The Instigator
Con (against)
7 Points
The Contender
Pro (for)
14 Points

the united states should join the ICC

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 3/15/2009 Category: Politics
Updated: 7 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 4,892 times Debate No: 7400
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (5)
Votes (3)




Lincoln - Douglas Style
I will defer to aff for constructive.


I affirm.

I define:

1.Crimes against humanity- a brutal crime that is not an isolated incident but that involves large and systematic actions, often cloaked with official authority, and that shocks the conscience of humankind; Specific crimes that fall within this category are mass murder, extermination, enslavement, deportation and other inhumane acts perpetrated against a population, whether in wartime or not.

I value Governmental Legitimacy. In order to be legitimate, a government must protect the rights of its citizens, protect its own global interests, and fulfill other roles of government (like military etc.) This is the ultimate value in the round because:
1)Government action must first and foremost be undertaken to protect its own legitimacy. A government will never act against its own interests or against its own people, and all actions must first protect the government's power – secondary interests may be undertaken if power remains unhurt. As the US is the actor in the resolution, it must make a decision promoting its own power and legitimacy above all else.
2)Government legitimacy is intrinsically linked to the resolution. Insofar as the resolution is a choice between two systems of prosecution, and in order for a government to be legitimate it must maintain an effective judicial system, governmental legitimacy is always linked to the decision between the affirmative and negative society.

My value criterion is the maximization of the protection of rights. This is the best criterion in upholding government legitimacy through:
1)Under the social contract governments constrain rights from their originally unlimited nature, but protect the rights that citizens do have. If a government cannot protect the rights of citizens that it grants then it is illegitimate, as the most important function of government is to protect rights.
2)Additionally, the U.S. Code outlines United States obligation to protect human rights in foreign nations. Title 22 section 2304 states: "The United States shall, promote and encourage increased respect for human rights and �fundamental freedoms throughout the world without distinction ... a principal goal of the foreign policy of the United States shall be to promote the increased observance of internationally recognized human rights by all countries. The President is directed to formulate and conduct international security assistance programs of the United States in a manner which will promote and advance human rights."

Contention One: Submission to an international court furthers United States political interests.

David Scheffer explains, "[Through joining the ICC] we would have enormous influence in the nomination of judges, the prosecutor's staff, and the prosecutor himself or herself. [By joining, we could] put one of our best military lawyers on the bench, one very cognizant of the law of armed conflict, because there are no such individuals on the bench right now. Of eighteen judges, there is not a single military law expert. We could have brought that to the bench and had an enormous impact on how the court thinks about situations and how it understands the law of armed conflict. Our nominee for judge would have been elected; there is no question about that. We would wield enormous influence over how the court operates because it would look to us for assistance. Primarily, such requests involve resources and the apprehension of fugitives, both of which allow the U.S. government to have an enormous impact on the process. However, between the United States and the ICC, there is no such communication; in fact, it is prohibited under the American Servicemembers' Protection Act." Clearly, sovereignty of the people, a right guaranteed in the constitution, can only be adequately upheld through the affirmative.

Contention Two: Submission to an international court furthers humanitarian and anti-terrorism initiatives.

A.Affirming results in an increase of American soft power. Soft power can be defined as the ability of the United States to enact successful foreign policy initiatives through allies, or diplomatic means. Hard power is therefore the U.S.'s ability to pursue these initiatives through military intervention. Soft power is always preferable to hard power because it does not risk American lives. The Oxford Analytica expounds: "The longstanding US canons of openness, civil liberties, and democracy have traditionally held strong world-wide appeal. By the same token, when US officials are seen to violate these canons, soft power assets are damaged." Through not submitting to an international court, U.S. officials appear opposed to liberal notions necessary in securing soft power assets globally.

