The British government is planning to announce later this week that it will support the creation of the International Criminal Court (ICC). The move by the British government leaves the United States, which opposes the ICC without full exemptions for its military personnel and officials, in stark contrast with the members of the European Union all of whom support the ICC. China, Libya, Saudia Arabia, and the United States represent four of the seven countries opposed to the court.
The establishment of the International Criminal Court would be momentous in the worldwide effort to protect the human rights of women and girls. The court’s mandate presents clear language, fort the first time ever in international law, defining gender crimes including rape, sexual slavery, enforced prostitution, forced pregnancy, enforced sterilization, crime of apartheid, or any other form of sexual violence of comparable gravity as crimes against humanity. Chairman of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee Senator Jesse Helms who has blocked U.S. ratification of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), also adamantly opposes the establishment and jurisdiction of the ICC. For a treaty to be ratified in the U.S., it must be approved by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and by a 2/3 vote of the Senate.