International Justice

CJ354 Endicott College

The International Criminal Court: A Threat Against State Sovereignty

The International Criminal Court holds three different types of jurisdiction including national, territorial and United Nations Security Council referral. In a recent article titled A Crime Against Sovereignty it discusses the territorial jurisdiction held by the ICC in relation to the preliminary investigations being held in Palestine and Afghanistan. Both Afghanistan and Palestine have ratified the Rome statute therefore granting the ICC jurisdiction to crimes committed within their territories or by people from their territories. The Israeli officials have taken an adversarial stance to the ICC’s preliminary investigation being held in Palestine possibly due to the fear that they may be charged with war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Furthermore the ICC is also hosting preliminary investigations in Afghanistan which could result in American officials being held responsible for war crimes committed during both the Bush and Obama administrations. The United States has made it clear that the ICC has no authority to prosecute American or Israeli citizens since they have not ratified the Rome Statute. In addition to voicing their opposition to the ICC’s jurisdiction, the United States has also enacted the American Service Members’ Protection Act of 2002  which authorizes the president to use all means necessary to free US and allied military personnel and government officials detained by the ICC. In addition to that, this act also grants severe restrictions on US cooperation with the court. As discussed in the Bosco reading, the Bush administration was very opposed to joining a supranational court stating that “…it’s the right move, not to join a foreign court that could- where our people could be prosecuted.” However Bosco also discusses how US relations with the ICC have improved under the Obama administration. With that said however the United States still remains a non-signatory of the statute and the ICC still faces a large political obstacle if it decides to go after US past and current officials. I remain curious as to how far the ICC’s power will extend. As we have discussed in class, one of the main critiques of the court is that it is very reliable on states’ cooperation and without it the ICC has a very difficult time in achieving its justice goals. I remain hopeful that the United States will cooperate as much as it can with the court and look forward to the ICC’s next move regarding the situation in both Palestine and Afghanistan.


One response to “The International Criminal Court: A Threat Against State Sovereignty

  1. tcheng2015 March 2, 2015 at 6:08 pm

    Although US relations with the ICC have improved during the Obama administration, it is unlikely that US cooperation with the ICC will make much progress in future years. Allegations against American officials responsible for war crimes committed during the Bush and Obama administration in Afghanistan are unlikely to succeed if brought to trial by the ICC. Because the ICC is limited in resources and funding, it is crucial that it maintains a close relationship with influential world powers like the US. Indicting US officials for war crimes committed in Afghanistan would undermine the court’s legitimacy and hinder the courts ability to make future prosecutions. As realist international theorists would argue, “major powers are unlikely to empower or materially support a court over which they do not exercise significant control”. Bosco states, even if key US officials were convinced of the court’s value and compatibility with US interests, the administration would face significant obstacles placing American resources and political influence at its disposal. If the US is hesitant to express support for ICC indictments on foreign government officials, it is unreasonable to expect that the US will voluntarily provide resources to indict US officials.

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