B.An increase of American soft power promotes national interests. An increase in soft power would lead to an increase of influence that would benefit American interests in international organizations. Joseph Nye explains, "If you look at countries like Jordan or Pakistan, which are somewhat friendlier towards the United States, we see that larger numbers are attracted to Al-Qaida and other organizations. It is necessary to prevent those extremists from prevailing as they try to radicalize the majority. Soft power is essential to be able to attract the majorities to a diverse and pluralistic world of better opportunities, human dignity, and international rights. We will not prevail in this struggle against terrorism unless the majority wins. The only way to ensure the majority wins is through an increase of soft power. Even when you need to use hard power against terrorism, you will need cooperation from other governments in a civilian matter. This problem will not be solved by brute force alone. The U.S. requires close civilian cooperation -- intelligence sharing, policy work across borders, tracing financial flows and other procedures imperative to the success of global foreign policy initiatives, especially against terrorism."

Contention Three: An international court would provide adequate checks on U.S. power

The United States has a long history of crimes against humanity. Dating back since its creation with the genocide of Native Americans, African enslavement, the internment of Japanese Americans in the 1940's, and the Tuskegee trials which ended as recently as 1972Such an extensive history of racism, genocide, slavery and human rights abuses, it is necessary for the United States to submit to this international court. It is foolish to assume that these crimes will never again happen because of the U.S. forerunner as a "liberal democracy". Both Julius Caesar and Adolf Hitler were elected to power, and both of them felt their actions were humane and justified, especially for the well-being of society. The history of brutality, as well as other prevalent examples of crimes against humanity being initiated in democratic states warrants the necessity for the United States to submit to a system which will provide a check on the U.S. government to prevent actions that will disregard basic rights of citizens. Moreover, David Scheffer writes, "The ICC delegates to domestic courts, by its very framework, the first cut at the crimes within its jurisdiction. Therefore, domestic courts have the first right, the first option, to seize a case, to investigate it, and if merited, to prosecute it." The only way the international court would be prosecuting the United States is if it failed to prosecute these crimes first; thus it maintains protection of human rights while still maintaining sovereignty.

I now stand ready for cross examination.
Debate Round No. 1


My sincerest apologies to Mickeyrocks, I wrote the resolution way too fast. If you would like to go back and redo the constructive the resolution is in fact - The United States should submit to the jurisdiction of an international court designed to prosecute crimes against humanity.

My Cross - Ex Questions first, followed by my constructive.

* Are you aware that the ICC does not have a trial by jury system?
* Are you aware that the ICC does not actively exercise jurisdiction, meaning that the ICC does not have the ways or means to prosecute?
* Why does one nation have a duty to humanity on a whole? Should it not be a global unification?
* Why does the United States have obligations beyond the immediate good of its own citizens?
* Is National Sovereignty more important than human rights?
* How does submission to an international court preserve governmental legitimacy in reference to the United States?

•Submit - verb – to defer to another's judgment , opinion, decision etc.
•Jurisdiction – noun – the right, power or authority to administer justice by hearing and determining controversies.
•Prosecute – verb – to institute legal proceedings against (a person)
•Ought - verb – used to indicate moral obligation or duty
•Crime Against Humanity - Murder, extermination, enslavement, deportation and other inhuman acts done against any civilian population, or persecutions on political, racial or religious grounds, when such acts are done or such persecutions are carried on in execution of or in connection with any crime against peace or any war crime.
( Nuremberg Trials)

The treaty that established the International Criminal Court, or the ICC runs counter to the values on which the United States was founded and should not be supported. This treaty threatens the idea of self – government which leads to my value premise.

My value premise is national sovereignty or the right of the government to uphold itself. In the resolution, the definition of submit blatantly defies the premise of national sovereignty. By submitting to the International Criminal Court, countries under the jurisdiction of the ICC are defying their own national sovereignty.

