Saturday, May 22, 2010

Phillipe Kirsch

International jurist Philippe addressed a small crowd at the University of Quebec in Montreal, on Wednesday.

The topic was one that was close to his heart, the future of the International Criminal Court (ICC). Specifically, what is the purpose of the upcoming conference on reforming the court in Kampala, Uganda?

Kirsch has been a judge at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) and is regarded as one of the key architects of the Rome Treaty, which led to the creation of the ICC and, ultimately, its establishment seven years ago in The Hague.

Since that time the Court has come under criticism from various governments and people. Many of whom have pointed out that the Court is something of a paper tiger, a point that Kirsch concedes is valid, to some degree. He mentioned that of the 13 indictments issued by the court only three have been executed, so far. Further, some major international players like the U.S. continue to be leery of submitting to the court’s jurisdiction. While other countries, such as Sudan in the case of President Omar al-Bashir, thumb their noses at the court’s attempts to bring notorious war criminals to justice.

Despite this, Kirsch remains sanguine about the future, citing developments such as President Obama’s pledge to support the court and the ‘preventative effect’ of the court with regards to crimes of war and humanity in terms of legal reforms implemented by many member states.

Judge Kirsch, however, refused to answer a question regarding the preliminary hearings of the ICJ in the matter of alleged crimes committed by both Russia and Georgia in their 2008 war, claiming that it was too ‘political’.

The Future is Unwritten

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