ICC Reluctance to Prosecute ISIS: Legitimate Jurisdictional Issue or a Lack of Institutional Backbone?

Jenny Elkin
Vol. 38 Associate Editor

The past few years have seen a dramatic rise of Islamic fundamentalism across the Middle East in the form of radical militant group ISIS. Responsible for targeted killings, rape, genocide, and destruction across huge swaths of land, ISIS fighters have steadily been establishing a dangerous stronghold in Iraq and Syria.[1] The international community, recognizing the need to stymie the spread of ISIS, has chosen to act in various ways. Some organizations have focused on assisting displaced persons, some countries have chosen military responses in the form of drone strikes, and still other groups have taken up arms locally.[2] Amal Clooney has recently made headlines by announcing that she plans to sue ISIS on behalf of her client, a woman horrifically injured by ISIS militants.[3] This has focused attention on another potential course of action against ISIS: prosecution by the International Criminal Court (the “ICC”). Continue reading

The ICC Accepts First Cultural Heritage Destruction Case

Amy Albanese, Vol. 37 Associate Editor

For the first time in the history of the International Criminal Court at The Hague, an individual will be tried as a war criminal for the destruction of cultural property. Ahmad Al Faqi Al Mahdi, a native of Mali from the Ansar Taureg tribe, came before Judge Cuno Tarfusser on September 30, 2015, charged with the destruction of the UNESCO site of Timbuktu, Mali.[1] Judge Tarfusser set the provisional date for the confirmation of the charges for January 18, 2016.[2] Continue reading

Mother May I (Hit Back)?

Name Withheld by Request, Vol. 36 Associate Editor

It seems that every day we turn on the news, another terrorist attack occurs. A couple days ago Denmark[1], a month ago Paris[2].  Two Tuesdays ago, a video surfaced purporting to originate from ISIS, showing a Jordanian pilot, Lt. Muath al-Kaseasbeh, burned to death while trapped in a cage.[3] In response, King Abdullah II of Jordan promised a strong military response, including striking ISIS weapons depots and training sites. Jordan and ISIS had spent days attempting to work out negotiations to swap prisoners, until the video revealed ISIS savagely burning a human being alive. While this story ended in a terrible tragedy, the legal aspects surrounding it are numerous and multi-faceted. Two of the most fascinating pieces include 1) that a sovereign state attempted to bargain with an uncivilized terrorist group, and 2) the response of that same sovereign state to the terrorist acts. Realistically, Jordan had two options: wait like a sitting duck or attack, and without asking any permission it chose the latter. The question arises: how does a state legally deal with a group that is illegal in the first place? Continue reading