The Instigator
oceanix
Pro (for)
Losing
15 Points
The Contender
RoyLatham
Con (against)
Winning
27 Points

Resolved: The United States ought to submit to the jurisdiction of an international court...

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 1/8/2009 Category: Politics
Updated: 8 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 2,719 times Debate No: 6453
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (18)
Votes (6)

 

oceanix

Pro

This is the January - February 2009 resolution for the National Forensics League for Lincoln Douglas. I would appreciate if the opponent knew the style of debating. As the entire resolution did not fit inside the title box, it is as follows:

Resolved: The United States ought to submit to the jurisdiction of an international court designed to prosecute crimes against humanity.

In order to offer clarity to the round, I offer the following definitions:

Ought – Used to indicate moral obligation or duty. (American Heritage Dictionary)

Submit – To yield oneself to the will or authority of another. (American Heritage Dictionary)

Jurisdiction – The extent of authority or control. (American Heritage Dictionary)

International Court – A court extending across or transcending national boundaries. (American Heritage Dictionary)

Crimes against Humanity – I define crimes against humanity as offered by the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court Explanatory Memorandum, Crimes , "are particularly odious offences in that they constitute a serious attack on human dignity or grave humiliation or a degradation of one or more human beings. They are not isolated or sporadic events, but are part either of a government policy (although the perpetrators need not identify themselves with this policy) or of a wide practice of atrocities tolerated or condoned by a government or a de facto authority. However, murder, extermination, torture, rape, political, racial, or religious persecution and other inhumane acts reach the threshold of crimes against humanity only if they are part of a widespread or systematic practice. Isolated inhumane acts of this nature may constitute grave infringements of human rights, or depending on the circumstances, war crimes, but may fall short of falling into the category of crimes under discussion."

Value: Justice. Justice is the quality of being just; equitable, and moral right. Justice applies to this resolution in that courts are meant to do one thing: establish justice in their area of jurisdiction. Justice will be better achieved when crimes against humanity are prosecuted by an international court. If protecting human rights is essential to justice then prosecuting "crimes against humanity" is an obligation for all nations. Every human being should have rights, and thus rights are global. If these rights are global, would it not follow suit that these crimes ought to be prosecuted globally? It would not be just for the United States to rise above other nations and refuse to participate in an international court.

Criterion: Protecting Human Rights. The aim of the resolution is clearly to protect human rights. If these rights were not worthy of protecting, then why bother prosecuting crimes against them? Only when these rights are fully protected can justice be fully achieved.

Contention 1: Justice would be more fully achieved were the United States to submit to an international court. The United States does not currently do its duty to protect human rights, and thus, is not as just as it perhaps should be. Consider, for a moment, the events taking place at Guantanamo Bay. The government tortures the detainees at the facility in the hopes of gaining information. Gregg Bloche, M.D., J.D., and Jonathan H. Marks, M.A., B.C.L., state, "There is no scientific answer to the question of which interrogation strategy is more effective. For obvious ethical and legal reasons, there is unlikely to be one. At Guantanamo, the fear-and-anxiety approach was often favored. The cruel and degrading measures taken by some, in violation of international human rights law and the laws of war, have become a matter of national shame." (1) A federal judge ruled in early 2005 that these detentions are unconstitutional. How is a country just when it will not even uphold the document that the country is based on? Recall the final thought of the U.S. Pledge of Allegiance: "With Liberty and Justice for all." (2) It is, therefore, imperative that the United States uphold justice. These activities at Guantanamo have gone on for years with little or no action. How is this justice? How are human rights protected? The answer is simple: they are not. It is clear that the United States ought to submit to an international court to prosecute these atrocious crimes against humanity to further promote justice. If the U.S. cannot or will not stop the torture at Guantanamo, surely an international court should. To protect human rights, and to promote justice, it is necessary.

Contention 2: Human Rights would be better protected under an international court. There is a major difference between an international court and one that is country-specific – the global authority of the international court. As was stated in my explanation of the choice for my criterion, Protection of Human Rights, human rights are a global issue. Something connects the beings of the human world – our species. Philosophers throughout the ages have declared human rights global. Look no farther than Kant's Cosmopolitanism, Locke's inalienable rights of "Life, Liberty, and Estate,"(3)
or Cromwell's Freedom Rights. Even the Declaration of Independence of the U.S. states that "We hold it to be self-evident that all persons are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, the enjoyment of the fruits of their own labor, and the pursuit of happiness." (4) Note that it does not say "that all persons who were born in the United States are created equal," but that "all persons are created equal." This certainly shows the global issue of the protection of human rights. Certainly a national court cannot adequately process a global issue. Considering the global issue of crimes against humanity, it seems obvious that the most fair, accurate, and unbiased judgment would come from a conglomerate of nations. It is only just that a global issue be addressed globally. How can it be just that a criminal against humanity in one nation receive several years in a prison, yet another criminal who has committed the same crime in another country be issued the death penalty? It is only just that these issues be addressed nationally, where human rights would be better protected.

