Promoting the Rule of Law

As a pillar of its foreign policy, the United States encourages the promotion of the rule of law globally as an essential part of free, open, prosperous, and stable societies. These principles align strongly with the objectives of the Rome Statute. The Court represents an effort by the international community to encourage sovereign national authorities to provide accountability when there have been violations of core norms and reflects a commitment by states to provide judicial accountability (not just political sanctions) when that fails. The foundational principle of the ICC—“that it is the duty of every State to exercise its criminal jurisdiction over those responsible for international crimes” and that the ICC “shall be complementary to national criminal jurisdictions”—also encourages domestic legal systems to take responsibility for investigating and, where warranted, prosecuting criminal conduct over which they have jurisdiction. To the extent that the Court encourages prosecutions of international crimes in domestic courts, and accountability more generally, its activities align with United States interests in promoting democratic, prosperous, and stable societies.

This commitment and contribution to supporting the rule of law is often most important in the very situations where the ICC is most likely to be active—in countries that recently experienced conflict or mass atrocity, that are emerging from periods of repression and authoritarianism, and in which domestic institutions or commitment to the rule of law may be weak or poorly instantiated. Indeed, at the 2010 Kampala Review Conference, the United States “renew[ed] its commitment to support rule-of-law and capacity building projects which will enhance States' ability to hold accountable those responsible for war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide.”  The United States has provided substantial support to strengthen the rule of law, including in countries where the ICC is conducting investigations,  and this support has frequently included or been linked with accountability efforts.  Congress has also noted the importance of this assistance, in certain contexts, in strengthening the mutual interests of the United States and counties recovering from conflict, and in combating foreign (including Russian) influence.