Expressing Values

Sarah Cobb

Institute for Conflict Analysis and Resolution, George Mason University

Interviewed by Julian Portilla, 2003

This rough transcript provides a text alternative to audio. We apologize for occasional errors and unintelligible sections (which are marked with ???).

Last week I was in the Hague and I was talking to the new head prosecutor. He said "read this." This is going to be my press announcement for this week. I am going to talk about why the US can't be prosecuted for crimes of aggression and I'm going to talk about the limits of jurisdiction. People want to know what the Court's jurisdiction was. So I read the thing and it made legal sense. And I thought why should anybody care about jurisdiction? Why does it matter? What is it really about? Is it a good thing? Why is it good? Why should we care about it? He launched into this long account about the connection between jurisdiction and respect. The importance of boundary, the importance of rule, the importance of clarity around rules and boundaries and that is what you needed for good relationships. He really had a legal theory of jurisdiction that was actually based on relationships. So I said "Write this into the press release about what it is that you are doing. Your court is intended not to follow jurisdiction or rules but to enact respect and to be a model of respect at the international level." So he did. I was laughing about that because I thought that that kind of intervention helping people understand the values that they really have at the base of whatever story that they are telling. It's very powerful and interesting work.