The Arab Spring and Global Ethics in an Era of Radioactive Justice
by Dr. Robert D. Crane
The International Criminal Court was created in 2002 after half a century of determined advocacy by supporters of human rights. The purpose was to gain widespread support for a global jurisdiction designed to counter the de facto freedom of sovereign states to commit genocidal or other gross crimes against their own people.
Three of the five states that hold veto rights in the U.N. Security council have refused to ratify or even consider acceding to ICC jurisdiction. Moreover, their client states are similarly immune, even if they have ratified it. This does not mean that thr ICC has failed, because it may be gradually changing the current de facto paradigm in which even the concept of justice is illegal.
The irony in this effort to develop justice in the form of global ethics based on the wisdom of all world religions is that the commandment that “law must be ruled by justice” has led to a situation where, according to the New York Times article on July 7, 2012, by Lydia Polgreen, “Arab Uprisings Point Up Flaws in Global Court”, the Arab Spring is highlighting an ironic reversal whereby now, with the existence of the International Criminal Court, “justice must be ruled by law”.
As explained in the above New York Times article, the standards developed by the International Criminal Court are ignored by countries and groups that are clients of a member of the U.N. Security Council. The International Criminal Court was created to provide justice based on natural law independent of state sovereignty not on positivist law created by tyrannical states. Now, however, the ICC has created its own positivist law, albeit based in fact on the normative principles of compassionate justice, known in classical Islamic thought as the maqasid or universal and essential principles enshrined in the CommonWord of the Abrahamic religions and the Common Ground of all the world religions.
This effort to create and apply global ethics in a global awakening has threatened the tyrannical allies of the United States of America, as well as America itself. For that very reason, the United States has refused to recognize the ICC. President Clinton recognized it, but, as one of his first executive acts, President George Bush Jr. countermanded the recognition even before it went to the Congress for ratification.
The Preamble to the American Constitution started with the word justice as the source of all the other purposes of the great American experiment in creating a polity based on natural law. Since then, however, some jurisprudents argue that the American republic has generated into a mobocracy manipulated by wealthy elites, to the extent that the very word “justice” is a ratioactive and forbidden word in both of America’s major parties.
President Obama wrote five drafts of his famous Cairo talk shortly after taking office. Each time the White House speech writers deleted the word justice. On the plane over to Cairo, President Obama discovered that the final draft again had deleted the most radioactive word in the official U.S. governmental lexicon. Not to be overruled by speech writers beholden to the interests that shape American politics, President Obama inserted the term justice several times in his oral delivery. Since then, at least in public, he has not used the term or even mentioned justice as a concept.
Critics of the International Criminal Court have begun to attack it as a failure in the modern world of terrorism and terroristic counter-terroism, but the real failure lies elsewhere.