Regionalization of International Criminal Law Enforcement: A Preliminary Exploration

By Burke-White, William W. | Texas International Law Journal, Summer 2003 | Go to article overview

Regionalization of International Criminal Law Enforcement: A Preliminary Exploration


Burke-White, William W., Texas International Law Journal


SUMMARY

I. INTRODUCTION.......................................................................................................... 729

II. THE TREND TOWARD REGIONAL INTERNATIONAL LAW ENFORCEMENT................... 731

III. THE NORMATIVE APPEAL OF REGIONAL INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL JUSTICE .......... 733

A. Physical Proximity to the Alleged Crimes......................................................... 734

B. Legitimacy of the Tribunal................................................................................ 736

C. Reduced Financial Costs of Regional Enforcement.......................................... 738

D. Availability of Sufficient Judicial Resources in Regional Enforcement Mechanisms....................................................................................................... 739

E. Reduced Likelihood of Political Manipulation in Regional Enforcement Mechanisms....................................................................................................... 741

IV. THEORIZING REGIONALIZATION OF INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL JUSTICE.................. 743

V. IMPLEMENTING REGIONALIZATION OF INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL JUSTICE ............. 748

A. Regional Criminal Courts................................................................................. 749

B. The International Criminal Court Sitting Regionally ....................................... 750

C. Regional Preference for the Exercise of Universal Jurisdiction....................... 751

D. Specialized Domestic Courts with Regional Judges ......................................... 753

VI. THE EFFECTS OF REGIONAL ENFORCEMENT ON INTERNATIONAL LAW: Two VARIANTS ................................................................................................................. 755

A. Fragmentation of International Criminal Law ................................................. 756

B. Procedural Differentiation Within a Universal System..................................... 758

VII. CONCLUSION.............................................................................................................760

I. INTRODUCTION

Since the establishment of the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg in 1945, the enforcement of international criminal law has largely occurred at the supranational level. Groups of states have come together either through interstate agreements after war,1 through Chapter VII action by the UN Security Council,2 or through international treaty-making3 to grant jurisdiction over international crimes to various international tribunals. More recently, the enforcement of international criminal law has migrated to the domestic level, first through the exercise of universal jurisdiction and subsequently through the establishment of semi-internationalized criminal courts, effectively grafted on to domestic judiciaries, such as the Special Panels in East Timor4 or the Special Court for Sierra Leone.5 As I have argued elsewhere, these developments have led to the emergence of a system of international criminal law enforcement operating at a variety of different levels.6 Within this system, domestic courts are on the front lines of enforcement, with supranational courts such as the International Criminal Court (ICC) stepping in under the regime of complementarity7 when domestic courts are unable or unwilling to act.

To date, a core level of this system-the regional level-remains unexplored and underdeveloped. There has yet to be any systematic study of either the normative implications of enforcing international criminal law at the regional level or of the possible means for regionalization of international criminal justice. The lack of attention paid to regional opportunities for enforcing international criminal law is surprising in light of the trend toward new regionalism in the study of international relations and the growing number of regional regimes enforcing other substantive areas of international law.

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