I have clearly shown how upholding an international court would further justice and the protection rights in the world, and with that I yield to cross-examination (or in this case, not, I suppose).

(1) http://content.nejm.org...
(2) http://www4.law.cornell.edu...
(3) http://lewiscrusade.blogspot.com...
(4) http://www.johnlocke.org...
RoyLatham

Con

I beg Pro's indulgence as I am still learning the LD format. I hope I will nonetheless provide a good workout of his case.

I accept the definitions of "ought", "submit", "jurisdiction", and "international court."

I accept "Crimes against Humanity" with the exception of "political persecution" which is undefined and dangerously vague. can someone claim "political persecution" if they merely lose and election that they think they should have won? It seems to me that item can be deleted without changing the sense of the debate.

I accept justice as the value, and human rights as the criteria. However, human rights are not explicitly defined, and there are conflicts among human rights. For example, the right to free speech may be in conflict with a need to keep secrets from an enemy. It should therefore be recognized that conflicts among human rights will be ordinarily resolved by different value criteria according to each nation's criteria. An International court will presumably resolve conflicts among human rights according to the majority opinion of the Court, which may be at great variance with that of an affected nation.

I ask that Pro further define what he means by "International Court." What countries would be represented on the Court? How would countries be selected for representation? Would authoritarian regimes be represented equally with democracies? Would there be weighting by population? Would populous countries like India or China have more sway than Belgium or Luxembourg? How would jurists be selected within the countries? Such matters are extremely important because they determine what values are used to resolve conflicts among human rights, and whether justice would prevail over the interests of individual countries.

----------------------------

1. Contention 1 is false. The United States does do its duty to protect human rights.

(a) With respect to the example, there is no evidence that any prisoner was ever tortured at Guantanamo Bay. Allegations have been investigated by Congress, and nothing found. Inspectors from the International Red Cross are permanently on site and have found nothing that could be reasonably thought to be torture. Waterboarding was used a total of three times by the CIA, not at Gitmo, and in two of the three instances produced information that saves the lives of at least dozens, and perhaps hundreds of American lives. (Waterboarding does no permanent mental or physical damage. It is applied by the CIA to its agents for training, and a general in the US Army was waterboarded in a fraternity initiation.) The value criteria at issue is whether the value of the lives of American citizens, being a human right, outweighs the right of terrorist to escape temporary discomfort. Pro presumes that an International Court would value more highly. that is sufficient reason to reject the Resolution.

(b) The issue of Constitutionality ruled upon was that the prisoners could not be held without review by a military tribunal. The military tribunal serves to identify captured prisoners of war from potential innocent bystanders. I agree that the Court's ruling was proper. A law was subsequently passed with the support of both the Administration and the Congress that provided for a tribunal system. Note that internationally, many countries permit holding prisoners for varying periods of time without charges being filed or judicial review. Therefore, there is no reason to believe that an International court would bring greater justice.

Contention 2 fails because nations will use the Court to further their interests, not provide justice.

(a) That there should be "liberty and justice" does not confirm any particular concept of justice. In World War II, about 500,000 prisoners were captured by US forces and held under a military tribunal system. Requiring full trials with forensic evidence and testimony would have forced most prisoners to be released. Doing so would have been unjust, because the Allies and their soldiers have a greater human right to life and liberty than captured combatants.

(b) There is no reason to believe that an International court would subscribe to Cromwell's rights or the Declaration of Independence, nor attempt to provide rights fairly. For example, alleged, but false, accusations of torture at Gitmo are condemned by international organizations. However, terrorists cutting off heads on television barely causes a raised eyebrow. The reason is that International Courts reflect the agendas of the countries they represent, not justice. Thus we could not expect justice from an International Court.

(c) Pro claims "it seems obvious that the most fair, accurate, and unbiased judgment would come from a conglomerate of nations." Reviewing the actual experience, it is clear that no such thing has ever happened. The United Nations is a conglomerate of nations. They elected the Sudan, a country that actively practices slave trading, to head up its human rights organization. The most egregious violations of human rights are going on in Darfur and Zimbabwe and nothing whatsoever is done. the UN cannot even pass a resolution condemning the human rights violations in Zimbabwe http://www.newzimbabwe.com... The International Court in the Hague allowed the trial of Milosovic http://www.washingtonpost.com... for genocide to drag on for 14 years, with the result that he died of natural causes without ever receiving justice.

