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Sunday, August 09, 2009

Brilliant: US may join International Criminal Court

Al-Guardian reports that US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has been signaling that the United States may join the International Criminal Court.
The US is at present not only not a member but government officials are theoretically banned from any engagement with the ICC whatsoever. An administration official predicted there will be increased US cooperation with the ICC but cautioned against expecting early entry.

Clinton, speaking at a public meeting in Kenya, the first leg of an African tour, indicated she hoped this would come sooner rather than later: "This is a great regret that we are not a signatory. I think we could have worked out some of the challenges that are raised concerning our membership. But that has not yet come to pass."

There is a divide in the Obama administration over entry. Clinton and some other senior figures at the White House and state department are passionately in favour, while others advocate caution, saying the president can afford not to rush membership and should wait to see how the ICC evolves.

Supporters of the ICC, including the UK, which is a member, have long advocated the US joining, saying this would immensely strengthen the body.
Nobody should be surprised that Hillary Clinton regrets the US not joining the court.
In December 2000, just before he left office, the former president Bill Clinton signed up to the ICC. But Bush two years later announced that the US would not be joining and a bill ratifying membership failed to get through Congress.
Consider the possibilities. I looked at them here (I took issue with a post by Ed Morrissey at Hot Air).

The Guardian argues that the United States cannot join the court so long as the US has troops in Iraq and so long as Guantanamo remains open. That argument implies that by joining the court, the United States would be committing itself not to engage in future wars. Moreover, it seems doubtful that 'war crimes' that the US 'committed' in Iraq and in Guantanamo would be exempt from punishment if the US joined the court.

The bottom line is that no one should fool themselves that the US can join the court without American troops being subject to its jurisdiction. And citizen of the world Obama is looking for a way to make them subject to that jurisdiction.

What could go wrong?


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