Current Event Article for the Week of 9-22-2018
Updated: Jun 1, 2019
Article by Elizabeth Lee
On September 10, 2018, U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton declared the International Criminal Court (ICC) “illegitimate” and “dead” to the United States. This aggressive stance towards the ICC stemmed in part from a request last November by ICC’s Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda to investigate war crimes committed by the United States during the Afghanistan war. While the United States is not a member of the ICC, Afghanistan is one. Consequently, claims of crimes committed on its territory can be brought before the Court. Bolton also threatened to place sanctions on and ban the ICC’s judges and prosecutors from entering the country, defending this as a move to protect U.S. citizens and allies from unjust prosecution. Moreover, Bolton announced that the United States will close the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) office in Washington D.C. due to concerns that the PLO was asking the ICC to investigate Israel.
This is not the first time that the United States has questioned the legitimacy of the ICC. In 2002, George Bush refused to ratify the Rome Statute, which set up the structure of the ICC and served to hold accountable perpetrators of war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide. Foreign political heads have also questioned the validity of the ICC. Earlier this year, for example, Philippine’s President Rodriguo Duterte withdrew the Philippines from the ICC after the Court began examining a complaint against it for crimes against humanity. Such hostility to the ICC raises complex questions about its efficacy, given that the ICC has been encumbered by the self-interests of member and non-member states from its very inception.