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Negotiating sovereignty and human rights

Negotiating sovereignty and human rights: International society and the International Criminal Court

Sibylle Scheipers
Copyright Date: 2009
Pages: 192
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    Negotiating sovereignty and human rights
    Book Description:

    Negotiating sovereignty and human rights takes the transatlantic conflict over the International Criminal Court as a lens for an enquiry into the normative foundations of international society. The author shows how the way in which actors refer to core norms of the international society such as sovereignty and human rights affect the process and outcome of international negotiations. The book offers an innovative take on the long-standing debate over sovereignty and human rights in international relations. It goes beyond the simple and sometimes ideological duality of sovereignty versus human rights by showing that sovereignty and human rights are not competing principles in international relations, as is often argued, but complement each other. The way in which the two norms and their relationship are understood lies at the core of actors’ broader visions of world order. The author shows how competing interpretations of sovereignty and human rights and the different visions of world order that they imply fed into the transatlantic debate over the ICC and transformed this debate into a conflict over the normative foundations of international society.

    eISBN: 978-1-84779-342-3
    Subjects: Political Science
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Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents (pp. v-v)
  3. List of figures and tables (pp. vi-vi)
  4. Acknowledgements (pp. vii-vii)
    Sibylle Scheipers
  5. Note to the reader (pp. vii-vii)
  6. List of abbreviations (pp. viii-viii)
  7. 1 Introduction (pp. 1-12)

    The preceding quotes both represent statements by US officials concerning the role of international law and its development or, rather, continuity. The first was made by Justice Robert H. Jackson, chief prosecutor of the United States, in his opening remarks for the Nuremberg Trials in 1945; the second by David Scheffer, US Ambassador at Large for War Crimes issues at that time, with reference to the emerging International Criminal Court (ICC). The difference between the two positions seems to be dramatic at first glance: Jackson envisages international law as a highly dynamic legal field, the development of which is mainly...

  8. 2 The configuration of sovereignty and human rights (pp. 13-36)

    The transatlantic debate over the ICC is located at the interface of sovereignty and human rights. Regarding the latter, the ICC mainly targets political and civil rights, but leaves aside questions of economic, social and cultural rights.¹ Additionally, in the context of political and civil rights, the provisions included in the Rome Statute target the most ‘urgent rights’ (Rawls, 1999: 79): the prohibition of genocide, of crimes against humanity (such as the persecution and displacement of ethnic or political groups, disappearances and arbitrary detentions, torture and rape) and of war crimes (aimed at the protection of civilians in armed conflicts...

  9. 3 The legalistic discourse (pp. 37-60)

    Almost all officials of the European states under consideration, the majority of legal experts and a large proportion of media commentators, both in Europe and the US, eventually engaged in the legalistic discourse. Legalism can be considered as taking a hegemonic position in the debates that surrounded the creation of the ICC and exerted a strong influence on the institutional design of the Court. NGOs had a vital impact on the rise of the legalistic discourse and on the consolidation of its hegemonic position.

    At the initial stages of the negotiations, there had been considerable differences between the positions of...

  10. 4 The interventionist discourse (pp. 61-81)

    The interventionist discourse denies that international law is an appropriate instrument to change the established international order. According to the interventionist perspective, international law is generally subordinate to politics. Thus, it may merely serve the purpose of maintaining the status quo in international relations. This is not to say that interventionists dismiss the significance of human rights as a central part of international law. Rather, they hold that legal bodies like the ICC do not further the global compliance with human rights provisions. Interventionists privilege political action culminating in military intervention over legal institutions as the preferred way to enforce...

  11. 5 The sovereigntist discourse (pp. 82-102)

    As with interventionism, the sovereigntist discourse is opposed to legalism and challenges the legitimacy of the ICC. However, whilst the main argument against the Court on the part of interventionists is that the Rome Statute exceeds the existing provisions of customary law, proponents of sovereigntism mainly charge the ICC with overriding state consent as the most central requirement for the validity and legitimacy of international legal institutions.

    More specifically, they disapprove of the reach of jurisdiction that the Rome Statute grants the ICC, as it does not exempt citizens of non-party states from prosecution by the Court. By ignoring the...

  12. 6 The progressivist discourse (pp. 103-124)

    The case of progressivism is a special and difficult case, as it only played a marginal role within the framework of the transatlantic debate over the ICC. The reason for this is that the progressivist discourse finds itself in a position that is fundamentally opposed to the ICC as an institution intended to fight impunity. In contrast to the progressivist discourse, both interventionism and sovereigntism challenge the final shape of the ICC but were not entirely opposed to the idea of an international criminal court as such. Rather, they opted for a different institutional design of the Court. Progressivists, however,...

  13. 7 Conclusion (pp. 125-142)

    The transatlantic debate about the establishment of the ICC involves four discourses, each of which constructs the configuration of sovereignty and human rights in a specific way. To the extent that all four discourses claim to constitute the same object – the configuration of sovereignty and human rights – they form a discursive formation. Legalism is built on the assumption that sovereignty is a symmetrical concept and that human rights refer to humanity as a whole. Interventionism shares with legalism the idea that human rights have strong links to the supra-state level. However, according to the interventionist perspective, international order is asymmetric,...

  14. Appendix (pp. 143-154)
  15. References (pp. 155-166)
  16. Index (pp. 167-168)