I was reading in the news this morning about the ICC (International Criminal Court) attempting to charge Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir with genocide for the years of violence in Darfur. I know it is absolutely awful what is happening in the Sudan, but I am a little confused about the authority of the ICC. Like the United States, the Sudan did agree to the Rome Statute which formed the court through the United Nations in 1998. (Interestingly, Clinton signed it in 2000 but never put it before the Senate for approval, and Bush came out in opposition to the court.)
When we think of thousands of people dying, it’s hard to look at the basic question of whether a court like this should even exist. Although the idea of an international court comes from the best intentions, (think Nuremberg trials) I wonder about its legitimacy. From where does this court derive its authority over the Sudan? Is it just for a group of people to decide they have some power over one’s rights. As Americans, that idea is almost our creed: “consent of the governed”, “unalienable rights” et cetera. I know this sounds generous when we’re talking about a mass murderer, but think of the other things courts end up doing: they don’t always purely protect the innocent.
Another concern brought up by the ICC is how the problems of one country are not isolated anymore. As improved technology in transportation and communication cause more globalization of industries and cultures, to what extent is the business of one country the business of another? I definitely think that as a country it is preferable to err on the side of not interfering in other countries’ affairs. However, I know that what is going on in Darfur is a tragedy, and I think it is in the nature of humans to come to one another’s aide. So what do we as individual caring humans do for the victims of such atrocities?