The International Criminal Court
146. In our Report on British-US Relations, we noted
the reluctance of the United States Administration to invite the
Senate to ratify the Treaty establishing an International Criminal
Court. We called
on the Government to continue its dialogue with the Administration;
in its response, the Government undertook to do this, with a view
to persuading the US of the merits of ratification of the Treaty.
Since then, sufficient signatories to the Treaty have ratified
it to trigger the establishment of the Court, which is expected
on 1 July 2002.
147. We believe that it is in the interests of the
war against terrorism to ensure that the International Criminal
Court is established and functions effectively. Though the ICC
will be unable to try those responsible for the atrocities of
11 September, the war against terrorism is likely to continue
for some years. There is a danger that further acts of terrorism
may be committed against US, British or other coalition partners'
citizens. The ICC, once established, should ensure that those
responsible for such acts can be tried according to an internationally
recognised system of criminal justice, even if attacks took place
beyond US, British or other coalition partners' territories.
148. However, on 6 May 2002 the United States effectively
withdrew from the ICC Treaty. Under-Secretary John Bolton wrote
to Kofi Annan, declaring that "the United States does not
intend to become a party to the treaty. Accordingly, the United
States has no legal obligations arising from its signature on
December 31, 2000."
The US nonetheless asserts that its action is consistent with
its obligations under the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties.
149. Explaining the US Administration's action, Under
Secretary for Political Affairs Marc Grossman said:
"We believe the ICC undermines the role of the
United Nations Security Council in maintaining international peace
We believe in checks and balances. The Rome Statute
creates a prosecutorial system that is an unchecked power.
We believe that in order to be bound by a treaty,
a state must be party to that treaty. The ICC asserts jurisdiction
over citizens of states that have not ratified the treaty. This
threatens US sovereignty.
We believe that the ICC is built on a flawed foundation.
These flaws leave it open for exploitation and politically motivated
150. Other governments do not share these concerns.
But while the legal status of Mr Bolton's letter may be disputed,
its effects are clear: the United States will not regard its citizens
to be accountable before the International Criminal Court, and
will not co-operate with the Court.
151. We deeply regret this action of the United States
Administration. We acknowledge the concerns of the US, but we
believe they could and should have been dealt with by diplomacy.
We recommend that the Government seek to allay the concerns
of the US Administration about the International Criminal Court,
with a view to persuading it to reconsider its renunciation of
the ICC Treaty.