The United States of America participated in the diplomatic conference leading to the adoption of the Rome statute of the International Criminal Court in 1998 and signed the statute in December 2000. However, in May 2002, the US informed the Secretary General of the United Nations that it did not intend to become party to the statute, and that it accordingly had no obligations arising from its signature.
The objections of the US to the International Criminal Court are based on its view that, because of the independence of the prosecutor of the ICC, US citizens and in particular its military forces could be subjected to politically motivated prosecutions before the court.
While I recognize these concerns, I do not share them. The jurisdiction of the ICC is complementary to national jurisdictions, meaning that the court will become involved in a case only where a state with jurisdiction over a crime is unable or unwilling genuinely to carry out an investigation or prosecution. In addition, the Rome statute contains strong and carefully drafted safeguards to prevent politically motivated prosecutions. I would also point tothe integrity, character and professional qualifications of the persons who have been elected to serve as prosecutors and judges of the court.
I wish to reiterate the view that the ICC will prove itself to be an essential means of combating impunity for genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity. In its investigation and prosecution of such crimes, the court may invite any state not party to the Rome statute to provide assistance. It is my firm hope that assistance will be forthcoming from all such states, based on the common interest of all states in seeing that the most serious crimes of international concern do not go unpunished.