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US Opposition to the International Criminal Court Archived Articles



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The Wrong Kind of American Exceptionalism (August 18, 2003)

The Bush administration's shortsighted opposition to the ICC causes needless diplomatic damage, the author argues. (UN Wire)

Fleeing Prosecution (August 12, 2003)

By opposing the ICC, the US "lets the world's warlords and genocidaires off the hook" while exposing itself to international criticism. (New Republic)

The United States' Isolated Struggle against the ICC (August 4, 2003)

The Coalition for the ICC documents and condemns the Bush Administration's efforts to immunize US citizens from the ICC.

Yale Law School Professor Harold Hongju Koh Defends the ICC Before the US Congress (July 9, 2003)

International law professor Harold Hongju Koh warns that the US's "hostile" attitude toward the ICC damages the international fight to hold war criminals accountable.

America v. the Rest (July 2, 2003)

The Bush administration is going to extremes to prevent the ICC from trying US soldiers, even withdrawing military aid to key allies. (Economist)

Letter To Colin Powell on US Bully Tactics Against International Criminal Court (June 30, 2003)

Human Rights Watch calls upon the Bush Administration to drop its misguided campaign against the ICC, which "is likely to do far more harm to the United States than it could ever do to the court."

'New Justice' v. Impunity (June 18, 2003)

Kenneth Roth, Executive Director of Human Rights Watch, strongly criticizes the US for rejecting the ICC and thus boosting impunity for war criminals. (International Herald Tribune)

Why the US Needs This Court: America's Rejection of the International Criminal Court Is a Threat to its Own Security (June 15, 2003)

US efforts to weaken the ICC not only undercut the rule of law, they also make the world less safe for everyone, including US nationals. (Observer)

The Unlawful Attempt by the Security Council to Give US Citizens Permanent Impunity from International Justice (May 1, 2003)

Amnesty International questions the legality of Security Council resolution 1422 which grants US citizens immunity from the ICC's jurisdiction. They call on member states to reject a renewal of the resolution when it expires on June 30, 2003.

Amnesty International - International Criminal Court: Security Council Must Refuse to Renew Unlawful Resolution 1422 (May 2003)

Resolution 1422 immunizes US nationals from investigation or prosecution by the ICC. Amnesty International opposes this resolution and explains why it goes against the UN Charter and other international law. (Amnesty International)

Ferencz Defends the Nuremberg Principles and the Rule of Law (March 11, 2003)

Benjamin Ferencz, a former prosecutor at the Nuremburg trials, addresses The Hague on the rule of law and the ICC's role in stamping out impunity. Ferencz believes the US would do well to remember the pertinent lesson learnt by the Germans in World War II: Accepting the doctrine "my country right or wrong" is a recipe for disaster. (Benjamin B. Ferencz Website)

Bringing Tyrants to Book (March 11, 2003)

Whether the International Criminal Court can succeed in the face of strong US opposition remains an open question. This Economist article measures the success of US attempts to undermine the court.

On the Legitimacy of the International Criminal Court (March 7, 2003)

This article questions the legitimacy of the International Criminal Court. The author claims that the elected judges' beliefs don't cover a broad enough political spectrum. Furthermore, the Rome Statute's general language allows them too much latitude to ‘create' law in line with these beliefs. (Wall Street Journal)

Trial by Fire (February 2003)

International Criminal Court officials are firmly committed to beginning proceedings in May 2003, despite a concerted campaign by the US to undermine and discredit the court. (Harvard International Review)


Why Does America Fear This Court? (July 9, 2002)

European Commissioner for External Relations, Chris Patten, responds to American concerns over the ICC. The US is undermining its own past efforts in international justice and is bridging the gap between its power and "moral consensus." (Washington Post)

Tipping the Scales of Justice (July 1, 2002)

What is at stake in the current UN Security Council deadlock is much more than immunity for peacekeepers, it boils down to conflicting principles on international criminal law and human rights. US efforts to "strangle (the ICC) at birth" raise many questions regarding its credibility as a global leader. (Economist)

The President Has Gone Too Far (May 8, 2002)

The author criticizes the US's "unsigning" of the ICC treaty, arguing that the move actually reflects a concern to protect the president and senior security and military advisors, not servicemen, from international criminal investigations. (Nuclear Age Peace Foundation)

Rightwing Ideology and US Military Stand Against Criminal Court (May 7, 2002)

Foreign Policy in Focus discusses the Bush Administration's decision to "unsign" the International Criminal Court Treaty in the wider context of the US's "unabashed mission to construct a Pax Americana." US opposition to the ICC constitutes one of many examples of the US's new imperial strategy.

