National Security Advisor John Bolton Threatens International Criminal Court With Sanctions

The International Criminal Court is the “court of last resort” for the world’s worst offenders: people accused of genocide, war crimes and other heinous actions who cannot — or will not — be called to account in their home nations. National Security Advisor John Bolton just fired a shot at theintergovernmental organization, undermining its authority and proclaiming that the court is “illegitimate.”

According to Bolton, the U.S. will pursue “any means necessary” to keep not just U.S. citizens, but also allies out of the ICC, and he threatened sanctions if the nonpartisan international entity pursues investigations into possible war crimes in Afghanistan.

Bolton’scomments, made on the eve of the 9/11 anniversary, reflect a long career of professing disdain for the ICC, and they also send a clear message about how the Trump administration views the court.

Before delving into Bolton’s remarks, it may help to know a little about the ICC. In 1998, 120 United Nations member states adopted the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. In 2002, the agreement had been ratified by 60 states,establishing the ICC — but it has no retroactive jurisdiction, focusing entirely on crimes committed on or after July, 2002.

From the start, the United States has had a rocky relationship with the ICC.The country never ratified the agreement, and President George W. Bush, along with Bolton, led the charge to withdraw the country’s initial signature. In addition, the U.S. passed a law explicitly protecting servicemembers from investigation and prosecution by the ICC.

The United States isn’t the only nation that’s declined to work with the ICC, and the entity has faced challenges as a result of this poor international support. It has also been criticized for focusing on African nations almost exclusively, with some critics saying it feels like these countries are being unfairly targeted.

Bolton’sstatements come at a time when the ICC has proposed looking into the possibility of war crimes committed by U.S. forces and allies in Afghanistan. Bolton made it clear that any investigation — let alone prosecution based on the findings — would be met with significant opposition. This could include barring members of the ICC from entering the U.S. and putting holds on bank accounts. He even threatened to turn the tables and prosecute ICC officials in U.S. courts.

Boltonclaims the ICC violates sovereignty, putting power in the hands of an authority who sits outside the U.S. justice system. Andthat’spart of the point; the ICC encourages nations to pursue justice domestically, but when all other options have been exhausted, or when it’s clear that someone will not receive a fair trial, the ICC is available. This is particularly important when corruption, civil war and other issues that imperil the justice system have made it challenging or impossible to try complex cases like these.

This move is a reminder that the Trump administration has an extremely isolationist foreign policy, andofficialsaren’t interested in collaborating with the international community.The administration has also turned the ICC into a partisan issue in the United States.

Just as Bush worked to distance himself from it, President Barack Obama directed the U.S. government to revisit the issue and strengthen relations with the ICC. Now, the pendulum has swung the other way.

TheU.S. is already making good on its promise to ensure that the ICC is “dead to us.” On Monday, the U.S. also closed the Washington office of the Palestine Liberation Organization, claiming that it had failed toprogresson peace talks with Israel. Notably, the PLO had just reached out to the ICC to conduct an investigation into Israeli human rights violations.

Photo credit: Gage Skidmore/Creative Commons

49 comments

Annabel Bedini
Annabel Bedini8 days ago

David F
Oh for goodness sake! This is a very very very small nostalgic movement of absolutely no relevance to present day life. Forget them.

You never answered my question WHY 100% of the world's media would want to invent fake news. This would include faking filmed footage too presumably. All of it staged using actors and extras and special effects and cut-and-paste from other events and so on? WHY would they bother? Of course it can be and has been done but not ALL of it in a giant, expensive, time-consuming conspiracy, to what purpose? Do get real David.

And only answering on the Communist Party question is a way of deflecting from the main issue, isn't it!

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David F
David F8 days ago

Annabel, here's the new Italian Communist Party Central committee proclamation. Six pages of fine print that says nothing, impossible to read.
https://www.marxists.org/history/erol/italy/nicp-2-line.pdf

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Annabel Bedini
Annabel Bedini9 days ago

David F
....oh and you mention 'the Italian Comunist Party'. What Italian Communist Party? Or maybe When? There hasn't been an Italian Communist Party for decades.

...and the correct spelling below is ' contravene' of course, not 'contrevene'. Sorry for the typo.

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Annabel Bedini
Annabel Bedini9 days ago

David F
Well you'll only find what you want to find searching the internet and you clearly don't want to find the evidence of American military misdemeanours, do you? I repeat, I never said Blackwater used white phosphorous. Blackwater slaughtered unarmed civilians. Try searching the Nasour Square Massacre if you can't find other links. The white phosphorous attacks on Fellujah were carried out by the air-force. The problem with the YouTube videos is that there are so many of them I understand if you don't have time to watch more of them to see for yourself what happened to the population, at the time and after. In a couple of the videos, ex-combatants themselves talk openly about the orders they received. Not fake news, David.

To get back to the subject of this debate, given that there is incontrovertible evidence of the American military committing what could well be judged as war crimes of course the US refuses to have anything to do with the ICC. The ICC was set up specifically to judge cases where national judiciaries fail to provide justice for victims of war crimes, genocide, crimes against humanity and so on. But of course, the US believes it has the god-given right to contrevene all agreed conventions on the conduct of war......

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David F
David F9 days ago

Annabel, I'm glad I was able to reeducate what you learned from Fake News about chemical weapons and white phosphorus.

Did not find where Blackwater used it against civilians. The Italian Communist Party had a claim someone used white phosphorus, but no evidence who.

Unfortunately the type of warfare we deal with in the middle east has the terrorist hiding behind their women and children. Remember women and girls have very little value over there.

There was a really good nighttime YouTube video where the soldiers were shooting white phosphorus. The problem with that is that I doubt very much it was Falluja because the shooters were wearing a strobe light. Obviously training or they would be dead.

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Jack Y
Jack Y9 days ago

thanks

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Jack Y
Jack Y9 days ago

thanks

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Annabel Bedini
Annabel Bedini9 days ago

David F
I left out, after 'the civilian population of Fallujah': You will see that yes indeed 'It burns very hot, so direct contact will cause sever injuries.' Your words. Watch for yourself.

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Annabel Bedini
Annabel Bedini9 days ago

David F
Please note that white phosphorous 'is forbidden for use against civilians as well as legitimate military targets that happen to be in a major civilian population center if the munition is delivered by air. This is due to its incendiary effect.' See www.quora.com and all the other sites dealing with this question. Then go to YouTube and watch the videos of white phosphorous attacks on the civilian population of Fallujah. Then tell me I am out of order. Whether or not you give it the official title 'chemical weapon' seems entirely academic. It is a chemical and it was used as a weapon, ostensibly to flush out so-called terrorists among the civilian population, in direct contravention of the relative international ban on its use in these circumstances.

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David F
David F9 days ago

Annabel, you're obviously the one not paying attention to anything but Fake News.

Your claim of chemical weapons being used by any of the Allied troops, especially United States is bizarre. They have not been used by us since World War I.

White phosphorus is not a chemical weapon, it has no poisonous or choking effect on humans, it is used primarily for signaling troops, creating smoke screens, anti heat seeking rocket countermeasures and illumination flares. It burns very hot, so direct contact will cause sever injuries.
It is a common munition in every army, aviation and marine industry for over a century, not banned by international law.

You can buy some today on ebay if you want, see item # 173527307639, the red shells are distress, the white one is white phosphorus illumination.

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