The summary in the Wikipedia on the International Criminal Court (ICC) is excellent and there is no point in reformulating it:
"The International Criminal Court (ICC or ICCt) is an intergovernmental organization and international tribunal that sits in The Hague in the Netherlands. The ICC has the jurisdiction to prosecute individuals for the international crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes. The ICC is intended to complement existing national judicial systems and it may therefore only exercise its jurisdiction when certain conditions are met, such as when national courts are unwilling or unable to prosecute criminals or when the United Nations Security Council or individual states refer investigations to the Court."
Emphasis mine. Important for this post is that ICC jurisdiction is by definition a surrogate for national jurisdiction.
The US withdrawal from the ICC
The US withdrew from the ICC on May 7, 2002. The US argued it needed to withdraw from the ICC for the following reasons:
- The ICC would not allow for a satisfactory protection of rights when compared to US law.
- The US alleged lack of adequate checks and balances on the powers of ICC prosecutors and judges.
- The US added that the treaty dilutes the U.N. Security Council's authority over international criminal prosecutions.
- The US argued that under the treaty US service members and officials could be charged with war crimes as a political move by other nations.
- The ICC could attempt to assert jurisdiction over US service members, as well as civilians, involved in counter terrorist and other military operations in the war on terrorism.
The argument that the ICC would not allow for a satisfactory protection of rights when compared to US law does not appear to hold water.
David Scheffer led the US negotiation team at Rome and stressed that during the negotiations the US put great emphasis on the convention meeting the standards of US constitutional tests and expressed confidence at that the US in this succeeded.