A War Crimes Court Flight of Fancy

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Investigating war crimes costs money. So does getting depositions, bringing in witnesses, paying judges, and so on. Let’s imagine that Gates or Buffet or some billionaire placed war crimes (or even stopping wars) high on their agenda. That’s the flight of fancy right there. They could start a court and fund it themselves. They might even attract contributions from those who cared enough to see an independent court get going. They could even sell shares in such a court company. This court would do war crimes cases and pronounce verdicts. Its influence would be mainly moral because it could not inflict sentences, but it might have an effect on those bigwigs who are responsible for war crimes and it might alter public thinking about wars. The court would have no source of revenue, not unless it gained reputation and then opened subsidiaries to do other kinds of cases as a paying proposition.

So why haven’t some billionaires done this? It’s hard to imagine them biting the many state hands that feed them. It’s hard to imagine them doing anything as seriously anti-state as such a court would be, for it would challenge some of the conventionally accepted and assumed basic prerogatives of states. But this project requires the highest of integrity and independence from politics.

3:07 pm on August 12, 2014