UN Secretary-General António Guterres has welcomed the decision by the United States to lift sanctions and visa restrictions against officials with the International Criminal Court (ICC).
President Joseph Biden on Friday revoked a Trump-era executive order issued after the ICC announced it was investigating alleged war crimes committed by all sides in the conflict in Afghanistan, including the US.
Executive Order 13928 of 11 June 2020 imposed economic sanctions against ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda and the Head of the Jurisdiction, Complementarity and Cooperation Division, Phakiso Mochochoko. A separate 2019 policy regarding visa restrictions on certain court staff was also terminated.
“These decisions reflect our assessment that the measures adopted were inappropriate and ineffective”, US Secretary of State Anthony J. Blinken said in a statement.
In welcoming the decision, the Secretary-General noted that the ICC “plays an important role in advancing accountability for international crimes”, his Spokesperson, Stéphane Dujarric, said in a statement on Saturday.
Ready to re-engage
The Court, which is based in The Hague, in the Netherlands, prosecutes the most serious crimes of concern to the international community, such as genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity.
It was established in July 1998 under a treaty known as the Rome Statute, which more than 120 countries have signed. The US is not a party to the treaty.
The ICC also issued a statement on Saturday welcoming the developments from Washington.
“The Court is mindful that the United States has traditionally made important contributions to the cause of international criminal justice,” the statement said.
“The Court stands ready to reengage with the US in the continuation of that tradition based on mutual respect and constructive engagement.”