Rough Justice: The International Criminal Court in a World of Power Politics

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9780190229207: Rough Justice: The International Criminal Court in a World of Power Politics
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Ten years ago, in the wake of massive crimes in central Africa and the Balkans, the first permanent international criminal court was established in The Hague despite resistance from some of the world's most powerful states. In the past decade, the court has grown from a few staff in an empty building to a bustling institution with more than a thousand lawyers, investigators, and administrators from around the world. Despite its growth and the backing of more than 120 nations, the ICC is still struggling to assert itself in often turbulent political crises.

The ICC is generally autonomous in its ability to select cases and investigate crimes, but it is ultimately dependent on sovereign states, and particularly on the world's leading powers. These states can provide the diplomatic, economic, and military clout the court often needs to get cooperation-and to arrest suspects. But states don't expend precious political capital lightly, and the court has often struggled to get the help it needs. When their interests are most affected, moreover, powerful states usually want the court to keep its distance. Directly and indirectly, they make their preferences known in The Hague.

Rough Justice grapples with the court's basic dilemma: designed to be apolitical, it requires the support of politicians who pursue national interests and answer to domestic audiences. Through a sharp analysis of the dynamics at work behind the scenes, Bosco assesses the ways in which powerful states have shaped the court's effort to transform the vision of international justice into reality. This will be the definitive account of the Court and its uneven progress toward advancing accountability around the world.

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About the Author:

David Bosco teaches international politics and law at American University's School of International Service. He is the author of Five to Rule Them All: The UN Security Council and the Making of the Modern World. A graduate of Harvard Law School, he is a former attorney and senior editor at Foreign Policy magazine. He writes the Multilateralist blog for Foreign Policy.


"Is the International Criminal Court one of humanity's great achievements or just another futile multilateral organization? Many see it as an important step towards making the world more just, while several nations - including the United States - consider it a threat. What is it? While the answers are controversial, the facts about the Court are not, and in this extraordinary book, David Bosco gives us the history and the facts and smartly guides us on how to think about an institution that may change the world. A must read." --Moises Naim, Senior Associate, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and author of The End of Power

"This is the most realistic and insightful book ever written on the ICC, one that surprises in showing how much the ICC has accomplished since its founding, and how integral the United States has become to its success." --Jack Goldsmith, Harvard Law School

"David Bosco has produced the first balanced and sophisticated assessment of the International Criminal Court's opening decade. Blending legal analysis and political science, he analyzes both the Court's power and the continuing constraints on that power, in a way that is likely to frame both scholarly and policy debates about the Court in its second decade. A significant achievement." --Anne-Marie Slaughter, Princeton University and President and CEO, New America Foundation

"David Bosco's lucid and thoughtful analysis of how the major powers try (and sometimes succeed) to control or marginalize the International Criminal Court should be required reading for anyone interested in the Court and international institutions. As in Five to Rule Them All, Bosco expertly makes his insightful scholarly analysis appealing to a broader audience." --Erik Voeten, Edmund E. Walsh School of Foreign Service, Georgetown University

"In this sober and clear-eyed account of the ICC, David Bosco expertly shows the reasons for the United States' evolving and more accepting attitude toward the court. Based on interviews with many of the key players, Bosco has woven a compelling and well-written rendering of the evolving relationship between the United States and the ICC." --Michael Barnett, The George Washington University

"David Bosco's aim, namely to reveal the mutual accommodation that exists between the major powers and the court, is rich in theory, practice, and the kind of eloquent insights he is well known for in his Foreign Policy column. If you want to know how the International Criminal Court has launched its quest for accountability of leaders charged with atrocity crimes and how the United States and other key governments have influenced the Court's destiny, then this is the book you have to read." --David Scheffer, Northwestern University and former U.S. Ambassador at Large for War Crimes Issues

"A comprehensive and highly readable history of the International Criminal Court from its roots in Nuremburg through the Rome Statute in 1998 through the first decade of the Court's operations, with a particular emphasis on the Court's sometimes strained relations with the United States and other major powers. A must read for anyone interested in the ICC." --John Bellinger, Legal Adviser to the State Department, 2005-2009

"The clash of idealism and reality in international relations, and the limits of achieving justice, are well limned in Bosco's accessible history of the International Criminal Court (ICC) . . . The author does an especially fine job of outlining the United States' evolving relationship with the tribunal, which could potentially subject U.S. leaders to criminal charges. Bosco's conclusion--that 'the ICC has been significantly constrained by major-power politics'--will surprise no one, but his measured analysis is a major contribution to the study of the issue."
--Publishers Weekly

"A comprehensive, well-documented, and clearly written analysis of an important international institution." --Library Journal

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Other Popular Editions of the Same Title

9780199844135: Rough Justice: The International Criminal Court in a World of Power Politics

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ISBN 10:  0199844135 ISBN 13:  9780199844135
Publisher: Oxford University Press, 2014