Listen: Dr Carrie McDougal in conversation with Stephen O’Doherty.
The International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutes serious international crimes, including genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity. So what should we make of US National Security Advisor, John Bolton’s condemnation of the ICC?
Dr Carrie McDougall, from Melbourne Law School has first-hand experience of dealing with the ICC and believes it is important to have an independent international body to deal such serious issues.
ICC “dead to” America
Trump administration official, National Security advisor, John Bolton, has declared the US will not cooperate with the International Criminal Court (ICC) and has threatened to sanction and prosecute ICC judges and prosecutors. In a speech to the conservative Federalist Society in Washington DC, Bolton let the ICC have it, labeling it ‘dangerous’ and a ‘freewheeling global organisation governing over people without their consent’ in the speech he announced the ICC is ‘dead to’ America.
Why criticise the ICC?
Why was John Bolton so fierce in his condemnation of the ICC? The Human Rights Watch website says the speech was likely due to the US government not wanting an investigation into US actions in Afghanistan. It was the singular determination of a group of like-minded states that resulted in the creation of the ICC. But as long as the court does its job, it will stir fierce opposition. The hyperbolic speech from the US government in anticipation of an ICC investigation in Afghanistan is a stark reminder of what’s at stake.
War crimes, crimes against humanity
The International Criminal Court (ICC) is a court of last resort for the prosecution of serious international crimes, including genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity. Its treaty, the Rome Statute, was adopted in July 1998. The court began work in 2003, following ad hoc tribunals set up in the 1990s to deal with atrocity crimes committed in the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda.
This year marks the 70th Anniversary of the UN Genocide Convention and also 20 years since the Rome Statute. ICC has made significant headway in bringing global attention to accountability. But it has faced setbacks, and as human rights crises marked by international crimes continue to proliferate, its mandate has proven to be both more needed and more daunting than its founders envisioned. To be effective, the court and its member countries will need to rise to the challenge.
Australia supports the ICC
Australia is a very active participant in the ICC providing financial and practical support. Melbourne Law School senior lecturer, Dr Carrie McDougall, has first-hand experience of dealing with the ICC. She worked for nearly a decade for the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT).
International law expert
While at DFAT she served first as a Legal Specialist and Assistant Director of the International Law Section. In this role she provided advice on the jus ad bellum, international criminal law, international humanitarian law, the responsibility to protect and the protection of civilians.
This included advice on Australian operations in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, and on the full suite of legal issues considered during Australia’s term on the United Nations Security Council. She regularly represented Australia in international meetings, including the International Criminal Court’s Assembly of States Parties, and played a critical role in international negotiations, including those relating to the downing of Flight MH17.
A voice for the voiceless
There are many benefits to having an ICC explore twenty of them here.
To listen to the podcast of this conversation click the red play button at the top of the page, or you can subscribe to Open House podcasts in iTunes and they will appear in your feed.