From Scotland to Syria to Somalia, various groups are seeking to create independent states. The Scots will vote on independence this September. Kurds in northern Syria and Iraq have revived their hopes for an independent Kurdistan as the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) envisions redrawing the map of the Middle East. And tribal leaders in northwest Somalia govern the territory they claim more effectively than the internationally-recognized Federal Government of Somalia controls the south.
It came as no big surprise that the United Nations General Assembly voted to upgrade Palestine to non-member observer status. But, reflecting the reality that international criminal justice now goes to the very heart of Middle East politics, many are left wondering whether Palestine will join the International Criminal Court and request (once again) that the ICC investigate its conflict with Israel. Pondering this issue has left me deeply frustrated.
While it may not be wise to box oneself into a particular moral outlook, I consider myself to be a liberal cosmopolitan. Very briefly, that means that I believe in a politics where all human beings share fundamental individual rights and that when those rights are blatantly violated we, as a global community, have some obligations to respond. This political ethos, I believe, is also what guides most proponents of the ICC, not to mention other liberal cosmopolitan projects such as the Responsibility to Protect.