The Global Citizen
For those of us who are passionate about international justice, yesterday marked an extraordinary milestone. The International Criminal Court (ICC), the world's first permanent international court, celebrated its 10th anniversary. However, its roots go back much further than a mere decade.
The ICC traces its heritage in part back to the Nuremberg trials after World War Two, in which the U.S. played a leading role. Nazi war criminals were put on trial and brought to justice for horrific crimes against humanity committed during the war, and the international community vowed "never again" to allow such atrocities to happen on its watch. Tragically, this promise remained unfulfilled as the 20th century continued to witness genocides in places as diverse as Rwanda, the former Yugoslavia, and Sudan. The need for a permanent international body to bring war criminals to justice remained glaring.
In 1998, representatives from around the world met in Rome, Italy to firm up plans for such an international court. The result was the Rome Statute and the creation of the ICC. The Court officially came into being on July 1, 2002.
Sixty-seven years ago, the world came together in the hopes of creating an international institution that would advance international peace and security, vowing that the atrocities of World War II would never come to fruition again. Identifying common definitions of genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes, a foundation had been set. The United Nations, the product of this cross-border understanding, has done much towards upholding this call but often is stunted by the powerful veto allowed to the Permanent Five members of the U.N. Security Council.
Seeing the need for an independent body to further deter serious crimes and end criminal impunity, the International Criminal Court (ICC) was born. On July 1, 2002 the Rome Statute was ratified by 60 countries, now joined by 61 others (121 total), of whom have identified the significance of such a court.
In the 10 year anniversary of the Court's proceedings, it is imperative to highlight its accomplishments and to work in further supporting its efforts. We need to reassert the global call from 1945 to uphold international peace and security, together.
Rio+20, the UN Earth Summit, was held in Rio de Janeiro last week to a decided lack of fanfare. Activists hoping for a significant, binding outcome document were severely let down. Others have written much more eloquently than I could on the underwhelming outcome, both focusing on the disappointments and the silver lining, and I encourage you to read further. But for those of you who want the Cliff's Notes version, here are 5 takeaway lessons from the Rio+20 Earth Summit.
The Rio+20 summit, intended to develop a global sustainable development agenda, concluded last week. In the words of author Gwynne Dyer, "rarely has such a large elephant laboured so long to give birth to such a small mouse." 150 world leaders were unwilling and incapable of creating substantive reforms to reduce greenhouse gas emissions because of a lack of political will and competing economic interests. The United Nations, the G-8, G-20, and other major multinational conferences suffer from many of the same ills. This begs the question, what is the alternative?
Nonetheless, the past few months were busy for the world's major international institutions. The International Criminal Court, which is about to celebrate its tenth anniversary, convicted Thomas Lubanga in March marking a major milestone for the international justice community. However, others have not been so successful. The United Nations is struggling to resolve the fifteen-month long crisis in Syria that has killed more than 10,000 people. The most recent G-20 summit also recently concluded in Mexico producing piecemeal economic recovery efforts and meaningless statements about violence in Syria.
Last Thursday, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee held a hearing on the implementation of the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START), seeking to gauge the treaty's performance in the time since February 2011, when it first came into effect. Witnesses brought before the committee included the Administrator of the National Nuclear Security Administration, Thomas P. D'Agostino; the Acting Under Secretary for Arms Control and International Security at the State Department, Rose Gottemoeller; and the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Global Strategic Affairs, Madelyn R. Creedon.
Each of the witnesses offered positive assessments of New START's effectiveness, highlighting the ways in which the agreement has helped to make nuclear relations between the US and Russia more stable and transparent. In her testimony, Gottemoeller remarked that New START has helped to improve the flow of nuclear weapons-related information between the two countries. In particular, she cited the treaty's verification mechanisms, including exhibitions of strategic arms and guaranteed on-site inspections, as concrete examples of provisions that have helped to improve the aforementioned information flow.
UPDATE (6/27/12): Earlier today, President Morsi announced that he would appoint a woman as one of his vice presidents, and a Coptic Christian as his other. On the whole, this move should help to assuage the concerns of those who feared that Morsi's affiliation with the Muslim Brotherhood would lead him to adopt radical Islamist policies. In addition, this announcement followed news that an administrative court in Cairo has overturned the military's declared right to make warantless arrests. Overall, a good day for democracy in Egypt, though, of course, much work remains to be done.
This past Sunday, Egypt took another tenuous step along the road to democracy, as the Supreme Presidential Election Council declared the Muslim Brotherhood's candidate, Mohamed Morsi, the winner of Egypt's first presidential elections since the fall of Hosni Mubarak. According to statistics released by the Election Council, Morsi garnered 51.7% of the popular vote, compared with a 48.3% share for his opponent, Ahmed Shafiq.
