20 June 2020

The Washington Post: “Trump authorizes sanctions targeting International Criminal Court”

In an unprecedented display of administration firepower, the secretaries of state and defense, along with the attorney general and the national security adviser, jointly announced sanctions against officials of what they called a “corrupt” and “politically motivated” court manipulated by Russia and other U.S. adversaries.

The announcement escalates a long-standing dispute with the Netherlands-based court, established 18 years ago under the Treaty of Rome. The United States has never ratified the treaty or recognized the court’s jurisdiction.

The ICC is designed as a court of last resort, used only after countries are unable or unwilling to take action against their own citizens accused of war crimes. The United States has prosecuted troops for criminal conduct committed during the war in Afghanistan. Human rights groups have complained the numbers are relatively small and have not included high-level officers and U.S. officials who may have issued orders.

Trump has intervened in several cases involving war-crimes accusations despite opposition from military justice experts and some senior Pentagon officials.

Karen DeYoung & Carol Morello

Defying and denouncing international institutions in unfortunately not a new tactic for President Trump – one could say it is the norm rather than the exception. But it is concerning for the future stability of international relations to have both major powers, US and China, constantly refusing oversight and accountability for their actions, labeling investigations by international bodies as an intrusion into internal affairs. Without the tacit support of the military and economic power of the United States, I fear the rule of law is on shaky ground and we may see more frequent abuses and conflicts.

The International Criminal Court in The Hague
The International Criminal Court in The Hague, Netherlands

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