International Justice

CJ354 Endicott College

The U.S Announces its take on the Crime of Aggression

In 2010 the ICC held a Review Conference in Kampala that would suggest an amendment to the Rome Statute that would allow for the ICC to prosecute crimes of “aggression. The American Society of International Law gathered to discuss this amendment at their annual meeting earlier this month. Not surprisingly, the U.S stance on the expansion of the ICC’s power was negative; the panel sited three reasons to oppose the crime of aggression that would take effect in 2017 if ratified.

First the ASIL raised concerns that a crime of aggression would deter member countries from aiding in joint military action for risk of legal prosecution. They claim that these military endeavors could be the actions needed to prevent the very crimes that the ICC wishes to stop like atrocity crimes. The ASIL argues that mobilizing allies to intervene in humanitarian catastrophes is difficult enough as is, and an addition legal deterrent would hinder the process further.

Second the US is worried that the aggression law would limit the international communities ability to resolve conflicts. The idea is that if two countries are willing to end a conflict through mutual cooperation, the crime of aggression law could upset this balance by forcing the leaders of the countries involved to be prosecuted for their crimes. The ASIL speculates that the ICC could insist that these crimes be investigated at any cost and thus disturb fragile diplomatic efforts.

Third the ASIL points out that the ICC is struggling as is to apprehend defendants and “sustain a record of effectiveness” in prosecuting atrocity crimes and an added responsibility would be too much for the ICC. The panel also pointed out that crimes of aggression would be deeply political and could compromise the court’s obligation to impartiality.

While the ASIL brings up valid points, It seems that this report is another example of the US shying away from the ICC in fear of its own prosecution. No doubt the US could be considered to have committed crimes of aggression in territories within the courts jurisdiction so the ASIL’s stance is not surprising. Here is the report do you think the ASIL is genuinely concerned with the state of International Law or its own self interests?

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One response to “The U.S Announces its take on the Crime of Aggression

  1. ncullen27 April 26, 2015 at 8:45 pm

    I agree with what you’ve said, that it appears that the report demonstrates the US’s self serving desire to protect itself from prosecution. The US made its stance on the subject of international justice clear when it did not sign onto the ICC, it may “believe” in justice, but if this justice threatens US citizens then it will not approve. I am curious as to what other countries think of this new development. If the countries that have already signed onto the ICC, and in supporting it have also opened themselves up to potential prosecution, will also support the ability to prosecute for “aggressive” war. I would think that they would be more likely to support it, but perhaps they also fear that this would open themselves up too much to potential prosecution.

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