The Human Rights Blame Game (April 22, 2002)

By rejecting the International Criminal Court , the US government further widens the gap with Europe on identities and human rights values. Differences are emerging at an alarming speed. (Newsweek International)


The US Undermines International Law (December, 1999)

An essay criticizing the US's role in invalidating institutions such as the Criminal Court and The United Nations as the appropriate authorities and arbiters of International law. (Le Monde Diplomatique)

All for a World Court? (December 7, 1999)

Washington Times article discusses how the US's position on the sovereignty of the International Criminal Court has undermined its credibility.





US Blocks UN Text on Massacre in Tiff Over Court (November 29, 2004)

The US tried to block a Security Council statement that suggested an International Criminal Court investigation on the August 13, 2004 massacre in Burundi, reports Reuters. The US has also recently campaigned to remove the ICC from next year's General Assembly agenda and make only member states that support the court bear its financial obligations. Though the Security Council did reach a compromise on the statement, members are increasingly irritated with "Washington's disdain" for the ICC.

Congress Seeks to Curb International Court (November 26, 2004)

The US Congress added a government spending bill provision denying economic aid to countries that will not sign agreements on shielding US citizens from International Criminal Court prosecution. The bill, which pushes US opposition to the global court to a new level, also includes a "national security waiver" allowing President George Bush to exempt allies and NATO members from the funding cut. The legislation, if passed, could affect programs in "small countries with limited strategic importance" that promote peace and democracy and combat drug trafficking. (Washington Post)

US Drops Fight Over Global Court (November 19, 2004)

In the General Assembly Sixth Committee meeting, member states—with the exception of the US—agreed to keep the International Criminal Court (ICC) on the formal agenda for the 60th session. According to the Sixth Committee press release, the US representative proposed that only member states who signed the ICC's Rome Statute should have financial obligations to the court. Rather than calling for a discussion that could have ended in a "potentially embarrassing clash," the US instead refused to participate in the resolution's adoption. (Reuters)

Bush Administration Suspends Aid to Nations that Refuse to Shield Americans from War-Crimes Court (October 17, 2004)

The Bush Administration has been arm-twisting countries into signing bilateral agreements, which protect US citizens from International Criminal Court prosecution, by suspending foreign aid to those countries that do not cooperate. Several nations complain that such tactics set two standards of justice—one for "the bully" and one for the rest of the world. The author says withholding aid to certain countries that help fight the "wars on drugs and terrorism" harms the US as well. (Newsday)

The Better Approach to War Crimes Trials (August 26, 2004)

US civilian leaders have more protection under the Rome Statute than under other existing international legal regimes. Compared to World War II courts and War Crimes Tribunals for Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia, the International Criminal Court status has considerably watered down the principle of superior responsibility. In light of the Abu Ghraib scandal, "maybe the time has come for the United States to join the International Criminal Court?" (International Herald Tribune)

House Republicans Take Initiative against International Criminal Court (July 19, 2004)

The US House of Representatives passed an amendment that would cut US economic aid to countries that don't exempt US personnel from the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court (ICC). The amendment's sponsor, Republican Representative George Nethercutt and House Majority Leader Tom DeLay are outspoken critics of the ICC. (One World US)

US Drops UN Measure to Shield Its Soldiers Abroad (June 23, 2004)

Due to a lack of support from Security Council members, the US withdrew its draft resolution seeking to exempt US soldiers from international prosecution. US Deputy Ambassador James Cunningham did not comment about whether the US would threaten to veto UN peacekeeping missions trying to pass a similar resolution, as it has done in the past. (Reuters)

US Backs Down On War-Crimes Exemption (June 22, 2004)

After failing to gain support for its resolution to exempt its peacekeepers from international prosecution, the US circulated a revised version to elicit the reaction of Security Council members before calling for a vote. The revised version asks to extend the exemption for one final year. (Associated Press)

A Question of Credibility (May 23, 2004)

Former Legal Counsel of the United Nations Hans Corell criticizes the US for seeking another Security Council resolution to exempt US officials from the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court. Corell challenges the reasoning for the resolution and urges the US to "stop this nonsense." (Coalition for the International Criminal Court)

US Pushes World Court Immunity amid Iraq Scandal (May 14, 2004)

