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Prior to the Obama Administration, U.S. policy toward the ICC was clear: The U.S. refused to join the ICC because it 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.
Over the past year, the Administration has been conducting a lengthy review of U.S. policy toward the ICC and, based on statements by Administration officials, many people speculate that, even if it does not seek ratification of the Rome Statute, the Administration may seek to modify U.S. law that currently restricts U.S. cooperation with the ICC or otherwise remove impediments to U.S. cooperation and support for the ICC. Although the review is not complete, a U.S. delegation attended the recently concluded 8th session of the Assembly of States Parties and another will attend the first ICC Review Conference to be held in Kampala, Uganda for two weeks starting at the end of May. The Review Conference will consider several amendments that could significantly impact the United States, particularly the proposal to formally define the “crime of aggression” and add it to the crimes punishable by the Court. This outcome could create risks of criminal prosecution of top U.S. military and civilian officials in connection with many U.S. military operations overseas.
Are U.S. concerns about the ICC valid and should they be maintained? Should the U.S. cooperate with the ICC and, if so, when and under what circumstances? What should be the goals of the Administration at the ICC Review Conference? What additional concerns would arise from broadly defining a “crime of aggression” and giving the ICC authority to investigate and prosecute that crime?
More About the Speakers
Lee A. Casey
Senior Counsel, BGR Government Affairs
Brett D. Schaefer
Jay Kingham Fellow,
The Heritage Foundation
Bernard and Barbara Lomas Senior Research Fellow