Defending the Society of States: Why America Opposes the International Criminal Court and Its Vision of World Society

By Jason Ralph | Go to book overview

4
The Rome Statute and the Constitution
of World Society

The purpose of Chapter 3 was twofold. First, it sought to illustrate how debates in the area of international criminal justice help illustrate the pluralist– solidarist divide in English School conceptions of international society. Second, it sought to illustrate the reluctance of states to fulfil what solidarists see as a state duty to extradite or prosecute individuals charged with international crimes. The present attitude of the US government towards universal jurisdiction helps to reinforce that reluctance. Its reaction to the legislation that allowed Belgian courts to exercise universal jurisdiction is likely to act as a powerful deterrent to any other state thinking along such lines. More accurately, US policy is likely to deter those states who seek the impartial application of international law, for it is clear that the US government is only concerned when the law has an impact on its particular interests or on those of its allies. There has been, for instance, no discernible objection to the use of Belgian courts for the 2005 prosecution of two Rwandan businessmen implicated in the 1994 genocide.1 This insight into the way power and law interact might lead some to conclude that international criminal justice is simply a neocolonial tool of the powerful. The politically significant response, however, has been a reaffirmation of the normative value of international criminal justice and an attempt to separate it from the vagaries of power politics. In other words, the reluctance of states to exercise universal jurisdiction, the danger that such practices pose to interstate relations and the perception that justice will always be selective because of the corrupting influence of power politics, has not led international society to abandon international criminal justice. Rather these arguments strengthened the political significance of those calling for the creation of international criminal courts that are independent of states.

The purpose of this chapter is to locate these most recent developments in the English School framework and by doing so to demonstrate how the issue

1 '2 Go on Trial in Brussels in 1994 Rwanda Massacre', International Herald Tribune, 10 May
2005.

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