On April 28, 2021, a Task Force of the American Society of International Law issued a report recommending options for the Biden Administration and Congress to engage with International Criminal Court (ICC).
The ASIL also held a webinar launch of the report. Participating in the webinar were: Catherine Amirfar, President of the ASIL; Todd Buchwald, former Ambassador, Office of Global Criminal Justice, U.S. Department of State; and Beth Van Schaack, the Leah Kaplan Visiting Professor in Human Rights at Stanford Law School and former Deputy to the Ambassador-at-Large for War Crimes Issues in the Office of Global Criminal Justice of the U.S. Department of State.
In 2009, as the Obama took office, an earlier ASIL Task Force, chaired by Ambassador William H. Taft IV and Judge Patricia M. Wald, did a report examining U.S. policy toward the ICC and making recommendations to help the incoming Obama Administration in developing its policy.
Section I provides a background about the U.S. relationship with the ICC. Section II gives the basic legislative framework that governs U.S. relations with the ICC and the evolution of the framework. Section III looks at various ways in which the U.S. has engaged on ICC issues. Section IV describes recent developments relevant in assessing the options for U.S. engagement with the ICC in the coming years. The discussion includes the ICC’s investigations in the “situation in Afghanistan” (potentially involving allegations of torture by U.S. personnel) and the “situation in Palestine” (potentially involving allegations against senior Israeli officials, including in connection with settlements policy). Section IV also provides background on ongoing ICC review and reform efforts.
Section V describes a broad range of ways in which many elements of ICC policy intersect with other U.S. interests. Section VI provides the Task Force’s recommendations for how the Biden Administration should engage with the ICC on a pragmatic basis moving forward.
Task Force’s Recommendations
The Task Force identified four categories of recommendations: (A) initial steps to “clear the air,” revise the tone in the aftermath of U.S. government’s attacks on the Court, and strengthen the U.S. approach to multilateralism and its shared goals with the ICC; (B) 18 Steps that should be taken regardless of specific concerns about the ICC; (C) dealing with the biggest issues – the Afghanistan and Palestinian situations and the ICC review and reform; and (D) support for particular ICC Cases.
Most likely the Biden Administration will carefully consider the report and recommendations, so it is worth reviewing for persons interested in the ICC and U.S. government policy towards it. The report portends a more positive engagement by the Biden Administration with the ICC. The current issue of the IELR will have a more comprehensive discussion of the report, its recommendations and implications.