Why I’m in The Hague Presenting Oral Arguments in Defense of the Interests of U.S. Soldiers at the International Criminal Court
America’s bravest heroes are under fire, but the attackers aren’t threatening them with weapons, but with legal action.
As we recently told you, the International Criminal Court (ICC) Office of the Prosecutor is seeking to open up jurisdiction for potential international criminal investigations against U.S. soldiers and members of the intelligence community. They are looking for universal jurisdiction. They want to treat our heroes like terrorists.
We won’t stand for it. The ACLJ is stepping up – in the biggest international case in our history – to defend the interests of the brave men and women of the U.S. military at the ICC.
This is not the first time the ICC has engaged in proceedings that would give it jurisdiction to investigate and possibly prosecute our soldiers for so-called war crimes. Previously, we reported how an ICC Prosecutor wanted to investigate and possibly prosecute our soldiers serving in Afghanistan:
The ICC has been investigating possible war crimes in Afghanistan for over a decade. Last November, the investigators asked to include the actions of U.S. military personnel, civilian contractors and members of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). The ICC’s “Pre-trial Chamber” is now deciding if further inquiries, or criminal charges, are appropriate.
Fortunately, that request for jurisdiction over American troops was rejected. As we told you:
The ICC Pre-Trial Chamber assigned to monitor the ongoing situation in Afghanistan denied the ICC Prosecutor’s request to begin a formal investigation of war crimes and crimes against humanity allegedly committed by Taliban, Afghan government, and NATO forces (including U.S. forces) during the ongoing conflict in Afghanistan.
This is a wonderful, albeit temporary, victory for our men and women serving in Afghanistan. Yet, no Americans should ever have been investigated in the first place . . . . It is a wonderful victory because the Pre-Trial Chamber saw through the Prosecutor’s bold attempt to use alleged happenings in Afghanistan as a means to expand her jurisdiction to investigate American actions in other countries, exactly what the U.S. had feared would occur. That is why the United States has refused to accede the treaty—we don’t support unaccountable foreign bureaucrats running amok in situations that impact U.S. foreign and defense policy.
Now the ICC Prosecutor is seeking jurisdiction over countries like the U.S. who have not joined the ICC – including over American soldiers, particularly if they are engaged in military conflicts in an ICC member state.
But what’s even more dangerous is that if the ICC Prosecutor is afforded this jurisdiction, American service members could be targeted abroad, even when they’re not actively engaged in a conflict. In other words, a soldier could take his family on a vacation in Europe and suddenly be arrested at the airport because there was a warrant issued that he or she had no knowledge of. That idea is completely unjust.
The ICC has been in operation since 2002, and in that time, it has convicted fewer than 10 people. I had the opportunity to observe an ongoing trial once during a visit to the ICC in The Hague, and what I witnessed fell far short of the minimum standards we would expect in a U.S. trial. No American soldier should ever be forced to stand before that court.
We have been given a major opportunity to take action through our European affiliate, the European Centre for Law and Justice (ECLJ), to present oral arguments before the appellate chamber of the ICC – the highest chamber of judges at the ICC, essentially their equivalent of the Supreme Court.
Over the next few days I will be presenting critical oral arguments at the ICC, making the argument that since the United States is not even a member of the ICC, as it has not acceded to the Rome Statute, the ICC does not have any lawful jurisdiction.
But what that also means is that the U.S. government will not be represented at the ICC nor will it have a direct say in these proceedings.
That is why our senior legal team, from offices across the U.S. and the world, is here at the ICC this week defending the interests of American soldiers from this unwarranted attack.
This is without question the biggest, most significant international case we have ever taken on at an international tribunal. But it’s not about the ACLJ.
This is about our troops. This is an attack on the brave men and women who put their lives on the line to serve this country and their mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, sons, and daughters who sacrifice right along with them.
Now is our time to serve them and defend their interests.
Stand up for our troops as we participate in oral arguments before the ICC. Go with us to the ICC by signing our petition.