International Criminal Court deserves UCC advocacy, proposal urges

The resolution, which calls the International Criminal Court a body that will “investigate and bring to justice individuals who commit the worst crimes known to humanity” also urges the UCC’s Covenanted Ministries – specifically the Public Life and Social Policy Ministry Team in Washington, D.C. – to advocate for U.S. participation in the Court.
“The International Criminal Court is something that our ecumenical partners have been pushing the U.S. government to participate in, but unfortunately the U.S. does not want to recognize the Court as a judicial body that can oppose war crimes,” said the Rev. Ron Stief, leader of the UCC’s Public Life and Social Policy team. “Our international partners will be pleased to see that the UCC is pushing our government to join our global partners on this.”
The U.S. joined 138 other nations in December 2000 in signing the Rome Statute, the treaty establishing the Court which is now permanently located in The Hague.
But the U.S. severed its relationship with the emerging court in May 2002 by withdrawing its signature from the treaty. President Bush said at the time that he had no intention of signing on to the International Criminal Court because the possibility that American diplomats and soldiers “could be drug into the court” was “very troubling.”
Stief, however, said the Court is essential in ensuring that control of war crimes hearings is kept in the hands of the broader international community and away from nations promoting their own interests and political agendas.
“This is incredibly timely right now given the number of civil wars and interventions happening around the world,” Stief said. “The Court is also important in helping the global community begin to sort out issues like how we can prevent situations like Darfur or the Congo or Rwanda from happening again.”
Stief also said U.S. refusal to participate in the Court is emblematic of the Bush Administration’s belief in policies of isolationism, policies, Stief said, that are counter to the UCC’s theology.
“The UCC has a long history and tradition of supporting theologically cooperative solutions to political problems,” he said. “And so we in the UCC have also supported international institutions as a path toward peace making and justice seeking. Those are two very solid theological principles that we have. The International Criminal Court fits into how the General Synod has consistently spoken of ways to solve and resolve conflict globally.”

The Rev. Kwame Osei Reed, Associate Central Atlantic Conference Minister, called his Conference’s proposal “appropriate and very timely.”

“We are deeply distressed by our government’s lack of commitment to this avenue for justice through the International Criminal Court,” Reed said. “We are also very disturbed by the lack of humility, yes, arrogance of the United States in its opposition to the Court.”

Categories: United Church of Christ News

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