News Release

U.S. and International Criminal Court


An associate professor at Thomas Jefferson School of Law in San Diego, Cohn said today: “Ironically, the same day Colin Powell paid tribute to the memory of those killed in the Nazi Holocaust, the U.S. government claimed it is renouncing the International Criminal Court treaty. The stated reason is to prevent other countries from unjustly trying U.S. officials for war crimes. But the ICC, which has been ratified by virtually every Western democracy except the U.S., is set up to be an independent, impartial court, inspired by the Nuremberg Tribunal which tried Nazi leaders for their war crimes. Washington really seeks to immunize U.S. leaders from prosecution for war crimes they may commit in Iraq and other countries…. It also wants to prevent Israeli officials from being tried for possible war crimes committed against Palestinians. In order to justify its attempt to remove its signature from the ICC treaty, the U.S. is also renouncing the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, in clear violation of customary international law. The Vienna Convention forbids a nation from acting contrary to the object and purpose of a treaty it has signed.”
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Professor at the Monterey Institute and author of Inequity in the Global Village, Black has closely followed the case of Pinochet. She said today: “The ICC is something that has been needed for a very long time. ‘Popular sovereignty’ has not been strong enough for people to hold their governments accountable. One might have thought that the U.S. government would welcome the ICC as a way to approach the problem of terrorism; but it has chosen to approach terrorism as if it were a war, resulting in more deaths of innocents. The U.S. government appears to be afraid that its own leaders and personnel would be held to account. But there’s no reason under the principles of justice for allowing the most powerful to hold themselves exempt. The fact that the most powerful individuals and nations have held themselves above the law is all the more reason why a court such as this one is needed. The very existence of the ICC would give leaders like Pinochet pause.”
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Professor of international law at Ohio State University and author of Genocide in Cambodia, Quigley said today: “The action today by the United States has no definitive effect for its future actions in relation to the International Criminal Court. It is a statement of present intent not to ratify. The United States remains a signatory to the Statute of the Court. Today’s move is a political one, with the U.S. government expressing its displeasure with the just-established Court. The U.S. government says that it is afraid that the Court will unfairly target U.S. personnel and political leaders, but the Court would only take jurisdiction of a case if it determined that a given nation’s proceeding is a sham process.”

For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; Norman Solomon, (415) 552-5378