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International Criminal Court: 20 years, billions spent, limited success as US considers sanctions

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International Criminal Court: 20 years, billions spent, limited success as US considers sanctions

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As the U.S. weighs sanctions against the International Criminal Court (ICC) over potential arrest warrants for Israeli officials, some experts have questioned the value of the court, given its track record since its founding.

“[The ICC] has been around for over two decades, [but] it has less than 10 successful prosecutions,” Orde Kittrie, a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and law professor at Arizona State University’s Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law, told Fox News Digital. “It’s spent over $2 billion. It’s been really ineffective.”

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As of July 2022, 31 cases have appeared before the ICC, which resulted in 10 convictions and four acquittals. The court has issued 37 arrest warrants, with 21 people ultimately detained while 12 people remain at large, according to the European Union’s External Action Service.

The ICC’s total annual budget for 2023 totaled around $183,500,000, which is an increase of around $34,500,000 or around 20% increase from 2022’s budget. 

VISA BANS FOR ICC OFFICIALS URGED BY BIPARTISAN SENATORS AFTER ISRAEL ARREST WARRANT REQUESTS

Member states each bear a portion of the overall budget based on the size of their economies, with the most significant funds coming from large European economies, Japan, South Korea, Australia and Brazil, according to the Journal of Human Rights. 

Japan ranked as the largest contributor in 2022 with around $26,850,000, while Germany and France rank thereafter with around $19,000,000 and $14,400,000, respectively.

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President Biden speaks during a Jewish American Heritage Month reception in the Rose Garden of the White House on May 20, 2024. (Samuel Corum/Sipa/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Appropriations for the court are divided into nine categories: the Judiciary, Office of the Prosecutor, the Registry, Secretariat of the Assembly of States Parties, Premises, Secretariat of the Trust Fund for Victims, Permanent Premises Project – Host State Loan, Independent Oversight Mechanism and Office of Internal Audit. The court also notes that “assets that the Court holds are normally not held to generate commercial returns and are therefore non-cash generating assets,” meaning it must build its budget from contributions alone. 

Even with that sizable budget, and the significant increase year over year, the court relies heavily on the cooperation of members to enable its operations. Outgoing Registrar Peter Lewis in 2023 said the court faced an unprecedented workload – even before taking on the investigation into alleged crimes in the Gaza Strip – and that state parties’ cooperation remained crucial to any success.

US ALLIES FRANCE, BELGIUM DEFEND ICC PROSECUTOR’S REQUEST FOR ISRAELI ARREST WARRANTS

US sanctions

This makes any sanctions against the organization a potentially crippling measure: Then-President Trump in 2020 authorized an asset freeze and family entry ban against ICC officials after the court opened investigations into alleged U.S. war crimes conducted in Afghanistan. 

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“The ICC Prosecutor … thinks the Biden administration is more interested in a cozy relationship with the ICC than with protecting Israelis and Americans from its power grab,” Anne Bayefsky, director of the Touro Institute on Human Rights and the Holocaust as well as president of Human Rights Voices, told Fox News Digital.

International Criminal Court

International Criminal Court prosecutor Karim Khan (Dimitar Dilkoff/AFP via Getty Images)

“If President Biden does not immediately invoke the American Service Members Protection Act, terminate all cooperation and support of the ICC, and use his authority to sanction ICC officials for their outrageous prosecution – actually persecution – of the democratic representatives of the Jewish state … justice will have been dealt a disastrous blow,” Bayefsky said.

The Biden administration increased its cooperation with the ICC, offering assistance and intelligence to the court to bolster its investigation into alleged Russian war crimes during the invasion of Ukraine, though Kittrie noted that the ICC case against Putin “hasn’t made a difference” and possibly merely added “some sense” of legitimacy for the ICC prosecutor. 

PROGRESSIVE SENATOR BACKS POTENTIAL ICC ARREST WARRANT FOR NETANYAHU: ‘UNPRECEDENTED WAR’

Bayefsky and others have urged the Biden administration to invoke the American Servicemembers Protection Act and sanction the ICC in response to any arrest warrants for Israeli officials. 

