The US is expected to take an aggressive stance towards the International Criminal Court (ICC). President Donald Trump’s national security adviser, John Bolton, is to make the announcement in a midday speech to the Federalist Society, a conservative group, in Washington, in which he will express deep hostility to the world body, by telling the organisation that it is “dead to [us]”.
Bolton, one of the most hawkish members of Trump’s administration, is expected to make the unprecedented attack on the ICC in what appears to be a pre-emptive threat to block the court from investing war crimes committed by the US during its Afghan campaign as well as to protect its ally, Israel.
According to a draft of the speech seen by Reuters, the Neo-Con ideologue is expected to warn the ICC that the US will fight back using any means necessary if the ICC ever dares to probe an American or Israeli, and will punish those who cooperates with war-crime investigations.
“The United States will use any means necessary to protect our citizens and those of our allies from unjust prosecution by this illegitimate court,” Bolton, is expected to say. “We will not cooperate with the ICC. We will provide no assistance to the ICC. We will not join the ICC. We will let the ICC die on its own. After all, for all intents and purposes, the ICC is already dead to us.”
The vigorous speech, titled “Protecting American Constitutionalism and Sovereignty from International Threats”, according to the Washington Post, will be delivered to a conservative group in Washington today.
Bolton’s aggressive speech is the earliest indication that the US will launch a diplomatic assault against the foremost legal body in the world set up to investigate war crimes and crimes against humanity, a move that is likely to raise further concerns of American efforts to undermine international law.
Bolton’s comment over protecting its allies is a clear reference to Israel, which could face ICC probe into human rights violations. The Palestinians submitted a request to the court for a formal investigation earlier this year. It’s one of several complaints by Palestinians to the ICC and the legal body is coming under increasing pressure to open an investigation against Israel.
There is speculation over the details of American response. There is potential for the US to sanction judges, prosecutors and those who cooperate with such a probe. This may include banning those individuals from entering America, freezing their assets, and trying them in American courts.
The United States signed but never ratified the 2002 Rome Treaty that established the International Criminal Court. The body has since been widely criticised as a “political tool”, for failing to investigate crimes committed by Israel and its western allies.