The reasons are that individual nations put their own narrow interests above achieving justice. International organizations include authoritarian regimes who will never allow justice to prevail. Even democratic countries have interests that conflict with justice. Many European nations have a mindset of appeasement that precludes confronting obvious injustice.

The resolution fails because there is no way to constitute an International Court so that it's main concern is justice rather than the interests of the nations making the appointments to the Court. Moreover, even each appointed judge sincerely placed justice as the highest priority, concepts of justice vary so widely that the United States would suffer a loss of human rights. For example, repression of women's rights is considered just in much of the world, so the United States could be forced to tolerate such widespread oppression and abuse.

To preserve and advance human rights I urge the resolution be rejected.
Debate Round No. 1
oceanix

Pro

I forfeit due to time.
RoyLatham

Con

One of the fundamental errors in the argument for an International Court is that it is accepted by some advocates in the abstract, without concern over the reality of the implementation. It is much easier to support the idea of a theoretically perfect and impartial dispenser of justice than it is to point to an embodiment that has actually worked. It seems that other supporters, perhaps the majority, never get beyond an anti-American framework of subordinating American interests to the interests of others. At root, they are recognizing that Court would not be impartial, it would just be able to force the interests other nations to prevail.

Other arguments are continued.
Debate Round No. 2
oceanix

Pro

oceanix forfeited this round.
RoyLatham

Con

I would like to urge debaters not to post challenges if there a reasonable change they will have to forfeit. At least disclose that you might disappear.

Ocenaix never answered a single argument and has therefore forfeited this debate.
Debate Round No. 3
18 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by oceanix 7 years ago
oceanix
I apologize for my lack of responsibility in this round.
Posted by TombLikeBomb 8 years ago
TombLikeBomb
The milk and cookies thing, as I remember, was something you heard a random woman say, not the ICJ. Of course terrorists cutting off heads are a "non-issue": the ICJ only hears disputes between states. That was the original and still the primary function of the Supreme Court, in fact.

But your position is now is that the ICJ's secret purpose is to make "random" decisions, which is quite inconsistent with your previous, calculated anti-American conception of it.
Posted by RoyLatham 8 years ago
RoyLatham
Let's count all the International organization and International court condemnations of North Korea, China, al Qaeda, African dictators, Muslim nations repressing women or gay rights, Russia, Castro's Cuba, Chavez ... golly there aren't any to speak of. Terrorists fail to get milk and cookies at GITMO and it is an international outrage; terrorists cut off heads on television ... and it is a total non-issue. After 14 years of legal wrangling in the International Court, Milosovik died of natural causes before conviction. It's a great system if you have no interest in justice, but an agenda to push. I do not applaud when a Court happens to rule to support a US position. It's more random than justice-driven.
Posted by TombLikeBomb 8 years ago
TombLikeBomb
You have an unusual concept of "unusual". US terrorism in Nicaragua was opposed by the American public, the US Congress, and the world. As to the World Court's treatment of more explicitly authoritarian regimes, check the record. Its last major decision, for example, was in favor of US ally Bosnia, against the "communist dictatorship" in Serbia. You're like any stadium-goer, always yelling at the ref when the call doesn't go your inherited team's way, always acting like it was obvious when the call does go your way. Your dream would be to do away with the ref and just have the home team make the calls.
Posted by RoyLatham 8 years ago
RoyLatham
Clearly you have an agenda that claims that the U.S. form of government is inferior to that of communist dictatorships and other authoritarian regimes. The US, you say, is not democratic, whereas a Castro-style regime would be just wonderful everywhere it can be achieved. That allows you to diminish the massive human rights violations of the authoritarians you favor. So I guess we are agreeing that an International Court would promote the interests of your unusual concept of justice. That is both your argument for the Court and my argument against it.
Posted by TombLikeBomb 8 years ago
TombLikeBomb
I already did cite an example of an international organization dispensing justice: Nicaragua vs. the United States, in which the World Court ordered the US to cease its support for Contra terrorism; I mention it because I know how you feel about terrorism. You say that the World Court is only "theoretically" a "perfect and impartial dispenser of justice", but that in reality too many of its components are "dictators". But the US is only theoretically a "democracy". Its operations in Nicaragua came at the behest of neither the people nor their elected representatives, but were in fact in violation therof; despite the fact that Reagan was spreading propaganda so absurd as to suggest a possible Nicaraguan invasion of the U.S.

