November is Human Rights Month and people on campus are taking notice.
On Thursday, Mount Pleasant and Central Michigan University’s students and faculty in the philosophy and religion departments are taking the opportunity to share their study abroad experiences related to peace, justice and human rights. The event starts at 7 p.m. in the Park Library Auditorium and is free to the public.
At the event, they will be speaking about the International Criminal Court.
“The International Criminal Court (ICC), governed by the Rome Statute is the first permanent, treaty based, international criminal court established to help end impunity for the perpetrators of the most serious crimes of concern to the international community,” the site says.
Erica Maylee, a Mount Pleasant senior, was one of five students to participate in the PHL 397 class abroad and will be involved in the coming panel discussion.
“We’re going to talk about how we brought back the (message of human rights) that we gained from that experience,” Maylee said. “And were using that in our own lives now and how we’re bringing (that) to CMU. It’s about bringing it home, it’s not about just keeping it there.”
The ICC was established by multilateral treaty on July, 17, 1998 which entered into force on July 1, 2002. The ICC is unique because it allows for prosecutions of individuals on counts of atrocity crimes such as genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. Prior to the ICC’s establishment, individuals could not be tried at the international level unless in temporarily established courts such as those established to address the atrocities committed in the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda.
“There were a number of other courts and special tribunals that were created prior to the ICC,” Maylee said. “But they were created for specific situations that were happening around the world and so it became apparent that it was desirable to have a court (that) could be used for any situation, so the UN or whoever wouldn’t need to set up a special tribunal for each situation.”
Maylee said the three main factors the program is interested in are peace, human rights and international justice, and relating these to what the ICC does. She also pointed out that the people involved in the ICC aren’t just delegations, but also individuals and members of civil societies.
Another student from the class is Dustin Sigsbee of Farwell. He said they will be talking about the study abroad program in addition to the messages of the ICC.
“We are also going to be promoting (the class) to try and show it’s importance and get more people interested in it so that it can continue here,” Sigsbee said.
Philosophy professor Hope May spoke on the difficult process the international community has had in creating the court, and how another step needed is getting more people involved.
“The international community has been working on it for quite a long time, and importantly the United States is not a member of it, although we we were a leader at Nuremberg,” May said.
May clarified that the U.S. isn’t an official member, however it does contribute in other ways.
“The international community has long aspired to the creation of a permanent international court,” the site said. “And, in the 20th century, it reached consensus on definitions of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. The Nuremberg and Tokyo trials addressed war crimes, crimes against peace, and crimes against humanity committed during the second World War.”
May discussed her intent to educate attendees on the importance of the International Court.
“We have two goals. One is to expose people to this court and the United States’ role in it,” May said, “And also (for) people to learn about how CMU is involved in the education surrounding the issues for this program. It’s a very innovative program. I learned about international and humanitarian law as a law student, and most people don’t learn about the international legal system unless you’re a law student. But I think it’s really really important for the project (and) for everybody’s education to be exposed to it, as an undergraduate. You should not have to be a law student to be exposed to it.”