The U.S. has recently made two high-profile moves to cooperate with the International Criminal Court, which the U.S. has not joined and is barred by domestic law from supporting financially. In an email interview, Harry Rhea, assistant professor of criminal justice at Florida International University and author of the book “The United States and International Criminal Tribunals: An Introduction,” discussed U.S.-ICC cooperation and how the U.S. can bolster the court without joining it.
WPR: Do recent U.S. moves to cooperate with the court -- transferring Bosco Ntaganda to The Hague and including ICC suspects in the Rewards for Justice program, for instance -- signify a broader shift in Washington's relationship with the ICC?
Harry Rhea: On April 3, the United States offered a $5 million reward for the Ugandan warlord Joseph Kony, who is wanted by the International Criminal Court for war crimes and crimes against humanity. While this announcement could be viewed as a policy shift by the United States toward the International Criminal Court, I don’t think it is. Since 2005 a friendship between the United States and the International Criminal Court has evolved. Both aim to achieve international criminal justice on behalf of victims of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. If the United States believes the International Criminal Court is the appropriate forum to achieve international justice, then it will help the court achieve this common goal. However, the United States more often supports other forums such as national and internationalized criminal courts to achieve international criminal justice. In the case of Uganda, the United States is doing more to support the ICC's investigation than any of the 122 states parties to the court. But since the ICC and U.S. have no formal relationship through ratification, they are "friends with benefits."