American Non-Governmental Organizations Coalition for the International Criminal Court

ICC advocacy in the US occurs on two levels: efforts to educate members of Congress and administration officials in Washington, DC and locally directed efforts to inform the American public and create grassroots pressure for a closer US relationship with the Court.

AMICC supports and promotes grassroots activity in support of the Court, including the formation of local alliances of individuals and organizations whose interests will be served and advanced by the ICC and thus by the US relationship with it. Local ICC alliances combine their diverse constituencies to create local public awareness of and support for the importance of US cooperation in a strong ICC.

International Justice Day in New York, July 17, 2010. Hannah Dunphy/AMICC.

AMICC's partner coalition, the Washington Working Group on the ICC (WICC), is the driving force behind the Washington advocacy campaign. Due to the realization that, while indispensable, efforts directed solely toward the Capital are not enough to attract the level of government attention and support needed to rebut the prevalent misinformation and disinformation circulating among our leaders and move this issue forward, AMICC was conceived to build a vocal ICC constituency around the US.

Why Should the US Support the ICC?

  • The ICC is the legacy of more than 50 years of work, from the Nuremberg and Tokyo trials after World War II to the current ad hoc UN criminal tribunals, spearheaded by the US to promote justice through law.
  • Being part of the ICC would give the US a stronger voice and credibility in developing future legal standards.
  • The Court protects American servicemembers by pressing foreign military powers to uphold the same standard of conduct the US has always imposed on itself - standards that protect American servicemembers in combat.
  • By joining the Court, the US would be able to take advantage of the many benefits for ICC States Parties, including nominating for election a judge on the Court.
  • The ICC could help promote US foreign policy national security interests through the arrest and prosecution of persons who commit atrocity crimes - genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity - and thereby threaten international peace and security.

How Can I Advocate for the ICC in the US?

Please consider working with AMICC help further the cause of the ICC in the United States. We welcome new member organizations committed to the ICC and NGOs and activists working locally in support of the Court.

Join or start local advocacy in your area

Learn about becoming an organizational member


ABA Honors International Criminal Justice Day, Calls on Global Partners

In its press release on July 17, the ABA joined the international community in commemorating International Criminal Justice Day (July 17), a day recognizing the "vitally important global efforts of the international community to combat the atrocity crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes." In a statement by its President, William C. Hubbard, the ABA acknowledged that more needs to be done: "the ABA calls upon all nations - including the United States - to enhance their political, diplomatic, and financial support of domestic and international atrocity accountability efforts, particularly those of the ICC." The press release includes information about the ABA's work in international criminal justice, notably the various efforts of the ABA's ICC Project.

Read the full statement here.

Read more about the American Bar Association's International Criminal Court Project here.

LA City Council passes the annual resolution in support of World Day for International Justice

On June 30, the Los Angeles City Council passed the annual resolution in support of World Day for International Justice (International Justice Day, June 17). The resolution was sponsored by Councilmember Paul Krekorian of the 2nd District.

Read the resolution here.

Latest Analysis

The International Criminal Court: A Case on President Obama

There has been a growing concern on whether or not President Obama could in fact have committed war crimes and crimes against humanity in Afghanistan and with the United State’s use of drones. This paper examines whether provisions within the Rome Statute could lead to prosecutions of President Obama and officials of his administration in the International Criminal Court (ICC).

Read more here.

A Shared Interest in the Victim: The US, Reparations, and the ICC

The central aim of reparations is to provide redress to the victims of crime. While the ICC and US courts differ in the types of reparations to be given to victims, they have a cenral aim of protecting the victims. THe US criminal system believes, much like the International Criminal Court, that the victim's voice matters. This short paper focuses on the significance of reparations to both the ICC and US courts.

Read more here.

The Relationship between the ICC and the UN Security Council

The International Criminal Court was established at a United Nations conference as an independent international organization. While the two organizations share common goals of preventing and responding to mass atrocities, they operate independently of one another. However, the Rome Statute includes two provisions regarding the UN Security Council which coincide with the responsibilities of the Council as established in the UN Charter. Recent events in Ukraine and Syria have spurred interest in the UN Security Council's ability to request a referral of a situation to the ICC. Kenyan officials have also drawn attention to the Council when they seek out a request by the Council for a deferral of the situation in Kenya. This paper intends to inform readers about the historical and present relationship between the ICC and the UN Security Council.

Read more here.

