Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Just another Internationalized Tribunal?

Having safely arrived in the "legal capital of the world", I can now finally get back to blogging.
As the ICC (perhaps understandably) has a rather strict policy on publications of staff members and interns and I am still sorting out what is okay to post and what, I will for the moment not post on new developments at or concerning the Court, but limit myself to other developments in international law.

As reported by the Lebanon Daily Star, Cyprus might be the host country for a UN-Lebanese mixed tribunal to try those suspected of being involved in the assassination of Premier Rafik Hariri. This is in the wake of Security Council Resolution 1664 of 29 March, urging Secretary General Kofi Annan to negotiate the necessary agreements for the establishment of such a court with the Lebanese Government.

At first glance, this may seem like just another step in the proliferation of internationalized tribunals - following on the heels of others in Sierra Leone, East Timor, Cambodia etc.
However, what would set this proposed court apart from such other internationalized tribunals is that it would not be concerned with "core" crimes such as crimes against humanity or war crimes, but "only" with one count of murder.

It seems to me that this is indeed a rather new development - if I am not missing something, the UN has only really been involved in a non-core crimes-related trial/court once, namely in the case of the so-called Lockerbie trial concerning the bombing of Pan Am flight 103 over Lockerbie/Scotland - and this was technically a national trial by a Scottish court, even if it was sitting in the Netherlands (the judgment is available here).

I am not quite sure what to make of this development yet, but it strongly reminds me of the book I am currently reading, "Between Equal Rights" by China Mieville.
In the final chapter of this very interesting and challenging work, Mieville refers to so-called "liberal cosmopolitanism", which (purportedly or actually) aims at bettering the state of the world through the international rule of law and which, accordingly, leads to a shift of perspective in which international relations become more and more concerned with criminalization and "policing".
Might the proposal of a mixed tribunal dealing with "non-core crimes" be a signal for a step into this direction? And what would one have to make of such a development? Surely something to ponder in more detail - I will hopefully be able to add more on this question (and on the subject of Mieville's book) in future posts.

Hat tip to Kevin Jon Heller over at Opinio Juris.


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