From time to time, the U.S. government chooses to isolate itself from the rest of the world.
Particularly when it comes to judicial sovereignty, the government goes on the defensive and chooses to exclude other countries.
The ICC, which requires ratification for membership, prosecutes individuals who have committed egregious human rights crimes. According to the Court’s website, among these crimes are genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. When Americans think about an individual who has committed such acts, one name would likely come to mind immediately: Osama bin Laden.
Bin Laden is best known for his role in the Sept. 11 attacks, the largest act of terrorism in American history. Because he is the main character associated with these attacks, many Americans want bin Laden’s blood.
What is more, if American soldiers caught bin Laden tomorrow, he would be scheduled for trial in the U.S. justice system because he would be under U.S. jurisdiction.
Democrats might scream for leniency in his punishment. Lobbyists from organizations like the American Civil Liberties Union might cry for long-term incarceration versus immediate execution. Republicans might call for speedy execution or hard time in Guantanamo Bay, where they might assume bin Laden would receive some form of physical punishment.
However, because the majority of justices on the current Supreme Court are both democratic and liberal, bin Laden’s punishment might only be appropriate from a liberal standpoint, as opposed to an objective, legal one. This could ultimately lead to disagreement on bin Laden’s sentence.
Because the ICC specializes in situations like bin Laden’s – an individual committing shocking human rights violations, – it would likely prosecute from the safest point of view. It would also be a relatively international decision, since 111 countries are already a part of the court.
In case the already drawn out U.S. judicial system cannot deal with the issue, the ICC would be there to do its job. The U.S. has been overtly stubborn in dealing with the court, which makes no sense if there is to be any consistency in assessing this crime.
President Bill Clinton signed the Rome Statute, essentially the ICC’s constitution, in 1998. He did not ratify the signature because he said he thought it would compromise the U.S. justice system’s sovereignty.
President George W. Bush revoked Clinton’s signature in 2002, mostly because he said the U.S.’ relationship with the International Court of Justice was sufficient and more effective than a potential relationship with the ICC.
But the ICC focuses on individuals, not states. Furthermore, the ICC is centered around human rights violations, which might sound like a broad subject, but would be exactly the focus needed in dealing with bin Laden.
The ICC should deal with these kind of issues because it was formed to address them. It would be a simple conclusion to a drawn out argument.
Wyatt Kanyer is a sophomore news-editorial journalism major from Yakima, Wash.