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During a speech in the Rose Garden on Wednesday at a press conference with Kenyan President William Ruto, Biden reiterated that the U.S. “made our position clear on the ICC … we don’t recognize the jurisdiction of the ICC, the way it’s being exercised, and it’s that simple. We don’t think there’s an equivalence between what Israel did and Hamas did.”

Hague Netherlands Headquarters

This view shows the International Criminal Court building in The Hague in the Netherlands on April 30, 2024. (Selman Aksunger/Anadolu via Getty Images)

The Rome Statute counts 124 signatories, including most of Africa, Europe and South America, but it does not include some notable holdouts: the United States, China, Russia, Ukraine, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Iran, North Korea and Turkey, among others. 

The Biden administration reversed the sanctions but reinforced the position that the U.S. continued to “disagree strongly with the ICC’s actions relating to the Afghanistan and Palestinian situations.” 

The Center for Constitutional Rights argued that the sanctions delayed critical investigations at the ICC, “directly and indirectly negatively” impacting the work at the ICC, though perhaps not as drastically as the U.S. would have hoped.

ISRAEL SLAMS GERMAN GOVERNMENT’S VOW TO ARREST PRIME MINISTER NETANYAHU OVER ICC WARRANT

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Israeli PM Netanyahu and Gallant

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, right, and Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant are pictured in the West Bank in August 2023. (Amos Ben-Gershom (GPO)/Handout/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

Instead, the group argued that the sanctions created a difficult working relationship for the ICC and any potential collaborators, such as civil society organizations, investigators, lawyers and victims who would worry about facing similar sanctions for helping the ICC.

The ICC, which commenced operations in 2002, bases its authority on the signatories of the Rome Statute, which outlines four core international crimes that the court will prosecute: genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and crimes of aggression, all of which are “not subject to any statute of limitations” but limited to only crimes that occurred after the statute came into force.

President Clinton signed the statute in 2000, but he demanded that the eventual ICC should address “fundamental concerns” before he or any other U.S. president considered putting the statute before the U.S. Senate for ratification. The Bush administration took it a step further, withdrawing the U.S. signature and instead adopting the American Servicemembers Protection Act.

 

Also known as the “Hague Invasion Act,” the law allows the president to use “all means necessary and appropriate to bring about the release” of U.S. or allied citizens detained or imprisoned by the ICC.

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The bill also prevents the U.S. from providing support for the ICC, per Sec. 2004: The U.S. is prohibited from responding to requests for cooperation, of providing support to the court (including from law enforcement), of helping with extradition and using appropriated funds to assist the court, among others.

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Video: Biden and Zelensky Deliver Remarks at G7 Summit

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Video: Biden and Zelensky Deliver Remarks at G7 Summit

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Biden and Zelensky Deliver Remarks at G7 Summit

G7 leaders agreed on a plan to give Ukraine a $50 billion loan to help it buy weapons and begin to rebuild.

“President Zelensky and I have just now signed that agreement between the United States and Ukraine. Our goal is to strengthen Ukraine’s credible defense and deterrence capabilities for the long term. A lasting peace for Ukraine must be underwritten by Ukraine’s own ability to defend itself now, and to deter future aggression any time in the future. The United States is going to help ensure that Ukraine can do both, not by sending American troops to fight in Ukraine, but by providing weapons and ammunition, expanding intelligence sharing, continuing to train brave Ukrainian troops at bases in Europe and the United States.” “Today is a truly historic day, and we have signed the strongest agreement between Ukraine and the U.S. since our independence. And this is an agreement on security, and thus, on the protection of human life. This is an agreement on cooperation, and thus, on how our nations will become stronger. This is an agreement on steps to guarantee sustainable peace, and therefore it benefits everyone in the world because the Russian war against Ukraine is a real, real global threat.”

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1,000 days have passed since Taliban banned girls from attending school past 6th grade: UNICEF

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1,000 days have passed since Taliban banned girls from attending school past 6th grade: UNICEF

A thousand days have passed since girls in Afghanistan were banned from attending secondary schools, according to the U.N. children’s agency, which said Thursday that “no country can move forward when half its population is left behind.”

UNICEF Executive Director Catherine Russell in a statement urged Taliban authorities to allow all children to resume learning immediately, and called on the international community to support Afghan girls, who she said need it more than ever. The agency estimates that more than 1 million girls are affected.

