Understanding the International Criminal Court

Its Role, Challenges, and Impact on Global Justice

Ken Briggs
4 min readMay 29, 2024

Last week, prosecutors at the International Criminal Court applied for warrants for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, as well as two senior Hamas leaders. The United States announced opposition to these warrants, and the U.S. House has threatened to vote for sanctions on the ICC.

International Criminal Court building in The Hague, Netherlands

This puts the United States in an awkward position. Just last year, it hailed an arrest warrant for Vladimir Putin as a positive step to reinforce support for Ukraine. However, its opposition in this case smacks of hypocrisy to observers around the world. It also highlights how international institutions have no independent enforcement power and must rely on norms and the sanction of sovereign states for their influence.

The ICC specifically was founded as part of an international treaty known as the Rome Statute. 124 of the world’s nations are signatories to this treaty, and therefore subject to its jurisdications. However, many are not, including the United States, China, Russia, India, and Israel. Thus, the ICC can issue all the warrants it wants for Russian and Israeli officials, but, since these countries are not signatories, it does not matter.

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Ken Briggs

Engineer, tech co-founder, writer, and student of foreign policy. Talks about the intersection of technology, politics, business, foreign affairs, and history