Photo Source: © Rick Bajornas/UN Photo
Photo Source: © Rick Bajornas/UN Photo

Joint NGO Statement: Oppose Trump Administration Measures against the International Criminal Court

11 June 2020

The undersigned organizations express their deep concern regarding today’s announcement by Secretary of State Pompeo and other senior U.S. officials that the United States, among other things, has invoked emergency powers in order to threaten asset freezes and other punitive actions against officials of the International Criminal Court (ICC), their family members, and those who assist their investigations.

The ICC exists because it is difficult to hold government officials and other powerful actors accountable when they commit grave human rights abuses. That impunity, in turn, is corrosive to the broader rule of law, the prospects of lasting peace, and respect for the dignity of all. Since the ICC’s establishment in 2002 as a court of last resort, diverse coalitions of faith-based organizations, human rights advocates, legal practitioners, victims of atrocities, and other constituencies have often looked to it to complement and reinforce their work for justice. Like all other human institutions, the ICC has room for improvement. Nevertheless, from Uganda and the Central African Republic to Darfur and the situation in Bangladesh/Myanmar, the ICC continues to play a vital role, filling gaps in the justice system by independently investigating and prosecuting grave atrocity crimes when national authorities do not do so, or when they seek out help.

This is the context that makes the latest steps in the U.S. government’s attack on the ICC so alarming. It is unacceptable that the United States would target the judges, prosecutors, and other legal professionals of a court that more than 120 countries have joined – including U.S. allies in Europe, Latin America, Africa, and the Asia-Pacific region – using tools that are designed to stigmatize war criminals and disrupt terrorist networks. At this fragile moment in our country and globally, the U.S. government must find ways to address its stated concerns without alienating other countries that have supported international justice or signaling to those who may face the scrutiny of institutions like the ICC that intimidation is an acceptable means of avoiding accountability.

The United States can and should be a powerful voice for justice and accountability for mass atrocities. Punitive measures against the ICC diminish the credibility of that voice. We urge the administration to reverse the steps it has announced, and we urge members of Congress to clearly and publicly oppose this policy.

  1. The Advocates for Human Rights
  2. Alliance for Peacebuilding
  3. American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)
  4. American Friends Service Committee
  5. American Jewish World Service
  6. Amnesty International USA
  7. Anti-Torture Initiative, American University Washington College of Law
  8. Center for Civilians in Conflict (CIVIC)
  9. Center for Human Rights & Humanitarian Law, American University Washington College of Law
  10. Center for Victims of Torture
  11. Center for the Study of Law and Genocide at Loyola Law School
  12. Charity & Security Network
  13. The Columbia Human Rights Institute
  14. Congregation of Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd
  15. Cornell International Human Rights Clinic: Litigation and Advocacy
  16. Darfur Women Action Group
  17. Defending Rights & Dissent
  18. Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
  19. Fortify Rights
  20. Freedom Forward
  21. Friends Committee on National Legislation
  22. Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect
  23. Global Justice Center
  24. Human Rights Center, University of California, Berkeley School of Law
  25. Human Rights First
  26. Human Rights Institute, Georgetown Law
  27. Human Rights Watch
  28. The International Center for Transitional Justice
  29. The International Criminal Court Alliance
  30. The International Criminal Court Student Network
  31. International Human Rights Center, Loyola Law School, Los Angeles
  32. International Justice Project
  33. J Street
  34. Leitner Center for International Law and Justice at Fordham
  35. Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns
  36. National Advocacy Center of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd
  37. Never Again Coalition
  38. The Northwestern Pritzker School of Law’s Center for International Human Rights
  39. Pax Christi USA
  40. Peace Action
  41. Physicians for Human Rights
  42. Presbyterian Church (USA)
  43. Project Blueprint
  44. The Promise Institute for Human Rights at UCLA
  45. Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights
  46. The Sentry
  47. Sisters of Mercy of the Americas – Justice Team
  48. Syria Justice and Accountability Centre
  49. Union for Reform Judaism
  50. Unitarian Universalist Association
  51. United Church of Christ, Justice and Witness Ministries
  52. The United Methodist Church – General Board of Church and Society
  53. United Nations Association of the USA
  54. United Nations Association – Greater Philadelphia
  55. Urban Morgan Institute for Human Rights, University of Cincinnati College of Law
  56. Victim Advocates International
  57. War Crimes Research Office, American University, Washington College of Law
  58. World Federalist Movement – Institute for Global Policy
  59. World Without Genocide at Mitchell Hamline School of Law
Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect and other NGOs


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