U.S. Agreements Violate International Court Treaty


Amnesty International has today released a 30-page legal analysis showing in detail how bilateral agreements being pursued by the United States with individual countries, including EU member states, violate both the spirit and the law of the Rome Statute establishing the International Criminal Court.

Several EU member states, notably the United Kingdom and Italy, have suggested that these bilateral agreements (designed to ensure US personnel are not handed over to the International Criminal Court) do not violate the ICC Treaty. Amnesty International’s analysis proves the opposite and coincides with the conclusion reached by the European Commission’s legal service.

Amnesty International has released its detailed legal analysis in the lead up to the meeting on Wednesday 4 September, in Brussels, of the EU’s Council Working Group on Public International Law (COJUR).

Amnesty International’s document: International Criminal Court: US efforts to obtain impunity for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes shows how the US bilateral agreements already signed with several countries (including EU applicant Romania) violate the obligations of states who are a party to the ICC Treaty on three levels:

Article 98 (2) of the Rome Statute establishing the ICC

The US impunity agreements are contrary to the purpose of this article which was intended to apply to existing “Status of Forces Agreements” (SOFA). Instead of allocating responsibility for investigating and prosecuting crimes committed by members of a “sending” state’s armed force stationed in a “receiving” state and requiring each party to provide the other with assistance in such investigations and prosecutions, as in a SOFA, the sole purpose of these agreements is to prevent the International Criminal Court from exercising its jurisdiction.

Obligations under the principle of complementarity and obligations to cooperate with the ICC

The ICC does not replace national legal systems but is complementary to national jurisdictions. Impunity agreements which seek to prevent states from surrendering US nationals accused of genocide, crimes against humanity or war crimes to the ICC, but do not provide for their investigation or prosecution by the US or any other state, violate the obligations of parties to the Treaty.

Obligations under international law

Signatories of the Rome Statute who enter into impunity agreements with the US are acting in a manner that would defeat the object and purpose of the Rome Statute, and thus would be violating their obligations under international law as set out in Article 31 of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties.

“The legal case against the US impunity agreements is clear,” says Dick Oosting, Director of Amnesty International’s EU Office.

Amnesty International recalled that the Danish EU Presidency is on record as saying that it considers the integrity of the ICC as essential, and would not wish to do anything to undermine its credibility.

“The US bilateral agreements clearly do undermine the ICC’s integrity and credibility. Amnesty International urges those EU member states who are wavering to look at the legal conclusions, and pull back from any compromise that would itself undermine international law,” said Dick Oosting. “Moreover, this is of critical importance for the candidate countries that are looking to the EU to take a clear stand on this issue.”

Click here to link to Amnesty International’s document.

Click here to view letter sent to the EU Presidency.

Click here for in-depth information on ICC.

Click here to view press release from amnesty.org

Texts also available on news.amnesty.org

For further comment/background and interviews:

Amnesty International EU Office (Brussels):
Tel: 32-2-5021499
Fax: 32-2-5025686
[email protected]