Thursday, September 20, 2007

International War Crimes

Outstanding Seattle lawyer and advocate for victims of sexual abuse, Rebecca Roe, deserves our praise for helping to train court personnel who work with victims of abuse who seek justice at The Hague’s international criminal courts. See“The US Should Embrace the International Justice System” Seattle Times, September 20, 2007. Several Seattle lawyers and counsel, judges and academics from across the US have also lent a hand in the difficult work at these courts. I studied at The Hague in 2003 and met a young Washington, D.C. lawyer who prosecuted one of the perpetrators of the horrific events at Srebrenica; Dr. William Haglund from the King County Medical Examiner’s office was a forensic pathologist on his team.

But her argument that the US needs to formally join the standing International Criminal Court now at work rings hollow. If the argument is that we can be moral leaders by “participating” in the international justice system, then we are doing just that; we provide significant resources to these international war crimes efforts. If the argument is, instead, that we can be moral leaders only if we agree to submit US citizens to the jurisdiction of international criminal tribunals, then that is an entirely different issue and one that deserves a robust debate.

One place to begin that debate is my February 4, 2004 article in the Seattle Post Intelligencer entitled "ICC Rules Not Subject to Review" and you can read it at: