Short of ratification, signing the Rome Statute creates a good faith obligation to refrain from acts that would defeat the object and the purpose of the Statute. While international legal scholars remain unclear about the legality of “nullifying” a signature, many have welcomed renewed diplomatic relations between the US and the ICC as a possible sign of the country’s willingness to reopen talks on ratification or accession.
The US has meanwhile adopted a policy favoring support to the Court in cases that advance US national security interests. The American NGO Coalition for the ICC (AMICC) highlighted in 2016 that the US had deemed all ICC cases to that point to advance such interests and that US law in fact allows for limited in-kind support on a case-by-case basis.
As a permanent UN Security Council member, the US has a particular responsibility to safeguard global peace and security, which includes referring situations of assessed atrocities to the ICC in the absence of alternative avenues to justice. While the US abstained in the 2005 Council resolution referring the situation in Darfur to the ICC, it joined the vote to refer the situation in Libya in 2011.
Until the US becomes a member of the ICC or brings its laws into full conformity with the Rome Statute, the US can demonstrate its renewed commitment by exerting influence within the Council to protect against abusive veto practices and to ensure political interests do not block the Court’s common mission to enhance global peace and security—through justice and accountability.
Civil society activities
There is an active civil society movement in the United States promoting a lasting and productive relationship with the Court, with many of these civil society actors forming the American NGOs Coalition for the ICC (AMICC). The work of these NGOs, academic programs, and individuals ranges from providing practical legal assistance to the ICC, to educating and advocating to the public, legal practitioners, and domestic policymakers.
The Coalition for the ICC has long supported its United States members’ participation at the annual Assembly of States Parties to the Rome Statute of the ICC. During the annual session itself, the Coalition has previously assisted with the organization of strategy sessions and side events on enhancing US-ICC relations or elevating international justice on the country’s foreign affairs agenda.