Monroe Leigh Supports an International Criminal Court


Monroe Leigh is absolutely right in his editorial comment in characterizing the international criminal court now being formed at the United Nations as “the most important international juridical institution that has been proposed since the San Francisco Conference in 1945.” [1] Opponents of the ICC have flooded the media with false arguments designed to mislead and frighten the public. Leigh’s objective analysis rebuts the principal U.S. objections and concludes that it is in the best interests of the United States, its nationals, and its military personnel to accept the Rome Statute as soon as possible.

No one suggests that the Rome Statute on which the court is based is a perfect legal instrument. It is a remarkable amalgamation of different legal systems designed to be acceptable to all nations. An outstanding expert on international courts, Shabtai Rosenne, while noting flaws in the statute, describes the ICC as one of the “Two major legal creations . . . of the twentieth century.” [2] Minor shortcomings can be corrected in time, as is being done by the ad hoc tribunals created, with strong U.S. support, to try those accused of major crimes in Yugoslavia and Rwanda. Remarkable progress is already being made by the United Nations Preparatory Commission mandated to clarify the rules by which the ICC will be governed.

Seeking exceptions for U.S. nationals demeans our nation and the rule of law. Our current posture of a superpower sulking silently is unworthy of our great traditions. Monroe Leigh is absolutely right: it is in the U.S. interest to support the ICC—“better sooner than later.” [3] Bravo, Monroe!

+ Show Endnotes


[1] Monroe Leigh, The United States and the Statute of Rome, 95 AJIL 124, 124 (2001).

[2] Shabatai Roseene, Poor Drafting and Imperfect Organization: Flaws to Overcome in the Rome Statute, 41 VA. J. INT’L L. 164, 164 (2000).

[3] Leigh, supra note 1, at 131.