DISPATCHES FROM A CHANGING WORLD
But why exactly is it wrong? Who comes up with these laws? What exactly defines what people like to call "Public International Law?" To get into that now would be exhaustive and boring, so let me get right into what I'm doing here in The Hague, the Netherlands.
I graduated from AUC last spring with a Bachelor's in Political Science, with a double concentration in International Relations and Public International Law.
Upon completing my studies, I realized that I could not for the life of me stay rooted to a single spot and see my life wasted away watching the Big Bang Theory and eating Indomie Noodles.
I applied for various internshipsand I got accepted into the Coalition for the International Criminal Court (CICC) in The Hague.
The CICC is a massive NGO comprising over 500 member NGOs and States, with the sole aim of ensuring the effectiveness and fairness of the judicial process of the International Criminal Court [ICC], while advocating for the adoption of the Rome Statute, a core treaty in modern-day International Criminal Law (I'll explain all of this in a bit, but bear with me).
I took up the position of Legal Intern, and my job description includes going to the ICC to monitor various cases and trials of prominent international criminals.
Now let us backtrack for a second. The ICC is responsible for, as you probably guessed, bringing to justice those who committed "crimes of a grave nature." Let me give you an example: if you - as an Egyptian steal - a car in the US, you probably are not an international criminal, albeit a criminal nonetheless (don't get any ideas).
On the other hand, if you - as an Egyptian - ordered the killing of thousands of civilians with the intent of destroying those individuals, whether it is for discriminatory causes or to incite fear in them, you are probably an international criminal (wink, wink for those of you who can't make out the allegory).
Now, there are various crimes that, when executed in a wide enough scale with a certain plan in mind, constitute an international crime; rape, pillaging, looting, murder, and torture are just a few examples I can give at this point.
Some of you are probably wondering why the ICC is not as powerful as it should be in bringing people to justice, given that these crimes, sadly, are being committed on a daily basis by dictators, leaders, and even civilians.
That's where the CICC (and I) comes in. We do all that we can to ensure that the ICC gets as much funding and sponsorship as possible so that it can indict those who are committing these terrible crimes. Note, please, that I use the number millions with absolute certainty, rather than just a hyperbole.
Currently, I follow the case of Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo, a Congolese militia leader who is allegedly responsible for the following:
- Crimes Against Humanity: Rape and the use of sexual warfare, Indiscriminate murder.
- War Crimes: Rape and the use of sexual warfare, Indiscriminate murder, and Pillaging of private and public property.
But why are rape and murder mentioned twice? Because Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes are two different areas of International Law. What's really interesting is that I not only get to attend the trials, monitor and prepare analysis and briefings on what happened, but I also get to witness all the theatrics that are played out.
If you were thinking this is something like Ally McBeal or Law and Order, you're probably right.The witness they've been questioning for the last week is someone prominent who is under protective measures; whenever they bring him into the courtroom they close down an iron bulletproof grate across the windows, and distort his voice to some Transformer-ish sound so that no one is able to identify him.
It not only sheds light on the world of international justice, but also puts into perspective the way we, the people of the developing world who suffer from such dictators, militia leaders, and war mongrels, are seen by those far, far away sitting safely behind their desks and making comments while "expressing deep concern".
Kareem Mokhtar, Political Science Graduate