The Associated Press WASHINGTON (AP) — The United States’ long-running reluctant relationship with the International Criminal Court came to a crashing halt on Monday as decades of U.S. suspicions about the tribunal and its global jurisdiction spilled into open hostility, amid threats of sanctions if it investigates U.S. troops in Afghanistan.
National security adviser John Bolton denounced the legitimacy of The Hague-based court, which was created in 2002 to prosecute war crimes and crimes of humanity and genocide in areas where perpetrators might not otherwise face justice. It has 123 state parties that recognize its jurisdiction.
Bolton’s speech, on the eve of the anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, came as an ICC judge was expected to soon announce a decision on a request from prosecutors to formally open an investigation into allegations of war crimes committed by Afghan national security forces, Taliban and Haqqani network militants, and U.S. forces and intelligence in Afghanistan since May 2003. The accusations against U.S. personnel include torture and illegal imprisonment.
“The International Criminal Court unacceptably threatens American sovereignty and U.S. national security interests,” Bolton told the Federalist Society, a conservative Washington-based think tank. Bolton also took aim at Palestinian efforts to press war crime charges against Israel for its policies in the West Bank, east Jerusalem and Gaza.
He said the United States would use “any means necessary” to protect Americans and citizens of allied countries, like Israel, “from unjust prosecution by this illegitimate court.”