NEW YORK, New York- At a meeting today of the International Criminal Court, the United States Ambassador-at-Large for War Crimes Stephen Rapp announced that the Obama administration supported the work of the International Criminal Court (ICC).
Addressing the resumed 8th session Assembly of States Parties (ASP) at the United Nations, Rapp told international delegations and NGO observers that the U.S. recognized the importance of the ICC's role in the system of international justice. "The Obama administration would like to meet with the prosecutors of the ICC," he said, pledging U.S. support for the ICC's ongoing investigations in Uganda, Sudan, the Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. "The U.S. wants to identify specific ways to support the work of the Court."
The Ambassador also underscored the importance of the work of ad-hoc tribunals, and expressed the U.S. desire to share its "lessons learned" with the ICC. Recognizing the ICC's ongoing challenge of executing arrest warrants, Rapp said the U.S. specifically wanted to help to "enhance effective cooperation with non-state parties."
Ambassador Rapp was part of a large, inter-agency delegation to the ASP, including members of the Department of State and the Department of Defense. Harold Koh, Legal Adviser to the Department of State is expected to make a statement this afternoon regarding the ICC's jurisdiction over the crime of aggression. Though the U.S. is not party to the ICC's Rome Statute, it can participate as an observer at meetings of the ASP.
The statement from the U.S delegation was welcomed by many NGO participants as another positive indication of the Obama administration's developing relationship with the ICC. The administration has not yet completed its policy on the ICC, but has been urged to do so by U.S. civil society.
The 8th ASP is addressing key issues of concern to the ICC in preparation for the Court's first Review Conference, to be held in Kampala, Uganda in May/June 2010. The U.S has indicated it will attend the Review Conference. Non-governmental organizations at the national and local level have advocated that the U.S. policy on the Court be completed prior to the Review Conference as a way to ensure effective and constructive participation in Kampala.
In November 2009, the U.S. participated in the 8th Assembly of States Parties (ASP) in The Hague, saying it was there to listen and learn. It was the first time in seven years the U.S. had participated in a meeting of the ICC.
by Hannah Dunphy, American NGO Coalition for the International Criminal Court (AMICC)