July 17 is International Justice Day; it marks the day that delegations from 120 countries, gathered in Rome, voted to adopt the statute to form the International Criminal Court. This year, Enough commemorated the day by hosting a screening of the award-winning documentary, “The Reckoning: The Battle for the International Criminal Court" and lunchtime discussion.
Late in the 20th century, in response to repeated mass atrocities around the world, countries united to form the International Criminal Court, or 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 Chief Prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo and his team for three years across four 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 U.N. 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 the audience riveted, in this case with two 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?
The tension between peace and justice features prominently in the film. Even though justice is desirable at all times, the means to its end is not always easy.
The event attracted interns from 12 organizations, including the European Union mission to the United States, Citizens for Global Solutions, the American Bar Association, and the Woodrow Wilson Center. Following the screening, John Prendergast and Omer Ismail of Enough had a conversation with the interns on the future of the ICC and the issue of peace and justice. When asked whether he believed President Bashir would ever be brought to justice, Omer said, “I don’t know if Bashir will be arrested in the next five or 10 years, but deep in my heart I know he will certainly face justice one day.” John said that he believes the United States will continue to cooperate with the ICC but he said he thinks a U.S. move to ratify the Rome Statue is a long way off.
In honor of International Justice Day, the IJCentral Action Network, which is affiliated with Skylight Pictures, the film company that produced “The Reckoning,” launched a video series called Ask the Prosecutor on its website. IJCentral will collect questions, and Chief Prosecutor Ocampo will respond in regular video blogs. The first couple of his replies are posted here and here. Submit your question, and keep an eye out for new videos.
If you’ve never seen the film, or if you have and want to share it, IJCentral and the creators of “The Reckoning” offer some options to facilitate educational screenings. Individuals can purchase the DVD from their educational distributer. For students who arrange for their libraries to purchase "The Reckoning," Skylight Pictures will include an autographed copy of the DVD as a token of appreciation. But in instances where schools are unable to purchase the DVD, producer Paco de Onis recommended that students get in touch with him directly at paco[at]skylightpictures.com.