Preliminary Examination in Palestine

On January 16th, 2015, Fatou Bensouda, the Chief Prosecutor of the ICC, opened a preliminary examination into the situation in Palestine. President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority had submitted a declaration on January 1st, granting the ICC jurisdiction over crimes allegedly committed "in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem, since June 13th, 2014." The PA had tried to file a declaration in January 2009, but the Prosecutor said she could not accept it because no international body or senior official had declared that the Palestinian Authority was a state. However, in January 2015, the UN Secretary General determined that the "non-member observer state" status, which was granted to Palestine by the UN General Assembly in 2012, also made Palestine a state with the ability to ratify the Rome Statute. Therefore, the declaration made in 2015 did not require the Prosecutor to make a determination on Palestine's statehood. Since Palestine remained a non-party to the ICC on January 1st, the declaration gave the ICC jurisdiction over crimes committed at an earlier date than if the situation had been referred by a state party. Palestine then became a state party on January 2nd, through accession to the RS. The ICC now considers that submissions by the PA thereafter constitute a referral while the declaration also remains in effect.

Read more here.

OTP Strategic Report

The draft of the strategic plan for 2016-2018 for the Office of the Prosecution of the International Criminal Court was released on July 6, 2014. In the plan, Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda stresses the importance of compliance and cooperation, among states and international organizations alike, in making the ICC a more effective instrument to both prevent crime and to achieve justice in cases of crimes against humanity, genocide and war crimes already committed. The Court would also function to achieve justice in cases of crimes of aggression should the relevant amendment be added to the Rome Statute in 2017. The plan highlights the flaws that must be addressed not only within the ICC but also in the global Rome Statute system (composed of the state parties that are signatories of the Rome Statute). It outlines strategies and policies that should be implemented in the coming years in order for the ICC to gain greater functionality.

Read more here.

Arrest Strategies

From the time the International Criminal Court was established, one of the major assertions of naysayers was that the Court could not be an effective institution as it does not have the means to bring most of those charged with crimes into its custody. Such assertions persist and have been fueled by the fact that, while the ICC does have a number of people in custody, the majority of people whom the ICC has issued arrest warrants for are still at large. This does not necessarily confirm that the Court is an ineffective institution. Al-Bashir leaving South Africa before his scheduled return to the Sudan illustrates how, even if the Court does not always succeed in apprehending the accused, it wields enough authority that more powerful individuals accused of crimes under the Rome Statute have their actions significantly constrained by orders of the Court. Moreover, the very existence of the Court means higher global standards for human rights. Nevertheless, we should recognize the benefits of having measures in place for the express purpose of apprehending those wanted by the ICC.

Read more here.

Flotilla Incident

According to a press release posted on the International Criminal Court website, on July 16th, 2015, ICC Pre-Trial Chamber I ruled that Chief Prosecutor Bensouda should review her decision not to launch an investigation into the flotilla incident involving the Israeli Armed Forces in May 2010. This incident resulted in the deaths of nine Turkish citizens. The Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) received the original referral on that situation by the Union of Comoros on May 14, 2013. On November 6, 2014, Bensouda announced that the OTP was ending its preliminary examination and would not proceed with an official investigation. She concluded that the legal requirements under the Rome Statute to open an investigation had not been met. This was because the alleged crimes did not have sufficient gravity to justify further action on the part of the ICC. Representatives of the Government of the Union of the Comoros filed an Application for Review of the Prosecutor's decision on January 29, 2015.

Read more here.

ICC Related Press Coverage

The greater volume of press coverage of the International Criminal Court may harm the still unsettled view of the Court within the United States. This volume can be attributed to recent events drawing attention to the ICC involvement in high profile situations. These events include al-Bashir evading arrest, Palestine referring its ongoing situation to the Court, and the actions of the Syrian government and ISIS drawing speculation as to whether individuals involved will be charged for war crimes by the Court in the future. In this greater coverage, reporters in the mainstream press have spread certain inaccuracies about the Court out of ignorance or misunderstanding. This may prove to be harmful to the AMICC's advocacy because many readers accept these inaccuracies and misunderstandings as fact. In recent months, media coverage has focused on controversial decisions of the Court, the implications of which are still not yet fully known. Also, events that may be framed as defeats for the Court have frequently been portrayed as part of a larger narrative of its incompetence. Perhaps most troubling is coverage that misrepresents the very purpose of the Court. These tendencies may prove to be damaging to the ICC's support base, especially in the United States.

Read more here.

Crime of Aggression

In 2017, the actions of the Assembly of State Parties of the International Criminal Court will decide whether to submit to state parties the question of whether the crime of aggression should be included in the jurisdiction of the ICC. The crime of aggression includes but is not limited to "invasion, military occupation, and annexation by the use of force, blockade of the ports or coasts if it is considered being by its character, gravity and scale, a manifest violation of the Charter of the United Nations". This definition was agreed upon at the ICC's Review Conference in Kampala in 2010 but its entry into the Rome Statute may be met with some difficulty.

Read more here.


