This time we have something to celebrate: the founding of a landmark human institution the International Criminal Court. We offer our thanks to the good people in the Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs who contributed so much to create the court, and to the nongovernmental activists who participated fully in the work. To be sure, there are reasons for disappointment, since the statute had to be watered down somewhat. Nevertheless, it is a huge step forward in human social evolution. It represents an extension of the rule of law over the narrow, particularistic loyalties of nation-states and exclusionary ethnic communities. Some day, any would-be dictator will think twice about violating human rights, knowing that he or she will face the world's judges. The elimination of warfare begins with the establishment of reliable systems of justice. The conference that took place in Rome probably represents more human progress than all the space programs ever devised. Congratulations!
The participation of citizen activists in this project represents a new advance for "soft power" - and that too is a milestone, though as David Matas and Barbara Bedont point out, there are still problems to work out in the relations between government officials and NGOs. We should also recognize the importance of the new movement of citizens' inspection teams. This is another breakthrough in 'soft power,' when citizens of every country can be counted on to blow whistles against the aggressive plans of their own state, the world will be a far safer place. Maybe we're learning to take care of each other!
Peace Magazine Sept-Oct 1998, page 4. Some rights reserved.
Search for other articles by PMag staff here