US threatens sanctions against International Criminal Court

NEWS 11.09.201809:15
REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

US national security adviser John Bolton announced Monday that the US will use "any means necessary" to protect its citizens and allies from prosecution by the International Criminal Court, CNN reported.

“United States will use any means necessary to protect our citizens and those of our allies from unjust prosecution by this illegitimate court,” including tariffs and prosecution, Bolton said in a speech to the Federalist Society in Washington, DC.

Bolton blasted the ICC as “ineffective, unaccountable,” “outright dangerous” and “contrary to American principles,” and said the US “would respond against the ICC and its personnel to the extent permitted by US law.”

“We will ban its financial system and we will prosecute them in the US criminal system. We will do the same for any company or state that assists an ICC investigation of Americans,” said Bolton, a former ambassador to the UN.  

Bolton said the US would “take note” of other countries’ cooperation with the ICC and “will remember that cooperation when settling US foreign assistance, military assistance, and intelligence sharing levels.”

He also said the administration “would consider taking steps in the UN Security Council” to “constrain” the Netherlands-based court, whose jurisdiction the US does not recognize.

Bolton also hailed the closure of the Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO) office in Washington and said the US “will not allow the ICC, or any other organization, to constrain Israel's right to self-defence.”

Over the weekend, the US announced it would redirect $25 million originally planned for the East Jerusalem Hospital Network as part of its review of US aid to Palestinians. Six hospitals will be affected including the Lutheran World Federation's (LWF) Augusta Victoria Hospital (AVH), which serves over 5 million Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza, according to the hospital's website.

The AVH also provides specialized care not available in the Palestinian territories including radiation therapy for cancer patients and pediatric hemodialysis, according to the website. In a statement posted online, the LWF said it regretted the US announcement on the hospitals, adding that funding for the facilities was critically important.

Last month, the US also announced it was cutting all funding to the UNRWA, the UN agency that provides schools and healthcare services to more than five million Palestinian refugees, leaving the agency with a shortfall of $300 million.

The US onslaught against the ICC is the latest challenge from the Trump administration to international institutions.

This year alone it has left the UN Human Rights Council and threatened to pull out of the World Trade Organization. Last year the US withdrew from the Paris climate agreement.