Monday, April 04, 2005

The ICC: The French Exception

(Note: For background to this post, see "France, Darfur, and the ICC" and "A Grave Error".)

Here are the exact words of the declaration submitted by France along with its instrument of ratification of the statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC) in June 2000:
Pursuant to article 124 of the Statute of the International Criminal Court, the French Republic declares that it does not accept the jurisdiction of the Court with respect to the category of crimes referred to in article 8 when a crime is alleged to have been committed by its nationals or on its territory.
Article 8 of the ICC statute refers to war crimes (as opposed to genocide and "crimes against humanity", the other two categories of crime defined in the statute). Article 124 only permits refusals of the jurisdiction of the Court in the case of Article 8 crimes.

The French declaration ought to be better known. It casts in a rather different light the triumphant statement by French UN Ambassador Jean-Marc de la Sablière following the Security Council vote on the Darfur resolution:
This resolution marks a turning point, for it is sending the message beyond Darfur to all of those criminals responsible for crimes against humanity and war crimes who all too often believed that they were beyond the pale of justice.
Thanks to France's Article 124 declaration, French military personnel and officials responsible for war crimes remain securely beyond the pale of justice - or at least of any such justice as the ICC might be expected to dispense.