Wednesday, March 31, 2004
By Steven Taylor

Somehow, I am guessing that this: Court: U.S. Violated Mexicans’ Rights won’t come to much.

The basics:

The International Court of Justice ruled Wednesday that the United States violated the rights of 51 Mexicans on death row and ordered their cases be reviewed.


Mexican officials praised the ruling as “a triumph of international law” and said they were confident the United States would comply with the court’s order.

Arturo Dager, a legal adviser with Mexico’s Foreign Relations Department, said it will be an important legal tool for Mexican inmates in the United States.

“Of course we have full confidence that the United States will comply with the court’s ruling,” Dager said, adding that if it doesn’t, Mexico could ask the U.N. Security Council to issue a resolution urging it to do so.

“Mexico was not vindicated. The rule of international law was vindicated. Of course we are confident the United States will fully comply with the ruling,” said Juan Gomez Robledo, Mexico’s ambassador to the Netherlands.

I’m not so sure. For one, I am not a big supporter of the ability of an international court to make rulings on our judicial system. However, the bottom line is that whether one supports this process or not, it will demonstrate the power of international law, as the US will almst certainly ignore the ruling. The only question will be if it does so politely or not.

For example:

In 2001, a similar case came before the court filed by Germany to stop the execution of two German brothers who also had not been informed of their right to consular assistance. One brother was executed before the court could act. The judges ordered a stay of execution for the second brother, Walter LaGrand, until it could deliberate, but he was executed anyway by Arizona.

When the court finally ruled in 2001, it chastised the U.S. government for not halting the LaGrand execution, and rejected arguments that Washington was powerless to intervene in criminal cases under the authority of the individual states.

It demonstrates why it is absurd to speak of international law in the same way we speak of domestic law: there is no enforcement power in the international arean, and therefore strong states can ignore institutions like the World Court and weak states only listen when the strong states make them.

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2 Responses to “The Power of International Law”

  1. Dave Says:

    That’s why I always call it International “Law”… because to have a true Law, you must have government and authority. And last I checked, we were still a sovereign country.

  2. Outside the Beltway Says:

    Beltway Traffic Jam
    Bill Quick comments on European anti-Semitism. Rob Tagorda explains the Charlize Theron theory of international politics. Laurence Simon reports that the Rev. Jackson is joining…

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