US Representative Ilhan Omar (D-Minnesota) has reportedly called out a key potential stumbling block in President Joe Biden’s push to have Russia prosecuted for alleged war crimes in Ukraine: Washington isn’t even a member of the international court that would handle the probe.
The International Criminal Court (ICC) was set up specifically to prosecute such major cases as war crimes, including genocide, when a country declines to investigate atrocities allegedly committed by its nationals. With Biden and other Western leaders accusing Russia and President Vladimir Putin of committing war crimes in Ukraine, the ICC is the logical entity to take on the case. In fact, the court began investigating the Ukraine conflict a few days after Moscow launched its military offensive in February.
However, as Omar pointed out, even as Washington tries to lead efforts to gather evidence that may be submitted to the ICC and the International Court of Justice, it still hasn’t joined the ranks of nations that are subject to the ICC’s jurisdiction. The treaty-based court was formed under the Rome Statute of 1998, but the US opted against making its military forces subject to the ICC’s jurisdiction. In fact, Washington imposed sanctions against the ICC in 2020 because the court was probing alleged war crimes by US forces in Afghanistan.