June 28, 2023
Currently, the United States is not a member of the International Criminal Court, but things may be changing in the future. Speculation of this shift comes on the heels of the unexpected and unannounced visit of U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland to the ICC on June 19th.
The International Criminal Court is the world’s first permanent international criminal court that is governed by an international treaty called the Rome Statute. In general, the duty of this court is to prosecute those who are accused of war crimes, genocide, and other crimes against humanity.
The U.S. has had an up and down relationship with the court, especially in recent years. Under the Trump administration, top ICC officials were sanctioned. Under President Biden, however, those sanctions were lifted. Currently, the ICC is investigating Russia for various war crimes. Russia is not currently a member of the court, either. In fact, this court issued an arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin. The court is accusing Putin of illegally deporting hundreds of children from Ukraine. President Biden has publicly stated that the arrest warrant is justified.
Moscow, on the other hand, has denied any allegations of illegally deporting children. The Kremlin has also claimed the ICC’s arrest warrant is “null and void”.
While President Biden has shown favorable attitudes towards the ICC, not all of America’s officials are ready to embrace the ICC. Within the past few months, the State and Justice Departments reported cooperating with the court, but the Pentagon has been accused of blocking the sharing of U.S. military intelligence with the ICC to undermine the prosecution of Russian officials.
In light of Garland’s recent visit, many are hopeful that Washington is shifting gears to become not only more favorable towards the ICC but to possibly join the court as well. Currently, neither Russia nor China are members.
What Crimes Can be Prosecuted in the ICC?
Under the current treaty, the ICC has jurisdiction over four types of crimes. Genocide, or the specific intent to murder specific religious, ethnic, racial, or national groups, is the main crime that you can be charged with and tried in the ICC. The ICC can also levy charges of crimes against humanity, which includes various types of crimes like enslavement, imprisonment, murder, torture, and more.
The ICC can also prosecute individuals who commit war crimes. War crimes are defined as breaches of the Geneva convention, which could include things like directing attacks against hospitals, torturing civilians, or using child soldiers. Finally, the ICC can prosecute crimes of aggression.
The ICC courts only prosecute cases when states are unable or unwilling to prosecute the crime themselves. The ICC court may work differently than your national courts, too, so if you ever believe it’s possible you could face charges from the ICC or a foreign government, then it’s best to consult with a global lawyer as soon as possible.
Here at Bukh Global, our lawyers can help you with a variety of international legal issues. Schedule a consultation with our office now to learn more about how we can help.