by Jerry Alatalo
Perhaps the major historical deficiency of international law is the near absence of rapid taking into custody, prosecution of, and imprisonment of high level war criminals. The current example is lack of legal consequences for those enabling ISIS and other terrorist groups who’ve been carrying out horrific levels of violence and murder over recent years in the Middle East.
Because urgent and necessary United Nations reform making it mandatory for each UN member state sign on to the Rome Statute and come under jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court (ICC) or face expulsion from the global organization has yet to come about, those in power in nations outside the legal bounds of the ICC have committed war crimes with impunity, or without real deterrence.
A good way to describe this is imagining oneself living on a small island under the enforcement structure of no organized legal institutions, and therefore having to face no consequences for what are actions prosecuted as crimes on the mainland one mile across the water. Simply put, the person(s) living on that “island” could pay murderers to travel to the mainland, carry out violence and killings, destroy homes and infrastructure, and any number of criminal actions, yet not become prosecuted – literally outside the law.
Observing the current global situation from a historical standpoint examples are plenty where leaders “got away with” war crimes and only rarely – too-often only decades later – faced the legal accountability for their crimes in a court of law. Such an international situation could be described as the international law liquids container persisting with a large crack leaking the essential substance of effective operation of law and order.
The international law “container” is in need of repair to greatly diminish and perhaps even end any repetition of major war crimes anywhere on Earth. Failure to do so guarantees further acts of war crime carried out with impunity, more bloodshed, violence and destruction, and more innocent people fleeing their homes and becoming refugees.
An international agreement making the ICC the highest court on Earth, responsible for swiftly prosecuting the world’s most serious crimes and their perpetrators, is long overdue and offers the best option for stopping high-level, powerful leaders from committing war crimes negatively affecting the lives of millions of innocent men, women and children.
War crimes are taking place today, the legal institutional framework and agreement by humanity has yet to become developed to its fullest extent to deter those crimes, so the time for reaching the greatest global enforcement potential is now.
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