Legal practitioners criticize the continuous US opposition to the International Criminal Court following the Iraqi torture scandal, which fueled international outrage and severely damaged US credibility. While US officials promise the guilty will be punished under US law, human rights experts worry that prosecution will only focus on low-ranking soldiers, not their superiors. (Reuters)

US Bludgeons Nations to Reject War Crimes Court (March 16, 2004)

In Asia, the US successfully negotiated bilateral agreements to exempt US citizens from the International Criminal Court's jurisdiction. So far, thirteen states in Southeast Asia and five Central Asian republics have signed the US agreements. To date only five counties in the region accept the court's authority. (Asian Times)

Britain Bows to US Boycott of War Crime Court (March 2, 2004)

An extradition treaty passed by the British parliament in December 2003 shields anyone extradited from the US to Britain from being handed over to the International Criminal Court. Critics argue that by accepting the treaty the British government bowed to American pressure to undermine the Court. (Guardian)


No Give for US on Tribunal (September 28, 2003)

This Los Angeles Times article condemns US efforts to exempt US citizens from the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court. Washington uses US aid as leverage over poor nations to extract these agreements.

An Unused Weapon (September 19, 2003)

Luis Moreno Ocampo, the ICC's new chief prosecutor, believes that the lack of interaction between the US and ICC is a "mistake." By opposing the court the US rules out a potential aid in its "War Against Terrorism" and therefore slows down further progress. (ABA Journal)

US Delays Security Council Negotiations, Opposes ICC Reference (August 25, 2003)

The US blocked a resolution aimed at protecting humanitarian workers because it referred to the ICC, which the US opposes, as a possible way to prosecute those who attack relief workers. (Coalition for the International Criminal Court)

US Seeks War Crimes Exemption for Liberia Peacekeepers (August 1, 2003)

The Bush Administration insists that the Security Council exempt US peacekeepers from prosecution under the ICC before authorizing intervention in Liberia. US opposition to the Court has gone beyond simply undermining human rights, and now threatens the UN's efforts to maintain world peace. (Inter Press Service)

US 'Jihad' For Human Rights Immunity Advances (June 25, 2003)

The continuing US campaign against the ICC, universal jurisdiction, and the ATCA reveals a myopic opposition to any effort to hold human rights abusers accountable. (One World)

Balkans Caught Between Two Pressure Fronts (June 24, 2003)

The US undermines human rights protections by pressing the Balkans, a region tragically familiar with war crimes, to weaken the ICC. (EU Observer)

Top ICC Officials Hopeful Tribunal Will Help Prevent Repeat of History's Atrocities (April 22, 2003)

Argentinean ICC prosecutor Moreno Ocampo speaks of the ICC's vital role in stamping out impunity, promoting respect for human rights and of complementing national courts worldwide. Ocampo also played down US fears of politically motivated prosecutions, emphasizing the quality and integrity of the court's officials. (UN News)

US Bilateral Immunity or So-called "Article 98" Agreements (April 18, 2003)

The US, beyond merely "un-signing" the treaty to create the International Criminal Court, is now forcing small countries to sign bilateral deals granting immunity to US citizens. This report analyzes the damage to holding war criminals accountable. (Coalition for the International Criminal Court)

Canadian First to Lead War-Crimes Court (March 12, 2003)

Member states elected Canadian diplomat Phillipe Kirsch as the ICC's first President. Kirsch is determined to make the court a viable, non-politicized tool to fight impunity, proving US efforts to undermine the court are misguided. (Globe and Mail)

Supporters of ICC Rally to its Defense (March 11, 2003)

Supporters of the ICC used the court's official inauguration as an opportunity to speak out against the US for failing to ratify the Rome Statute. "No one - not even the US - has the sovereign right to commit genocide," said a US Second World War veteran. (Institute of War and Peace Reporting)

First Judges at New Global Court (March 11, 2003)

The International Criminal Court inaugurated its first set of eighteen judges, symbolizing a key step in preserving its legitimacy in the face of US opposition. Skepticism grows over the legitimacy of US "bilateral immunity agreements", especially in a time when the US seeks as much support as possible for the War on Terror. (Human Rights Watch)

Agreement with US on International Criminal Court Exemption (March 4, 2003)

The US and Rwanda have agreed to exempt each other's citizen's from prosecution by the International Criminal Court. The Bush Administration has used its economic and political clout to secure such agreements with 21 other nations since renouncing any obligation to cooperate with the ICC. (IRIN)

