I.P.O. Information Service


The International Criminal Court and International Realpolitik

Statement of the President of the I.P.O. at the TransAtlantic Conference 2008


The Hague/Vienna, 12 November 2008/P/RE/20373c-is

Five years into its establishment in The Hague (Netherlands) and ten years after the adoption of its statute by the Conference of States Parties in Rome, the International Criminal Court (ICC) is faced with continued concerns of some of the most powerful countries over the compatibility of national sovereignty with the new kind of supranational authority given to it under the Rome Statute. In a statement on "The Universal Mission of the International Criminal Court under the Conditions of Realpolitik," the President of the International Progress Organization, Dr. Hans Koechler, author of the book "Global Justice or Global Revenge? International Criminal Justice at the Crossroads," further said that "the ICC has to strike a delicate balance between legal and essentially 'political' considerations - asserting its jurisdiction where it actually exists while, at the same time, not alienating potential (future) States Parties - without which the Court will never become the globally recognized institution it must evolve into if the project of international criminal justice is to be sustainable."

In spite of the impressive number of states having ratified the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court - 108 as of 18 July 2008 -, the Court still lacks authority to exercise jurisdiction in areas of major international conflicts. So far, the ICC has only initiated investigations into situations in four African nations. Countries with a powerful military - such as the United States, Russia, China, India, the Philippines, Turkey, Egypt, Thailand, to mention only a few - have still not become State Parties. A reevaluation of the notion of "national sovereignty" under the United Nations Charter may be unavoidable if there is ever to be a chance for the ICC to become an agent of universal justice. What is needed in the present geopolitical constellation is a frank and open dialogue on the different approaches towards the international rule of law and the contradicting political (national) interests of today's great powers, Dr. Koechler emphasized. False expectations will be created that may be followed by disillusionment if one deliberately overlooks the basic fact that - whether we like it or not - international criminal justice has to be practiced in a context of international realpolitik.

The President of the International Progress Organization made the remarks at a panel discussion on "The International Criminal Court: US and EU Differences in Participation, Sovereignty and the Rule of Law." The meeting was organized by the Franklin Center for Global Policy Exchange (USA) as part of the 24th Transatlantic Conference in The Hague, Netherlands (9-14 November 2008).

The introductory presentation was given by the President of the International Criminal Court, Judge Philippe Kirsch, who emphasized that the Court does not operate on the basis of universal, but complementary jurisdiction to the domestic criminal justice systems of States Parties. Further statements were made by U.S. Congressman Doug Lamborn (Republican, Colorado); Congressman F. James Sensenbrenner (Republican, Wisconsin); Ambassador Paul Wilke, Permanent Representative of the Netherlands to the ICC; and John Washburn, Convener of the American Coalition for the ICC.

  • Global Justice or Global Revenge? by Hans Koechler

International Progress Organization 
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