Even more unique is the basic premise of the court: that individuals have the right to bring human-rights cases before these judges if they believe that justice has not been served in national courts -- even going so far as to challenge the rulings of their own governments. Equally startling is the way the court works: Judges from across Europe pass judgment on the actions or laws of a nation, and that nation must abide by their ruling. This seems astonishing in an era when the world's dominant power, the United States, acts as though it is not bound by any treaty or convention, and routinely defies judgments of international bodies.
As Walljasper points out, the ECHR has had a positive influence on Europe including:
- "Abolishing the death penalty, based on 1983 and 2002 revisions of the European Convention on Human Rights."
- "Confirming gay rights, based on judgments throwing out anti-sodomy laws in the UK and Ireland."
- "Expanding freedom of the press, based on a Danish case where a reporter was charged with hate crimes simply for interviewing racist skinheads on television."
- "Establishing the precedent that European nations will not extradite criminal suspects to the United States if those people face the death penalty in American courts."
- "Outlawing excessive force by police, based on a French case."
If only America were equally committed to human rights, perhaps we, too, would be witnessing these kinds of positive moral trends. Instead, we are still dragging our feet concerning joining yet another important world court--namely, the International Criminal Court.
You see, America is one of only 7 nations (China, Iraq, Libya, Yemen, Qatar and Israel--quite illustrious moral company indeed!)--to vote against the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court in 1998. American hostility towards the ICC only increased when Bush came to power in 2002. As a result of American foot-dragging concerning the ICC--an expression of our unwillingness to be held to the same standard to which we hold other countries--we have ended up with "a two-tiered rule of law for the most serious international crimes: one that applies to U.S. nationals; another that applies to the rest of the world's citizens" (see here for details).
To see just how serious our government has been in their efforts to undermine the ICC, consider the American Servicemembers' Protection Act (ASPA), which was passed by Congress and signed into law by President Bush on August of 2002. The major anti-ICC provisions in ASPA include:
- "a prohibition on U.S. cooperation with the ICC;"
- "an 'invasion of the Hague' provision: authorizing the President to 'use all means necessary and appropriate' to free U.S. personnel (and certain allied personnel) detained or imprisoned by the ICC;"
- "punishment for States that join the ICC treaty: refusing military aid to States' Parties to the treaty (except major U.S. allies);"
- "a prohibition on U.S. participation in peacekeeping activities unless immunity from the ICC is guaranteed for U.S. personnel."
And to think that our fumbling and mumbling "war president" has the audacity to talk about his Orwellian "freedom agenda" (see here) and to brag about his purported goal of spreading democracy, liberty, and the rule of law throughout the Middle East.
The Bushies no more want the rule of law in the Middle East than they want it here at home. After all, when we are engaged in a "war" with both terrorists (see here) and Islamo-fascists (see here), who has time for the niceties of democracy--which we magically attempt to spread while side-stepping it all the while ourselves. In this respect, the current administration is like an incompetent parent--always admonishing others to do as we say, not as we do. After all, when countries act like we do, they get branded as terrorists or threats to democracy.
*Cross-posted at truth to power