The reason the contempt for international law by those "who chop off heads on TV" is "stated quickly" is because such people account for a small minority of terrorism, not to mention the general category. Likewise, torture accounts for only a small part of the International Court of Justice's concern. Assuming the terrorist plans would have been successful, and assuming the information wouldn't have been gotten otherwise, you credit torture with saving "dozens" of lives. Thousands died in the campaign of rape, mutilation, and murder perpetrated by the US-backed Contras.

Most gitmo prisoners are held on, as "liberal" Republican Senator Arlan Specter puts it, the "flimsiest of hearsay". Other opponents include the "liberal" member of the Bush cabinet Richard Armitage. Waterboarding is one of many torture techniques in the Torture Memo, which many prisoners who have since been released have suffered. Such "head-chopper-offers" include those who suffer after-effects ranging from PTSD to outright insanity.
Posted by oceanix 8 years ago
oceanix
I haven't had time to post a response, as I've been at a debate tournament. I'll post something soon.
Posted by RoyLatham 8 years ago
RoyLatham
Oceanix, If you like Tom's arguments, or actually if you don't like them but feel they will spice things up a bit, feel free to use them into your Pro response in our debate. No reason for all the action to be in the comments.
Posted by RoyLatham 8 years ago
RoyLatham
You asserted that an International court was needed to achieve the benefits of central control, and asserted that the Colonies only jointed to achieve the benefits of central control. You obviously prefer the values of dictators over the values of democracies, or you would not advocate that the US submit to them. You cannot cite a single example of an International Organization dispensing justice. All you are certain of is that they would be anti-American, and that is the only benefit you cite. That is a perfectly good reason for Iran, China, or North Korea to want Americans to submit to an International court, but being anti-American is not a good reason for Americans to submit.

Note that all the countries except the US that do not submit to International courts are none of your concernr. They are dictatorships, and hence immune from discussion or justice. If forced into a corner, liberals will admit that "of course" brutal dictatorships and terrorists who chop off heads on TV are bad, but once said quickly it's time get back to the really important issue of world justice, which is making sure that captured terrorists are in no way made uncomfortable. That set of values is a hard sell, but I must admit that liberals are making progress.

You claim that while waterboarding worked to save American lives two of the three times it was used, that nonetheless experts know that it doesn't work. The technique has only been used by the CIA, and Tenet, the CIA chief, said it worked, as does the data. I saw an author interviewed on C-SPAN who wrote about the terrible abuse of prisoners at Guantanamo, where she had worked. What exactly did she attest to? The library available to prisoners was poorly stocked, so that prisoners were forced to read Harry Potter. She was absolutely serious, and the interviewer was completely in sympathy. That's the liberal sense of proportion at work. cutting off heads is, well-if-you-press-me-on-it bad, but a poor library is a war crime
Posted by TombLikeBomb 8 years ago
TombLikeBomb
King George wasn't an international court, he was a king. An international court doesn't violate the Revolutionary War truism "no taxation without representation", it merely does for nations what the Framers eventually realized was necessary for states. But if Virginia, say, had had the kind of de facto power over those states that the U.S. now has over modern nations, the Constitution wouldn't have been necessary. Virginia would have been able to simply ejudicate disputes via its own militia, as the U.S. does today via the U.S. military. While it is true that foreign governments enforce a very different value system from Wyoming or Hawaii, the same is true for the U.S. government. If the citizens of the various states, or indeed their Congressional representatives, had approved of U.S. terrorism in Nicaragua, the Reagan administration would not have had to undertake it covertly. As it the World Court proved then (in ordering the cessation of such terrorism), an heeded international court is not only necessary in order to limit the international imposition of "U.S. values", but also the U.S. government's proven inability to live up to such values. I'm sorry the UN isn't as tough as you'd like on internal Zimbabwean politics; but, just as the US government's primary responsibility is issues that are interstate in nature, the UN's primary responsibility is international issues. You seem to think there's an intensity-of-disagreement threshold beyond which the fanatical minority (in this case the US) should be given carte blanche. That seems quite the opposite of what reason would dictate; and here I don't hear you suggesting that, when the trifling differences between two neighbors include that one wants to kill the other (as does occur), he should be allowed to do so. Incidentally, the torture policy to which you allude was created by people with no experience in interrogation (Check out "How to Break a Terrorist" for another perspective).
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