Member countries of the International Criminal Court (ICC) have joined together in support of the court’s crucial work and independence from political pressure, Human Rights Watch said on Tuesday. A cross-regional group of 67 ICC member countries issued a joint statement on June 23, 2020 in response to the United States administration’s June 11 executive order that authorizes asset freezes and family travel bans that could be used against ICC officials and potentially others who assist ICC investigations.
The ICC member countries reconfirmed their “unwavering support for the court as an independent and impartial judicial institution,” and reiterated their commitment to defend the values enshrined in its founding treaty “undeterred by any measures or threats against the court, its officials, and those cooperating with it.” Member countries also renewed their pledge to assist the ICC’s work under the court’s founding Rome Statute and called on all governments to ensure cooperation with the court.
“ICC member countries, including many key US allies, are speaking out for the international court in the face of the Trump administration’s effective extortion,” said Richard Dicker, international justice director at Human Rights Watch. “Their statement sends a strong message that governments have the court’s back and will not bow to Washington’s misguided pressure.”
The difficult landscape for a rules-based global order, including accountability for the worst crimes, highlights the need for ICC member countries to support a stronger court, Human Rights Watch said. The court is facing internal challenges that need to be addressed. In December 2019, member countries signaled their renewed commitment to the ICC by launching a review process to strengthen the court and its performance.
The statement from member countries follows a number of earlier public statements objecting to the June 11 executive order from Washington. They included statements by the high representative of the European Union, several member countries, the president of the ICC Assembly of States Parties, and civil society organizations, as well as former US officials and a current US senator.
“Multilateral support for the ICC is key to deterring the chilling effect of the Trump administration’s outrageous effort to undermine justice for victims,” Dicker said. “Member countries will need sustained vigilance and to be ready to take further steps to push back against US bullying of the court.”