US Out of Race for First ICC Judges (January 23, 2003)

The US has not ratified the ICC Treaty after its demands that US citizens be exempt from prosecution were rejected. Consequently, the 18 justices elected by the ICC will not include a US citizen. (UN Wire)

US In the Dock Over International Justice (January 7, 2003)

As the US seat at the International Criminal Court remains conspicuously empty, the international community should increasingly recognize the Bush administration's empty rhetoric in relation to its supposed commitment to international justice. (Times)


US Presses for Total Exemption From War Crimes Court (October 9, 2002)

Exempting US military personnel and diplomats is not enough, says the US, which believes that "there is no reason not to exempt all Americans." The European Union has issued guidelines for dealing with Washington's demands regarding the International Criminal Court. (New York Times)

EU Deal to Exempt US from New World Court (October 1, 2002)

EU foreign ministers have adopted "guidelines" for member states to reach deals offering immunity from the ICC for US citizens. After resisting Washington, the EU finally decided to opt for a "way out of the impasse." (Scottman)

Americans Spared War Crimes Court (October 1, 2002)

"US pressure has paid off," deplores Amnesty International, as the EU caves in and authorizes its members to sign agreements exempting US citizens from the ICC jurisdiction. Human Rights Watch criticizes the EU compromise as being "a step backward.'' (Associated Press)

Resist Washington's Arm-Twisting (September 30, 2002)

In a comment for the International Herald Tribune, Human Rights Watch Executive Director Kenneth Roth discusses the purpose of Article 98 and shows how the US wants to use it for other aims. He warns that by reaching such agreements with the US under Article 98, countries put the "court's legitimacy at stake."

US Ties Military Aid to Peacekeepers' Immunity (August 10, 2002)

President Bush is threatening to cut military aid to all countries which ratify the ICC without "pledging to protect Americans serving in their countries from its reach." President Bush's efforts to undermine the global court are coercive without precedent. (New York Times)

US, Israel Join Forces Against Politically Motivated Prosecution (August 5, 2002)

Claiming to be "entirely committed (…) to the effective action against war crimes and crimes against humanity," the US and Israel have signed a treaty to protect their nations of "politically motivated prosecution" by the ICC. Calling it a "US-bashing body and Israel-bashing body," their commitment to human rights is highly questionable. (CNSN News)

US Backs Off Court Immunity Demand (July 11, 2002)

"The United States has retreated from its demand that American peacekeepers be permanently immune from the new war crimes tribunal and are instead proposing a yearlong ban on any investigation." (Associated Press)

A Superpower's Loneliness (July 8, 2002)

The US has alienated itself from its strongest allies by its continuous efforts to undermine the ICC. As The Christian Science Monitor argues, the US is falling into a dangerous trap in doing so, and "it may encourage nations with bad human rights records to seek exemptions from international rules."

Letter from UN Secretary General Kofi Annan to US Secretary of State Colin Powell (July 3 2002)

Secretary General Kofi Annan evaluates the US proposal as a measure which would discredit the Security Council and offers invaluable advice on how to overcome the current deadlock.

Washington Versus International Justice (July 2, 2002)

July 1, 2002 is the day the international community took a big step forward in its search for international justice and the day "the United States missed the boat in a big way." The US is resorting to unlawful "open blackmail" to have its way. (Le Monde)

The US Assault on World Criminal Court (July 1, 2002)

Senior White House Advisor on UN issues criticizes President Bush's radical assault on the ICC as a counter-productive measure, which will harm US global leadership in the long run. (Boston Globe)

Letter to US Senators regarding the American Servicemembers Protection Act (ASPA) (June 24, 2002)

Benjamin B. Ferencz , former Nuremberg Prosecutor, confronts US Senators on the ASPA and its impact on the ICC and international law. (Benjamin B. Ferencz's Website)

America's Global Leadership Measured by International Law (June 17, 2002)

The Bush Administration's "unsigning [of the ICC] promotes a new philosophy called ‘a la carte multilateralism," which undermines law and order – the fabric of peaceful relations amongst states. Setting such a precedent, the author argues, will result in the "beginning of the end" of US global leadership. (Foreign Policy in Focus)

House Panel Approves Measures to Oppose New Global Court (May 11, 2002)

A bill allowing the president to use force to "rescue" any American held by the International Criminal Court will likely pass in the US House of Representatives. The move takes the Bush administration's opposition to the Court a step further in alienating the US from the international community. (New York Times)

