Perspectives on International Justice and Human Rights

Lucia DiCicco and John Washburn

Lucia DiCicco and John Washburn
The American Non-Governmental Organization Coalition for the International Criminal Court (AMICC)
"The United States Should Cooperate with the International Criminal Court"

The Reckoning: AMICC

The International Criminal Court (ICC) is the first permanent, treaty based, international criminal court, and its mission is to end impunity for the perpetrators of atrocity crimes of concern to the international community. The crimes that fall under the jurisdiction of the ICC are war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide committed after July 2002. The ICC operates like any domestic criminal court, except that it works at the international level.

The United States has always been a leader in fighting for human rights and accountability around the world. In fact, the United States was a leader in the creation of the tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda by the Security Council of the United Nations. Moreover, the United States played a major role in negotiating the Rome Statute but opposed the final draft of the Statute at the 1998 Rome Conference.

Since its founding in 2002, the ICC has opened cases in Uganda, the Central African Republic (CAR), the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and Darfur, Sudan. Furthermore, the ICC is prosecuting Thomas Lubanga Dyilo for crimes committed in the DRC. Also, the trial for Germain Katanga and Mathieu Ngudjolo Chui, both from the DRC, is scheduled to begin this fall. In addition, charges were confirmed this month against Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo, for crimes allegedly committed in the CAR, and his trial will begin in the coming months as well.

Previously, the Bush administration's policy toward the ICC was to isolate and undermine it; however, the ICC has achieved full operation, despite U.S. hostility. Right now, the Obama administration is reviewing current U.S. policy toward the ICC. Members of the administration, including Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice, have said that the United States recognizes that the ICC is an important judicial institution. These statements indicate that the new administration will likely work with the ICC more than the previous administration did.

The American public loathes the crimes that fall under the jurisdiction of the ICC and polls show that the public supports U.S. cooperation with the ICC. Furthermore, the values expressed by the ICC in bringing justice to victims and imposing accountability for atrocities are strongly shared by the United States and its people. In cooperating with the ICC, the United States will join the many other countries which, for these reasons, strongly support the ICC.

Lucia DiCicco is a research intern at AMICC. She is a graduate of the Thomas M. Cooley Law School with a concentration in international law, and was recently admitted to practice law in Michigan. She has focused her studies on international law issues ranging from business to human rights, and hopes to continue working on them in the future.

John Washburn is Convener of the AMICC, co-chair of the Washington Working Group on the International Criminal Court and a past president of the Unitarian Universalist United Nations Office. IN association with the international NGO Coalition for the International Criminal Court, he has attended most of the United Nations Negotiations on the International Criminal Court since 1994, including all of the 1998 diplomatic conference in Rome. Previously, he was a director of the Executive Office of the Secretary General of the United Nations, and a director in the Department of Political Affairs at the United Nations.