Washington Institute For Defence & SecurityWashington Institute For Defence & SecurityWashington Institute For Defence & Security
Washington, DC 20001
Love- Hate relationship between United State and International Criminal Court

Washington D.C. is a city that is divided into 2 parts. Here people can not agree with each other’s opinion. In this city most of the laws don’t work, even Republicans and Democrats don’t work together. Furthermore, the platform of Congress meetings turn into childish arguments. But this week is different from the past one. 

Everyone is talking about: Karim Khan, he is the chief prosecutor for the International Criminal Court (ICC). He is the one that charged 3 Hamas and 2 top senior Israeli officials. He also charged the leader of Israel named as  Benjamin Netanyahu, with war crimes. This has brought some rare agreement to the usually divided city.

The response from Capitol Hill was strong and also instant. According to House Speaker Mike Johnson the House was ready to vote on sanctions against ICC. This is because they suggested Israeli leaders Netanyahu and Gallant might be war criminals who should be tried at the Hague. Furthermore, the current President of US Joe Biden bluntly called the ICC prosecutor’s decision “outrageous.” During the discussion to a Senate subcommittee, Secretary Antony Blinken said the Administration is ready and welcoming the Congress to work on these sanctions. 

It is a significant move to charge Netanyahu. This decision of Khan’s pointed out the tension between International Criminal Court( ICC) and US. This rocky relation between these two has been ongoing since 1998 after the establishment of ICC, Rome Statute, which the U.S. played a major role in creating. However the United States quickly pointed out flaws in the treaty.  After signing it, former President Bill Clinton expressed concerns. According to him, the ICC might try to exercise authority over individuals from countries that haven’t agreed to the treaty, not just those from countries that have.

The successor of Clinton was named George W. Bush disliked the International Criminal Court. In 2002, Bush essentially withdrew the U.S. signature from the Rome Statute, stating that no ICC decision would be binding on the United States. The Bush administration generally was not in favor of multilateral organizations, but their specific objection to the ICC was the fear that its prosecutors would start targeting U.S. troops fighting overseas. In 2017, all of these concerns proved true. 

The Trump administration took an even stronger stance against the International Criminal Court than Bush did. He, with his administration members, made it clear that it is impossible for the United States to work with the court. Trump clearly told toUnited Nation General Assembly( UNGA), “ “As far as America is concerned, the ICC has no jurisdiction, no legitimacy, and no authority.” 

After that in 2019, then-Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made an announcement that the US was canceling the visas of ICC prosecutors because of its aim to investigate the US troops in Afghanistan. In 2020 Trump signed an agreement to cancel the visas of ICC prosecutors. Especially those who are involved in investigating US ally personnel (President Biden would later lift these sanctions in his first months in office).

In some cases the United State has worked with ICC. Especially when they found it beneficial for its country. In 2005, the Bush administration backed a U.N. Security Council Resolution that let the ICC investigate Sudanese government officials for war crimes in Darfur (Omar al-Bashir was indicted in 2009 and 2010). In 2011, the U.S. supported referring Libyan officials to the ICC. In 2023, the Biden administration ordered the U.S. to give evidence to the ICC to support its case on Russian war crimes in Ukraine. Vladimir Putin has now desired to illegally move a population from Ukraine to Russia.

This history of International Criminal Court investigation makes the Biden administration very uncomfortable.  On one side, Biden’s top advisors are threatening the court with sanctions through new laws. On the other side, those same advisors have publicly supported the court’s efforts to uncover Russian crimes in Ukraine. 

This behavior is very hypocritical. People from different parts of the world such as, in Africa, Latin America, the Middle East, and many parts of Asia considered the US foreign policy selfish. Washington’s stance on the ICC will just prove them right. The United States is not feeling guilty about its plan so far. But definitely with the passage of time many officials of the US will find themselves in trouble. 


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