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Bolton Threatens US Departure From International Criminal Court

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In a speech he gave on Monday, White House National Security Adviser John Bolton chastised the International Criminal Court (ICC), deriding it as an “illegitimate” institution in his remarks.

Speaking to the conservative Federalist Society, Bolton suggested the United States would disavow the ICC (located at The Hague in the Netherlands) and refuse to honor its commitments to the international body that oversees violations of international human rights if it pursued investigations into alleged violations of war crimes by U.S. forces in Afghanistan.

“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 said.

The U.S. would remove itself from participation and acknowledgement of the court if the investigation moved forward.

“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,” Bolton added. “After all, for all intents and purposes, the ICC is already dead to us.”

The ICC is the arbiter of crimes that occur in the international community. These include war crimes, genocide, crime of aggression, and crimes against humanity.

The alleged abuses that Bolton said would force the U.S. out of participating with the ICC aren’t exactly frivolous. Indeed, Human Rights Watch has documented numerous violations of international humanitarian law against the people of Afghanistan, alleging abuses from the Afghan government and local police units, as well as from U.S. military forces on the ground and the CIA.

The ICC is also looking into alleged abuses of humanitarian rights that have been carried out by Israel against Palestinians in the West Bank. The inquiry looking into alleged abuses, which go back many years, moved forward earlier this year when the ICC agreed to accept statements from Palestinians who claim to be victims of said abuse.

The Palestinian inquiry likely prompted Bolton to announce another decision within the same speech he gave today: that the U.S. would be closing the doors of the the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) in Washington D.C.

“The Trump administration will not keep the office open when the Palestinians refuse to start direct and meaningful negotiations with Israel,” Bolton said.

Featured image credit: Gage Skidmore/Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0


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