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U.S. National Security Advisor Attacks International Justice and Accountability

For Immediate Release

White House National Security Advisor, John Bolton, today called the International Criminal Court (ICC) “fundamentally illegitimate” and threatened to ban its judges and prosecutors from the United States. Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) strongly condemns this rhetoric and again encourages the United States to sign and ratify the Rome Statute and to support victims of serious crimes.

Homer Venters, MD, PHR director of programs said Bolton’s comments are a serious attack on international justice and accountability.

“At a time when there are ongoing investigations into mass atrocities in several countries, such an attack on the International Criminal Court sends a dangerous message that undermines one of the most important institutions attempting to bring justice to victims around the world. The ICC has been instrumental in delivering accountability in cases like the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Central African Republic, and their ongoing work in Libya, Myanmar, and elsewhere is critical to bringing accountability for crimes against humanity and preventing future atrocities. Bolton’s statement sends a message that some countries should enjoy immunity from accountability, which only emboldens those committing mass atrocities today.”

Unfortunately, this is not the first such attack on the ICC. Bolton was behind the campaign of former President George W. Bush to undercut the ICC, including threatening aid for states who are party to the ICC that refused to conclude immunity agreements with the United States, thereby violating their ICC obligations. He also led the Bush administration to withdraw their signature from the Rome Statute – which was an unprecedented move. In addition, during his role as the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Bolton was behind United Nations Security Council Resolution 1422 declaring the ICC a threat to international peace and security and granting a one-year deferral of potential prosecutions for peacekeeping personnel from non-ICC state parties.

PHR reiterates its call on the U.S. government to sign and ratify the Rome Statute, to cease its attacks on the ICC, and to support and cooperate with the Court in delivering justice to victims of serious crimes.

Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) is a New York-based advocacy organization that uses science and medicine to prevent mass atrocities and severe human rights violations. Learn more here.

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Kevin Short

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