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February 7, 2020 / Congau

The Futility of The Hague

The International Criminal Court in The Hague is a parody. It keeps the general structures of a regular court while lacking its essential purpose.

Contrary to popular emotions, a society must have a justice system not because criminals are in personal need of punishment but because one hopes that the fear of punishment will prevent potential criminals from committing crime. That element doesn’t exist in the case of the Hague court. It aims at trying the really horrendous crimes of the world; those that can only be committed by state leaders and military commanders.

Those people will never be scared by the remote prospect of ever having to be confronted with their action in an international court. Why? Because when anyone has reached the level where he can command thousands in battle and control the fate of a country, the stakes are already extremely high. Whoever falls from the pinnacle of a power founded on extreme violence, knows that he is likely to lose much more than just his power. In history, toppled tyrants have regularly gotten their head cut off, but there has never been any lack of candidates for a dictatorship.  The court in The Hague just can’t add any fright to what a war lord is already risking.

Then only the popular parody of justice remains for the court to take care of. People want the spectacle of a formerly powerful man being humiliated before their eyes. The witnesses who are called in and the instances that are investigated usually have very little to do with normal court procedures. We know what happened: there was a war and it was horrible, innocent people got killed and civilians suffered. The guilt or innocence of the defendant depends on his responsibility and whether he fought for a just cause and none of that can be proved in a court of justice.

But what does that matter? Justice is a show.

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