The coming months will be a time of transition for the International Criminal Court, and for its relationship with the United States. The ICC is well advanced in reforms in its structure, strategy and procedures is for the sake of efficiency and make other improvements in the face of more international attention than ever before. Hence, the Court's relationship with the US is even more crucial. The US 2016 presidential election may, among other things, signal a change in this relationship. The nature of these changes and whether or not they will actually occur depends greatly on the views and interests of the next presidential administration.

Read more here.

Preliminary Examination in Ukraine

The ICC's Preliminary Examination of the situation in Ukraine is currently limited to the alleged crimes committed in connection with the Maidan Protests, between the dates of November 21st 2013 and February 22nd 2014. The current Ukrainian government is requesting that the period of time examined by the Office of the Prosecutor be extended to include the ongoing conflict between the government and pro-Russian separatists. If this were to occur, the actions of high-ranking Russian officials could also be examined by the Office of the Prosecutor. The aim here is to give some insight into these possibilities, and into the strength of cases against individuals involved in both the earlier Maidan Protests and the more recent ongoing conflict.

Read more here.

Al-Bashir Evades Arrest in South Africa

Al-Bashir's ability to escape South Africa has been cited alternatively as demonstrating the ineffectiveness of the ICC and as showing its ability to force responses from governments and officials under arrest warrants from the Court. These arguments that have already been raised in the coverage of these events will be addressed in this piece.

Read more here.

U.S. House of Representatives Resolution in Response to Palestinian Membership to the ICC

On April 16th, 2015, H.Res. 209 was introduced in the House of Representatives. This resolution condemns the Palestinian Authority for joining the International Criminal Court and for undertaking legal action through the Court against Israel. The main rationale is that Palestine's actions go against the official policy of the United States government, which is that the Israel-Palestinian conflict be resolved through direct negotiations between the two parties. The resolution claims that Palestine is using the Court to put political pressure on Israel, while eroding its ability to defend itself against terrorism.

Most of the resolution's sponsors have never publically confirmed their positions on the Court. This paper reviews their political and legislative histories in an attempt to determine whether their intent in supporting H. Res. 209 is simply to support Israel or to express their attitudes about the Court. The sponsors discussed here include the main sponsor and the co-sponsors of the resolution as of May 15th, 2015.

Read more here.

Preliminary Examination in Afghanistan

Largely in response to the 9/11 terrorist attacks, an international coalition led by the United States launched attacks on Afghanistan suspecting the then-government of harboring those responsible for the attacks. The former Afghan government, the Taliban, was consequently ousted. Since 2001, there has been an ongoing struggle between a number of forces within Afghanistan even after a new transitional government gained sovereignty in 2002. These forces include anti-government forces (the ousted Taliban, Haqqani network and Hezboe-Islami Gudbuddin), and pro-government forces (NATO forces, with a sizable number of US troops). Over the course of the past 14 years, there have been reports of acts that may be deemed war crimes or crimes against humanity as defined under the Rome Statute, allegedly carried out by several forces involved in the conflict.

Read more here.

U.S. Drone Policy and the International Criminal Court

This paper analyzes the issue of whether U.S. drone strikes could constitute crimes within the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court (ICC). The military and Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) heavily rely on the practice of targeted killing in the fight against terrorism. Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVS), commonly known as drones, are the method of choice for carrying out this practice. The most controversial aspects of the drone program include attacks that result in civilian deaths. As the practice continues, our opponents are likely to claim this as a reason for the U.S. to stay away from the Court, fearing that the Court could bring charges against American leaders. The talking points below offer a way to respond to their claims.

Read more here.

The Challenges of the Kenyan Cases at the International Criminal Court

Benjamin Netanyahu, Barak Obama and Mahmoud Abbas Left to right: William Samoei Ruto, Henry Kiprono Kosgey, and Joshua Arap Sang at the International Criminal Court.

The Kenyan cases continue to confront the International Criminal Court with complex challenges and provoke questions about the legitimacy of the Court, especially among African states. In a time of heavy critique and a threatening loss of support from African states, the outcomes of the remaining Kenyan cases are essential for international perceptions of the Court. Consequently, these outcomes will also affect U.S. opinion about and support for the Court. AMICC's paper clarifies why these cases are crucial for the perceived legitimacy of the Court and the support it receives from states. It will thereby examine the development of the Kenyan cases, their current status and how we can expect them to develop in the future.

Read more here. A brief outline of the challenges can be found here.

The Role of the International Criminal Court in Promoting Accountability in Colombia

Since 1964 Colombia has been embroiled in a violent internal conflict resulting in more than 250,000 deaths and over five million displaced persons across the country. Money from drug cartels has sustained the paramilitary groups opposing the government. As a result, the Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) has been closely monitoring the situation in Colombia. The International Criminal Court's involvement in Colombia has been criticized for a number of reasons. AMICC's paper discusses the different charges that arise from the Court's investigations in Colombia and possible answers to these charges.

Read more here.