Rome Statute for an International Criminal Court
On July 1, 2002, the Rome Statute for an International Criminal Court came into force. The treaty establishes the first permanent, internationally constituted court to try individuals accused of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity that would otherwise escape prosecution.
President Bill Clinton had signed the Rome Statute on behalf of the United States on December 31, 2000. However, citing concerns with the jurisdiction of the court, the Bush Administration announced May 6, 2002, that the U.S. would "unsign" or withdraw its signature from the statute, and that the U.S. had no intention of proceeding toward ratification of the treaty.
While the Rome Statute has not been submitted to the Senate for consideration, the United States began to move toward a more cooperative relationship with the ICC during the latter half of the Bush Administration, a strategy that has been continued and enhanced by the Obama Administration. Administration officials have participated as an “observer”at meetings of the Assembly of State Parties, Congress amended the United States’ War Crimes Reward Program to include ICC indictees, and the U.S. has provided in-kind assistance to the Court in regard to specific ongoing prosecutions. However, current law prohibits the U.S. from providing direct financial assistance to the Court. The ABA supports increasing U.S. engagement with the ICC, including by removing such restrictions.