I want to take a moment to let you know about a project that I’ve been involved with that I believe is important and that you might find of interest. I bring it up now because the film that this project surrounds will be aired tonight in the US on PBS’s POV program. Click this link to find your local listing.
The Reckoning is a documentary film about the battle for the International Criminal Court. The idea behind the court is simple: To end the repeated mass atrocities of the 20th century that continue today, perpetrators of crimes against humanity – no matter how powerful – must be held accountable for their actions.
However, putting that idea into action has not been so simple. Despite the need for international concerted action (109 countries have ratified), the court has had an uphill battle. The Bush administration was openly hostile to the court and the fact that it can issue arrest warrants but has no police force has left the court’s chief prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo to struggle to put law into action.
When I went to the New York premier of the film at the Human Rights Watch Film Festival, Ben Ferencz, who was on the prosecution team at Nuremberg, was in the audience. His presence, which was met with a standing and emotional ovation, truly brought home the roots of the evils that the court stands against.
The other part of the project is IJCentral. A Website that brings together information and discussions on international justice. There you can take action too. Currently, the Obama Administration is deciding whether to support the International Criminal Court. At IJCentral you can weigh in to urge Obama to recognize the court. Click here to support the court.
Below you’ll find the trailer for the film and a synopsis. The links again are:
PBS’s POV page on The Reckoning
Late in the 20th century, in response to repeated mass atrocities around the world, more than 120 countries united to form the International Criminal Court (ICC)—the first permanent court created to prosecute perpetrators (no matter how powerful) of crimes against humanity, war crimes, and genocide. The Reckoning follows dynamic ICC Prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo and his team for 3 years across 4 continents as he issues arrest warrants for Lord’s Resistance Army leaders in Uganda, puts Congolese warlords on trial, shakes up the Colombian justice system, and charges Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir with genocide in Darfur, challenging the UN Security Council to arrest him. Building cases against genocidal criminals presents huge challenges, and the Prosecutor has a mandate but no police force. At every turn, he must pressure the international community to muster political will for the cause. Like a deft thriller, The Reckoning keeps you on the edge of your seat, in this case with two riveting dramas—the prosecution of unspeakable crimes and the ICC’s fight for efficacy in its nascent years. As this tiny court in The Hague struggles to change the world and forge a new paradigm for justice, innocent victims suffer and wait. Will the Prosecutor succeed? Will the world ensure that justice prevails?