Mendes, Errol P.: Peace and Justice at the International Criminal Court: A Court of Last Resort.
Article Type: Book review
Subject: Books (Book reviews)
Author: Antwi-Boasiako, Kwame Badu
Pub Date: 09/22/2011
Publication: Name: International Social Science Review Publisher: Pi Gamma Mu Audience: Academic Format: Magazine/Journal Subject: Social sciences Copyright: COPYRIGHT 2011 Pi Gamma Mu ISSN: 0278-2308
Issue: Date: Fall-Winter, 2011 Source Volume: 86 Source Issue: 3-4
Topic: NamedWork: Peace and Justice at the International Criminal Court: A Court of Last Resort (Nonfiction work)
Persons: Reviewee: Mendes, Errol P.
Accession Number: 279722828
Full Text: Mendes, Errol P. Peace and Justice at the International Criminal Court: A Court of Last Resort. Northampton, MA: Edward Elgar Publishing Limited, 2010. viii + 215 pages. Cloth, $99.95.

Throughout history, paradigms have been revised when their assertions failed to mirror prevailing patterns of international behavior. The quest for peace is globally welcomed; however, selective justice by international institutions has dampened this laudable idea. The long-cycle theory, which, in part, seeks to explain that after periods of war peace is likely, tends to define peace in the terms of the victor. Powerful nations use global institutions, such as the United Nations (UN) and the International Criminal Court (ICC), to advance their worldviews as evidenced in the literature.

The quest for global peace has been a perennial conundrum for both world leaders and academics alike as the principles of the Just War Theory are rejected by critics, thereby affirming the importance of the Mile's Law, "where you stand depends on where you sit." It has been the hope of Errol Mendes that global peace can be attained through justice at the ICC, which must serve as a global court of last resort.

From the establishment of the Magna Carta in 1215 through the trials of crimes committed during the Holy Roman Empire in 1474, the Nuremberg Trials of Nazi war criminals in the 1940s to the trials of some African leaders for genocide and atrocities in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries, Mendes intelligently chronicles the historical and legal complexities in establishing such a respectable international judicial entity like the ICC in 2002. He laments over why horrors of crimes against humanity have become permanent occurrences in the history of mankind despite the various efforts over the centuries to lawfully and legally prevent wars. "History," as he puts it, "does not learn from history" (p. 4).

The failure of international judicial intuitions, the ICC for example, to implement its laws stems from a lack of cohesion in drafting those laws, articles, and charters. For instance, as the Nuremberg Trials were seen as "a form of victor's retribution or vengeance," (p. 6) the ICC and other international institutions, including the UN Security Council (Permanent Members), are seen as advancing the political and ideological goals of powerful nations where the rules favor them but these same nations would reject the authority of the same institutions when the laws impede their worldview. Hence, the ICC cannot be seen as a global court of last resort. There are several attempts by Mendes to justify the objectivity of the ICC in its investigative and prosecutorial process, however, as the author admits, most of its cases focus mainly on African and Third World countries.

"Crimes against humanity" is a universal problem, of which all countries are guilty. For example, slavery, colonization, World Wars I and II, the Vietnam War, the Iraq War and hostilities in Gaza all may be crimes against humanity, yet the ICC as presented by Mendes is interested in prosecuting Third World countries while strong nations like Israel, China, and the United States are likely to oppose any ICC Statute which infringes upon their sovereignty. To cement its sovereignty, the United States (under the George W. Bush administration) insisted that it would not become a party to the Rome Statute thereby un-signing from the majority recognition of the need for a global rule of law against gross impunity for genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes. Such attitudes by powerful nations provide ammunition for critics of the ICC who dismiss it as another global institution used by powerful nations to advance their political agenda.

The main weakness of the book is the author's intolerance toward alternative views to the establishment of the ICC. Mendes chastises critics of the ICC's bias toward the Third World, especially African countries, but admits that "there have indeed been twelve arrest warrants issued against twelve Africans accused of perpetrating the most serious of crimes under the ICC Statute under four situations addressed by the Court" (p. 35). He describes ICC critics as ignorant individuals who do not have evidence to support their claims. Poor nations are forced to support political views of powerful nations through "legally" manipulative procedures of international institutions by the later. As Mendes struggles to define what he considers the "most serious crimes against humanity," he projects into the future calling upon all nations through institutions such as the UN, the African Union, and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations to support the efforts of the ICC to achieve world peace.

Although this publication provides an indictment on weaker nations as the only nations that commit most serious crimes against humanity, it chronicles the difficulty in drafting laws for universal justice and peace. The establishment of the ICC affirms the growing will of the international community to hold persons accountable for committing most serious crimes. This book adds to the peace studies literature and is recommended for researchers in international studies, law, and conflict.

Kwame Badu Antwi-Boasiako, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of Political Science and Public Administration

Stephen E Austin State University

Nacogdoches, Texas
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