- By David BoscoDavid Bosco is a Foreign Policy contributing editor and assistant professor at American University's School of International Service. He is at work on a book about the International Criminal Court's first decade.
I’ve speculated recently that the absence of serious discussion about referring Syria to the International Criminal Court–a step that would require a UN Security Council resolution–reflects more than just a gloomy realization that Russia and China would likely veto such an attempt. I think the Libya experience in some respects soured the Obama administration, and maybe other Western states, on ICC referrals in the midst of conflict. In comments before a Senate committee today, Hillary Clinton gave the strongest indication yet that the United States doesn’t see international justice as helpful in the Syrian context:
"Based on definitions of war criminal and crimes against humanity, there would be an argument to be made that he would fit into that category," Clinton told a Senate hearing on the State Department budget.
"People have been putting forth the argument," the chief US diplomat said.
"But I also think that from long experience that can complicate a resolution of a difficult, complex situation because it limits options to persuade leaders perhaps to step down from power," Clinton said.
This is a remarkably broad statement that flies in the face of a lot of American rhetoric (though not necessarily American practice) regarding international justice. I’d expect that Clinton will get some serious pushback from the human rights community–and that she may feel compelled to walk back her statement.
Josh Rogin covers national security and foreign policy and writes the daily Web column The Cable. His column appears bi-weekly in the print edition of The Washington Post. He can be reached for comments or tips at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Previously, Josh covered defense and foreign policy as a staff writer for Congressional Quarterly, writing extensively on Iraq, Afghanistan, Guantánamo Bay, U.S.-Asia relations, defense budgeting and appropriations, and the defense lobbying and contracting industries. Prior to that, he covered military modernization, cyber warfare, space, and missile defense for Federal Computer Week Magazine. He has also served as Pentagon Staff Reporter for the Asahi Shimbun, Japan's leading daily newspaper, in its Washington, D.C., bureau, where he reported on U.S.-Japan relations, Chinese military modernization, the North Korean nuclear crisis, and more.
A graduate of George Washington University's Elliott School of International Affairs, Josh lived in Yokohama, Japan, and studied at Tokyo's Sophia University. He speaks conversational Japanese and has reported from the region. He has also worked at the House International Relations Committee, the Embassy of Japan, and the Brookings Institution.
Josh's reporting has been featured on CNN, MSNBC, C-Span, CBS, ABC, NPR, WTOP, and several other outlets. He was a 2008-2009 National Press Foundation's Paul Miller Washington Reporting Fellow, 2009 military reporting fellow with the Knight Center for Specialized Journalism and the 2011 recipient of the InterAction Award for Excellence in International Reporting. He hails from Philadelphia and lives in Washington, D.C.| The Cable |
Daniel W. Drezner is professor of international politics at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University and a senior editor at The National Interest. Prior to Fletcher, he taught at the University of Chicago and the University of Colorado at Boulder. Drezner has received fellowships from the German Marshall Fund of the United States, the Council on Foreign Relations, and Harvard University. He has previously held positions with Civic Education Project, the RAND Corporation, and the Treasury Department.| Daniel W. Drezner |