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

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

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

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

Synopsis

This book is among the first to address the issues raised by the International Criminal Court (ICC) from an International Relations perspective. By clearly outlining a theoretical framework to interpret these issues, Ralph makes a significant contribution to the English School's study of international society. More specifically, he offers a concise definition of 'world society' and thus helps to resolve a longstanding problem in international theory. This groundbreakingconceptual work is supported by an in-depth empirical analysis of American opposition to the ICC. Ralph goes beyond the familiar arguments related to national interests and argues that the Court has exposed the extent to which American notions of accountability are tied to the nation-state. Where otherdemocracies are willing to renegotiate their social contract because they see themselves as part of world society, the US protects its particular contract with 'the people' because it offers a means of distinguishing America and its democracy from the rest of the world. This 'sovereigntist', or more accurately 'Americanist', influence is further illustrated in chapters on the sources of law, universal jurisdiction, transatlantic relations and US policy on international humanitarian law in thewar on terror. The book concludes by evoking E. H. Carr's criticism of those great powers who claim that a harmony exists between their particular interests and those of wider society. It also recalls his argument that great powers sometimes need to compromise and in this context, Ralph argues thatsupport for the ICC is a more effective means of fulfilling America's purpose and a less costly sacrifice than that demanded by the 'Americanist' policy of nation-building.

Excerpt

How should the International Criminal Court (ICC or Court) change the way we view international society and how should we assess American opposition to the Court? International Relations (IR) is ideally placed to inform the interdisciplinary approach that is required to answer this question. The IR community has, however, been relatively slow in responding. What has been produced has mainly been the work of international lawyers. There are exceptions, of course, but on the whole the ICC is under-researched by IR academics. This situation has not gone unnoticed. Leila Nadya Sadat, for instance, calls the 1998 Rome Conference, which founded the Court, 'a constitutional moment'. It represented 'a sea change in international lawmaking with which political theory… has not caught up'. It is the first aim of this book to address this situation by interpreting the Court through an approach to IR known as 'the English School'. It is increasingly apparent that a rich source of interdisciplinary research lies at the intersection of International Law and IR. It is suggested here that the normative focus of the English School and the centrality of international law to its conception of international society represent significant interdisciplinary meeting points. More specifically the English School's conceptualization of international society and world society and the role played by law in defining these provides a useful framework for

For example, see Roy Lee (ed.), The International Criminal Court. The Making of the Rome
Statute. Issues, Negotiations, Results (The Hague, the Netherlands: Kluwer Law International,
1999); Antonio Cassese, Paolo Gaeta, and John R. W. D. Jones (eds.), The Rome Statute of the
International Criminal Court. A Commentary Vol. I and II (Oxford: Oxford University Press,
2002); Leila Nadya Sadat, The International Criminal Court and the Transformation of Interna
tional Law. Justice for the New Millennium (Ardsley, NY: Transnational, 2002).

For an exception, see David Wippman, 'The International Criminal Court', in Christian
Reus-Smit (ed.), The Politics of International Law (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press,
2004), 151–88; Eric K. Leonard, The Onset of Global Governance. International Relations Theory
and the International Criminal Court (Aldershot, UK: Ashgate, 2004); Steven C. Roach, Politiciz
ing the International Criminal Court. The Convergence of Politics, Ethics and Law (Lanham, MD:
Rowman and Littlefield, 2006).

Sadat, The International Criminal Court, 109.

See, for instance, Christian Reus-Smit (ed.), The Politics of International Law (Cambridge:
Cambridge University Press, 2004).

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