Columbia International Affairs Online: Working Papers

CIAO DATE: 06/2010

From Rome to Kampala: The U.S. Approach to the 2010 International Criminal Court Review Conference

Vijay Padmanabhan, Benjamin N. Cardozo

April 2010

Council on Foreign Relations


The United States has long been a leading force behind international efforts to bring the perpetrators of atrocities to justice. It spearheaded the prosecution of German and Japanese officials after World War II and more recently supported tribunals to deal with events in Rwanda, the former Yugoslavia, and elsewhere. Washington has kept far more distance, however, from the International Criminal Court (ICC). Although President Bill Clinton allowed U.S. negotiators to sign the Rome Statute, the agreement that established the court, he and subsequent presidents have maintained objections to elements of the court’s jurisdiction and prosecutorial authority. U.S. administrations have since cooperated to varying degrees with the ICC, but the notion of ratifying the Rome Statute and joining the court has never been seriously entertained.