The International Court of Justice, the United Nation’s court, ruled Feb. 5 that the United States should suspend the executions of three Mexican citizens on U.S. death row. The 15-judge panel, which has no power to enforce its decisions, has asked the United States for a stay of execution until the court can determine whether the Mexicans knew they had a legal right to contact their government.
The court, also known as the World Court, is trying to determine whether the United States followed the guidelines of the 1963 Vienna Convention on Consular Rights. This treaty grants consulates the right to provide minimal legal advice to their citizens in case of imprisonment. It would be a politically wise move on the United States’ part to do as the court has requested.
While the World Court won’t enforce its ruling, the United States would be prudent to withhold these executions. Right now the United States is capable of anything and everything, from fighting a two-front war alone to amassing a dossier on every nation’s arms supply. But even if we disagree with our neighbors on matters such as war in Iraq, it would be diplomatic to give way in another matter and concede on a simple stay of execution. Nobody is executed and the court can investigate to its heart’s content. Plus, regardless of later findings, Mexico can have the satisfaction of knowing that both the United States and the World Court tried to craft a fair deal.
If the United States seeks to continue influencing other members of the United Nations, it would do best to heed U.N. rulings whenever possible. Such small acts of voluntary humility would help reduce resentment toward the United States and increase the United Nation’s influence over all members of the global community.
University Wire — Baylor University