10 Nov 2016

Text: Corinna / Translation: Miriam & Daniel

#The global rights principle

In the article entitled “#Denial – the last phase of genocide” I wrote about the importance of punishments for the act of genocide. However, one question remains: who should be responsible for carrying out these punishments?

Since the State is usually the perpetrator of a genocide, it is highly unlikely that they will prosecute themselves. In instances like this, the global rights principle is very important. As a result of this principle, violations of human rights such as genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes or even torture – committed by any State worldwide – can be prosecuted and punished.

ICCFoto: www.pixabay.com/Creative Commons

In accordance with this principle, perpetrators (regardless of their nationality) who commit crimes that violate the international code of human rights can be put before the international courts or the judiciary system of whichever country in which the crimes took place. It is also assumed that all countries act in preventing all States from allowing war criminals to relocate to other countries without being punished. In Germany, the Völkerstrafgesetzbuch (Code of Crimes against International Law) has also been established for this purpose.

The global rights principle is seen as an additional pillar of international criminal law. It should take immediate effect in such a scenario where the International Criminal Court (ICC) does not have jurisdiction, leading to a lack of prosecution for the perpetrators in question.

#International Criminal Court (ICC)

The ICC was founded in 2002 with the authority to prosecute and punish the most serious of violations of human rights. However, the Court’s authority does not overrule that of the State’s penal systems, but instead presides over the prosecution of human rights violations only when the States are either unable or unwilling to heavily prosecute the aforementioned crimes.

The ICC’s main flaw is its jurisdiction: it is only able to prosecute crimes if either the State in which the violation was committed, or the State to which the suspected perpetrators belong, is a signatory member of the Rome Statutes. Additionally, either the State in question must have recognised the Criminal Court’s temporary jurisdiction and authority, or the issue has been brought to the ICC by the UN Security Council.

The problem here is that most of the ICC’s non-signatory members do not regard democracy and human rights with particularly high esteem, and have frequently committed these human rights violations themselves. Because of this, it is increasingly likely that the ICC’s temporary jurisdiction and authority are not recognised. This is precisely the ideal situation when the global rights principle takes effect.

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