Sun Climbs Slow: The International Criminal Court and the Struggle for Justice Paperback – May 5 2009
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Praise for The Sun Climbs Slow:
"In The Sun Climbs Slow Erna Paris describes, movingly and convincingly, the dawn of a new age of international law. There could be no better guide to the emerging world in which no guilty person, however powerful, can escape responsibility for acts of barbarism. Obligatory reading for the forward looking."
—John Polanyi, Nobel Laureate
"Erna Paris takes us on a compelling journey into the dramatic events behind the creation of the International Criminal Court. The court symbolizes the growing global determination to end impunity for the perpetrators of atrocities. Yet this vision of universal justice has been anathema to those in Washington who disdain any international oversight of their exceptional power. As Paris vividly demonstrates, this contempt also underscores the Bush administration's decision to combat terrorism by flouting the most basic legal constraints."
—Kenneth Roth, Executive Director, Human Rights Watch
"The Sun Climbs Slow is essential reading for anyone interested in the evolution of the International Criminal Court and the future of international criminal justice. Erna Paris’ personal interviews with key figures in this emerging world are fascinating and important."
—Richard Goldstone, former Chief Prosecutor of the UN Criminal Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda, and retired Justice of the South Africa Constitutional Court
"Quite simply the best accessible introduction to the big themes in international criminal justice. Erna Paris has combined unique interview material, relevant historical background and fine political analysis to produce a highly readable and informative portrait of our modern-day Nurembergs."
—William A. Schabas, Director, Irish Centre for Human Rights, National University of Ireland, Galway
“[A] beautifully written and utterly compelling book . . . [Paris] relates the story in its full context, taking the reader on a fast-paced tour from ancient Greece to the Nuremburg trials to the end of the Cold War and beyond. Paris’s ability to convey the human dimension of international criminal justice is what makes this book special.” –The Globe and Mail
“Paris writes beautifully . . . This is a book worth reading.” –Winnipeg Free Press
“[Paris] masters an enormous amount of historical detail with intelligent arguments and captivating prose. . . . her new book offers a sound introduction to a complex topic. . . . [A] solid effort. And in her careful delineation of the tortuous path to the inauguration of the ICC, Paris offers an optimistic and timely vision of the court’s potential.” –The Gazette (Montreal)
From the Hardcover edition. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
About the Author
ERNA PARIS is the winner of ten national and international writing awards, including the Canada-US White Award for journalism, a gold medal from the National Magazine Awards Foundation, and four Media Club of Canada awards for feature writing and radio documentary. She is the author of six acclaimed books of literary nonfiction.See all Product Description
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The United States played a leading role in decades past in developing international law and moving forward plans for an ICC. But the ICC sprang into being at the very moment that the United States chose to engage in an open war of aggression against Iraq. President Bill Clinton, his representative having failed to derail the formation of the ICC, had signed the treaty establishing the ICC on his way out the door and tacked on George W. Bush's first signing statement for him. Clinton wrote that although he had signed the treaty he recommended against ratifying it. Bush did him one better and unsigned it. Then his UN ambassador John Bolton set out to weaken the ICC in any way possible, if not destroy it outright. The United States bribed and threatened nations to sign agreements never to use the ICC. And we openly violated international law on a massive scale, threatening the credibility of the court from day one. Yet the ICC advanced, and the behavior of the rogue empire only encouraged other nations to support the international rule of law.
The details of the immediate history are stunning, but the historical perspective is more so. Paris describes the failed efforts and baby steps forward over the centuries that led us to this point. This is history we all should know and understand, especially those of us in the nation that constitutes the gravest threat to the future of international law.
I have a few quibbles with Paris' account. One is philosophical. She depicts the idea of international law as descending in a direct line almost unchanged from an idea in ancient Greece of divine law. But, while both may be standards of law separate from and claimed to be superior to ordinary law, divine law was either local custom or improvised rules made up as one went along, and such rules were very different from human rights norms as understood today. One important feature of international law is that it is written down, publicly knowable, and theoretically predictably enforceable. But it is also a creation of long cultural development of ideas about rights and justifications. We did not spend thousands of years putting into a treaty what the ancient Greeks already understood. We spent thousands of years thinking it up as well as agreeing to it. This is important because we should be open to advances in the future that we cannot imagine today.
Another quibble, which can be forgiven a Canadian since almost all Americans do the same thing, is that Paris describes a contest between Senator John McCain and Vice President Dick Cheney over whether to criminalize torture in the United States. In the course of this recounting, Paris mentions that torture is forbidden by international law. But she does not point out that torture is and always was illegal under U.S. law, under both the anti-torture statute and the war crimes statute. In fact, while the Cheney-McCain charade was playing out, Bush administration lawyers were worrying about possible future prosecutions under the existing laws. On a more trivial note, this story, like most versions of it, fails to include McCain's later opposition to "banning" torture.
But this is a terrifically well written and important book that can provide Americans with an understanding of international law and how it relates to domestic law. Gaining that understanding would allow Americans to have happier lives purely as a result of how much laughing they could do in response to the public statements of U.S. officials. For instance, Senator Patrick Leahy has opposed prosecuting torturers or other war criminals because such prosecutions might fail. But nothing could make a foreign or international prosecution more likely to advance and succeed than failed attempts at prosecution here at home.
And nothing is to prevent the ICC from stepping in at any time to prosecute the crimes against humanity that our nation has decided to call policy differences and not crimes at all. Please write to the ICC and ask for indictments of Bush and Cheney. Then buy this book. Then call the president and congress and let them know that you are among the majority of Americans who support international law, and you would like the ICC re-signed and ratified. If they tell you they don't want Americans prosecuted abroad, tell them there's one surefire way to prevent that: prosecute them at home.
Despite its seemingly haphazard organization, TSCS is worth reading, especially for an American audience (as we have backed out of out commitment to the ICC). The ICC (and International Law in general) is a poorly understood subject. Americans in particular seem possess many uninformed assumptions on these matters based on partisan rhetoric (usually inspired by uninformed or deliberately deceptive populist agendas).
Not great but recommended.
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