A New Perspective on the International Criminal Court: Why the Right Should Embrace the ICC and How America Can Use It

Ron Sievert


In examining the response of the U.S. to the development of international law and institutions, one observes that the proponents of an international approach are traditionally idealists and those representing the left wing of American politics. The opposition tends to be led by conservatives and nationalists. A review of public statements surrounding the creation of the ICC reveals that it is no exception. The Court was formed, in the words of Kofi Annan, to help “ensure that no ruler, no State, no junta and no army anywhere can abuse human rights with impunity . . . that those who violate those rights will be punished.” Organizations such as Human Rights First, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and Citizens for Global Solutions have heavily promoted the ICC, and many international lawyers have expressed a “romantic attachment” to the idea that the Court can efficiently judge and deter war criminals and those who abuse human rights. However, as early as 1998, members of America’s political right wing, such as Senators Jessee Helms and John Ashcroft, have made it clear that they viewed the ICC as a threat to U.S. national sovereignty and our preeminence in world affairs. Senator Ashcroft stated that the Court was a “continuing threat to the national interest,” while Senator Helms declared that “the United States will never—and I repeat, never—allow its national security decisions to be judged by any international criminal court.” Ambassador
John Bolton and the Cato Institute also took strong and early stands against the Court, with Ambassador Bolton declaring that the adoption of the ICC breaches “the American citadel . . . , advocates of binding international law will be well on the way toward ultimate elimination of the ‘nation state.’”

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5195/lawreview.2006.92


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