USS Clueless - ICC Judge Selection

Stardate 20020704.2001

(On Screen): If the laws that the International Criminal Court will enforce inspire no confidence, the process by which judges are selected inspires frank terror. There are all sorts of words about how candidates must be of good moral character, experience in the law, integrity, and so on and so forth, but the bottom line is that they're selected by secret vote amongst the signatory nations, with each nation having one vote and candidates requiring a two-thirds affirmation to be selected. (Andorra and Brazil each will get the same size vote.)

As I read through the description of the process, what it reminded me of more than anything is the kind of process that International Figure Skating uses to select its judges for major competitions such as the Olympics. (And we all know how that turned out, don't we?)

The process is loaded with safeguards which guard nothing, and what you'll end up with is a tribunal made up primarily of people from all over the world who will, in the main, look out for their own. Decisions will be based on horsetrading and mutual back-scratching, not on the basis of justice. And since the majority of signatories will be poor, powerless third-world nations, that's where the majority of the judges will be from, just as soon as they realize that they can form a voting bloc and use it to take over the mechanism. This is going to end up being just about as impartial as the UN General Assembly.

What most of the safeguards consist of is admonishments to those who will be doing the voting that they should be honest and forthright and careful in their selections. Those who wrote the treaty are assuming that all participants will act in good faith. But there's nothing whatever which actually guarantees that they will. And since every judge must stand for reelection every nine years, then even if the initial process yields up a moderately reasonable set of judges, in the long run the bad will drive out the good.

What kind of candidate do you think the "lawful" (ahem) government of Zimbabwe would nominate, once it ratifies the treaty? Do you honestly think the other African nations would vote against him? Consider their extreme reticence recently to condemn the blatantly rigged election that Mugabe held. And what is to prevent a bit of smoke-filled-room dickering, where the Moslem nations offer the African nations a deal: "You vote for our guy, and we'll vote for yours, and we'll see you in Holland."

Why would nations whose interests are strongly congruent not vote to support each other's candidates irrespective of their actual qualification and merit?

Nothing in the charter can prevent that, because there are no safeguards in place which can override the effect of that two-thirds vote. No candidate can be disqualified in any other way except by being voted down. And for all the pious statements about just how it is that the participating states should use their votes and how they should try to evaluate candidates, nothing will prevent them from loading the court with hanging judges with blood in their eye, looking for an opportunity to stick it to anyone powerful and anyone whose name is "Israel".

I'm not about to trust this lot with the fate of our soldiers or politicians. I wouldn't trust them to take out the garbage.

By the way, how many votes will the EU get in this process, once European Unification is complete?

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