In the opening days of the Review Conference, one often heard references to the Review Conference as an “historic event” and a “second constitutional moment”. With the significant exception of the possible adoption of the crime of aggression, which would indeed be a profound development, there is reason to ask whether the Conference is more a “constitutional moment” or just “another day at the office”.
My first blog highlighted the potential value of the stocktaking exercise. Amending attitudes and understandings could prove as important, or more important, than amending the Statute. I remain positive about the idea of stock-taking, the topics selected, the format adopted and the prominent panelists invited to open discussions.
However, given that the venue is a Review Conference, and given that the stocktaking is in part a substitute for actual amendments to the Statute, one might have hoped that the delegates would at least tackle a few issues of comparable difficulty and significance and take some meaningful decisions about their vision for international justice. Instead, the discussions among States have adhered quite closely to safe, well-worn and self-congratulatory scripts.
Thus, for example, in the discussions on peace and justice, most States intervened to deliver an essentially similar message: Peace is good. Justice is good. Peace and justice are not contradictory. Except perhaps sometimes when they at least seem so, and such situations require careful thought and handling. The last point is typically made in a knowledgeable tone hinting that the speaker has a few deep insights into how this is done (and giving the sense that different delegations might handle the balancing in very different ways). Repeat 40 times in different voices and languages, with no real delving into controversies or solutions. Read the rest of this entry…