The International Criminal Court (ICC), created in 1998 (Thayer and Ibryamova 2010), is responsible for investigating and prosecuting the most extreme cases, including crimes against humanity, aggressive crimes, war crimes, and genocide. The credibility of this institution, however, has been compromised due to the United States revocation of support and membership. Initially it is important to recognize the arguments against the United States becoming a member state of the ICC and what precipitated the U.S. withdrawing its signature from the document that instituted the Court. Once this has been established, the arguments in favor of ICC membership will be developed by addressing and refuting these objections. Finally, this analysis will lead to proving how the United States becoming a member state will increase the effectiveness and integrity of the International Criminal Court.
One opposing standpoint to the union of the United States and the International Criminal Court is the concern of sovereignty. Those who support the United States’ decision to revoke its signature from the Rome Statute argue that by joining the ICC, America’s sovereignty would be threatened, for the country would be required to answer to a higher court. In accordance with this, many on the opposition believe it is necessary to create legislation that protects Americans from the ICC and allows the U.S. to retain its sovereignty. Consequently, the international community has expressed outrage in the United States’ actions to combat the International Criminal Court’s authority. As a world leader with one of the most sophisticated and respected judicial systems, these types of actions present the U.S. as appearing indifferent to the plight of human rights violations and the Court’s initiative to hold violators responsible.
Another objection to joining the ICC is the effect membership could potentially have on Americans on trial for war crimes, genocide, aggressive crimes, and crimes against humanity; the United States is specifically concerned with the treatment and trial of American soldiers who may be accused of these crimes. In response, the US has adopted the American Service Members Protection Act (ASMPA) and Article 98. Both are meant to prevent United States citizens from being subjected to ICC regulations; the result is a confusing message implying that citizens of the US are exempt from the same laws and standards as are expected from the remaining world population. Legislation like the ASMPA and Article 98 have further deteriorated the image of the US in the international community.
The United States’ decision to not join the ICC is largely contested today; however, many may be unaware that though its role is vehemently debated, the United States was once instrumental in the creation of the Court. Even prior to World War I, the United States was a proponent of international courts, as well as was the creator of many standards of global law now incorporated into...