by Brett D. Schaefer and Steven Groves
The idea of establishing an international court to prosecute serious international crimes--war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide--has long held a special place in the hearts of human rights activists and those hoping to hold perpetrators of terrible crimes to account. In 1998, that idea became reality when the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court was adopted at a diplomatic conference convened by the U.N. General Assembly. The International Criminal Court (ICC) was formally established in 2002 after 60 countries ratified the statute. The ICC was created to prosecute war crimes, crimes against humanity, genocide, and the as yet undefined crime of aggression. Regrettably, although the court's supporters have a noble purpose, there are a number of reasons to be cautious and concerned about how ratification of the Rome Statute would affect U.S. sovereignty and how ICC action could affect politically precarious situations around the world.
Among other concerns, past U.S. Administrations concluded that the Rome Statute created a seriously flawed institution that lacks prudent safeguards against political manipulation, possesses sweeping authority without accountability to the U.N. Security Council, and violates national sovereignty by claiming jurisdiction over the nationals and military personnel of non-party states in some circumstances. These concerns led President Bill Clinton to urge President George W. Bush not to submit the treaty to the Senate for advice and consent necessary for ratification. After extensive efforts to change the statute to address key U.S. concerns failed, President Bush felt it necessary to "un-sign" the Rome Statute by formally notifying the U.N. Secretary-General that the U.S. did not intend to ratify the treaty and was no longer bound under international law to avoid actions that would run counter to the intent and purpose of the treaty. Subsequently, the U.S. took a number of steps to protect its military personnel, officials, and nationals from ICC claims of jurisdiction."
The article is rather lengthy, but you can read it here.
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