- Ilhan Omar calls on the United States to join the International Criminal Court in the midst of the war in Ukraine.
- Biden has called for a war crimes investigation into Putin, but the United States is not a member of the court.
- “Our refusal to attend court is contrary to our commitment to human rights,” Omar said.
Democratic Representative Ilhan Omar of Minnesota is urging the United States to join the International Criminal Court as the calls for Russian President Vladimir Putin are convicted as a war criminal amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
“We are in the company of countries such as Iran, Sudan, China and, yes, Russia as one of several nations that have refused to sign this basis of international law,” Omar wrote in a Washington Post statement on Wednesday. . “If we oppose investigations of countries like our own that have not joined the ICC, then how can we support an investigation of Russia, another country that has not joined the court?”
Omar on Thursday presented a resolution calling on the United States to join the international body, as well as a bill to repeal the “Hague Invasion Act” of 2002, which prohibits the US government from cooperating with the court.
Both measures are co-sponsored by a handful of other progressive Democrats, including reps. Jamaal Bowman from New York, Cori Bush from Missouri, Sara Jacobs and Barbara Lee from California and Rashida Tlaib from Michigan.
The resolution follows revelations of alleged atrocities committed by Russian forces in Ukraine, including the slaughter of civilians in Bucha, a city outside Kiev. That prompted President Joe Biden to propose that Putin face a formal trial.
“You saw what happened in Bucha,” Biden said told reporters this month. “He’s a war criminal. But we have to gather the information.”
Omar, who came to the United States as a refugee from Somalia, wrote that the continuing reports of atrocities “evoke a traumatic past” for her and that she remembers “watching armed militias walk past my family’s window, hearing bombs explode outside our doors” and wondered if our house was next “like an 8-year-old girl.
“Vladimir Putin and anyone responsible must be held accountable,” Omar said in a statement announcing the decision. “Unfortunately, the United States is not a party to the International Criminal Court, the primary body responsible for investigating and prosecuting these crimes.”
“Our refusal to join the court is contrary to our commitment to human rights, accountability and the rule of law,” she added. “Now is our chance to lead the fight against human rights violations and support international criminal justice.”
Omar, a longtime progressive critic of U.S. foreign policy, recently told Insider that she believes some of her progressive colleagues have “given up their principles of being anti-war” amid the imposition of broad-based sanctions against Russia. population.
In 1998, the United States was one of seven countries – including China, Iraq, Israel, Libya, Qatar and Yemen – to vote against the Rome Statute, which initially established the court. President Bill Clinton then signed the Rome Statute in 2000, but it was never ratified by the Senate.
The United States even sanctioned top ICC officials under former President Donald Trump over an investigation into alleged war crimes committed by US forces in Afghanistan, which Biden later repealed. But even under Biden, the United States has reiterated its opposition to cooperating with the court.
Currently, only 123 countries are parties to the Rome Statute, while countries including the United States, Russia, China and Iran are not.
“Our absence also allows regimes to commit human rights violations with impunity,” Omar wrote. “If the most powerful country does not want to hold itself accountable to the rule of law, other countries will feel brave to violate it.”
Last month, Republican Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina introduced a resolution in support of Ukraine’s war crimes claims against Russia in the International Criminal Court, a measure that was eventually adopted.
When asked by Insider at the time whether the United States’ full history with the court could undermine the credibility of this decision, Graham said the court was only useful in certain contexts.
“We have a very robust rule of law system in America,” Graham replied. “No one is above the law. Everyone is being investigated. You know, President Trump is being investigated by several organizations.”