President Donald Trump’s National Security Adviser, John Bolton, harshly condemned the International Criminal Court (ICC) on Monday, promising to sanction its judges if the organization formally investigates alleged war crimes committed by Americans in Afghanistan.
“We will not cooperate with the ICC,” said Bolton, according to Al Jazeera. “We will provide no assistance to the ICC. We will certainly not join the ICC. We will let the ICC die on its own. After all, for all intents and purposes, the ICC is already dead to us.”
The ICC, headquartered in the Netherlands, is a group of 120 nations committed to investigating and trying those charged with the “gravest crimes of concern to the international community: genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity, and the crime of aggression.”
While the U.S. is not a member of the ICC, its citizens could still be tried if they commit a crime within ICC jurisdiction and are not tried at home, Al Jazeera reports.
Speaking to the conservative Federalist Society, Bolton asked, “Would you consign the fate of American citizens to a committee of other nations, including Venezuela and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and entities that are not even states like the Palestinian authority?”
“You would not,” he answered, pointing out allegations of mismanagement and corruption within the ICC (including once sharing confidential court documents with Angelina Jolie). He also condemned the organization’s “disputed and ambiguous” definitions of crime.
The ICC is “antithetical” to U.S. ideals, said Bolton. “Indeed, this organization is the founders’ worst nightmare come to life: an elegant office building in a far-away country that determines the guilt or innocence of American citizens.”
According to Al Jazeera, the ICC claimed in 2016 that U.S. soldiers and CIA operatives used torture against detainees in Afghanistan, primarily between 2003 and 2004. The U.S. has denied taking any illegal actions.
The U.S.’s rebuttal of the ICC Monday was paired with the Trump administration’s closure of the Palestine Liberation Organization’s office in Washington. The office closure is in retaliation to the PLO’s call for an ICC inquiry into Israeli actions, The Guardian reports.
“The United States will use any means necessary to protect our citizens and those of our allies from unjust prosecution by this illegitimate court,” said Bolton, according to The Guardian.