief prosecutor is unacceptable; that there is no legal basis for the UN Security Council to refer or veto cases before the ICC; and that the definition of the types of crimes under its jurisdiction was cloudy.

There can be a reasonable debate on the merits of India’s position. And then there can be a confused one. Like this one in the columns of Hindustan Times:

Dignity of sovereignty and dignity of human life are two valued principles that emerged with India’s Independence in 1947. These should have been guiding principles for policies at all levels. The ICC can play a prominent part in the implementation of these two principles. Unlike Indian foreign policy, America’s is invariably determined by its national interest. Unfortunately, US policy-makers barely understand that America’s flawed foreign policy is responsible for the current predicament of global terrorism.

The primary challenge, therefore, before Indian policy-makers is whether they are able to restructure India-US relations in a manner in which Indians could take advantage of America’s educational and professional opportunities but not be ‘caught with the blame’ for America’s foreign policy adventures.

India’s decision to re-examine its stand and offer support to the ICC as a permanent body would go a long way to shape a fair global order and its own standing in the world order.

[HT]In between asserting that the ICC will help implement the principles of ‘dignity of sovereignty and dignity of human life’ the author inserts a whole lot of irrelevant discourse of American foreign policy and India’s need to learn from America’s education system. Were HT’s editors sleeping?

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