US President Joe Biden revoked sanctions on the top prosecutor of the International Criminal Court levied by Donald Trump on Friday, as the new government seeks much more constructive methods for resolving a bitter conflict with European allies. Regarding this, Antony Blinken, Pompeo’s successor made intense statements.
Last year, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo blasted The Hague’s “kangaroo court,” imposing financial restrictions and a visa ban on Fatou Bensouda, the court’s Gambian chief prosecutor.
Despite the fact that Israel is a US ally who refuses the court’s jurisdiction, the Hague court irritated the US even more by opening an investigation into alleged Israeli war crimes in the Palestinian territories.
Antony Blinken said the US continued to “strongly disagree” with the moves on Afghanistan and Israel.
“We believe, however, that our concerns about these cases would be better addressed through engagement with all stakeholders in the ICC process rather than through the imposition of sanctions,” Blinken said in a statement.
Silvia Fernández de Gurmendi, the president of the Association of States Parties to the ICC, expressed hope that the decision “signals the start of a new phase of our joint undertaking to combat impunity” for war crimes.
France, along with other European allies, was outraged by the previous administration’s decision and praised the reversal while pledging support for the ICC.
“This decision is excellent news for all who are committed to the fight against impunity, for multilateralism and for an international order founded on the rule of law,” Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said.
What More Blinken Said:
Blinken said he was motivated by the court’s reform efforts, which have come under criticism for internal problems such as judges’ salaries.
He said that the US has backed unique international judicial initiatives in the Balkans, Cambodia, and Rwanda to ensure accountability for war crimes and crimes against humanity.
“Our support for the rule of law, access to justice and accountability for mass atrocities are important US national security interests that are protected and advanced by engaging with the rest of the world to meet the challenges of today and tomorrow,” Blinken said.
Blinken announced the decision days before the administration needed to respond to a lawsuit against Trump’s executive order filed by the Open Society Justice Initiative, which promotes human rights and democracy.
“The United States has a long history of using sanctions to punish human rights abusers, but never before was this tool used to punish an independent court that seeks justice for victims of atrocities,” James Goldston, executive director of the initiative said.