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Harvard International Review: The End of Exceptionalism in War Crimes

Authors: David J. Scheffer, Richard H. Cooper, and Juliette Voinov Kohler
August 12, 2007



Writing in the Harvard International Review, David Scheffer, Richard Cooper, Juliette Voinov Kohler argue that while U.S. exceptionalism may have a place in international politics, the concept has run its course in the sphere of international criminal justice. No nation should ignore its duty to bring war criminals to justice or otherwise shield its own leaders or soldiers from charges of genocide, crimes against humanity, or war crimes. The rule of law debacles in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Guantanamo have been the death-knell of exceptionalism in the war crimes business. Reality is knocking and its name is the permanent International Criminal Court (ICC). Any claim that the US may have to moral high ground in foreign policy necessarily requires that the United States join the ICC and do so relatively soon. The United States needs the ICC to help restore its global credibility, discipline its own decision-making, and strengthen judicial intervention against atrocity crimes.

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