UN Experts DecryAttacks on ICCby US and Israel

UN experts condemn US and Israel's threats against the International Criminal Court, warning they undermine international justice and create a culture of impunity. The threats come as the ICC considers investigating war crimes in the occupied Palestinian territory.

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UN Experts DecryAttacks on ICCby US and Israel

UN Experts DecryAttacks on ICCby US and Israel

On May 10, 2024, United Nations experts strongly condemned threats made by the United States and Israel against the International Criminal Court (ICC). The experts expressed "utter dismay" over statements by US and Israeli officials threatening to retaliate against the ICC, its officials, and their families.

Why this matters: The attacks on the ICC undermine the international justice system and create a culture of impunity, allowing countries to escape accountability for human rights violations. This can have far-reaching consequences, emboldening states to commit atrocities and eroding trust in international institutions.

The experts warned that threats of retaliatory action violate human rights norms against attacks on justice personnel and exceed the accepted limits of freedom of expression. They called on all States to respect the Court's independence as a judicial institution and protect the independence and impartiality of those who work within the Court.

On May 4, 2024, the Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) denounced statements threatening to retaliate against the Court or its personnel for actions taken by the Prosecutor. The OTP reminded that such threats against the International Criminal Court may amount to an offense against the administration of justice under Article 70 of the Rome Statute.

In recent weeks, authorities in the United States and Israel have made inflammatory statements concerning the ICC, characterizing the Prosecutor's potential actions as "lawless," "disgraceful," and any possible warrants as "an outrageous assault" and "an abomination." Congressional leaders in the United States are reportedly preparing possible retaliatory action, including sanctions on individuals who work for the Court and efforts to de-fund the ICC, should arrest warrants be issued against Israeli officials. The Israeli Finance Minister has also threatened to withhold funds from the Palestinian Authority.

The ICC has the mandate to investigate and prosecute individuals for the grave international crimes of genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity. The Court's judges have authorized the ICC Prosecutor to investigate crimes committed on the territory of the State of Palestine since 2014 by any individual.

The experts stressed that impeding the work of the Court and its Prosecutor will be detrimental not only for accountability in the occupied Palestinian territory but for international justice as a whole. They have been in touch with Israel and the United States about these concerns.

The UN experts, including Margaret Satterthwaite, Francesca Albanese, Ben Saul, and others, emphasized the importance of respecting the Court's independence and protecting the independence and impartiality of those who work within the Court. "It is shocking to see countries that consider themselves champions of the rule of law trying to intimidate an independent and impartial international tribunal to thwart accountability," the experts stated.