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US & ICC > Administration Update > Clinton Administration

Clinton Approach to the ICC

The Clinton administration initially supported the establishment of a permanent international criminal court. However, due to concerns about politicized prosecutions and the independence of the ICC Prosecutor, the US under President Bill Clinton ultimately voted against the Rome Statute, the treaty that established the ICC. Despite this vote, the US continued to participate in the negotiations following the Rome Diplomatic conference intended to prepare for the start of the Court's work.

On December 31, 2000 - the last day the Rome Statute was open for signature - the US signed the Rome Statute in order to:

reaffirm our strong support for international accountability and for bringing to justice perpetrators of genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity. We do so as well because we wish to remain engaged in making the ICC an instrument of impartial and effective justice in the years to come.

This signature signaled the US intent to ratify the Rome Statute and in so doing it agreed not defeat the "object and purpose" of the treaty. President Clinton identified several fundamental American concerns about the treaty and thus did not recommend that his successor submit the treaty to the Senate for advice and consent until those concerns are addressed.

Statements by President Clinton

Office of War Crimes Issues

President Clinton established the first-ever Office of War Crimes Issues in the Department of State, reporting directly to the Secretary of State and advising her on responses to atrocity crimes. Ambassador-at-Large David Scheffer led the office in the Clinton administration. His office was responsible, among other duties, for representing the US in the negotiations that led to the establishment of the ICC.

Statements by Ambassador-at-Large for War Crimes Issues David Scheffer

Other Statements

Statements by Administration Officials

Press Statements

Letters from Congress