Speaking in Kenya, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said it is a “great regret” that the US is not a member of the International Criminal Court (ICC) in the Hague, the Associated Press reports.
The ICC was established in 2002 as the first ever permanent, treaty based tribunal for trying genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity, building on the foundations of the ad hoc tribunals (ICTR, ICTY) created in the 1990s. It is currently investigating situations in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Central African Republic, Uganda and Sudan.
Rodham Clinton’s husband, former President Bill Clinton, originally signed the Rome Statute (the ICC’s underlying treaty) in 2000. But the treaty was never ratified by Congress and was then ‘unsigned’ by George W. Bush in 2002, on worries about US citizens being brought before the court.
US opposition to the ICC was then further cemented by the enactment of the American Service-Members’ Protection Act, a law authorizing the use of any means necessary to free any US or allied personnel brought to the ICC – effectively a conditional authorization of US intervention in the Netherlands.
Thus the Secretary’s statements indicate a significant policy shift in favor of the court. But for those that hope this shift will result in imminent US membership, reports that the administration in fact remains split on the issue show that this may not happen anytime soon.