Peace in the ICC Wars? Let’s Just Call It a Truce

by Julian Ku

Apparently, the U.S. conservative policymaking world has made its peace with the ICC.  As long as the ICC doesn’t bother the US, the US won’t bother the ICC.  But the US has no plans to join either.  That is the bottom line from this report from Colum Lynch.

Have U.S. conservatives really lost the war on the International Criminal Court?

A decade ago, President George W. Bush‘s U.N. envoy, John Negroponte, threatened to shut down U.N. peacekeeping missions from Bosnia to Guatemala if the U.N. Security Council failed to immunize American peacekeepers from prosecution by the International Criminal Court (ICC). The Bush administration threatened to cut aid to America’s military allies if they failed to sign pacts — known as Article 98 Agreements — vowing never to surrender a U.S. citizen to the Hague-based court. John Bolton, the Republicans’ fiercest foe of the court, declared the day he reversed the Clinton administration’s decision to sign the treaty establishing the court his happiest. “I felt like a kid on Christmas day,” he wrote in his memoir. The very future of the international tribunal appeared to be at risk.

Today, the Security Council routinely passes resolutions expanding the scope of the international court and few pay it any notice. Last year, the Security Council cited the ICC in resolutions nine times, including in a December resolution — 2085 — that requires peacekeepers in Mali to support “national and international efforts, including those of the International Criminal Court, to bring to justice perpetrators of serious human rights abuses and violations of international humanitarian law.”

The article goes on to quote our own Ken Anderson and Brett Schaefer at Heritage to say that, basically, the American right doesn’t really care about the ICC much anymore. I think that is more or less correct. I would add that the utter lack of enthusiasm in the Obama Administration for joining the ICC has made the right feel much better as well.  Even the most influential US NGOs have toned down their ICC campaigns.

I will also say that (as Ken notes in the article), Israel is a red line for the American right and the ICC will be back in the penalty box if the ICC opens an investigation into Palestine.  And that is not exactly out of the realm of possibility.

One Response

    I was intrigued by your view regarding Palestine’s joining the ICC  that it “is not exactly out of the realm of possibility”.
    It is more than two and a half months since the UNGA upgraded Palestinians’ status to a non-member observer state. This should enable Palestine to join several UN organizations including the ICC and ICJ. But Mr. Abbas has not taken even the first step of joining the ICC. He has only been threatening to join, without actually joining it. There is no doubt that he is dragging his feet. Israel would not have approved thousands of new housing units for the E1 area and East Jerusalem, and now also in Ramallah, had Palestine applied to come under the jurisdiction of ICC. I read in the newspapers that Abbas has been traveling to various capitals around the world talking about the “peace negotiations”. It is frustrating to see that he has been procrastinating. There is only one thing that both Netanyahu and Obama are worried about: It is that Palestine might finally join the ICC and drag the Israeli politicians (read: thugs who do not respect International Laws) to The Hague and put them in the dock. The Arab and Muslim leaders should put pressure on Abbas to act without delay, before Israel annexes and steals even more of Palestinian lands.
    Yesh Prabhu, Bushkill, Pennsylvania

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