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In order to understand the importance of international law, one must understand what international law is. International law is, “The body of legal rules that apply between sovereign states and other entities having international personality” (www.britannica.com). International law has come about because nations feel the need to live together peacefully. However, it has its roots in each country’s self-interest, and there is no international law enforcing body. Each state has to adhere to the laws through cooperation. Also, some states have put international law into their jurisdictions.

International law has come about by three procedures, international customary law, treaties, and general principles of law. Customary law is sovereignty, recognition, consent, good faith, freedom of the sea, international responsibility, and self-defense among the states (www.britannica.com). Treaties help to form international law. Treaties are legally binding and may declare, change, or develop existing international law. There are some very important international rules controlled by treaties (www.britannica.com). Some of these important aspects of treaties are diplomatic law, immunity, protection of nationals abroad, freedom of commerce, and succession to international rights and obligations. Also, large international organizations help form international law. However, it has been said by some that international law is not really law. A positive theorist named Austin said that “international law does not have proper sanctions and enforcement mechanisms to be law, but this can be dismissed when international law is compared to primitive law. They both have societal organization behind the law, authority to apply sanctions lack of central government, lack of legislature, and the lack of courts with compulsory jurisdiction” (Amerasingh 81-8). Therefore, international law has similarities to primitive law and can be considered a type of legal system (Amerasingh 81-8).

Cases of genocide (the Holocaust or Rwanda), crimes against humanity, and serious war crimes are all reasons why diplomats from over 150 countries met in Rome on June 15 to finalize the establishment of the International Criminal Court (ICC). To this day the Rome Treaty has been signed by 1 countries and as of November 1, 001 ratified by 4 of the countries. The United States has signed it but because of the controversy over the ICC it has not yet been ratified and probably never will be (http//www.iccnow.org/html/coalition.htm). The dream of an ICC will become a reality in the near future when the sixtieth country ratifies the treaty.

The potential impact of the ICC is enormous. By holding individuals personally accountable, the Court could be an extremely powerful deterrent to the commission of genocide, crimes against humanity and serious war crimes that have plagued humanity during the course of this century (http//www.iccnow.org/html/coalition.htm). Not only is the establishment of the Court an opportunity to provide critical redress to victims and survivors, but potentially to spare victims from the horrors of such atrocities in the future. If effective, the ICC will extend the rule of law internationally; impelling national systems to themselves investigate and prosecute the most heinous crimes-- thus strengthening those systems-- while guaranteeing that where they fail, the ICC can operate to ensure that justice prevails over impunity (http//www.hrw.org/campaigns/icc/qna.htm).

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There is question whether or not the ICC would interfere with U.S. Sovereignty and Security. Currently, nation-states have primary responsibility for prosecuting crimes such as war crimes and crimes against humanity. In some cases, crimes are addressed through the ad hoc tribunals, which were first set up by the United Nations Security Council on May 5, 1 in response to the horrific war in former Yugoslavia where at least 00,000 people were killed (http//www.hrw.org/campaigns/icc/qna.htm). The ICC would have much greater autonomy and powers to investigate and prosecute suspected crimes of genocide, war crimes, or crimes against humanity. The power given to the court could affect the rights guaranteed to Americans, which are granted by the U.S. Constitution.

There is also great controversy in the U.S. over the powers of such a court and the powers given to agents and judges to investigate crimes, prosecute, pass judgments, sentence, and even hear the appeals of its decision on an array of crimes from genocide, war crimes, and terrorism (gopher//.igc.apc.org/00/icc/ngodocs/us%6icc_lchr.txt). There is controversy because such judicial power goes against the American legal traditions where to ensure a fair trial and diminish corruption and politicization functions of investigation, prosecution, trial, and appeal are kept separate. Instead, the United States believes that if the ad hoc tribunals were used more often and with more impartiality, flaws of the tribunals could be corrected (gopher//.igc.apc.org/00/icc/ngodocs/us%6icc_lchr.txt).Senator Helms is also one of the strong advocators pushing strongly for an ad hoc international court (gopher//.igc.apc.org/00/icc/ngodocs/us%6icc_lchr.txt).

