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International Criminal Court investigator addresses international violations of justice

By Jennifer Ding     1/25/12 6:00pm

International Criminal Court Investigation Coordinator Alex Whiting spoke on Jan. 19 to a group of students, faculty and outside guests on the ICC's mission to correct international violations of justice. Whiting, who works for the Office of the Prosecutor in the ICC, began with a quote from the beginning of the Nuremberg Trials from Justice Robert H. Jackson.

"The wrongs which we seek to condemn and punish have been so calculated, so malignant, and so devastating, that civilization cannot tolerate their being ignored because it cannot survive their being repeated," Jackson said.

Whiting proceeded to explain that these wrongs are always taking place, and that it is the ICC's goal not only to bring those wronged to justice, but also to set a precedent so that they do not take place again.

The court is an independent, permanent, treaty-based body that seeks to deliver punishment for crimes in the international community, the ICC website said. Established in 1998, the ICC is governed by the Roman Statute which dictates that the Court will have jurisdiction in crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and crimes of aggression. Composed of 18 judges elected by member countries, the ICC acts only in the event that national judicial systems fail to fairly investigate and prosecute.

Whiting provided a personal example of the ICC's success. He worked as a trial attorney at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia from 2002 to 2007, during which time the ICTY managed to detain all charged Yugoslavian war criminals – none remain at large or escaped trial.

Whiting also addressed many of the issues people raise about the ICC. One objection is that the ICC is corrupted by politics. Whiting responded that, although the ICC has 120 member states, many large powers, including the United States, have not joined, reducing the ability of larger countries to pressure smaller ones.

Whiting added that the ICC runs on the Roman system of positive pressure. Ultimately, the ICC hopes for individual states to try their own cases.

Sid Richardson junior Neeraj Salhotra attended the speech and said he supported the ICC.

"There is definitely a role for some international arbitration body to help adjudicate where it's not clear how the person should be tried," Salhotra said. "It's nice to have an international body step in."

Baker College freshman Kristin Foringer said she enjoyed going to Baker Institute events because she could hear from experts in their field.

"You're sitting in an audience with people who work with policy at a professional level," Foringer said. "You're getting to experience the ideas of the speakers as they're being conveyed to other experts."

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