Analysis: Between justice and peace - the ICC is not in the business of creating peace, but it can deliver justice

Al Nuseyrat, central Gaza Strip/EPA

Whenever the International Criminal Court (ICC) opens an investigation into an ongoing war, the question inevitably arises: Does the pursuit of accountability risk leaving belligerents without incentive to continue fighting?

The same question is being asked again now that ICC prosecutor Karim Khan has made the landmark decision to seek arrest warrants for top Israeli and Hamas leaders.

The "peace versus justice" debate.

Research Associate and Professor Mark Kersten who deals with criminal justice and criminology in his анализа writes that there is no particular key that helps unlock the link between resolving wars and achieving accountability for wartime crimes.

"There is no single answer to this question that applies in different contexts. But here are a few things that are true: The ICC can complicate peace negotiations. But "more complicated" peace negotiations do not necessarily mean "worse" peace negotiations. Take Colombia, for example, where the ICC has had a decade-long preliminary examination. Accountability processes negotiated during the peace process there have translated into meaningful justice for many of the war crimes committed by the government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) rebel group. Moreover, for the ICC to undermine peace negotiations, there must first be a realistic prospect of a peace process. If such negotiations do not exist, the claim that seeking accountability will destroy them is probably a red herring, an argument designed to protect the perpetrators of the crimes," Kersten writes.

In the conflict between Israel and Palestine, there are no peace talks for the ICC to complicate or undermine. In other words, justice cannot undermine peace if peace is not on the table.

Ongoing negotiations for the release of hostages and a cease-fire appear unlikely to be affected by the ICC orders given that they have been requested by leaders from both sides and that the war already appears to be politically existential for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Yoav Galant reports "Al Jazeera". 

And if orders affect conversations, that can actually be positive. Yuval Shani, a professor of international law at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, made this very point in response to the ICC prosecutor's request for arrest warrants, saying it "could be another incentive for Israel to bring the war to an end, because it seems to be in a state of tail." Another hope is that, because Israel is a democracy, the ICC's action will encourage the people of Israel to overthrow their government and replace it with a government that seeks peace and Palestinian statehood – and that does not starve and slaughter civilians so eagerly.

Beyond the possible consequences for ceasefire negotiations or the peace process, could the ICC's action make things worse on the ground, more dangerous and more deadly for civilians?

Israel has said it will punish the Palestinians by, among other things, freezing the transfer of tax revenue it collects for the Palestinian Authority if the ICC issues arrest warrants. The United States, Canada and others have previously threatened the Palestinians with consequences, including withdrawing aid to Palestinian aid organizations, if the ICC attacks Israeli leaders.

"But that's not what the ICC does." Israel is under no obligation to remedy its displeasure over the arrest warrants by administering additional violence against Palestinian civilians. If Israel decides to respond to the ICC's orders by denying aid to the Palestinians in Gaza, it will not be because of the ICC, but because the Israeli government has normalized the starvation of civilians as an act of revenge," adds Kersten.

There is no moral, legal or political justification for Israel's allies to punish civilians for investigating the only credible, impartial and independent court investigating crimes against Palestinian and Israeli victims of crimes. Punishing Palestinians for supporting recourse to international law is reprehensible and in itself an act against peace that should be condemned.

But that is not what the ICC does. Israel is under no obligation to remedy its displeasure over the arrest warrants by administering additional violence against Palestinian civilians. If Israel decides to respond to the ICC's orders by denying aid to the Palestinians in Gaza, it will not be because of the ICC, but because the Israeli government has normalized the starvation of civilians as an act of revenge.

There is no moral, legal or political justification for Israel's allies to punish civilians for investigating the only credible, impartial and independent court investigating crimes against Palestinian and Israeli victims of crimes. Punishing Palestinians for supporting recourse to international law is reprehensible and in itself an act against peace that should be condemned.

"Those who say that the action of the ICC will make things worse on the ground, we should ask them: Worse than what?" More than 35.000 people have been killed in Gaza in the seven months since October 7. The International Court of Justice has said there is a credible case to hear that Israel is committing genocide against Palestinian civilians in Gaza. The United Nations has declared a famine in northern Gaza. Children are being deliberately starved en masse. Every university in Palestine was systematically destroyed by Israeli forces, leading to accusations of "scholasticicide". Most hospitals and sources of clean drinking water have been destroyed or damaged. "Over one million people face a real threat of slaughter in Rafah," the analysis further added.

The list goes on. So, again: How can the ICC make matters worse? The last 20 years show how brutal and violent this irresponsible conflict is. Now is the time to change course. It is wrong to claim that accountability, rather than the perpetrators of the show, could destroy the chances of peace between Israel and Palestine, the analysis said.

Does this mean arrest warrants will bring peace? Of course not. The ICC is not in the business of peacemaking. It is in the business of pursuing accountability for war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide. But beware the self-serving claims by supporters of the Israeli government that the ICC will undermine so-called "peace talks" that do nothing but promote the status quo of impunity.

The starving people of Palestine were also starved of access to accountability. It may not bring peace, but time to give justice a chance.

Dear reader,

Our access to web content is free, because we believe in equality in information, regardless of whether someone can pay or not. Therefore, in order to continue our work, we ask for the support of our community of readers by financially supporting the Free Press. Become a member of Sloboden Pechat to help the facilities that will enable us to deliver long-term and quality information and TOGETHER let's ensure a free and independent voice that will ALWAYS BE ON THE PEOPLE'S SIDE.

SUPPORT A FREE PRESS.
WITH AN INITIAL AMOUNT OF 60 DENARS

Video of the day