The transformative value of international criminal law

Van der Merwe, Hermanus Jacobus (Stellenbosch : Stellenbosch University, 2012-12)

Thesis (LLD)--Stellenbosch University, 2012.

Includes bibliography

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: The existential crisis of the international regime of criminal law is arguably a thing of the past. This is confirmed through a growing body of positive law and the existence of various international criminal courts, notably the permanent International Criminal Court which has been in operation since 2002. Moreover, it is significant that international criminal law (“ICL”) is developing towards increased domestic enforcement, in particular as a result of the complementarity regime envisioned by the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. States have generally been receptive and cooperative towards international criminal norms as well as the structures of international criminal justice. As a result international criminal laws are increasingly being transformed into national law and enforced by states on the domestic level. Chapter 2 provides an overview of the abovementioned developments, the characteristics of ICL and certain key concepts. In lieu of the upward trajectory of ICL’s development, the thesis aims to determine whether ICL exerts an influence which holds ‘transformative value’. Chapter 3 unpacks this concept by delineating the different meanings afforded to transformation and identifying the reticent characteristics of transformative change, especially the underlying importance of values during processes of transformation. Transformative value is conceptualised broadly as the product and potential of the type of change that holds some utility for the civitas maxima (or the community of mankind). In Part II, ICL’s transformative value is investigated from a historical and global perspective with emphasis on the purposes, values and politics of international criminal justice. Chapter 4 focuses on the Nuremberg IMT and the trial of Adolf Eichmann. It is submitted that these trials produced a paradigm shift that represents the transformative foundation of modern ICL. Chapter 5 investigates the purposes and aspirations of modern ICL with reference to its underlying assumptions as well as its objectives, the latter which may be found in positive law and the jurisprudence of international criminal courts. The research suggests that ICL is disposed towards objectives which are unique in comparison to those of domestic criminal law. While it cannot be denied that punishment under ICL is predominantly a backward-looking exercise in the tradition of domestic criminal law retributivism, ICL is somewhat removed from this paradigm due to its purpose- and value-driven nature. ICL is also expressive, normative and forward-looking in various respects. Individual criminal liability is however not universally accepted as an appropriate response to collective violence. This is partly a result of ICL’s endemic political dependency. Chapter 6 addresses the impact of politics on ICL’s transformative value. ICL is closely associated with liberal-legalist ideals which essentially promote the interests of individuals. Although it constitutes an important element of ICL’s transformative value, this political influence exposes ICL to criticism and may exert a disruptive influence on its transformative mandate. In this latter respect it is noted that ICL remains somewhat controversial and subject to the general limitations of the decentralised and state-dominated international legal system. In Part III, ICL’s transformative value is investigated using South Africa as a case study, with particular reference to its transitional- and post-transitional periods. Chapter 7 provides a domestic perspective of ICL’s transformative value by investigating the interactions of ICL and the South African legal system, particularly the value of the transformation of ICL into national law. In this regard the impact of Constitutional provisions and national legislation pertaining to ICL are considered, as well as a number of cases related to matters of international criminal justice. It is argued that international criminal norms may promote human values over state authority and political interests in the domestic context. Domestic courts may serve as ‘engine rooms’ for transformative change through more effective enforcement of those international criminal norms that have been ‘transformed’ into national law through implementation