Like what you've read?

On Line Opinion is the only Australian site where you get all sides of the story. We don't
charge, but we need your support. Here’s how you can help.

  • Advertise

    We have a monthly audience of 70,000 and advertising packages from $200 a month.

  • Volunteer

    We always need commissioning editors and sub-editors.

  • Contribute

    Got something to say? Submit an essay.


 The National Forum   Donate   Your Account   On Line Opinion   Forum   Blogs   Polling   About   
On Line Opinion logo ON LINE OPINION - Australia's e-journal of social and political debate

Subscribe!
Subscribe





On Line Opinion is a not-for-profit publication and relies on the generosity of its sponsors, editors and contributors. If you would like to help, contact us.
___________

Syndicate
RSS/XML


RSS 2.0

The International Criminal Court will strengthen Australia's global standing

By Andrew MacLeod and Greg Barns - posted Saturday, 15 June 2002


Twenty-five years ago this week Australia, together with the International Red Cross, took the lead in the development of the law on War Crimes. Yet today our nation has members of its government who wish to turn our back on past achievements and run a populist line of ‘national sovereignty’. This will ensure that we lose our status as a country committed to the continued development of laws against War Crimes.

On the 11 June 1977, more than 100 states adopted two Protocols to the Geneva Conventions. Nations like Australia had pushed successfully for the Law of War to now cover internal conflicts, wars of National Liberation and to give further protection to innocent civilians caught in the cross fire of conflict.

It is breaches of these Protocols and other laws that have Milosevic and the perpetrators of the Rwandan Genocide facing justice in two ad hoc International Courts.

Advertisement

Australia had no difficulty signing up in 1977 as we recognised the need to bring the world’s evil to justice was greater than evil’s need to appeal to ‘National Sovereignty’. But today we risk being seen to let the world’s evil off the hook.

We are being asked to ratify the Rome Statute that would create the first permanent International Criminal Court to try the world’s evil – and government backbenchers led by former minister Bronwyn Bishop are refusing.

They claim that the International Criminal Court, with the power to try Australian soldiers, is a threat to our ‘National Sovereignty’ and not in our ‘national interest’. They say that Australia’s courts would no longer be the final arbiters of Australian’s guilt.

Bishop is not alone in her view. Milosevic, Pinochet, the WWII Japanese Leaders, the Nazis and Pol Pot have all been on record at various times saying that international courts like this should not be supported. So have the Americans – not surprising given their record in places like Vietnam.

Funnily enough though, those taking the opposing view, that the court should go ahead, include the Australian Defence Force, the United Kingdom, Australia’s negotiating team at the ICC Conference, most of the Commonwealth, modern day Japan, modern day Germany and ... modern day Yugoslavia.

Admiral Chris Barrie, Chief of the Australian Defence Force, said that the creation of the ICC would be no threat to Australian forces, rather the Court’s existence would make Australian soldiers’ jobs easier and safer in peace-keeping operations.

Advertisement

Former British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook said that Britain has ratified the ICC treaty as "it is in Britain’s national interest to do so. A more stable, democratic world is safer to live, travel and trade in."

Tim McCormack and Helen Durham, who headed Australia’s negotiating team recently wrote "the suggestion that if Australia ratifies the Rome Statute the High Court of Australia will no longer be the highest court of authority in this country is ludicrous".

Each of the above quotes negate arguments put by Bishop and highlight how odd it seems that Australia may side with Milosevic instead of the Australian Defence Force, with the Japanese WWII leaders instead of the Commonwealth or Pol Pot instead of our own negotiating team.

  1. Pages:
  2. Page 1
  3. 2
  4. All


Discuss in our Forums

See what other readers are saying about this article!

Click here to read & post comments.

Share this:
reddit this reddit thisbookmark with del.icio.us Del.icio.usdigg thisseed newsvineSeed NewsvineStumbleUpon StumbleUponsubmit to propellerkwoff it

About the Authors

Andrew MacLeod is CEO of the Committee for Melbourne and a former senior humanitarian official.

Greg Barns is National President of the Australian Lawyers Alliance.

Other articles by these Authors

All articles by Andrew MacLeod
All articles by Greg Barns
Related Links
Australian Red Cross
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
Article Tools
Comment Comments
Print Printable version
Subscribe Subscribe
Email Email a friend
Deals from Sponsor
Flipit.com Australia
Photobook Australia voucher code: Get 56% off on all products
Get $10 off all Singapore packages at iVenture card using this coupon code
Use this Native Box coupon code to get 12% off a $104 spend
Use this Mosmann voucher code to get 25% off on your Christmas presents
Use this ClearlyContacts coupon code to get two pairs of frames for $99
Advertisement

About Us Search Discuss Feedback Legals Privacy