Foreign Policy Blogs

Hillary Clinton: 'Great Regret' US not in ICC

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.



Lisa Gambone

Lisa Gambone is a NY attorney who has provided pro bono work for Human Rights Watch, the ICTR Prosecution and Lawyers Without Borders, first while practicing at a large law firm in London, now independently. She has also spent time at the Caprivi high treason trials in Namibia and at human rights organizations in Belfast, London and New York. She has helped edit and provided research for several publications, including case books on the law of the ad hoc tribunals and a critique of the Iraqi Anfal Trial. She holds a JD specializing in International Law from Columbia University, an MA in International Economics and European Studies from Johns Hopkins SAIS, and a BA in International Relations - Security & Diplomacy from Brown University. Here, she covers war crimes and international justice.