CRIMINAL JUSTICE (M. Cherif Bassiouni ed., Intersentia: Brussels, Belgium, 2015).
Although globalization is not a new phenomenon, the social, economic, political, and legal challenges that have emerged over the last few years, including the inability of states and international organizations to carry out their institutional functions for the common good, have tested a number of assumptions about the future of human rights and international criminal justice.
Science and technology dominate the present state of globalization and have increased human interdependence and interconnectedness with paradoxical positive and negative effects and outcomes. They enhance the power and wealth of those states that have these resources and capabilities – leading the powerful and wealthy to enhance their positions, all too often to the detriment of others. Wars and human depredations of all types by those with power over those without it are the result. In turn, human societies have sought to curb these harmful effects and outcomes by establishing limitations on the rule of force and implementing stricter boundaries for the protection of human rights: International Criminal Justice, International Human Rights Law, International Humanitarian Law and International Criminal Law.
These instruments however have their limits and are not necessarily durable in light of new global factors: their very multiplicity –with their gaps and overlaps reveals the cynical approach of the international community to the enforceability of these principles, norms and standards. These gaps and overlaps have become one of the legal escape hatches from accountability. All too often state-actors have benefitted from exceptionalism and other forms of evasion of the international law prohibitions.
Globalization has moreover also extended the status of exceptionalism to certain multinational corporations-and other non-state actors (NSAs) because of their wealth, worldwide activities, and their economic and political power and influence on national and international institutions. They benefit either from the openness of world markets and the unification of the world’s financial system, or from the failure of a collective security system that does not include the ‘Responsibility to Protect’. Thus, they are effectively beyond the reach of the law enabling them to significantly impact the lives and the well- being of individuals and the world’s environment.
These NSAs and their principal actors benefit from impunity while their harmful conduct and its consequences negatively impacts the human rights of the most vulnerable segments of the world’s population. Global factors, such as population growth and the inability to produce or distribute food to meet the needs of areas with an increasing population, directly impacts the human rights of many. Furthermore, the effects of global warming and the numerous harmful consequences of environmental damage leaves the world’s most vulnerable populations even more at risk. Nevertheless, no international obligation currently exists to provide humanitarian assistance to countries affected by famine, drought, environmental disasters, and other substantial natural or human-made tragedies. As a result, affected societies are forced to make the choice as to those persons who receive humanitarian and medical assistance, thereby deciding the fate of others.
The absence of an international system to regulate these needs for human survivability will necessarily mean that the human rights of some will be sacrificed. All this has negative consequences for human rights, yet nothing that the international system presently offers can mitigate these consequences – only the occasional good will of some
What remains to counteract and mitigate the cascade of negative effects and outcomes of unbridled globalization on our planet are international civil society and some concerned states. What they may be capable of achieving in the face of the changing landscape of the world order is however difficult to assess.
Human Rights and International Criminal Justice in the Twenty First Century, in ARCS OF JUSTICE: ESSAYS IN HONOR OF WILLIAM A. SCHABAS (Margaret M. DeGuzman & Diane M. Amann eds., Oxford University Press: Oxford, UK, 2015).
The Anatomy of the “Arab Spring” – 2011-2014, in CONSTITUTIONALISM, HUMAN RIGHTS AND ISLAM AFTER THE ARAB SPRING (Tilmann Roeder et al. eds., Oxford University Press: Oxford, UK, 2015).
Egypt’s Unfinished Revolution, in CIVIL RESISTANCE IN THE ARAB SPRING: TRIUMPHS AND DISASTERS (Adam Roberts et al. eds., Oxford University Press: Oxford, UK, 2015).
Misunderstanding Islam on the Use of Violence, 37 HOUS. J. INT’L L. (Summer 2015).