At present, the International Criminal Court renders itself irrelevant by adjudicating “national jurisdictions” perfectly capable of doing so, while refusing to adjudicate or indict the world’s worst violators of human rights. Pictured: The ICC in session, in The Hague, on July 8, 2019. (Photo by Eva Plevier/AFP via Getty Images)
The International Criminal Court (ICC), by straying far from its original purpose, has perjured itself. The ICC was established in 1998 to bring justice to victims of systematic atrocity in countries unable to do so. In its own words, “The core mandate of the ICC is to act as a court of last resort with the capacity to prosecute individuals for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes when national jurisdictions for any reason are unable or unwilling to do so.”
At present, however, the ICC renders itself irrelevant by adjudicating “national jurisdictions” perfectly capable of doing so, while refusing to adjudicate or indict the world’s worst violators of human rights.
The Court’s February 5 decision authorizing the investigation of unfounded allegations of a pattern of human rights violations supposedly committed by Israel Defense Force (IDF) personnel underscores the ICC’s corrupted political nature.
First, the ICC has violated its founding statute by accepting into its docket a complaint against a sovereign state (Israel) by a non-state entity (Palestinian plaintiffs), twisting international law to try to alchemize “Palestine” into a state by pointing to its observer status in some UN bodies. Close but no cigar. The Court, by trying to legitimize the Palestinian Authority’s (PA) illegal briefs, therefore only confirms the views of its critics that it merely serves as an instrument of the Palestinian Arab propaganda war against Israel.
The Court further underscores these violations by treating Hamas as a legal equivalent of Israel in the terrorist group’s charges against the IDF in the 2014 Gaza War.
The ICC permitting non-state actor such as the Palestinian Authority to challenge a sovereign state, Israel, is a double violation of the Court’s founding statute. It has failed to indict Syria’s regime for using chemical weapons against its own people, Iraqi militias for murdering civilians or Iranian-supported Houthi snipers in Yemen for slaughtering children. The most egregious omission of the ICC is its glaring failure to indict Communist China for murdering 2.5 million people by repeatedly lying about the human-to-human transmissibility of its COVID-19 virus, or its ongoing genocide of the Uighur people and other non-Han minorities in China.
Dismantlement or disempowerment of the ICC can be assured if enough of its original ratifying states decide to cancel financial support for the court or to resign from its membership. A broad-based coalition could undo the ICC’s ostensible legitimacy. South Africa, Burundi, and the Gambia have already resigned from the ICC after accusing the court of focusing almost entirely on crimes against humanity perpetrated by or in African states — possibly another reason the ICC is nosing around for any country that is not African to indict. To its credit, the ICC has prosecuted mass atrocities in Kenya, Uganda, Ivory Coast, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Sudan, the Central African Republic, Libya and Mali. The African Union has called for a mass withdrawal of the 34 African signatory states from the ICC. Perhaps opponents of the ICC could raise the consciousness of more countries to cancel their memberships in the ICC — particularly because of the court’s silence on the reported genocide perpetrated by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) against the Uighurs in China’s Xinjiang province.
The ICC has already provided its critics with plenty of ammunition to question the Court’s legitimacy as a consequence of additional violations of its founding statute. Neither Israel nor the United States ratified the Rome Statute (the ICC’s founding treaty). The Court therefore has no jurisdiction whatsoever over the state actions of either country. According to JNS:
“Germany and Hungary join the United States and other countries—such as Canada, the Czech Republic, Austria, Australia, Brazil and Uganda, the latter five of which filed documents with the ICC as amici curiae (outside observers) providing information in support of Israel—condemning the ICC ruling.”
These countries publicly confirm that the Court has no jurisdiction over a state that is not party to the Rome Statute. Both the US and Israel, in their refusal to permit the ICC to interfere in their sovereignty, are on solid legal ground. Yet the ICC seems determined to investigate allegations of human rights violations not only of the IDF in the Gaza, but also of US troops in Afghanistan. The Court’s impending decision ignores the reality that both the US and Israel are rule-of-law states which already have thoroughly and impartially investigated allegations of human rights violations by members of their armed forces.
“Palestine” is not a state, and therefore, according to the Rome Statute, the Palestinian Authority has no standing to press its case with the ICC.
The Court’s anti-Israeli initiative comes at a moment when several Arab countries are disengaging themselves from “the moral albatross” of being stewards of the Palestinian drive for statehood. The United Arab Emirates, cognizant of the mismanagement of funds by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), has decided no longer to fund this entity, which allocates revenues for Palestinians residing in 58 camps across the Middle East.
State parties dissatisfied with the ICC’s dismal record should be encouraged to discontinue financial support for the Court or to withdraw altogether from the Hague-based institution.
Meanwhile, at least four Gulf Arab states and other Muslim-majority countries appear far more concerned, with good reason, about Iran’s drive for regional supremacy, while welcoming warming relations with Israel, which will prove a most loyal friend.
Dr. Lawrence A. Franklin was the Iran Desk Officer for Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld. He also served on active duty with the U.S. Army and as a Colonel in the Air Force Reserve.
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