Students Plan Retreat To Examine ICC Membership
On April 8 and 9, students in Alma College’s Public Affairs Institute are hosting a retreat in Chicago for congressional staff members and invited guests to address how the United States can move forward with membership to the International Criminal Court.
The retreat, to take place at the Cenacle Retreat and Conference Center in Chicago, was inspired by last year’s Spring Term course “Leadership in War and Human Rights.”
The majority of students on the retreat’s planning committee participated in the course, for which they traveled to The Hague, Netherlands, where they visited the International Court of Justice and the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia.
Because the retreat will not be open to the general public or press, the hope is that frank discussion about the ICC, which prosecutes individuals for genocide and other crimes against humanity, will occur.
Working with organizations such as the American Non-Governmental Organization Coalition for the International Criminal Court and the Chicago Alliance for the ICC, the students have invited both citizens and key congressional staff members to participate in the retreat.
Despite a lack of Michigan representation on the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations and House of Foreign Affairs Committee, Coopersville junior Chelsea Clark says the planning process has had few setbacks.
“Everything has fallen into place, so it’s exciting,” she says. “The most challenging part has been figuring out in what order to invite people. You need staff members at the retreat to get citizens excited, but you need citizens there to make staff members want to get involved.”
Professor Ed Lorenz, who taught the Spring Term course, says the students have done a remarkable job of turning what they studied into applied public policy.
“They are providing a textbook example of how to be leaders in public affairs,” he says.
The U.S. government has agreed to send an inter-agency delegation to the Review Conference of the ICC in Uganda this May. Though an official U.S. policy on the ICC has yet to be determined, this measure is a good sign, says Lorenz.
Both Clark and Lorenz are hopeful the retreat will impact policy related to the ICC, promoting a return to U.S. leadership in international law and justice.
“This is not a partisan issue, since the constitution explicitly gives to Congress the power to enforce the ‘Law of Nations,’” says Lorenz. “The challenge is to have an informed discussion of the best way to move forward in fulfilling that responsibility as it relates to the ICC. The students are doing a commendable job of creating a forum where discussion can occur of how best to fulfill that constitutional requirement.”
The keynote speaker for the retreat is M. Cherif Bassiouni, a Nobel Peace Prize winner and United Nations war crimes expert who largely drafted the statute that created the ICC. Other speakers include John Washburn, Bartram Brown, and David Scheffer.
Posted: Sun, March 28th, 2010 at 2:35PM