In 1998, 120 countries signed a treaty to create an International Criminal Court. Although the United States did not sign the treaty, congressional leaders are trying to change the charter to gain an exemption: Any country that does not join will not be under its jurisdiction. This is partially due to Sen. Jesse Helms’ efforts, who has said the treaty will be killed upon arrival to his Senate Foreign Relations Committee. While his efforts to protect American sovereignty are commendable, the United States should sign the treaty and abide by its authority.
The court does not threaten American sovereignty. Instead, it reflects and boosts U.S. efforts to combat heinous crimes worldwide. The United States condemns human-rights abuses in nations like China and participates in actions to prevent rogue governments from harming innocent civilians. The International Court allows all nations the opportunity to interpret what constitutes crimes against humanity, war crimes and genocides, thus furthering the U.S. goal of prosecuting international outlaws.
Of course, such a worldwide system would invite abuse. A review panel should also be created to investigate the accusations so only legitimate claims — and not politically motivated ones — are heard.
With or without support from the United States, the International Criminal Court will hopefully become a source of universal justice. No longer will leaders, hiding behind the supposed rule of law in their own nations, be able to justify their actions. A crime is a crime, no matter where it is committed. For the first time, those who perform such heinous acts will no longer be able to deny this fact.