Man Without Qualities

Wednesday, March 19, 2003

Hypothetical Questions

George Bush, President of the United States, gave Saddam Hussein a final 48 hours to leave Iraq or face an invasion, an ultimatum Mr. Hussein promptly rejected. Jacques Chirac, President of France, has played what he sees as the role of a peace lover. So if Mr. Hussein had agreed to leave Iraq, instead of staying to fight, he could have safely and comfortably set up shop in Paris, right?

Well, apparently not. The International Criminal Court has just opened for business (the tribunal will come into force on July1). It appears that Mr. Hussein would be subject to prosecution by that Court if he "fled" to any country that had ratified its treaty. The Court's advocates appear to allow no means of granting immunity to a person otherwise subject to the Court's jurisdiction. Of course, the United States and Israel are not parties to that treaty - so in theory Mr. Hussein could have "fled" to one of those countries, even though Paris would have exposed him to prosecution.

But, as to the future, doesn't the International Criminal Court essentially force a dictator who is guilty of war crimes or prosecutable human rights violations to stay in power - rather than leave in exchange for a life of luxury?

Doesn't the Iraq ultimatum expose the International Criminal Court as a big obstruction to world peace and effective progress in human rights?

UPDATE: Bahrain has offered Saddam Hussein safe haven! But since Bahrain seems to be a signatory to the Rome Statute creating the International Criminal Court, how could Mr. Hussein feel safe in that country? Wouldn't Bahrain be obligated to turn him over to the ICC for prosecution?

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