NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

International Criminal Court Against U.S. Interests

March 26, 2002

Despite admitting it had "significant flaws," Bill Clinton signed the 1998 Rome Treaty creating a permanent International Criminal Court (ICC). Now, critics say, George Bush must correct the mistake.

The ICC would be inconsistent with national interest, democratic principles and the Constitution.

  • It could punish individual Americans for actions it considers violations of international law.
  • Unlike the United Nations, the U.S. would have no veto power over its actions.
  • Its judges or prosecutors could extradite any American -- including the president -- for anything from "genocide" to "outrages against personal dignity" and "serious injury to mental health."
  • The ICC would determine how these terms were interpreted -- and its personnel, critics add, are not likely to be sympathetic to the U.S.

The ICC has been embraced by Algeria, Cambodia, Haiti, Iraq, Nigeria, Sudan and Syria -- all of whom have practiced torture, extrajudicial murder or both -- and all of whom would have full and equal voice over the selection of judges and prosecutors.

Joining the court would be inconsistent with American principles of republicanism, that those with prosecutorial powers be elected by the people or their representatives and accountable to them. Under the Constitution, any American accused of a crime in the U.S. must be tried in a U.S. court with full application of the Bill of Rights -- including a public trial where the crime was committed and full access to the prosecution's witnesses.

ICC would allow none of this, but would permit secret hearings, secret witnesses, conviction on a simple majority vote of a judicial panel and the opportunity for the prosecution to appeal any acquittal.

Source: Lee A. Casey and David B. Rivkin, Jr., "When in the Rome Treaty...." National Review, March 25, 2002.


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