The ICC is investigating alleged war crimes by the United States in Afghanistan and Israel in the Palestinian territories.
On Friday, the United States lifted sanctions imposed by former President Donald Trump on International Criminal Court officials who are investigating the United States and Israel for war crimes in Afghanistan and Palestine.
President Joe Biden’s executive action reverses one of the previous administration’s most aggressive measures to target international institutions, although officials in the Biden administration have said the United States still opposes it. assertion of ICC jurisdiction over the United States.
“We believe, however, that our concerns about these cases would be better addressed ‘through diplomacy’ rather than the imposition of sanctions,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement.
The ICC is a permanent body based in The Hague, created in 2002 to prosecute international allegations of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. The United States is not among the approximately 120 member countries of the Court.
“Our support for the rule of law, access to justice and accountability for mass atrocities are important US national security interests that are protected and advanced by engaging with the rest of the world to meet the challenges of today and tomorrow, ”said Blinken.
Trump’s White House had imposed economic and travel sanctions against court officials in June 2020, claiming that the ICC investigations into abuses in Afghanistan “are an attack on the rights of the American people and threaten to undermine our national sovereignty.”
Trump’s sanctions had targeted ICC chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda and the court’s head of jurisdiction, Phakiso Mochochoko, for continuing investigations into the United States and Israel.
An ICC spokesperson said on Friday that the court and its governing body of member states welcomed the U.S. decision.
Rights groups applauded Biden for rejecting Trump’s sanctions – Amnesty International called them an ‘act of vandalism’ against international justice – but called on Biden to go further, supporting the work of the court and making the United States a member country.
Former US President Bill Clinton expressed deep reservations about the ICC while former President Barack Obama engaged in limited cooperation with it.
Israel is not a member of the ICC and, along with the United States, opposed Palestinian membership of the court in 2015 because it is not a state.
The ICC, tried in February, has jurisdiction over the situation in the occupied Palestinian territories clear the way for the ICC to investigate the alleged war crimes committed in the 2014 Israeli-Palestinian conflict in the Gaza Strip besieged by the Israeli army and Palestinian armed factions.