One Big Wall Street Journal Lie

by Kevin Jon Heller

Whoops, spoke too soon about the WSJ‘s anti-ICC editorial.  It does indeed contain a lie — and its a doozy:

What’s more, no amount of reform of the founding treaty will change the ICC’s inherent flaw. The ICC is a child of the doctrine of “universal jurisdiction,” which holds that courts can adjudicate crimes committed anywhere in the world.

As anyone who has spent five minutes reading the Rome Statue knows, the Court is based on two forms of jurisdiction: territorial and active-nationality.  Both of which the U.S. uses and accepts that other states may use.  Proposals to base the ICC on universal jurisdiction were soundly rejected during the drafting of the Rome Statute.

Not that the Editorial Board of the WSJ cares.  In the absence of facts, lies suit them just fine.

8 Responses

  1. I think “Child of” is a vague enough description to still be truthful.  As matter of historical record, I would think it’s an accurate statement, even if one might accuse the authors of attempting to confuse the audience into thinking the ICC does in fact have universal jurisdiction.

  2. The ICC is going to trigger a outbreak of hostilities someplace, sometime, Real people are going to die. Let’s see if the ICC supporters will think the court is a good idea then.

  3. Hm Mr Turner, how could a criminal court “trigger an outbreak of hostilities” where “people die” exactly? It isn’t an army.
    That said, I also don’t know why the ICC isn’t a product of Universal Jurisdiction. I suppose I ought to read up, but I’m aware that not long ago, the ICC panned to divert a plane containing Ahmed Haroun to ICC signatory countries in order to arrest him and try him in court. I see a lot of merit in that idea, but it does kind of smack of Universal Jurisdiction to me.

  4. The ICC does not have, is not based on, is not a child of universal jurisdiction.  The fact that member states have an obligation to cooperate with the Court in apprehending suspects is not universal jurisdiction.

    Saying the ICC is a child of universal jurisdiction is like saying that a blue-eyed child is the child of two black-eyed people because he has eyes.

  5. What makes it a “lie” and not an “inaccuracy”? Putting it another way, what is the mens rea for lying and how is it met here? It seems to me that jumping from an inaccuracy in an editorial to an accusation of lying is a little harsh.

  6. Will E,

    I’m just doing what a jury does — inferring mens rea from the evidence.  It is possible, of course, that the WSJ writes editorials about the ICC’s jurisdiction without spending even five minutes reading the Rome Statute, so perhaps the Editorial Board is simply woefully incompetent, not lying.

  7. Or that you write comments about positions you don’t like from a presumption of bad faith without spending even five seconds wondering if there might be any reasonable grounds, in the eyes of the author, on which to base a statement such as that which has so offended you.

    Would you have settled for: like its domestic corollary and temporal antecedent universal jurisdiction, the ICC is founded on the principle that universal legal standards of human rights transcend national borders and their enforcement is by definition the legitimate concern of all people?

  8. IHDA,

    By all means, please explain how the editorial writer could have a reasonable basis to believe the ICC was a “child” of universal jurisdiction.

    As for your proposed substitute, I doubt the WSJ Editorial Board understands words like “antecedent” and “corollary,” but otherwise it’s fine.

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