• September 22, 2010

While somewhat off of Minnesota Litigator’s subject matter of developments in Minnesota civil litigation,  a number of Minnesota lawyers, including Minnesota judges (state and federal), have provided assistance to various international tribunals and foreign courts, addressing human rights problems in Kosovo and other countries.  From time to time, it is worthwhile to acknowledge what lies beyond the confines of our relatively serene jurisdiction.

Overseas and far-off crises may be easy to ignore in our day-to-day lives; they nevertheless should demand our collective notice and attention.  Minnesota lawyers who have committed substantial resources on matters of world-wide justice warrant our respect, admiration, support, and kudos.  (Want to participate? Consider going to the 2010 Symposium “International Wrongs, International Rights: The Use of Criminal Law to Protect Human Rights” on Tuesday, Sept. 28, at the U of M Law School.  You might also have a look at Duane Krohnke’s recent paper, here.) 

On Friday, after much discussion at which Barb Frey (founder of Advocates for Human Rights and U of M professor, Director of the Human Rights Program) and Duane Krohnke, retired Faegre & Benson partner who is now an adjunct professor at the U of M Law School, were present to answer questions, the MSBA General Assembly passed the following resolution:

RESOLVED: The Minnesota State Bar Association (MSBA) urges the United State Government to take steps towards ratification of the Rome Statute by expanding and broadening United States interaction with the International Criminal Court, including cooperation with the Court’s investigations and proceedings.  The MSBA also calls on the United States Government to participate in all future sessions of the International Criminal Court’s governing body, the Assembly of States Parties.

The resolution had been proposed by the Human Rights Committee and approved by the General Policy Committee on Thursday.

The ICC is an independent body that prosecutes genocide, war crimes (including torture) and crimes against humanity.  The U.N. Security Council and nations that are parties to the ICC’s treat can refer cases, or the ICC prosecutor can bring them after approval by a unanimous pretrial court, unless the Security Council votes to delay a year (it can do so multiple times).  The ICC also will not get involved if a nation genuinely addresses the possible crimes.

The ICC ideally will replace the tribunals that have been created to address specific human rights issues, and will ideally be truly independent.  The U.S. was very involved in the creation of its procedural rules, which are very like our federal criminal procedure rules.  It would seem that Due Process guarantees are in place in all respects with the exception of the right to a jury trial.

Although the U.S. is not a party to the treaty (the Rome Statute), the Obama administration has been pursuing a policy of positive engagement and cooperation with the ICC.

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