Essay on the United States and the International Criminal Court

Published: 2021/11/23
Number of words: 1211

Purposes and the Functions of the ICC

The International Criminal Court is a self-sustained judicial institution and, where warranted, is empowered to conduct investigations on individuals and prosecute gravest crimes, especially against genocide, humanity, and aggression crimes. The commitment of the member nations to fight impunity against its nationals lead to the establishment of the ICC. Long before the formation of the ICC, many heinous crimes that had been committed during conflicts have gone unpunished. With several horrific crimes being committed the United Nations saw the urge to form a permanent internal court specifically for dealing with these types of crimes.

Why the United States has not yet Joined the ICC

Regardless of participating and campaigning for the formation of the ICC, the United States registered to the Rome statute as a state member. In fact, in 1998, the United States, alongside seven other countries, did not support the Rome statute and voted against it. The president of the United States back then, Bill Clinton signed the Rome statute in 2000 but did not surrender the treaty to the Senate for ratification. The treaty was later “unsigned” in 2002 by the resident Bill Clinton and sent a note stating that the US was no longer interested in ratifying the treaty and it did not owe any obligations to it. Besides, since then the US have had good relations with the ICC. The government of the United States occasionally been against an international court that may hold the political leaders and the US military to a fixed global standard of justice. The US regards the prosecution of its nationals before an international organization without consent from the US as a violation of its sovereignty. As per the United States, the court of ICC has no authority, jurisdiction, and legitimacy.

Need an essay assistance?
Our professional writers are here to help you.
Place an order

Advantages and disadvantages of the United States joining the ICC

Unlike the courts in the United States which all fall under the jurisdiction of the government, the ICC is an independent court. The United states joining the ICC will help prosecute individuals regardless of their social status, for example, a president. If all parties come together and are under the same umbrella for terrible crimes, it would reduce the gap or difference in decisions as the law set across lands are the same. Currently, the United States is at odds with the ICC; therefore, they are not required to cooperate. This means that the United States loses its credibility on the world stage as it is impossible and ironic to advocate about taking the “high road” and fight against human rights violations when you are seen ignoring human rights yourself. Becoming a member of the ICC will go against the firm belief, the rights of the citizens of the US and the US constitution; it would require the society to go back to the foundations that the country was built on. Hence there could be an increase in corruption and less evidence to be used against one. The United States has a special role in helping guarantee peace and order across the international community; thus, the US joining the ICC will be a hinderance and will tamper with these endeavours.

Should the United States join the ICC or carry on being a non member?

The US should join the ICC; besides, the US should acknowledge that the court is a reality and it cannot do anything to stop it from being effective, and if the US joins, it makes the system more robust. Currently, the requirements laid out by the court are being followed by the US. The process at a global level is still standard. If the US joins the court, it will allow the US to focus on those government officials usually excluded from prosecution from the local courts. In addition, the US converging with the ICC court can help present the national interests of the US in some places, for example, Darfur. Also, participating in the activities of the court is very important, provided that the US is not willing to lose the benefits that is currently enjoying, which is international influence. The ICC will also serve a greater purpose as opposed to other temporary courts, which face the challenge of retaining and attracting good staff.

Worry about your grades?
See how we can help you with our essay writing service.

Reasons for the US not joining the ICC and international perspectives about the leading military power in the world’s decision not to join the ICC

The key concern about the ICC court in the US administration is the American citizens and, to an extent, the American foreign policy and the American government to be subjected to prosecution from an international body that the US cannot control. The US fears the court being politicized by the prosecutor and the activist ICC judges who may overreach the court’s mandate. The leading powers, including France, Germany, and the UK, have had common concerns about the court with the US. These powers have the same reasons as the US to question the court’s ability to prosecute and judge the actions of the individuals from their countries, particularly when regarding the use of force. Some of these states, including the US, consider themselves to have global responsibilities. This means that they send their forces beyond their borders to take part in a wide range of peace activities, including interventions and peace operations. With the consequences of the ICC to prosecute crimes against humanity, this becomes contradictory to these power countries to participate in these peace-keeping operations. This makes it more complicated as the court monitors their member countries during operations and can judge the nationals from these countries. Consequently, these countries prefer not to join the ICC court. Whether the US decides to join the ICC court or not, the United States policy involves trade-offs that involve a broad range of issues, including the use of force, sovereignty, constitutional protections, the rule of law, the quality of American leadership, and the pursuit of justice.

The Ramifications of the United States Joining the ICC

The ramifications of my opinion regarding the international community and the United States can bring more good than harm. If the United States joins the ICC, the citizens will lose faith in the system that is being used currently and civic unrest. The military members who have been found responsible for committing crimes during the war in other countries will be subject to punishment. This will picture out as if the US government is throwing its forces into a trap. Sticking to that topic, joining the ICC will help keep an eye on leaders as they will be observed on their actions , which will cause a trickle-down effect.


Zvobgo, K. (2019). Human rights versus national interests: Shifting US public attitudes on the international criminal court. International Studies Quarterly63(4), 1065-1078.

Sterio, M. (2019). The Trump Administration and the International Criminal Court: A Misguided New Policy. Case W. Res. J. Int’l L.51, 201.

Heller, K. J. (2020). The Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. In The Handbook of Comparative Criminal Law (pp. 593-634). Stanford University Press.

Mendes, E. P. (2019). Peace and justice at the International Criminal Court. Edward Elgar Publishing.

Cite this page

Choose cite format:
Online Chat Messenger Email
+44 800 520 0055