legislation. The permeation of international criminal norms into the domestic sphere represents a foray of universal values into an area traditionally dominated by sovereign might and holds potential for promoting the interests of individuals as well as for the institutionalisation of human rights. Yet, as illustrated by the current rift between the ICC and the African Union, international and regional political affiliations may influence the ability of a state to meet its obligations towards international criminal justice. In Part IV (Chapter 8), it is submitted that ICL is historically and ontologically aimed at change that is both backward-looking (repressive) and forward-looking (normative) as well as beneficial in a communitarian sense. ICL’s transformative value derives from the value-and purpose-driven nature of international criminal norms, the political nature of international criminal justice and also from the interaction between international law and domestic legal systems. ICL may be viewed as an authoritative expression of the norms and values of the international community. As such, ICL and its institutions may be viewed not only as a means of punishing the perpetrators of international crime, but also as part of the spearhead towards a desired alternative to the historical and present reality characterised by injustices which have gone unabated under the system of traditional Westphalian sovereignty. As egregious forms of the aforementioned injustices, macro criminality and impunity undermine the protection of internationally recognised individual rights. ICL seeks to remedy this through impacting on those individuals that have not yet acceded to the emergent universal consciousness of the majority in the international community. It is further argued that ICL’s transformative impact is not confined to the “hard” impact of the application of substantive ICL in international and domestic courts. The international criminal justice system as a whole also produces a normative impact through a purpose-driven association with international values and certain political preferences. This thesis offers a new way of thinking about the value, potential and limitations of the ICL regime, as well as the role of politics in international criminal justice.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Die eksistensiële krisis van die internasionale strafregbestel is stellig iets van die verlede. Dít word bevestig deur die toenemende hoeveelheid positieweregsmateriaal en die bestaan van verskeie internasionale strafhowe, in die besonder die permanente Internasionale Strafhof wat sedert 2002 in werking is. Daarbenewens is dit beduidend dat internasionale strafreg (hierna ‘ISR’) na binnelandse toepassing begin verskuif, bepaald as gevolg van die komplementariteitsregime wat die Rome Statuut van die Internasionale Strafhof beoog. State is oor die algemeen ontvanklik vir, en tegemoetkomend jeens, internasionale strafnorme sowel as die strukture van internasionale strafregspleging. Gevolglik word internasionale strafwette al hoe meer tot in nasionale wette getransformeer en binnelands deur state toegepas. Hoofstuk 2 bied ’n oorsig van bogenoemde ontwikkelings, die kenmerke van ISR en bepaalde kernbegrippe. In die lig van die opwaartse ontwikkelingstrajek van ISR, het dié tesis ten doel om te bepaal of die invloed wat ISR uitoefen, oor ‘transformasiewaarde’ beskik. Hoofstuk 3 ondersoek hierdie begrip deur die verskillende betekenisse van transformasie uiteen te sit en die versweë kenmerke van transformerende verandering, veral die onderliggende belang van waardes in die transformasieproses, te bepaal. Transformasiewaarde word in die breë verstaan as die produk en potensiaal van die soort verandering wat een of ander nut het vir die civitas maxima (of die gemeenskap van die mensdom). In deel II word die transformasiewaarde van ISR uit ’n historiese en internasionale hoek ondersoek, met die klem op die doel, waardes en politiek van internasionale strafregspleging. Hoofstuk 4 konsentreer op die Neurenberg- internasionale militêre tribunaal en die verhoor van Adolf Eichmann. Daar word aangevoer dat hierdie verhore ’n paradigmaverskuiwing teweeggebring het wat die transformerende grondslag van moderne ISR gelê het. Hoofstuk 5 verken die doelwitte en aspirasies van moderne ISR aan die hand van die onderliggende aannames en oogmerke daarvan. Laasgenoemde is te vinde in die positiewe reg en regsleer van internasionale strafhowe. Die navorsing doen aan die hand dat die oogmerke van ISR