My first contention is that the ICC's powers are open to abuse. The crimes under the jurisdiction of the ICC are broadly defined and could subject individuals to penalties of up to life imprisonment for actions that never were thought punishable on the international level before. Cases could be brought before the court based upon the complaint of any country that ratifies the ICC or the initiative of the court's prosecutor – an international independent counsel. Once indicted , individual defendants would be tried by a bench of judges chosen by the ICC States Parties. As an institution the ICC would act as police, prosecutor, judge, jury and jailer prohibiting the ability of a fair trial. All of these functions would be performed by its staff or under its supervision with only bureaucratic divisions of authority. The court would be the sole judge of its own power and there would be no process to appeal its decisions, however irrational or unjust those might be. Unfortunately, merely refusing to join the Rome Treaty will not protect Americans from the ICC's reach. In an astonishing break with the accepted norms of international law, the Rome Treaty would extend the ICC's jurisdiction to the citizens of countries that have not signed and ratified the treaty. Therefore having no benefits when submitted to such jurisdiction.

My second contention is that the ICC violates the Constitution. The ICC violates constitutional principles. The failure of the ICC treaty to adopt the minimum guarantees of the U.S. Constitution's Bill of Rights is , in fact, one of the principal reasons as to why the United States has not joined the ICC treaty regime. As the U.S. Supreme Court recently suggested in the United States v. Balsys the United States cannot participate in or facilitate a criminal trial under its own authority even in part unless the Constitution's guarantees are preserved. If , however, the United States were to join the ICC treaty regime, the prosecutions undertaken by the court, whether involving the actions of Americans in the United States or overseas, would be "as much on behalf of the United States as of" any other State Part. Since the guarantees of the bill of rights would not be available in the ICC, the United States could not participate in, or facilitate any such court. United States participation in the ICC treaty regime would also be unconstitutional because it would allow the trial of American citizens for crimes committed on American soil, which are otherwise entirely within the judicial power of the United States. The Supreme Court has long held that only the courts of the United States, as established under the Constitution, can try such offenses. The Supreme Court made this clear in the landmark Civil War case of Ex parte Milligan. In that case, the court reversed a civilian's conviction in a military tribunal, which did not provide the guarantees of the Bill of Rights, holding that every trial involves the exercise of judicial power and that the military court in question could exercise no part of the judicial power of the country. This reasoning is equally applicable to the ICC.

My third and final contention is that the ICC contradicts American principles. The declaration of independence, which h articulates the principles that justify the American Republic's very existence, listed the offenses of the king and parliament that required separation from England, revolution and war. Prominent among those offenses were accusations that Britain had (1) subjected Americans to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution and unacknowledged by our laws (2) deprived us in many cases of the benefits of trial by jury and (3) transported us beyond the seas to be tried for pretended offences. These provisions referred to the British practice of prosecuting Americans in vice admiralty courts for criminal violations of the navigation and trade laws. Like the ICC, these courts followed the civil law, inquisitorial system. Convictions of course, could be obtained far more easily from these tribunals than from uncooperative colonial juries. The U.S. Constitution's Framers sought to eliminate forever the danger that Americans might again be surrendered to a foreign power for trial by specifically requiring that criminal trials be by jury and conducted in the same state and district in which the crime was perpetrated. In addition, trying to rule on a person outside of the nation of where they committed the crime is irrational. It is irrational to try a criminal who commited a crime in one country to be tried in a panel that have laws dissimilar to each other. Take for example petty larceny. If I were to steal a loaf of bread in the U.S I might not even get caught – if I were to do the same in India, I could have my hand cut off. In addition, when the individual countries pick punishments on their societal norms that is personal, individual justice in their eyes. I hold this same criterion and value as you can see if the individual country picks the punishment, justice can be sought. The armies of this country can protect these freedoms, and the US and the ICC combined cannot, thus upholding my value premise that the resolution clearly violates the terms of national sovereignty a key basis of democratic nations.

I will rebut my opponents contentions in my rebuttal, pushing the character limit.


The resolution is fine, it was just clarity.


1: Yes. Neither does the supreme court.
2: It's already prosecuting criminals, and the U.S. submitting would provide it adequate ways to prosecute.
3 / 4: The U.S. code outlines obligation to foreign human rights.
5: No.
6: That's my entire case; it better protects the rights of US citizens (as outlined in C3), protects global rights, prosecutes terrorism and gives us greater political power globally.

Skip affirmative CX.

