At a roundtable discussion held today, Monday, December 19, sponsored by NGO Monitor and the Department of Political Studies and the Faculty of Law at Bar Ilan University, a panel of experts discussed concerns about the future of the International Criminal Court (ICC) and the potential impact for Israel following recent developments.
The panel examined the intended withdrawal of African countries from the court, proposed Israeli settlement legislation, possible indictments of American and British soldiers, and the impact of these issues on the ICC’s ongoing investigation into Israel.
According to Prof. Eugene Kontorovich, Professor of Law at Northwestern University, “The ICC is not an all-powerful forum of international justice, but rather a politically weakened institution that has had numerous countries quit its membership in recent months. Perhaps it is true justice that real countries began quitting the ICC shortly after it accepted a non-country – Palestine.”
Among the leading experts who addressed the event were Prof. Gerald Steinberg, Professor of Political Science at Bar Ilan University and President of NGO Monitor; Anne Herzberg, Legal Advisor at NGO Monitor; Prof. Eugene Kontorovich, Professor of Law at Northwestern University; Adv. Pnina Sharvit Baruch, Head of the Program on Law and National Security at the Institute for National Security Studies and former Head of the IDF International Law Department; and Prof. Avi Bell, Professor of Law at Bar-Ilan University and University of San Diego.
Commenting on how the court often uses political rather than legal definitions, including broad interpretations of occupation and settlement activity, Prof. Avi Bell, Professor of Law at Bar-Ilan University and University of San Diego noted, “When the crime has expanded to everything, we are all criminals.”
Also addressing whether the ICC is a politicized body similar to the UN Human Rights Council, Adv. Pnina Sharvit Baruch, Head of the Program on Law and National Security at the Institute for National Security Studies and former Head of the IDF International Law Department commented, “There is no proof yet that the court will be clearly political…but we have good arguments and Israel should present them.”
In addition, the following comments were also made during the event:
Anne Herzberg, Legal Advisor at NGO Monitor:
“The International Criminal Court is a young institution working on building its legitimacy. Yet, the Office of the Prosecutor appears to be repeating many of the mistakes of other international organizations investigating armed conflict by heavily relying on the unverified claims of a narrow sector of political advocacy NGOs. In the case of the investigation of the Gaza War, this narrow sector consists almost exclusively of NGOs promoting the Palestinian narrative, including several NGOs that have links to the PFLP terror organization. If the ICC wishes to be viewed as a credible institution carrying out genuine investigations, the Prosecutor must end this practice.”
Prof. Gerald Steinberg, Professor of Political Science at Bar Ilan University and President of NGO Monitor:
“The negotiations to establish the ICC are an important part of the story. Clearly the ICC is a political body as much it is a legal body. As such many NGOs, such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch are seeking to use this human rights framework as part of political lawfare, demonization of Israel, and human rights and war crimes allegations.”