The U.N. has warned that the ban on girls’ education remains the Taliban’s biggest obstacle to gaining recognition as the legitimate rulers of Afghanistan.

TALIBAN PUBLICLY FLOGS 63 IN AFGHANISTAN, INCLUDING WOMEN, DRAWING UN CONDEMNATION

The Taliban, who took over in Afghanistan following the withdrawal of U.S. and NATO forces in 2021, has said girls continuing their education goes against the group’s strict interpretation of Islamic law.

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Despite initially promising a more moderate rule, the Taliban have also barred women from higher education, public spaces like parks and most jobs as part of harsh measures imposed. When the Taliban ruled Afghanistan in the 1990s, they also banned girls’ education.

FILE – Afghan girls attend school in a classroom, in Kabul, March 25, 2023. One thousand days have passed since girls in Afghanistan were banned from attending secondary schools. That’s according to the U.N. children’s agency, which says that “no country can move forward when half its population is left behind.” (AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi, File)

The Taliban has barred girls from attending classes beyond sixth grade, making it the only country in the world with such restrictions on female education.

In March, the new school year started with girls barred from attending classes beyond the sixth grade. Female journalists were not allowed to attend the opening ceremony.

The Taliban also have been prioritizing Islamic knowledge over basic literacy and numeracy with their shift toward madrassas, or religious schools.

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UNICEF’s executive director called the systematic exclusion of girls “not only a blatant violation of their right to education, but also results in dwindling opportunities and deteriorating mental health.”

She said UNICEF works with partners to run community-based education classes for 600,000 children, two-thirds of them girls, and train teachers.

Although Afghan boys have access to education, Human Rights Watch has said the Taliban’s “abusive” educational policies are harming them. In a report published in December, the group said deep harm has been inflicted on boys’ education as qualified teachers — including women — left, including an increase in corporal punishment.

Also on Thursday, a spokesperson for the U.N. Human Rights Office said the Taliban have told female civil servants barred from working that their salaries would be cut to the lowest level regardless of their experience or qualifications.

The latest “discriminatory and profoundly arbitrary decision” further deepened the erosion of human rights in Afghanistan, said Liz Throssell.

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The U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, Volker Türk, called on authorities to rescind all laws, instructions, edicts and other measures that discriminated against women and girls, in clear violation of the country’s human rights obligations, Throssell added.

Nobody from the Taliban was immediately available for comment.

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NATO agrees on long-term support plan for Ukraine

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NATO agrees on long-term support plan for Ukraine

Ministers gathered over two days at NATO headquarters in Brussels for final high-level talks before an upcoming summit hosted by US President Joe Biden in Washington in July.

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NATO defence ministers have ended talks in Brussels, during which they agreed on a plan to provide long-term security assistance and military training to Ukraine.

It comes after Hungary promised not to veto the scheme as long as it’s not forced to take part.

Ukraine’s Western allies are trying to bolster their military support as Russian troops launch attacks along the more than 1,000-kilometre front line, taking advantage of a lengthy delay in US military aid. European Union money was also held up by political infighting.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, who chaired the meeting, said that Ukraine’s beleaguered armed forces need longer-term predictability about the kinds of weapons, ammunition and funds they can expect to receive.

Stoltenberg declared that the plan is for NATO to continue to provide support to Ukraine: “Since Russia’s full scale invasion, allies have provided around €40 billion worth of military support each year. I have proposed that we sustain this level of support as a minimum for as long as it takes.”

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Since Russia’s full-scale invasion in February 2022, Ukraine’s Western backers have routinely met as part of the Ukraine Defence Contact Group, run by the Pentagon, to drum up weapons and ammunition for Kyiv. A fresh meeting was held at NATO headquarters on Thursday.

While those meetings have resulted in significant battlefield support, they have been of an ad-hoc and unpredictable nature. Stoltenberg has spearheaded an effort to have NATO take up some of the slack.

The idea is for the 32-nation military alliance to coordinate the security assistance and training process, partly by using NATO’s command structure and drawing on funds from its common budget.

Stoltenberg said he hopes Biden and his counterparts will agree in Washington to maintain the funding level for military support they have provided Ukraine since Russia launched its full-fledged invasion in February 2022.

He estimates this at around €40 billion of equipment each year.

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