Defending the Society of StatesWhy America Opposes the International Criminal Court and its Vision of World Society

Defending the Society of StatesWhy America Opposes the International Criminal Court and its Vision of World Society

Jason Ralph

Print publication date: 2007

ISBN: 9780199214310

Publisher: Oxford University Press

Abstract

This book is among the first to address the issues raised by the International Criminal Court from an International Relations perspective. By clearly outlining a theoretical framework to interpret these issues, it makes a significant contribution to the English School's study of international society. More specifically, it offers a concise definition of ‘world society’ and thus helps to resolve a longstanding problem in international theory. This groundbreaking conceptual work is supported by an indepth empirical analysis of American opposition to the ICC. The book goes beyond the familiar arguments related to national interests and argues that the Court has exposed the extent to which American notions of accountability are tied to the nation‐state. Where other democracies are willing to renegotiate their social contract because they see themselves as part of world society, the US protects its particular contract with ‘the American people’ because it offers a means of distinguishing that nation and its democracy from the rest of the world. In opposing the ICC, therefore, the US seeks to defend a society of states because this kind of society can accommodate American exceptionalism and advance particular US interests. This ‘sovereigntist’, or more accurately ‘Americanist’, influence is further illustrated in chapters on the customary international law, universal jurisdiction, transatlantic relations and US policy on international humanitarian law in the war on terror. The book concludes by evoking E.H. Carr's criticism of those great powers who claim that a harmony exists between their particular interests and those of wider society. It also recalls his argument that great powers sometimes need to compromise and in this context it argues that support for the ICC is a more effective means of fulfilling America's purpose and a less costly sacrifice for the US to make than that demanded by the ‘Americanist’ policy of nation‐building.