Canada has been a longtime supporter for the International Criminal Court, and for the broader international justice agenda – bringing individuals, including military and political leaders, to account for atrocity crimes.
So it was little surprise that news reports earlier this month carried stories of Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould indicating that Canada would engage with South Africa to help that country address its concerns over the International Criminal Court.
But what was surprising was that it was our Justice Minister, not our Foreign Minister making these statements.
Ever since Crystia Freeland replaced Stéphane Dion as Foreign Minister, there have been questions as to whether Canada would be able to maintain the same level of high level public support for the ICC. Ms. Freeland, the former Trade Minister, was nominated to the post primarily to help the government engage with the new Trump administration in the United States.
One option open available to Minister Freeland would be to appoint a Canadian Ambassador for International Justice. Modeled on the U.S. State Department’s “Ambassador at Large for War Crimes Issues” such an appointment would signal to the world the importance Canada attaches to the ICC – through the appointment of a permanent Ambassador.
In October 2016, Stephen Rapp, who was then the U.S. Ambassador at Large for War Crimes Issues, came to Ottawa and encouraged the Canadian government to make just such an appointment.
What you can do
Write to Minister Freeland. Encourage her to ensure that Canada continues to commit high level Canadian political support for the international Criminal Court. A sample letter is here.