WASHINGTON (Dispatches) – John Bolton, the hawkish U.S. national security adviser, has threatened the international criminal court (ICC) with sanctions when he made an excoriating attack on the institution in a speech in Washington.
According to drafts of his speech, Bolton was to push for sanctions over an ICC investigation into alleged American war crimes in Afghanistan. He was also expected to announce on Monday the closure of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) office in Washington because of its calls for an ICC inquiry into the occupying regime of Israel.
"The United States will use any means necessary to protect our citizens and those of our allies from unjust prosecution by this illegitimate court,” Bolton was to say, according to a draft of his speech seen by Reuters.
"The United States will always stand with our friend and ally, Israel,” the draft text continues. It said the Trump administration "will fight back” if the ICC formally proceeded with opening an investigation into war crimes committed by U.S. military and intelligence staff during the war in Afghanistan.
Bolton was expected to propose that the Trump administration bans ICC judges and prosecutors from entering the U.S., impose sanctions on any funds they have in the States and prosecute them in the American court system.
"We will not cooperate with the ICC. We will provide no assistance to the ICC. We will not join the ICC. We will let the ICC die on its own. After all, for all intents and purposes, the ICC is already dead to us,” Bolton’s draft text said.
He was also to suggest that the U.S. negotiates more binding, bilateral agreements to prohibit countries from surrendering Americans to the court in The Hague.
The UN-backed court’s remit is to bring to justice the perpetrators of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide. The U.S. did not ratify the Rome treaty that established the ICC in 2002. The then president George W. Bush was strongly opposed to the court. President Barack Obama subsequently took measures to improve cooperation with the organization.
"We will consider taking steps in the UN security council to constrain the court’s sweeping powers, including to ensure that the ICC does not exercise jurisdiction over Americans and the nationals of our allies that have not ratified the Rome statute,” Bolton’s draft text said.