Federalist Society hosts dialogue about the International Criminal Court
On Sept. 19, Professor Ronald Rychlak of the University of Mississipi School of Law spoke to Elon Law students about the International Criminal Court (ICC) and how it affects international conflicts and peace negotiations. Elon Law's Federalist Society organized the event.
“If you want the ICC to look into something, you can file a petition with the ICC,” explained Rychlak. “In the last nine years there have been 9,000 petitions. However, only six have actually been opened. The petition becomes a political instrument in itself, [even though it has] no legal significance, and it can make big headlines.”
Rychlak is the Mississippi Defense Lawyers Association Professor of Law at the University of Mississippi, School of Law, where he has been on the faculty since 1987. Prior to joining the faculty, Rychlak practiced law with Jenner & Block in Chicago and served as a clerk to Hon. Harry W. Wellford of the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals.
“The Federalist Society has a great national program that allows us to bring in speakers of national notoriety, such as Professor Rychlak,” said Jack Westall L’13. “We're thankful to them for making these speakers available to us.”
“We decided to bring in Professor Rychlak because of his presentation on an international topic,” Westall continued. “We wanted to demonstrate that the Federalist Society's focus reaches beyond our borders.”
According to the ICC website, the ICC is the first permanent, treaty based, international criminal court established to help end impunity for the perpetrators of the most serious crimes of concern to the international community. The ICC is an independent international organization, and is not part of the United Nations system. Its seat is at The Hague in the Netherlands. The ICC has 18 judges and an independent prosecutor.
“The ICC is premised on the idea of retributive justice, but there is also something known as restorative justice too,” Rychlak said. “Abraham Lincoln at the end of the Civil War could have had lots of prosecutions for Southern generals, but he said it is more important to heal the nation. You can trace this idea back to Aristotle and Desmond Tutu.”
In 2004, the U.S. State Department sent Rychlak to Paris to address the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe regarding the importance of free speech on the Internet. In 2005 he was named as an Academic Fellow in Terrorism Studies by the Foundation for the Defense of the Democracies, and he attended an associated program in Israel. In 2005 and 2006 he was involved in international diplomatic talks regarding peace in the Middle-East. In 2006 the Society of Catholic Social Scientists awarded him the Blessed Frederic Ozanam Award for Social Action, and in 2007 he was an honoree at the U.S. Holocaust Museum for his work with an inter-faith dialogue project.
“Professor Rychlak taught us about the operations of the ICC, including their purpose and function. He contrasted the differences between their court system and ours, noting the lacks of checks and balances. While the ICC is a noble enterprise, it is not always effective on the world stage, can interfere with peace treaties, and needs structural reform,” explained Westall.
The Federalist Society was founded on the principles that the state exists to preserve freedom, that the separation of governmental powers is central to our Constitution, and that it is emphatically the province and duty of the judiciary to say what the law is, not what it should be.
By Danielle Appelman L’12