NC: (for space i'm just going to abbreviate and refute, not rehash what you said or quote you.)

=V: Sovereignty=

You drop sovereignty and accept Governmental Legitimacy because:

1) No brightline on how to uphold sovereignty. There aren't sovereignty points, or whatever, so we have no real way to measure your value in this debate. Obviously we don't value something we can't measure.
2) He doesn't give you a criterion, so he gives you no way to achieve his Value. You drop his value at face and accept the affirmative's value of Legitimacy.
3) The affirmative better upholds sovereignty anyways, because the affirmative strengthens U.S. hegemony (contention one), he defines it as the right to uphold it self, so the affirmative also protects the U.S. government's existence (contention two) and protects the citizens (contention three) which protects from revolt.

C1: Drop C1, because:

1) "Could, would, maybe, might" - he gives you a nightmare scenario without telling you why this is going to happen, until the negative provides you evidence that the ICC is going to become some rogue court prosecuting everyone "irrationally and unjustly" at whim you can't accept this as an issue in the round.
2) he makes a good point, "Unfortunately, merely refusing to join the Rome Treaty will not protect Americans from the ICC's reach" which is what I outline in contention one. The problem is the problems of the ICC will exist whether the U.S. submits or not, the only way to ensure protection of U.S. citizens, and thus the legitimacy of the State is through submission insofar as we reap the benefits David Scheffer outlines in C1. Scheffer explains, "[Through joining the ICC] we would have enormous influence in the nomination of judges, the prosecutor's staff, and the prosecutor himself or herself. We would wield enormous influence over how the court operates because it would look to us for assistance. Primarily, such requests involve resources and the apprehension of fugitives, both of which allow the U.S. government to have an enormous impact on the process" without affirming we lack these benefits while still reaping the same harms, at that point he agrees that the harms of the ICC exist regardless of if we affirm or negate, and thus you automatically affirm insofar as the affirmative gives you unique benefits and the negative gives you nonunique harms.

1) he says it violates the constitution; how? He doesn't give you any specific instance, other than it would prosecute U.S. citizens, which as I outline in contention three is actually a GOOD thing. It protects against rights abuses in the U.S.
2) Moreover, the ICC has a list of due process rights granted to each individual prosecuted that David Scheffer calls, "a list longer and more extensive than our own Bill of Rights."
3) The Supreme court isn't the Constitution.
4) Supreme court rulings only apply to U.S. citizens, and the only way u.s. citizens would be prosecuted is if hte U.S. government failed to do it itself, so you cross-apply the reasoning in contention three which argues that it doesn't matter if they lose the right to trial by jury or whatever in the ICC, because the fact that we prosecute that one individual outweighs the slight harms of that prosecution.

1) What does this have to do with anything at all? He defines national sovereignty as:

"national sovereignty or the right of the government to uphold itself"

This has nothing to do with potential impacts on the ability of the government to uphold itself.


Extend everything, the affirmative wins at face.

Debate Round No. 2


methodicalmadness00 forfeited this round.


Unfortunately, my opponent hasn't responded to any of my attacks on his case, nor has he attacked my case. This is unfortunate because it wasn't really a debate, the PRO extends all of his arguments and cleanly takes out the CON case.

Hopefully we can do this again, perhaps when arguments are better articulated / refuted, but because that day is not today, and because this debate is clearly siding in the affirmative, one can only affirm.

Thank you, though, I'd like to debate this another time.
Debate Round No. 3
5 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 5 records.
Posted by Mickeyrocks 7 years ago
I'm posting a comment to bump this so I can get the win instead of a tie.
Posted by Mickeyrocks 7 years ago
Perfectly fine.

We can try it again sometime.
Posted by methodicalmadness00 7 years ago
My apologies Mickey, I've been extremely busy.
Posted by methodicalmadness00 7 years ago
Yes, my apologies, I typed too quickly.
Posted by Mickeyrocks 7 years ago
I hate this resolution.

Note; if it's LD format then I assume we're going to use the Jan/Feb LD resolution, so my definition of Crimes Against Humanity should stand.
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