The International Commission of Jurists: Global Advocates for Human Rights

The International Commission of Jurists: Global Advocates for Human Rights

The International Commission of Jurists: Global Advocates for Human Rights

The International Commission of Jurists: Global Advocates for Human Rights

Synopsis

Since its founding in 1952, the International Commission of Jurists has inspired the international human rights movement with persistent demands that governments obey the rule of law.

Excerpt

Critics around the world condemn privileged lawyers as arrogant, greedy, manipulative, and self-serving. The stereotype does not fit the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ), an organization not human rights lawyers based in Geneva, Switzerland. While its members and staff would never be faulted for excessive humility, their pride arises from a lofty commitment to the rule of law rather than from winning immense monetary judgments. Like ambitious Davids confronting Goliath, the self-selected ICJ judges, law professors, and practicing attorneys have challenged a state system whose sovereign governments choose to be a law unto themselves. Their goal is to create a new, international political and legal order that prevents historically sovereign governments from kidnapping, torture, murder, and arbitrary detention. An exclusive professional elite motivated by noble ideals has campaigned for universal democratic principles.

This book presents a five-part history of the ICJ from 1952 to mid- 1993 as a case study of political science and legal theories about interest groups in a changing world. Part I describes how the ICJ began in response to Stalinist totalitarianism. The United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) covertly arranged an inaugural conference in Berlin to counter the Soviet-controlled International Association of Democratic Lawyers (IADL). The CIA supported more than two hundred organizations through foundations that most recipients believed were privately funded. Unaware of any CIA connection, lawyers recruited "free world" jurists for an ICJ that proclaimed the rule of law and denounced "socialist legality." A small governing Commission of elite judges, scholars, and practicing lawyers hired a Secretary- General to direct a permanent staff.

Part II details how a new Secretary-General in 1956 and superpower rivalry in the third world led the ICJ to attack fascism and apartheid as well as the dictatorship of the proletariat. Highly publicized and well-attended congresses on the rule of law in New Delhi . . .

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