November 17, 2016

About the US government and the International Criminal Court - Andrew Taylor

Burundi, South Africa, Gambia and Russia have withdrawn from The International Criminal Court. The Philippines now appears to be pondering the domino effect.

Some Background

Initially the US government vehemently opposed an international court on the grounds that such a global body could hold US military and political officials to a fair and equal universal standard of justice.

However, it was the US that was to agitate for the creation of an international criminal court. In the 1990s the Clinton administration actively promoted the formation and adoption of the International Criminal Court Treaty, campaigning for UN Security Council screening of cases. If adopted, this would have enabled the US to veto any case it had political cause to oppose.

When other countries refused to agree to such an unequal imperial-style "justice", the US campaigned to weaken and enfeeble the court. The Bush administration, coming into office in 2001 as the Court neared realisation, adopted an extraordinarily aggressive opposition. The US govt. began to negotiate bilateral agreements with nations, insuring immunity of US military and political officials from prosecution by the Court. As leverage, Washington threatened "partner" nations with termination of economic and military aid, and other punitive measures. 

Obama's administration made greater efforts to acknowledge and influence the Court. It has participated in dealings with the Court's governing bodies and provides support for the Court's ongoing prosecutions. Washington, however, has never had any intention joining the ICC, due to its reasonable apprehension about charges against US nationals.

Going forward, especially with the possibility that a less 'morally' interventionist America may be appearing with a Trump administration, the credibility and jurisdiction of the ICC as an instrument of Atlanticist justice is in serious question.

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