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
- A Commitment to Human Dignity, Democracy and Peace, Issues of Democracy, University of Connecticut Thomas J. Dodd Research Center (supporting the creation of a permanent International Criminal Court) (October 15, 1995)
- Statement on Signature of the International Criminal Court Treaty, Washington, DC (December 31, 2000)
- Our Shared Future: Globalization in the 21st Century, Council on Foreign Relations (June 17, 2002)
- Democratic Leadership Council, New York University (December 3, 2002)
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
- Address on US Policy and the Proposed Permanent International Criminal Court, Carter Center, Atlanta (November 13, 1997)
- The International Criminal Court: The Challenge of Enforcing International Humanitarian Law, Address to the Southern California Working Group on the ICC, Los Angeles (February 26, 1998)
- Statement by US Delegation, Preparatory Committee on the Establishment of an International Criminal Court (March 23, 1998)
- Statement on Status of Negotiations, UN Diplomatic Conference on the Establishment of an International Criminal Court, New York (July 15, 1998)
- Testimony before Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on International Operations Hearings on "Is a UN International Criminal Court in the US National Interest?" (July 23, 1998)
- On-the-record briefing at the Foreign Press Center (July 31, 1998)
- Remarks before the Sixth Committee of the 53rd UN General Assembly (October 21, 1998)
- Remarks at Dartmouth College, Hanover, N.H., October 23, 1998
- Remarks on Genocide and Crimes Against Humanity: Early Warning and Prevention, Conference at Holocaust Museum (December 10, 1998)
Statements by Administration Officials
- Department of State Spokesman James P. Rubin, Press statement, Establishing an International Criminal Court (April 2, 1998)
- Department of State Deputy Spokesman James B. Foley, Press statement, US Participation in the Rome Conference on the Establishment of an International Criminal Court (June 12, 1998)
- Department of State Spokesman James P. Rubin, Press statement, US Position on Self-Initiating Prosecutor at the Rome Conference on Establishment of International Criminal Court (June 23, 1998)
- Department of State Acting Spokesman Philip T. Reeker, Press statement, US Initiative on the International Criminal Court (June 13, 2000)
- Senator Jesse Helms, Press release, Helms on Clinton ICC Signature: "This Decision Will Not Stand" (December 31, 2000)
- Department of State Spokesman Richard Boucher, Press briefing, Position on the International Criminal Court Clarified (January 2, 2001)
Letters from Congress
- Letter to President Clinton from 32 Representatives (T. Baldwin, S. Brown, M. Capuano, W. Delahunt, S. Farr, C. Fattah, B. Frank, M. Hinchey, T. Holden, J. Jackson, Jr., E.B. Johnson, P. Kennedy, D. Kucinich, B. Lee, S. Jackson Lee, John Lewis, C. Maloney, J. McGovern, J. Nadler, M. Owens, B. Pascrell, Jr., N. Pelosi, D. Payne, L. Roybal Allard, B. Rush, J. Schakowsky, P. Stark, J. Tierney, E. Towns, M. Waters, L. Woolsey, A. Wynn) urging him to sign the Rome Statute (December 15, 2000)
- Letter to President Clinton from 18 Senators (B. Boxer, C. Dodd, R. Durbin, D. Feinstein, T. Harkins, E. Kennedy, J. Jeffords, J. Kerry, H. Kohl, F. Lautenberg, P. Leahy, Jo. Lieberman, D.P. Moynihan, P. Murray, P. Sarbanes, C. Schumer, A. Spector, P. Wellstone) urging him to sign the Rome Statute (December 21, 2000)