The Senate voted 78-21 in favor of adopting an amendment to the Defense Appropriations Act that would block the United States from participating in the International Criminal Court (ICC). The amendment, a version of the deceptively named American Servicemembers’ Protection Act authored by Senator Jesse Helms (R-NC), passed after an earlier attempt by Senator Christopher Dodd (D-CT) to delay the vote on Helms’ language was defeated by two votes. Senator Helms has been leading the fight in the Senate against the ICC, but his amendment may be removed in conference. The House version of the appropriations bill does not include language on the ICC.
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. Forty-two countries, including several members of the European Union, have ratified the ICC treaty, and only eighteen more must ratify for the court to be established.