-Photo Via PBS

Chief Correspondent on legal bodies the United States doesn’t care about Sean Zimmermann brought us this report on Connie–sorry, Christine Chung’s international law lecture.

Former prosecutor for the ICC Christine Chung stopped by Hamilton for a lecture on the Court’s history that, despite some early technical glitches, was informative.

Chung began by clarifying some common misconceptions about the Court, stating the it has a “modest” mission: “let’s not commit genocide” (still working on it). The Court is fairly new, created by the 2002 Rome Statute treaty, and is not a United Nations body. It has very limited jurisdiction, which is fine since the US won’t listen to anything it says, anyway. The ICC can only try genocides, crimes against humanity, war crimes and crimes of aggression. Aggression is yet to be defined (though I’m not sure what qualifies as a crime of passivity). Additionally, the crimes must have occurred before July 1st, 2002 and must have either been committed by nationals of or in countries that signed the treaty. More after the jump.

The largest limiting factor to the Court’s power is admissibility. For a case to come before the Court, the normal legal system within the involved country has to be “unwilling or unable to proceed.” Some states will request the Court investigate charges within their boarders, but not all. After explaining how the Court works, Chung discussed some cases facing it today. The Court is actively investigating members of the Ugandan Lord�s Resistance Army, which steals children from local villages and forces them to kill for food. In 2005, the Court issued its first arrest warrants for LRA leader Joseph Kony. Though the Court has yet to catch Kony, the move drew international attention to the crimes in Uganda and helped put pressure on Kony to begin peace talks.

Ms. Chung also discussed one of her former cases, an investigation of Thomas Lubanga in the Democratic Republic of Congo. He was the first person to be arrested under an ICC-issued warrant for conscripting children under 15 years old for military service. He was arrested on March 16th 2006, and his trial began on January 26th of this year. This case has been a large victory for the Court–it has picked a war criminal out of the Congo to face justice. Even with the success, Chung said the real test for the Court is the situation in Sudan. The United Nations Security Council referred the Sudan genocide case to the ICC in 2005. Since then, the Court has issued arrest warrants for the current Sudanese Minister of “Humanitarian” Affairs, Ahmad Muhammad Harun, perhaps the most ironically titled perpetrator of genocide of all time. The Court is currently reviewing an arrest warrant for Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir.

At the end of her talk, one student asked about America’s involvement with the ICC. The United States is not a member of the Court, and former US Rep to the United Nations John Bolton wanted to terminate it. Now, she said the US has become a “silent partner,” pressuring the Security Council to continue the ICC’s investigations in Sudan. Chung doesn’t expect the US to become a member for a long time because “the US doesn’t sign treaties–we like our national sovereignty.’ Damn straight.