In a move counter to many of its democratic allies, the US formally retracted support for the International Criminal Court (ICC). In a letter submitted yesterday, the US State Department told UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, “The United States does not intend to become a party to the treaty. Accordingly, the United States has no legal obligations from its signature on the December 31, 2000.” President Clinton signed the Rome Statute in December 2000, but the Bush administration will not recognize the court’s jurisdiction nor obey any of its orders. More over, the US has also relieved itself of any obligations under the 1969 Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, whereby states must refrain from undermining treaties they sign, regardless of ratification.
The administration’s position, however, appears to be a moot point. Sixty-six countries ratified the ICC last April, making the court’s creation imminent. Tom Malinowski of Human Rights Watch characterizes the US’s action as “an empty and self-defeating gesture, [since the US only removes itself] from a position of influence over the court.”
The ICC is scheduled to begin proceedings in The Hague next year for war crimes committed after July 1. Americans are not exempt from prosecution. According to Rumsfeld, Marisa Lino of the State Department has been assigned to negotiate against extradition.