Students Urge Membership in International Court
“Sometimes a problem seems so big, people think they can’t actually do
anything about it, but the other approach is to try.
We’ve been successful at influencing U.S. policy through other efforts,
such as the DDT Conference.” — Ed Lorenz
Inspired by a trip to the International Court of Justice in The Hague, Netherlands, students at Alma College are taking human rights into their own hands.
As part of a project requirement for the course “Leadership in International Law and Human Rights,” the students plan to hold a conference in Chicago this spring to address how the United States can move forward with membership to the International Criminal Court. They are inviting staff members of politicians who are on the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations and House Foreign Affairs Committee in order to open up a conversation about the issue.
“The concept is to get the staff to a place without any public attention, so they can look frankly at membership,” says Ed Lorenz, the political science professor who taught the Spring Term course last spring.
Though the Obama administration has looked at joining the ICC, which prosecutes individuals for genocide and other crimes against humanity, Chelsea Clark, one of the students from the course, says nothing will be done without major public support. The group knew, given this, they needed to do something impressive.
They were inspired by last year’s Spring Term course trip to The Hague, Netherlands, where they visited the International Court of Justice and the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia.
“While interacting with the people there, we noticed that they kept commenting on how the United States was one of the few major countries that wasn’t involved in the ICC,” says Clark, a Coopersville junior.
Cherif Bassiouni, a United Nations war crimes expert who largely drafted the statute that created the ICC, has been a great help to the group while it laid the groundwork for the conference. Not only have the students secured guest speakers for the event, they also have reached out to their peers.
Six Amnesty International students, including Clark, who is president of the student organization, recently attended the Midwest Regional Conference to talk about their own conference. Here, they gauged the interest of other students.
“We really want students to come to our conference because if they’re involved, hopefully, staff members from their district will recognize this and attend as well,” says Clark, who is studying foreign service and fine arts.
In addition to recruiting Amnesty International students from across the country, the group also has targeted Model United Nations students from other colleges and universities. Lorenz recently spoke to 700 delegates at the Southern Regional Model UN Conference in Atlanta.
“Sometimes a problem seems so big, people think they can’t actually do anything about it,” says Lorenz, “but the other approach is to try. We’ve been successful at influencing U.S. policy through other efforts, such as the DDT Conference.”
The group will hold fundraisers leading up to the conference. On Human Rights Day on Dec. 10, the Alma students focused on raising human rights awareness through a viewing of the movie “The Reckoning,” which explores the battle for need for the ICC.
Posted: Mon, December 14th, 2009 at 9:36AM