Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Aggression, Humanitarian Intervention & Women

(From IntLawGrrl Beth Van Schaack, another in our series of posts on essays forthcoming in "Women and International Criminal Law," a special issue of the International Criminal Law Review)

For this special issue dedicated to Judge Patricia M. Wald, an IntLawGrrls alumna, I contributed an article on the potential for the new crime-of-aggression provisions in the Statute of the International Criminal Court to chill bona fide exercises of humanitarian intervention, given that:
► The crime is expansively drafted to potentially cover all uses of sovereign force,
► Delegates rejected efforts by the United States to include an express exception for military operations launched to prevent the commission of other crimes within the jurisdiction of the ICC, and
► Other proposals that would have prevented humanitarian interventions from being considered “acts of aggression” were not fully explored or implemented.
Drawing on elements of feminist theory, the article acknowledges that feminists may never fully come to terms with a notion of humanitarian intervention given the doctrine’s valorization of militarism. This is especially true in light of the fact that women are so often excluded from decisions about uses of force. The article nonetheless argues that if we want to hold out the possibility of humanitarian intervention being deployed in defense of women, elements of the new provisions (such as the terms “manifest,” “character,” “gravity,” and “consequences”) should be interpreted to exclude situations involving the nascent responsibility to protect doctrine.
Entitled "The Crime of Aggression and Humanitarian Intervention on Behalf of Women," this article is part of a larger project to analyze the rarely-considered gender aspects of the crime of aggression and to explore whether or not the amendments adding the crime of aggression to the ICC Statute would represent an advancement for women, as discussed here.
This work was inspired by the Bayeux Tapestry—the longest piece of embroidery on record—which tells in detail how William the Conqueror contested the coronation of King Harold II upon the death of King Edward the Confessor. After arriving in England, William's troops pillaged the locals in preparation for battle. Among other atrocities that we would today designate as war crimes, they burned a home, sending the mother depicted at left and her child fleeing.

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