Argument: ICC may interfere with the work of the UN Security Council

Issue Report: International Criminal Court


John R. Bolton, Under Secretary for Arms Control and International Security. “The United States and the International Criminal Court”. Remarks to the Federalist Society. 14 Nov. 2002 – Under the UN Charter, the Security Council has primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security. The ICC’s efforts could easily conflict with the Council’s work. Indeed, the Statute of Rome substantially minimized the Security Council’s role in ICC affairs. While the Security Council may refer matters to the ICC, or order it to refrain from commencing or proceeding with an investigation or prosecution , the Council is precluded from a meaningful role in the ICC’s work. In requiring an affirmative Council vote to stop a case, the Statute shifts the balance of authority from the Council to the ICC.

Moreover, a veto by a Permanent Member of such a restraining Council resolution leaves the ICC completely unsupervised. This attempted marginalization of the Security Council is a fundamental new problem created by the ICC that will have a tangible and highly detrimental impact on the conduct of U.S. foreign policy. The Council now risks having the ICC interfering in its ongoing work, with all of the attendant confusion between the appropriate roles of law, politics, and power in settling international disputes. The Council already has had to take action to dilute the disincentive the ICC poses to nations considering troop contributions to UN-related peacekeeping operations.