The Trump Administration is adopting a hostile stance toward the International Criminal Court, possibly threatening sanctions if prosecutors proceed with an investigation into alleged war crimes committed by U.S. forces in Afghanistan. The United States will not in any way cooperate with the International Criminal Court, national security adviser John Bolton announced in a speech to the Federalist Society on Monday, blasting the ICC as an unaccountable, bureaucratic body that runs counter to the U.S. Constitution and is “antithetical to our nation’s ideals.”
National Security Advisor John Bolton asserted U.S. opposition to the ICC probe in a speech, today in Washington. The address was his first since joining the Trump White House.
“The United States will use any means necessary to protect our citizens and those of our allies from unjust prosecution by this illegitimate court,” Bolton told the Federalist Society, a conservative group.
In the speech, Bolton declared that the Trump administration “will fight back” if the Hague-based court takes formal measures to open an investigation into conduct by U.S. service members and intelligence professionals during the war in Afghanistan.
“We will not cooperate with the ICC,” said Bolton, adding that “for all intents and purposes, the ICC is already dead to us.”
If the investigation continues anyway, Bolton said the Trump administration could take steps to ban prosecutors and judges from the U.S., and could also sanction a U.S.-based funds.
Additionally, he warns that, the U.S. may seek bilateral agreements that would prohibit nations from surrendering Americans to the ICC.
The aggressive rhetoric and tough posturing in Bolton speech echoes the kind of pushback the top tribunal has faced from strongmen and war criminals the world over.
In April, Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte threatened to arrest prosecutors examining his war on drugs, which has killed thousands.
Bolton is not the first U.S. official to take a hostile approach to the ICC. When the court was established in 2002, then-US President George W. Bush refused to ratify the Rome treaty underpinning the tribunal, which aims to hold accountable perpetrators of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide.
Bolton has also announced Washington’s plans to close the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) office over concerns that it is attempting to prompt an ICC investigation of Israel.
“The United States will always stand with our friend and ally, Israel,” said Bolton.