US Threat to Sanction International Criminal Court Is 'Legal Nihilism' – Scholar

© AP Photo / Evan Vucci / National security adviser John Bolton listens as President Donald Trump speaks during a cabinet meeting at the White House, Monday, April 9, 2018, in Washington
National security adviser John Bolton listens as President Donald Trump speaks during a cabinet meeting at the White House, Monday, April 9, 2018, in Washington - Sputnik International
The International Criminal Court said that it will continue to do its work undeterred, in accordance with the rule of law, regardless of the sanctions announced by the US National Security Advisor. The ICC also added that it is an independent judicial institution tasked with ensuring accountability for crimes that shock the conscience of humanity.

Sputnik discussed the US administration's stance on the ICC with Francis Boyle, a professor of international law at the University of Illinois College of Law and author of the book "Destroying World Order: US Imperialism in the Middle East Before and After September 11."

Sputnik: How concerning is the US administration's line towards the ICC?

Francis Boyle: Bolton is a typical neo-conservative apparatchik. it’s not just the International Criminal Court but also his statement rejecting international law as well and then citing the ICC as one example.

What we're seeing with Bolton and Trump is legal nihilism here; it doesn’t augur well for the future.

This file photo taken on November 23, 2015 shows the building of the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague, The Netherlands - Sputnik International
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Sputnik: Were you surprised that Washington adopted this aggressive stance?

Francis Boyle: Not with Bolton in there. No. He had worked for President (George W. Bush) and he convinced President Bush to unsign the ICC.

So, there’s nothing at all surprising about what Bolton did. As I said, he is the lead hatchet man for the neo-conservative faction here in the US; and it does appear that as long as Bolton is the National Security Advisor to President Trump, the neo-Conservatives are pretty much in control.

Sputnik: Mr. Bolton spoke of bilateral agreements to prohibit nations from surrendering the US citizens to the ICC; how would you assess such an alternative?

Francis Boyle: These agreements clearly violate the Rome Statute itself and were procured through the US government applying enormous pressure, threats, bullying and intimidation to sign these agreements.

But you have to understand that what Bolton is really afraid of here, and, indeed, what he was afraid of when he was working for Bush as UN ambassador, is that the ICC would go after the highest level officials of the US government: the President, the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of State, Bolton himself and others. Generally speaking, the ICC doesn’t go after the small fries, it goes after the ring leaders. Bolton admitted this the last time he was going on his jihad against the ICC.

Former U.S. Ambassador to the UN John Bolton speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), Friday, Feb. 24, 2017, in Oxon Hill, Md. - Sputnik International
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Sputnik: Do you think that by adopting this stance and threatening ICC judges, the US, or Mr. Bolton, think that the US may be accused of war crimes in Afghanistan?

Francis Boyle: Of course! There’s no question about it, if you look at the behavior of the US government.

As a matter of fact, in 2010 I filed a complained with the ICC against Bush and all the rest of them for extraordinary renditions in Afghanistan and throughout Europe and torture.

I can send you a copy of this complaint. And eventually, the second prosecutor (Fatou) Bensouda agreed; I’m not saying she necessarily was following what I said, but agreed with my theory of the case.

The highest-level officials of the US government under Bush, for whom Bolton worked, were guilty of war crimes in Afghanistan and in European states for their policy and extraordinary rendition which is really a euphemism for the enforced disappearance of human beings and torture. Under the Rome Statute, when this is widespread or systematic, in this case it’s both, [it's a] crime against humanity.

So finally, in November 2017, Bensouda said she was going to look into this; well, better late than never. He [Bolton] is responding to that because this is what we lawyers call a consciousness of guilt; he knows there is a compelling case there. Now, whether Bensouda is really going to do this is another issue, but it is there.

Views and opinions expressed in this article are those of Francis Boyle and do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.


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