Is Peace the Victim of the ICC’s Justice?

by Julian Ku

I don’t have any particular insights to add on the very interesting and detailed roundtable discussion folks are having on the Lubanga judgment.  But I can’t resist pointing out this op-ed by Ian Paisley (the son of a leading figure on the Northern Irish settlement) in the New York Times slamming the ICC as a obstruction to national reconciliation and peace:

The court’s success as a vehicle for delivering justice continues to be debated. The I.C.C. was founded amid much fanfare, but its track record — with only this single conviction — has been poor. Arguably, the cases before it are complex, and it was always going to take time for a new institution to complete them.

But this misses the point. The I.C.C. was intended as an instrument for delivering peace. In this respect it has not been a success. It will continue to falter because its current methods go against the experience of many places in Africa and around the world where peace has been delivered through political negotiations and reconciliation efforts, not the imposition of international justice.

I am not making an argument against I.C.C.’s existence: In places where there is no functioning government, or the government is hostage to one section of society, or where there is no viable reconciliation process, the international community has a duty to ensure that the court is the guardian of justice.

But the pursuit of justice should not replace or undermine ongoing national reconciliation efforts. The foremost challenge facing the I.C.C. is to determine whether its intervention will help or hinder the cause of peace. The wheels of justice must be allowed to turn at their own pace, but that they must not impede the peace process.

Of course, Jide Nzelibe and I have made this argument at some length here, and with a further wrinkle that the ICC is not likely to have much of a deterrence effect either.  I know this is an old and already hotly debated topic among scholars. But I wonder if it will again become a leading criticism of the ICC.

http://opiniojuris.org/2012/03/17/is-peace-the-victim-of-the-iccs-justice/

2 Responses

  1. Finally the world begins to bring also those in power to justice. They are smart, they let others fight and die, while they enjoy air-conditioned palaces. Then they argue that peace is more important than justice and they get away with it, enjoy the spoils of war, and lough at how stupid the rest are to believe such nonsense.

  2. The ICC was intended as an instrument of peace??? The old peace vs justice debate… But I guess it is nevertheless pretty clear that the ICC leans more towards justice than direct peace (see its preamble), which does however not mean that it might not lead to peace in the long term.

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