uniek is in vergelyking met dié van binnelandse strafreg. Hoewel straf ingevolge ISR onteenseglik ’n hoofsaaklik terugblikkende oefening in die vergeldingstradisie van nasionale strafreg is, is ISR tog ietwat verwyderd van hierdie paradigma vanweë die doel- en waardegedrewe aard daarvan. ISR is in baie opsigte ook ekspressief, normatief en toekomsgerig. Individuele strafregtelike aanspreeklikheid word egter nie allerweë as ’n toepaslike reaksie op kollektiewe geweld aanvaar nie. Dít is deels ’n gevolg van die endemiese politieke afhanklikheid van ISR. Hoofstuk 6 handel derhalwe oor die impak van politiek op die transformasiewaarde van ISR. ISR hou ten nouste verband met liberaal-legalistiese ideale wat in wese individue se belange bevorder. Hoewel dit ’n belangrike element van die ISR-transformasiewaarde uitmaak, stel hierdie politieke invloed ISR ook bloot aan kritiek, en kan dit ’n ontwrigtende uitwerking op die transformasiemandaat daarvan hê. In dié verband word daarop gelet dat ISR ietwat omstrede bly, sowel as onderworpe aan die algemene beperkinge van die gedesentraliseerde en staatsoorheerste internasionale regstelsel. In deel III word die transformasiewaarde van ISR aan die hand van Suid-Afrika as gevallestudie ondersoek, met bepaalde verwysing na die oorgangs- en na-oorgangstydperke van die land. Hoofstuk 7 bied ’n binnelandse beskouing van die transformasiewaarde van ISR deur ondersoek in te stel na die wisselwerking tussen ISR en die Suid-Afrikaanse regstelsel, veral die waarde van die transformasie van ISR tot in die nasionale reg. In hierdie verband word daar besin oor die impak van grondwetlike bepalings en nasionale wetgewing met betrekking tot ISR, sowel as ’n aantal hofsake in verband met aangeleenthede van internasionale strafregspleging. Daar word aangevoer dat internasionale strafnorme in binnelandse verband straks mensewaardes bo staatsgesag en politieke belange bevorder. Binnelandse howe dien moontlik as ‘enjinkamers’ vir transformerende verandering, deur daardie internasionale strafnorme wat deur inwerkingstellingswetgewing tot in die nasionale reg ‘getransformeer’ is, doeltreffender toe te pas. Die deurdringing van internasionale strafnorme tot in die binnelandse sfeer stel ’n verskeidenheid universele waardes bekend op ’n gebied wat tradisioneel deur soewereine mag oorheers is, en hou potensiaal in vir die bevordering van individuele belange sowel as vir die institusionalisering van menseregte. Soos die huidige skeuring tussen die Internasionale Strafhof en die Afrika-unie egter toon, kan internasionale en streek- politieke bande ’n invloed hê op ’n staat se vermoë om sy verpligtinge teenoor internasionale strafregspleging na te kom. In deel IV (hoofstuk 8) word aangevoer dat ISR histories en ontologies afgestem is op terugblikkende (onderdrukkende) én toekomsgerigte (normatiewe) verandering, sowel as verandering wat een of ander gemeenskapsvoordeel inhou. Die transformasiewaarde van ISR spruit uit die waarde- en doelgedrewe aard van internasionale strafnorme, die politieke aard van internasionale strafregspleging, sowel as die wisselwerking tussen internasionale reg en binnelandse regstelsels. ISR kan as ’n gesaghebbende openbaring van die internasionale gemeenskap se norme en waardes beskou word. As sodanig, is ISR en die instellings daarvan nie net ’n middel om die plegers van internasionale misdaad te straf nie, maar ook deel van die strewe na ’n wenslike alternatief vir die historiese én huidige realiteit, wat gekenmerk word deur onregte wat ongebreideld onder die stelsel van tradisionele Wesfaalse soewereiniteit voortduur. Makrokriminaliteit en strafloosheid, synde uiterste vorme van voormelde onregte, ondermyn die beskerming van internasionaal erkende individuele regte. ISR beoog om dít reg te stel deur ’n invloed uit te oefen op daardie individue wat nóg nie die ontluikende universele bewustheid van die meerderheid in die internasionale gemeenskap openbaar nie. Daar word voorts betoog dat die transformerende impak van ISR nie tot die ‘harde’ impak van die toepassing van substantiewe ISR in internasionale en binnelandse howe beperk is nie. Die stelsel van internasionale strafregspleging in die geheel het ook ’n normatiewe impak deur middel van ’n doelgedrewe verbondenheid aan internasionale waardes en bepaalde politieke voorkeure. Hierdie tesis bied ’n nuwe denkwyse oor die waarde, potensiaal en beperkings van die ISR-bestel, sowel as die rol van politiek in internasionale strafregspleging.

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