Modern tension on the Korean Peninsula dates back to 1945 when the Soviet Union declared war on the current occupiers, Japan. In years prior, the peninsula had been controlled by a series of dynasties, but was invaded and annexed by Japan in 1910. After the end of World War II in 1945, the territory was divided along the 38th parallel between the United States and Soviet Union. Hope for unification faded in June 1950 when North Korea breached the border leading to the outbreak of the Korean War. After three years of intense fighting between American, Chinese, Soviet, and Korean troops, the war officially concluded with the formalization of a interstate border called the demilitarized zone. However, low-level fighting and frequent rhetorical provocations keep the conflict on the radar of many relevant states.
In the past, North and South Korea marched together in the Olympics on three separate occasions: 2000 in Sydney, 2004 in Athens, and 2006 in Turin. Describing the event as "highly emotional," athletes from North and South Korea travelled to the stadium together and marched in the opening ceremonies as one unified entity. Using the flag of the Korean Peninsula, a simple flag with a blue silhouette of the Korean Peninsula and a white background, the group showed one of the very few instances of Korean bilateralism in the last few decades.
As major players accompanied their respective heads of state to the beach-laden shores of Los Cabos, Mexico for this year's G20 Summit Monday, those of us remaining were left to question and comment on the body's legitimacy as well as on its unfolding proceedings.
New Rules for Global Finance in partnership with Heinrich Böll Stiftung, envisioned a way to seize this opportunity. In holding their event, "Promises of the G20 Process: Prospects for Enhanced Transparency and Accountability" , on June 18, 2012, the same day as the opening of the G20 Summit, it provided a platform for such debate. Event Chair and New Rules for Global Finance Executive Director, Jo Marie Griesgraber, sought to highlight this significance.
Among the panelists in attendance, a wide array of concerns was noted. Each participant sought to highlight their grievances with the economic super-committee, while some remarked on its advantages.
Last October, President Obama announced the deployment of 100 United States military advisors to Central Africa. Obama hoped to combat the remaining Lord Resistance Army forces that have committed atrocities throughout the region, primarily in northern Uganda, for the past twenty-five years. The year prior, a billed called the Lord's Resistance Army Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act bolstered "comprehensive U.S. efforts to help mitigate and eliminate the threat posed by the LRA to civilians and regional stability." Moreover, a viral video launched by the US-based advocacy group Invisible Children last March briefly made the fight against the LRA a national conversation, but attention has since returned to anemically low-levels.
Rarely are the words "stable" and "consistent" used to describe Somalia, a country that has spent a majority of the past two decades mired in near-perpetual civil war. However, in the case of the Fund for Peace's annual Failed States Index (FSI), the aforementioned adjectives could, unfortunately enough, be applied to the troubled East African state.
For the fifth straight year, Somalia earned the dubious distinction of topping the index, which "ranks instability risks of 177 nations based on 12 social, economic, and political indicators," including "violations of human rights and rule of law," "legitimacy of the state," and "uneven economic development," among others. This year, the Fund for Peace cited Somalia's "widespread lawlessness, ineffective government, terrorism, insurgency, crime, and well-publicized pirate attacks against foreign vessels" as the primary reasons for the country's continued presence at the top of the list.
- Arms Control (22)
- Become a Member (3)
- Become a Member (1)
- Capitol Hill (164)
- CGS Political Action Committee (PAC) (17)
- Chapters (4)
- Civilian Protection (133)
- Climate Change (94)
- Comprehensive Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) (2)
- Congressional Report Card (7)
- Current Campaigns (8)
- Election News & Analysis (101)
- Fellows (2)
- Gender Based Violence (26)
- Genocide Prevention (113)
- Get Involved (68)
- Home (12)
- Human Rights (223)
- Human Rights Council (31)
- International Criminal Court (167)
- International Criminal Justice (51)
- Law & Justice (211)
- Law of the Sea Treaty (55)
- Nuclear Disarmament (81)
- Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) (2)
- Other (33)
- PAC: 2010 Election Endorsements (3)
- Partners for Global Change (2)
- Peacekeeping (104)
- Prevent War (181)
- Rights of the Child Treaty (10)
- Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) (19)
- Support Us (14)
- Take Action (24)
- Tax Deductible Giving (2)
- UN Funding (71)
- UN Reform & Revitalization (43)
- United Nations (321)
- usaforicc.org (1)
- WFI (5)
- Women's Rights Treaty (CEDAW) (47)