Rabkin Debates Future of U.S. Policy Toward ICC

Professor Jeremy Rabkin debated the future of U.S. policy toward the International Criminal Court (ICC) at an October 8 event held at Harvard Law School and hosted by the law school's Federalist Society. Presenting an opposing view was Professor Lori Damrosch of Columbia Law School, currently visiting at Harvard Law.

Rabkin expressed his view that the ICC is ineffectual and unbalanced, focusing primarily on African nations. "The whole institution is an exercise in symbolism," Radkin said.

The United States is one of only a few western nations that have chosen not to accede to the Rome Statute, which created the ICC. Rabkin endorsed this position, saying, "If you could assure me that the rules would be drafted in Washington and the trials would be conducted by officials responsible to the U.S.," he would have a greater incilination to support the ICC. As it is, Rabkin fears joining could lead to second-guessing of American field troops by an international prosecutor with no military experience attempting to enforce vague and unestablished law.

"It is crazy while conducting wars to have an international diplomat looking over your shoulder," Rabkin concluded.

Ten years later, debate continues over U.S. stance toward International Criminal Court, Harvard Law Record, October 22, 2009. By Nicholas Joy.


"Rabkin cast dispursions on the historical roots of the ICC and the tribunals established for Yugoslavia and Rwanda. For Damrosch, the ICC’s origins date back to World War II and the U.S. involvement in the Nuremburg Trials and the International Military Tribunal for the Far East.  'Most Americans are proud of those accomplishments. The effort that is going on now [extends] the legacy of Nuremburg.'

"Rabkin views the tribunals that came after World War II in a very different light. 'We should not be proud of the tribunals, but the war effort that defeated' the Axis powers,' he said. He pointed out that the United States had negotiated the London charter, which set up the Nuremburg Trials, with the other occupying powers, who stipulated that only members of the Axis powers would be put on trial."

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