U.S. Remarks As Submitted For the Record
New York, New York
July 17, 2023
Thank you. It’s an honor to take part in today’s event, as we commemorate the 25th anniversary of the adoption of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.
Although the United States is not a party to the Rome Statute, we are deeply committed to the basic principles that underpin it: that the most serious crimes of concern to the international community must not go unpunished, and that all States have responsibilities in this regard.
The Rome Statute’s negotiation was built on the legacy of the Nuremberg and Tokyo Tribunals established after World War II and by the ad hoc international tribunals created after conflicts in Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia.
These were times when the world came together to deliver justice in the face of grave atrocities. And I am proud that, at each of these moments, the United States supported the advancement of international criminal law and accountability.
In the 25 years since the adoption of the Rome Statute text, the Court has established itself as a key venue for the prosecution of atrocity crimes, and it has achieved meaningful and significant advances in securing justice for victims of the worst crimes known to man: crimes against humanity, war crimes, and genocide.
The Court has issued groundbreaking decisions and judgments that have advanced our understanding as to crimes relating to sexual violence, the destruction of cultural artifacts in war, and the use of children as instruments of conflict.
But let’s be clear: we have not yet fully realized the goals set out in the Statute’s preamble. As we sit here today, vulnerable communities around the world are still subject to abuses.
The Court is working to bring a measure of justice to victims and survivors of many of these atrocities, and to ensure that those most responsible are held accountable. This work is often carried out alongside – and in partnership with – national authorities of States Parties and non-Parties, UN bodies, civil society, and other stakeholders.
Over the past two years, the United States has taken unprecedented steps to reset our relationship with the ICC and put it on a durable path. We have participated actively as observers at recent Assemblies of State Parties. We have led and contributed to events on pressing topics, including how states parties, and non-states parties, can help with witness protection and relocation efforts. We have shared our approach to gender persecution and sexual and gender-based violence to help inform the OTP’s thinking about these critical issues.
And for the first time in history, a member of the U.S. cabinet, Attorney General Merrick Garland, visited the Court. This reflects the progress that has been made in the U.S.-ICC relationship and the important role that the Court has in the global system of justice.
The Attorney General’s visit followed several other senior-level U.S. official engagements with the Court, including a bipartisan Senate delegation that traveled to The Hague to explore additional areas of cooperation. We continue to support the Court’s work with practical assistance, and we are actively exploring new ways to advance the work of the Court, including through assistance for victims and witnesses.
Finally, in line with the principle of complementarity that underpins the Rome Statute, the United States continues to support a broad range of other justice initiatives around the world. And again, while we are not a party to the Rome Statute ourselves, the United States recognizes the right of all countries to make the sovereign decision to join the Court.
We look forward to continuing to actively engage alongside all stakeholders to support this institution in carrying out its core mandate and to advance the ideals and values of the Rome Statute.
Together, let us build a more peaceful and just future for all.