The following resolution was adopted by the International Association of Democratic Lawyers Council meeting on 25 October 2020: 

IADL RESOLUTION ON U.S. UNILATERAL COERCIVE MEASURES TARGETING THE INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL COURT

The International Association of Democratic Lawyers (IADL) is a non-governmental organization with consultative status in ECOSOC and UNESCO. Founded in 1946 to promote the goals of the United Nations Charter, IADL and its affiliated organizations throughout the world have consistently fought to uphold international law, promote human rights and address threats to international peace and security. From its inception, IADL members have protested racism, colonialism, and economic and political injustice wherever they occur.

IADL reaffirms its position that the U.S. unilateral coercive measures targeting the International Criminal Court (ICC) and its prosecution staff, issued through an executive order by U.S. President Donald Trump in June 2020 and implemented by an order by U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo in September 2020, are an outrage against international justice.

These unilateral coercive measures were imposed in an attempt to ensure the impunity of officials of the U.S. and its allies, including Israel, for war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Two legal challenges have been filed to date in the U.S. against these measures. These measures aim to criminalize the practice of law and the pursuit of justice. Anyone who provides work or technical assistance that is used to convict a U.S. soldier or official in the ICC may be fined up to $300,000 or imprisoned for up to 20 years under these measures. These measures are a direct threat to all lawyers, legal workers and human rights defenders engaged in advocacy for international justice and accountability.

As the IADL noted previously in its statement of 10 September 2020, the United States has for some time claimed that it is exempt from the laws which bind the rest of the world, seeking permanent international impunity for itself.   The United States openly seeks to evade international accountability for its responsibility for war crimes and crimes against humanity in Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere in the world, not only by refusing to join the Court but by U.S. President Trump declaring that the potential for an ICC investigation into international crimes in the war in Afghanistan is a “national emergency.”

Of course, such an investigation follows the United States’ illegal invasion and military occupation of Iraq after years of devastating sanctions, torture of prisoners, and devastation of the country that led directly and indirectly to the deaths of millions of Iraqis.

The United States continues to illegally occupy Afghanistan, having killed and wounded thousands of Afghans over nearly 20 years of ongoing military attacks, while continuing drone strikes, extrajudicial killings and other war crimes and crimes against humanity around the world.

The U.S. government’s unilateral coercive measures are a direct response to the ICC Appeals Chamber’s approval of the Prosecutor’s request to open a formal investigation of U.S. leaders for war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in Afghanistan.

These unilateral coercive measures also come in response to the Prosecutor’s approval of an investigation into Israeli war crimes in Palestine, about which the U.S. and Israel have exerted tremendous pressure on both Palestinian and international actors in an effort to uphold permanent impunity for ongoing Israeli war crimes and crimes against humanity. They follow the submission of a complaint by Middlesex University law professor William Schabas against Trump, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Trump adviser Jared Kushner before the ICC for their support of illegal Israeli colonial settlement activities in the West Bank of occupied Palestine.

The IADL notes that the ICC was established in order to prevent serious crimes against civilians and put an end to impunity when domestic law does not or cannot provide a remedy.  For years, the bulk of ICC actions were directed against African officials, even in relatively weak cases. The U.S. imposed unilateral coercive measures are an attempt to prevent the ICC from performing a truly international or universal role, since any such court or judicial project must be able to hold the U.S. and its allies accountable for their crimes.

This also comes amid the ongoing use of unilateral coercive measures, in violation of international law and the United Nations charter, by the U.S. government; for example, against Cuba, Venezuela, Iran, Syria, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and Zimbabwe. These unilateral coercive measures are a form of economic warfare and an attempt to impose regime change upon any country that rejects the dictates of the United States, and the targeting of individual ICC prosecutors fit precisely into this framework.

Sixty-seven member countries of the ICC have issued a joint statement expressing their support for the Court as an independent and impartial judicial institution, and 10 members of the UN Security Council have done the same. It is incumbent upon all States Parties to the Rome Statute act to defend the Court and address these latest threats to the international rule of law by the United States. We further call on the UN General Assembly to condemn these U.S. actions.

The International Association of Democratic Lawyers:

  1. Rejects the U.S. attempt to suppress international justice and any form of accountability for U.S. and Israeli officials, and expresses its outrage at both the unilateral coercive measures imposed on ICC prosecutors as well as the threat of criminal prosecution targeting lawyers and judges for their work to ensure international accountability.
  2. Affirms that this announcement will not stop our efforts to challenge these unilateral coercive measures and hold accountable U.S. officials, Israeli officials and others responsible for war crimes and crimes against humanity before the International Criminal Court and other international fora.
  3. Supports our colleagues working directly with the ICC to pursue such accountability.
  4. Launches a working group to pursue legal and other mechanisms to challenge these illegitimate unilateral coercive measures.

25 October 2020