Friday, May 23, 2008

Benjamin N. Schiff’s "Building the International Criminal Court"

Benjamin N. Schiff’s Building the International Criminal Court is the first book to combine a history of the development of this new international organization with legal, internal and international political, and operational details that present a theoretically informed and accurate, but highly readable, introduction and analysis of the Court and the challenges that face it.

Schiff applied the “Page 99 Test” to the book and reported the following:
Chapter 3 examines the Court’s founding document, the 1998 Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. Appendix 3B contains the Statute’s definitions of the crimes over which the Court has jurisdiction, and page 99 includes part of Article 8, detailing War Crimes. Since this is part of a negotiated international treaty text, it gives no idea about the style, argument, or breadth of the book, which is more a political and operational analysis than a dry legal exposition.

The main point of Appendix 3B is to show how in international law and in the Statute, the concepts of war crimes in international and internal conflicts have converged with each other. The main point of the book is that the International Criminal Court has a very broad mandate, represents an amalgamation of contrasting legal traditions, embodies some serious organizational contradictions and has rather little power, but is at the forefront of the institutional development of international efforts to respond to humanity’s most heinous crimes.
Read an excerpt from Building the International Criminal Court, and learn more about the book at the Cambridge University Press website.

Benjamin N. Schiff is Professor of Politics, Oberlin College.

--Marshal Zeringue