US Acting Small (May 10, 2002)

The US has un-signed the ICC treaty due to its "lack of accountability and threat to American sovereignty". While the US claims a "moral right to defend cherished values and punish iniquities beyond its borders", it appears to invoke international law only when it serves US interests. (Straits Times)

US to Renounce Its Role in Pact for World Tribunal (May 5, 2002)

The US formally renounces the International Criminal Court, pledging it will "not recognize the court's jurisdiction and will not submit to any of its orders." In a further act of defiance, the Bush Administration asserts it "will not be bound" by the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, a pact that directs nations to mind signed treaties. (New York Times)

The US Misjudges a Court (April 10, 2002)

The US adds the International Criminal Court to the list of treaties it rejects, thereby "enhancing its dubious distinction as odd man out." (Christian Science Monitor)


US Lawmakers Seek to Kill the International Criminal Court (October 22, 2001)

A new bill, known as the "American Servicemembers Protection Act" would prohibit the US from cooperating with the ICC and allow the use of "all means necessary and appropriate" to free any Americans facing prosecution before the new court. (Advocacy Project )

One Rule for Americans, One Rule for the Rest (October 17, 2001)

The US uses the word justice as a way to legitimate its military strikes against the Taliban and Osama bin Laden. If the US believes in justice why does it not ratify the ICC statute just like its British partner? (

Bad Neighbors (August 27, 2001)

The American Servicemembers Protection Act, passed by the House in May and now awaiting deliberation in the Senate, seeks to prevent any American involvement with the ICC. If passed, such a unilateral policy will only serve to further isolate the U.S from the rest of the world. (The American Prospect)

Bill to Protect United States Citizens from War Crimes Tribunals (August 1, 2001)

Recognizing that the ICC will soon become a reality, Senator Dodd introduced a bill encouraging continued US participation in the negotiations of the Preparatory Commission of the International Criminal Court, in order to ensure the rules of the court conform to due process of US law. (US Senate)

US Opposition to Tribunal Worries European Supporters (July 14, 2001)

European leaders are worried now that the US position on the ICC has worsened from showing non-support to now taking measures to prevent the establishment of the court. (New York Times)

The American Servicemembers' Protection Act: An Overview (June 21, 2001)

This article lists the key provisions of a US Bill that would, among other things, restricts U.S. participation in any peacekeeping mission and prohibits military assistance for nations that ratify the ICC Treaty. (CICC Bulletin)

Bush Administration Ponders Position Towards International Criminal Court (June, 2001)

As President Bush grapples with the question of whether he should support the ICC, he should consider that US failure to ratify, by the terms of the treaty itself, would result in the inability to participate in shaping the court in its early formative years. (International Enforcement Law Reporter )

Don't Forfeit the Global Criminal Court (May 29, 2001)

David Scheffer, former head of the US delegation to the International Criminal Court talks during the Clinton Administration, details how the delegation negotiated for provisions that alleviate any legitimate fears the US may have of establishment of the court. (Defense News)

Yes to the World Criminal Court, But With America on Board (March 6, 2001)

The mood in the US Congress concerning the ICC is hostile. Compromises have to be found in order to meet deep American fears. (International Herald Tribune)


For Clinton's Last Act . . (December 12, 2000)

If President Bill Clinton fails to sign the Rome Statute before January 31, he will put US recognition of the ICC in big danger. After January 31, there will be no possibility of avoiding the opposition of the Senate.(New York Times)

US Accord Being Sought on UN Dues and on Court (December 7, 2000)

The US is still opposed to the International Criminal Court. Furthermore, US congress introduced a bill earlier this year that would stop military aid to any country that accepts the Court. (New York Times)

'Scare Tactics' on International Court Denounced (June 14, 2000)

The US demonstrates another ugly face in its obstruction of the International Criminal Court. A recent draft legislation presented to the US Congress would deny American military aid to any country ratifying the treaty for the ICC. (Human Rights Watch )

US Pushes to Weaken World Court on Atrocities (June 12, 2000)

The effectiveness of the soon-to-be-established International Criminal Court, which will rule genocide and war crimes, will be challenged as the US attempts to muddle with the Charter in order to "protect American soldiers and officials" from falling under the court's jurisdiction. ( New York Times)


US Odd Man Out as ICC Support Grows (July 28, 1999)

InterPress Service article that looks at US resistance to the establishment of an International Criminal Court.

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