Dec 2, 2008

should the real ICC be the focus of the debate?

The Jan/Feb LD resolution reads,
The United States ought to submit to the jurisdiction of an international court designed to prosecute crimes against humanity.
Debaters might wish to use the International Criminal Court in their rhetoric and argumentation, both for the affirmative and the negative.

Since the resolution doesn't specify the ICC, though, if you take your case in this direction, you'd better offer several reasons for the step. Here are several. Note that they might overlap; use the ones you think are best. (Have better ideas or counterarguments? Throw 'em in the comments.)

1. Although some LDers like to say that the word "ought" places the debate in the ethereal realm of ideals, the resolution is already contextualized in the "real world," by referring to the United States rather than to "nations" or "all nations."

2. The U.S. is already (in)famous for refusing to sign on to the ICC, making this topic particularly relevant, timely, and educational, provided that the ICC is the focus of the debate.

3. The phrase "crimes against humanity" is well established in international law; the ICC is expressly designed to prosecute such crimes, and thus offers clear definitions for the key terms in the debate.

4. The ICC is bound to enter the debate anyhow. Anytime an affirmative gushes about universally protecting human rights, or a negative hypothesizes ridiculous risks inherent to an international judicial system, opponents are going to say, "Well, that's an interesting possibility, but not exactly how it's playing out in the real world." Again, if the resolution presumes the existence of the United States, doesn't it also presume an extant global political and legal framework?

Some might cry "Policy!" and complain that this somehow dilutes the purity of Lincoln-Douglas debate. Maybe so. But it's the resolution we have, and we should make the best of it.

18 comments:

Matt said...

An beginning Observation then?

TeacherRefPoet said...

The ICC cannot be anything but central to the -research- of this topic, so I don't see how it can be anything but central to the actual debate. How the heck else can we intelligently argue this?

Jim Anderson said...

Matt, yeah, or a "resolutional analysis," whatever you want to call it.

Also, what TRP said.

LA Coach said...

After discussing the new resolution with my students, I think the LD/Policy split shouldn't be focused on the specificity of the topic, but on the modal verb used in the resolution. "Should" (which appears in most policy resolutions) implies evaluating a decision based on consequences while "ought" (the LD verb of choice) implies moral or ethical judgment. "Should" follows after while "ought" precedes.

As soon as I realized and accepted that difference, I became much more comfortable with the level of specificity involved in the resolution. And without this blog, I never would have thought about it.

Sexy Beast said...

I cry "policy!" but then shut up and accept the facts.

Elizabeth said...

I cry policy because nobody in Oklahoma has any conception of the difference! And personally, I think I'll go with multiple examples of such courts: the ICC, ICTY, and such if only because it's nice to have multiple examples and I like to think LD is about say the United States as idealized and sans a certain Texan.

Sexy Beast said...

I guess you're from the west district. The east district is far from policy. With a high emphasis on philosophy, and spreading and theory strongly discouraged, I'm not worried about policy taking over where I'm from.

Anonymous said...

Can anyone explain to me what government legitimacy is? I've been trying to figure it out since the last resolution. Thanks

Anand said...

I think if the Aff case is not based on the ICC, then Neg arguments pointing out flaws in the ICC or saying the Aff's interpretation of an international court could easily be dodged.

The counterarguments that the ICC is not ideal, the resolution does not mention it, and that if the Aff can show that the US should submit to an ideal court they still uphold the resolution are strong enough to withstand the assault.

On the other hand if the Neg tries to negate with arguments about possible dangers of an international court, the Aff could easily and effectively respond by showing those problems don't exist in the ICC.

Seems to me like it is easier for the Aff to win squabbles about the ICC.

James said...

I don't think that debate has to center around the ICC, just because the United States is mentioned. I think that the resolution is asking for an evaluation in terms of what the moral obligation ought be, taking into account what the United States is (ie:global hegemon,protector/violator of human rights,etc)

Sexy Beast said...

I believe that's correct, James, but the definition of U.S. is much less important than the definition of submit, in my opinion.

James said...

I'd tend to disagree. I think that the definition of submit is pretty straightforward.it means to become a regular member, to agree to the rules that have been decided by that court---essentially to forfeit sovereignty over the matter of war crimes committed against the United States or by the United States. I think that by arguing for a lesser definition or not being able to successfully argue with this defintion, then you'll not be debating the realms of the resolution and put yourself in a weak spot. Rather debate centered on the definition of what the United States is and its obligations to its people and other nations is much more of a topical issue that will win you rounds rather than losing it. Basically, providing framework on the term submit leaves no room for educational debate, providing framework based on the United States does, and puts you in a better position.

Sexy Beast said...

You're right, that sounds more accurate. The debates will probably come down to whether or not the U.S. cedes its national sovreignty by submitting, or whether or not the U.S. can be morally obligated to cede some of it's sovreignty.

That Guy said...

what I dont get is how the aff is supposed to define "submit" cuz all I can find is "yield or surrender" and that would kill the aff instantly.

Jim Anderson said...

That Guy, this might help.

Anonymous said...

I disagree, the ICC should not be the focus of the debate, there is also the ICJ if anyone has read into that. It is a gross assumption for us to debate only about the ICC.

That Guy said...

yeah but seeing as the ICC is the only court that prosecutes CAH's...

Anonymous said...

Jim, I hope you can help me see how things are happening right now. How does the U.S. currently adjudicate "crimes against humanity"? What does the U.S. do to people who commit these crimes (if anything)? Is there any evidence to indicate that the U.S. won't do anything to stop these crimes?