Obama Administration
















The Obama administration took a more positive approach to the ICC than the previous administration. 


As a candidate, then-Senator Barack Obama stated that his administration would cooperate with the Court on Darfur and other cases and consult closely with military and legal advisers before making a decision on whether to join the Court. The consultations on joining the Court through ratification of the Rome Statute were quickly halted, owing to the unfavorable political environment as Obama took office. They were replaced by internal discussions and exchanges with civil society organizations about how much to participate in the activities of the ICC.


The US concluded that while the time was not right to ratify, they would send observer delegations to the Assembly of States Parties and US officials also met directly with the staff and leaders of the ICC.


The Obama administration’s cooperation with the Office of the Prosecutor on the Darfur Case, among others, strengthened the US-ICC relationship significantly.


The Obama Administration's approach to the Court was defined by a series of remarks by senior US officials, and a policy statement in the National Security Strategy for 2010. The main element of the policy statement was the assistance and cooperation on all cases deemed to be within US national interest and the attendance at Assembly meetings and other important gatherings. During the Obama Administration, the US delivered Bosco Ntaganada, who the ICC had issued an arrest warrant for, to the Court, voted for a Security Council resolution to refer Libya to the ICC, repealed legislation that placed sanctions on countries that did not conclude bilateral immunity agreements with the US and participated extensively in all ASP meetings since November 2009 and made statements at all of them. 




February, 2015

In the 2015 National Security Strategy, the Obama Administration affirmed its support for the ICC: "We will work with the international community to prevent and call to account those responsible for the worst human rights abuses, including through support to the International Criminal Court, consistent with U.S. law and our commitment to protecting our personnel. Moreover, we will continue to mobilize allies and partners to strengthen our collective efforts to prevent and respond to mass atrocities using all our instruments of national power."

The State Department announces rewards of up to $5 million for information leading to the arres, transfer or conviction of ICC suspects Joseph Kony, Okot Odhiambo, Dominic Ongwen and Sylvestre Mudacumura under the expanded War Crimes Rewards Program (WCRP).

March 22, 2013

Referring to the US delivery of Bosco Ntaganda to the ICC after he turned himself in at a US embassy in Rwanda, John Kerry said "ultimately, peace and stability in the D.R.C. and the Great Lakes will require the restoration of civil order, justice, and accountability. Ntaganda’s expected appearance before the International Criminal Court in The Hague will contribute to that goal, and will also send a strong message to all perpetrators of atrocities that they will be held accountable for their crimes." The ICC had issued an arrest for Ntaganda due to his activities in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

January 15, 2013

 S.2318, the Department of State Rewards Program Update and Technical Corrections Act of 2012, is signed into law by President Obama. His statement said it would "enhance the ability of the U.S. Government to offer monetary rewards for information that leads to the arrest or conviction of foreign nationals accused by international criminal tribunals of atrocity-related crimes, and of individuals involved in transnational organized crime."

October 17, 2012

Ambassador Rice stated, "We have actively engaged with the ICC Prosecutor and Registrar to consider how we can support specific prosecutions already underway, and we've responded positively to informal requests for assistance." Under current US law, the US cannot provide direct funding to the ICC. In addition, she raised concerns about the providing UN-assessed funds to the ICC for cases authorized by the UN Security Council.

February, 2011

The United States co-sponsored and voted for Security Council Resolution 1970 referring Libya to the ICC. Ambassador Rice remarked that the they were "pleased to have supported this entire resolution and all of its measures, including the referral to the ICC." 

June 11, 2010

During the closing intervention at the ICC Review Conference in Kampala, which the US participated in, US Legal Advisor Harold Koh remarked that "The United States delegation has worked extremely hard these last two weeks to resume our country’s engagement with the International Criminal Court, the Assembly of States Parties and the many private organizations involved in the sound development of the Court and international criminal justice."

May, 2010

The administration issued a National Security Strategy report: "Although the United States is not at Present a party to the Rome statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC), and will always protect US personnel, we are engaging with States Parties to the Rome Statute on issues of concern and are supporting the ICC's prosecution of those cases that advance US interests and values consistent with the requirements of US law."

February 11, 2010

Ambassador Rapp, the then head of the State Department's Office of Global Justice, announced that the US would assist the ICC to protect witnesses who testify before the Court in its proceedings on Kenya.

November, 2009

On November 16th, the State Department confirmed US participation as an observer in the November 18-26 ASP meeting in The Hague. It marked the first time the US had participated in ICC meetings since 2001. Speaking at the Assembly of States Parties, Ambassador Stephen J. Rapp said the administration's "view has been and remains that, should the Rome Statute be amended to include a defined crime of aggression, jurisdiction should follow a Security Council determination that aggression has occurred." 

September 30, 2009

The UN Security Council, under the presidency of the US and chaired by then-Secretary Clinton, adopted resolution 1888 concerning sexual violence in armed conflict. The resolution, drafted by the US, includes a reference to the ICC "recalling the inclusion of a range of sexual violence offences in the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court..." This departs from the Bush administration's practice of opposing references to the ICC in UN resolutions.

August 6, 2009

Then-Secretary Clinton stated that it is a "great regret" that the US is not a member of the ICC but said that "we have supported the work of the court and will continue to do so under the Obama Administration."

August 2009

US Ambassador to the UN Susan E. Rice announced in August 2009 that the US would no longer oppose references to the ICC in UN resolutions

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UN Photo/Albert González Farran

UN Photo/Cia Pak

UN Photo/Albert González Farran

(Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

UN Photo/Mark Garten

UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe

UN Photo/ Leoy Felipe

UN Photo/JC McIlwaine

UN Photo/Loey Felipe

UN Photo/Loey Felipe

UN Photo/Erin Siegal

UN Photo/Albert González Farran

UN Photo/JC McIlwaine

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