A Meeting of the Minds in Rome: Ending the Circular Conundrum of the U.S.-ICC Relationship


This Article’s explanation for what prevents a U.S.-ICC marriage, or at least more robust American governmental support of the ICC, is that the U.S. and ICC find themselves in a circular conundrum. The U.S. is hesitant to join the ICC or even provide robust and regular support to it—as evidenced by its anti-ICC legislation—until the latter improves its functional ability to carry out all aspects of its mandate on its own and to do so consistently in a complicated geopolitical environment. However, the ICC, for its part, cannot overcome all the challenges it faces without more comprehensive and sustained support from powerful States, including the U.S. So, ICC improvement requires U.S. support, and U.S. support requires ICC improvement; neither can happen without the other. As a result, it is clear that the biggest impediment to comprehensive progress in U.S.-ICC relations and possible U.S. ratification is not primarily a philosophical or political divide, but more a function of practical realities. Of course, the practical and political are intertwined. However, major progress in the practical is central to solving the political. This will require simultaneous progress towards one another by each party.

The purpose of this Article is to help find a starting point to solve this problematic circle. The goal of improving the U.S.-ICC relationship should be desirable to both parties, as progress substantially benefits both, not to mention the cause of international criminal justice. This Article does not seek to judge either the U.S.’s or ICC’s role in their relationship, but rather to lay out the best ways to increase U.S. support of the ICC.


U.S.-ICC relationship, international criminal court, ICC, international criminal justice, state support, politics, international relations



Christopher "Kip" Hale (American Bar Association (ABA), Center for Human Rights)
Maanasa K. Reddy (The Human Rights Law Network)



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