American Non-Governmental Organizations Coalition for the International Criminal Court
US & ICC > Congressional Update

Congress and the ICC

In recent years, several members of the US Congress have introduced resolutions and bills related to the ICC and the Court's investigations and prosecutions. Senators and Representatives on both sides of the aisle have demonstrated increasing acceptance of the ICC as an international body in the global fight against impunity.

Indeed, US-ICC relations have evolved over the past decade. In the Court's early days, Congress passed anti-ICC legislation, including the American Servicemembers' Protection Act (ASPA) and the Nethercutt Amendment, which curtailed the extent to which the US could cooperate with the ICC. By 2008, Congress had repealed the sanctions provisions of ASPA and allowed the Nethercutt provision to expired without renewal.

In the 112th Congress, which ended in January 2013, several Democratic and Republican members of Congress sponsored or co-sponsored legislation and resolutions calling on the US government to be more active in pursuing suspects wanted by the ICC. Whether due to past experiences or a strong dedication to human rights and the rule of law, Senators and Representatives who sponsored these pieces of legislation found personal ties to the ICC. Bills and resolutions addressed suspected criminals like Ugandan Joseph Kony of Lord's Resistance Army, as well as alleged atrocities committed by the leaders of Sudan and Syria. They passed legislation, signed into law by President Obama, rewarding actionable intelligence that could lead to the arrest of ICC suspects. In addition, some resolutions directly called for delivering accused criminals to the ICC. Such actions are expected to continue in the 113th Congress.

The US Congress no longer treats the ICC with a sense of benign neglect. Many members of Congress have made clear that they can accept trial of these criminals by the ICC. By sponsoring legislation related to Court and, in many cases, explicitly mentioning the ICC, Congress recognizes the role of the ICC in conflict situations of concern to Americans. As such, the movement in Congress toward a more accepting approach to the ICC is crucially important to building a cooperative and enduring relationship between the US and the ICC.