The International Criminal Court

Social Education, November-December 2004 | Go to article overview

The International Criminal Court


The International Criminal Court (ICC) was established in 2002 as a permanent international tribunal to try cases against people who commit serious violations of international law, including war crimes, genocide, and crimes against humanity. The creation of the ICC resulted from numerous human rights atrocities over the last half of a century (i.e., World War II, Cambodia, Rwanda, and Sierra Leone).

In this lesson, students learn about the ICC and why the U.S. has hesitated to join it. After researching the issues, students will write an editorial explaining why the U.S. should or should not support the ICC.

Objectives

Students will

* Understand the history and establishment of the ICC,

* Analyze part of the Rome Statute (primary source document), and

* Evaluate whether the U.S. should support the ICC.

Standards Addressed

Taken from National Standards for Civics and Government (developed and published by the Center for Civic Education)

* Standard I B2: The rule of law. Students should be able to evaluate, take, and defend positions on the importance of the rule of law and on the sources, purposes, and functions of law.

* Standard IV A2: Interactions among nation-states. Students should be able to explain how nation-states interact with each other.

* Standard IV A3: International organizations. Students should be able to evaluate, take, and defend positions on the purposes and functions of international organizations in the world today.

* Standard IV C5: United States and international organizations. Students should be able to evaluate, take, and defend positions about what the relationship of the U.S. should be to international organizations.

Materials

* "The International Criminal Court" handout;

* "American Foreign Policy and the International Criminal Court" handout;

* "Rebuttal Points" handout;

* "The ICC: Should the U.S. Join?" handout.

Procedure

1. Is there a need for an international criminal court?

Ask the students what should happen to people who commit grave atrocities against humanity. For example, Adolf Hitler, loser Stalin, Augusto Pinochet, Pol Pot, and Slobodan Milosevic all committed heinous crimes such as ordering the torture and murder of thousands or millions of people.

Many countries of the world feel there is a need for an international criminal court that would try these types of individuals when the national courts cannot or will not do so.

2. Read about the establishment of the ICC.

Distribute "The International Criminal Court" handout to each student. Have them read the basic facts about the ICC and discuss as a class.

3. Discuss why the U.S. refuses to join the ICC.

In pairs, have students read two handouts presenting opposing sides about joining the ICC. Then have students answer the questions in pairs. Discuss as a class. The handouts are:

* "American Foreign Policy and the International Criminal Court," with excerpts from Under Secretary for Political Affairs Marc Grossman's speech to the Center for Strategic and International Studies

* "Rebuttal Points"

4. Create an editorial page addressing the pros and cons of the U.S. joining the ICC.

* Distribute "The ICC: Should the U.S. Join?" handout. Have students work in pairs and research the pros and cons of the U.S. joining the ICC.

* Each student should write an editorial from one of the perspectives. Each pair of students should have both positions represented.

* Have the pairs create an editorial page about why the U.S. should and should not join the ICC. The students may want to make the layout look like a newspaper by using various software programs.

5. Share editorials.

Read aloud a few examples of editorials and discuss. …

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