In a Monday speech at the Federalist Society, National Security Advisor John Bolton criticized the International Criminal Court (ICC) and threatened sanctions against the legal body, calling it “illegitimate.”
“I’m here to make a major announcement on U.S. policy towards the International Criminal Court or ICC,” Bolton began. “After years of effort by self-styled global governance advocates, the ICC a supranational tribunal that could supersede national sovereignties and directly prosecute individuals for alleged war crimes was agreed in 1998.”
Bolton went on to proclaim that the U.S. will not cooperate with the ICC, even financially.
“We will provide no assistance to the ICC. And we certainly will not join the ICC,” he said. “We will let the ICC die on its own. After all, for all intents and purposes, the ICC is already dead to us.”
This comes after an ICC prosecutor asked to investigate alleged crimes committed by members of the U.S. military who served in Afghanistan, CBS reports.
“Today, on the eve of September 11th, I want to deliver a clear and unambiguous message on behalf of the President of the United States,” Bolton said. “The United States will use any means necessary to protect our citizens and those of our allies from unjust prosecution by this illegitimate court.”
Bolton reportedly threatened to ban ICC judges and prosecutors from the U.S. and to impose sanctions on any funds they might have in the U.S. financial system. He also said these measures would apply to companies and countries that assist the ICC in investigating the U.S.
The ICC was chartered in 2002, but the Bush administration refused to sign on, with Bolton — who was a top state department official at the time — leading the charge. According to The Hill, he claims his push to prevent the U.S. from signing on to the ICC is “one of my proudest achievements.”
Bolton admitted that “in theory, the ICC holds perpetrators of the most egregious atrocities accountable for their crimes, provides justice to the victims, and deters future abuses.” However, in practice, he said the court “has been ineffective, unaccountable, and indeed, outright dangerous.”
Bolton claims that the court was created to “contain the United States.” “The objective was not limited to targeting individual U.S. service members, but rather America’s senior political leadership, and its relentless determination to keep our country secure,” he said.
“[W]e will remember that cooperation when setting U.S. foreign assistance, military assistance and intelligence-sharing levels,” Bolton said.
Bolton also touched on the Palestinian mission in Washington D.C.,closed this week by the Trump administration after the Palestinians refused to engage in peace talks and called for an investigation and prosecution of Israel in the ICC.
“The United States will always stand with our friend and ally, Israel,” Bolton said. “And, today, reflecting Congressional concerns with Palestinian attempts to prompt an ICC investigation of Israel, the State Department will announce the closure of the Palestine Liberation Organization office here in Washington, D.C.”
Watch the full speech below: