Britain became the 42nd country to ratify the International Criminal Court (ICC) Treaty, increasing pressure on the United States, one of the few Western nations not to ratify the treaty, to follow suit. The ICC would be a permanent court designed to prosecute war criminals, genocide, and crimes against humanity. Article 7 of the Rome Statute of the ICC also presents clear language defining gender crimes to include rape, sexual slavery, enforced prostitution, forced pregnancy, enforced sterilization, or any other form of sexual violence of comparable gravity. Terrorist acts, like the ones committed by Osama bin Laden and his al Qaeda network, and gender violence, including the Taliban’s institution of gender apartheid, could therefore be prosecuted in the ICC. Crimes committed before the establishment of the court, however, could not be prosecuted. The ICC needs only 18 more countries to ratify the 1998 Rome Treaty in order to be established.
Senator Jesse Helms (R-NC) has been leading the opposition to the ICC in the U.S. In the same week that Britain ratified the treaty, Helms re-introduced the American Servicemembers Protection Act, which would block U.S. cooperation in the formation of the ICC, penalize countries that ratified the ICC treaty, and allow the use of military force to prevent U.S. soldiers from being tried by the ICC.