Recent Tribunals Spur Creation of a Permanent International Criminal Court
by Peace Watch
Summary written by: Tanya Glaser, Conflict Research Consortium
Citation: "Recent Tribunals Spur Creation of a Permanent International Criminal Court," in PeaceWatch, vol. II, no. 3 (April 1996) p. 4-5.
In March 1996 the U.S. Institute for Peace hosted a conference to discuss the proposed creation of a permanent international court. Speakers argued that such a court would further establish the rule of law in the international community. Since the rule of law is closely associated with democracy, this would be significant progress. A permanent court would remedy the financial and logistical difficulties associated with creating ad hoc tribunals for specific conflicts. A permanent court could also better support accountability for crimes, and be a standing deterrent force.
Speakers expressed concerns over the jurisdiction of the court. Should all UN members automatically be subject to the court, or should states subject themselves via treaty? Most conference participants wanted to limited the court's jurisdiction to war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide. A few favored a broader role. Participants discussed issues surrounding the selection of judges, the initiation of investigations, enforcement of court decisions, and potentially differing definitions of aggression. Participants also considered the role of the UN Security Council in the court's operation, and possible conflicts between the court and the Council.
In conclusion, conference attendees agreed that "the long-term success of the court would depend on the way it is established, whether fair trials could be guaranteed, and consistency of enforcement."[p. 5]