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Oppose Trump Administration Measures against the International Criminal Court

June 11, 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, 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.

The Advocates for Human Rights

Alliance for Peacebuilding

American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)

American Friends Service Committee

American Jewish World Service

Amnesty International USA

Anti-Torture Initiative, American University Washington College of Law

Center for Civilians in Conflict (CIVIC)

Center for Human Rights & Humanitarian Law, American University Washington College of Law

Center for Human Rights & Global Justice, New York University School of Law

Center for Victims of Torture

Center for the Study of Law and Genocide at Loyola Law School

Charity & Security Network

The Columbia Human Rights Institute

Congregation of Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd

Cornell International Human Rights Clinic: Litigation and Advocacy

Darfur Women Action Group

Defending Rights & Dissent

Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

Fortify Rights

Freedom Forward

Friends Committee on National Legislation

Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect

Global Justice Center

Human Rights Center, University of California, Berkeley School of Law

Human Rights First

Human Rights Institute, Georgetown Law

Human Rights Watch

The International Center for Transitional Justice

The International Criminal Court Alliance

The International Criminal Court Student Network

International Human Rights Center, Loyola Law School, Los Angeles

International Justice Project

J Street

Leitner Center for International Law and Justice at Fordham

Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns

National Advocacy Center of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd

Never Again Coalition

The Northwestern Pritzker School of Law’s Center for International Human Rights

Pax Christi USA

Peace Action

Philadelphia Bar Association

Physicians for Human Rights

Presbyterian Church (USA)

Project Blueprint

The Promise Institute for Human Rights at UCLA

Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights

The Sentry

Sisters of Mercy of the Americas – Justice Team

Syria Justice and Accountability Centre

Union for Reform Judaism

Unitarian Universalist Association

United Church of Christ, Justice and Witness Ministries

The United Methodist Church – General Board of Church and Society

United Nations Association of the USA

United Nations Association – Greater Philadelphia

Urban Morgan Institute for Human Rights, University of Cincinnati College of Law

Victim Advocates International

War Crimes Research Office, American University, Washington College of Law

World Federalist Movement – Institute for Global Policy

World Without Genocide at Mitchell Hamline School of Law

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