An International Criminal Court will help uphold the laws of humanity by putting those accused of such crimes as genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity under trial and behind bars. Most perpetrators of war crimes and crimes against humanity throughout history have gone unpunished even in the twentieth century (gopher//.igc.apc.org/00/icc/ngodocs/us%6icc_lchr.txt). So, most past perpetrators probably believed that their horrendous acts against humanity would go unpunished. With the ICC established, effective prevention will be used so it will be clear to everyone that the international community will not tolerate such atrocities. The court will reduce the possibilities of such atrocities reoccurring around the world if the accused know they won’t get away with it.

International law has affected many things in our global society. One thing that international law influences is foreign policy (Tunkin 7-). However, foreign policy can affect international law, but what is important is how international law can affect domestic foreign policy. Contemporary international law is peaceful existence between states and the free development of people. The effectiveness of international law on foreign policy in states depends on who is at war and peace in the system (Tunkin 7-). Therefore, the more peaceful states seem to be in more agreement with international law than power seeking states. For example, the realist approach to international law is to seek power in foreign policy and disregard international law and morality. However, war is something that most counties wish to avoid, and most countries must observe international law in order to maintain peace. Therefore, it must be a guiding principle in diplomacy and foreign policy (Tunkin 7-).

International law is not always in our favor or supports our views here in America. The landmine ratification allows a new treaty to become law in 1. This is against the use of landmines, but the U.S. did not sign the Ottawa Convention against the use of landmines (Birchard 1004). Another issue that was not in American interest was how the U.N. wanted Jurisdiction over U.S. soldiers in criminal court. Clinton rejected this idea, but the court will try to claim jurisdiction over the soldiers overseas anyway (Birchard 1004). For example, a solider on a peace keeping mission in Iraq could be tried for war crimes. There are those in the U.S. senate that say if the U.S. does not sign the treaty to put their soldiers on trial is against the treaty law (D’Agostino 5). Therefore, it can be seen that international law affects everyone here on the planet, and it affects people here in the U.S. also weather good or bad.

I personally feel that international law is a situation that not just Americans, everyone in the world should be knowledgeable about. One should not be ignorant of what goes on in the world because situations like this can and will affect ones life. International law helps to define what countries can and cannot do in the international scene. To me, this is absolute ludicrous, countries should have the right to do what they please (as long as it’s humane) with their citizens in their country. As long as people are being treated humanely and one country is not invading another, then international law should not interfere.

Amerasinghe, Chittharanjan. “Why international law is law.” Theory of International

Law at the Threshold of the 1st Century. Ed. Jerry Makarczy. Cambridge Kluwer Law International. 16. 7-88.

Britannica Online. [Online] Retrieved April 0th , 00, from www.britannica.com.

Bicard, Karen. “Landmine Ratification Allows International to go Ahead.” The Lancet. Vol. 5. Sept. 8 .

Coalition for an International Court. [Online] Retrieved April 1st, 00, from http//www.iccnow.org/html/coalition.htm.

D’Agostino, Joseph. “U.N. Criminal Court Claims Jurisdiction Over U.S. Soldiers.” Human Events. Vol. 54. Aug. 8 -7.

ICC Q&A About the ICC. [Online] Retrieved April 0th , 00, from http//www.hrw.org/campaigns/icc/qna.htm.

“The International Criminal Court The Case for U.S. Support”. Lawyers Committee for Human Rights. [Online] Retrieved April nd, 00, from gopher//.igc.apc.org/00/icc/ngodocs/us%6icc_lichr.txt

Tunkin, Grigoril. Theory of International Law. Cambridge Harvard Press. 174. 7- 8.

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