Despite recent achievements, many challenges ahead for the International Criminal Court


These questions become more urgent in the context of the Office of the Prosecutor’s recent decision to request approval from the ICC Pre-trial Chamber to investigate crimes that were committed in Afghanistan, including those committed by the US military and the CIA. The prosecutor’s 2017 report on her preliminary examinations in Afghanistan refers to acts that were “particularly cruel, involving the infliction of serious physical and psychological injury, over prolonged periods…leaving victims deeply traumatized.”

While not party to the Rome Statute, the United States reaffirmed its longstanding rejection of ICC jurisdiction during the recent assembly. “As the United States has previously stated, we will regard as illegitimate any attempt by the court to assert the ICC’s jurisdiction over American citizens,” a US representative said in December.

The ICC was created as a court of last resort to be used only when countries are unable or unwilling to prosecute their own citizens for crimes that fall under the court’s jurisdiction. The US argues that its domestic systems are sufficient. But the ICC prosecutor’s report suggests that no national investigations or prosecutions have taken place against those most responsible for crimes committed by the CIA in Afghanistan.

None of the other NATO countries involved in the Afghan mission, including Canada and the UK, have been listed by the ICC as under investigation.

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