Who States Up for the ICC? Explaining State Responses to U.S. Sanction Threats, with M.P. Broach (UNC-Greensboro)
(Revise and Resubmit)
On June 11, 2020, U.S. President Donald Trump issued an executive order authorizing sanctions against International Criminal Court (ICC) officials and their families. This order directly followed the authorization by the ICC Appeals Chamber, in March 2020, of an investigation into the situation in Afghanistan, including alleged war crimes involving American forces. Within ten days of the announcement of the executive order, 22 ICC States Parties issued individual statements directly condemning the U.S. sanctions and/or expressing support for the Court. Then, on June 23, 2020, a group of 67 States Parties (including all 22 that had issued individual statements) released a collective statement affirming “unwavering support for the Court as an independent and impartial judicial institution.” Even so, this constituted just slightly over half of the Court’s 123 States Parties. Why did some ICC States Parties condemn the U.S. sanctions or otherwise express support for the Court while others did not? This paper explores this question by first documenting variation in the content, format, and timing of statements concerning U.S. sanctions. We then propose and test a series of hypotheses to explain this variation, focusing on factors such as susceptibility to U.S. pressure and domestic rule of law, inter alia. We find that domestic rule of law is the main factor driving states decision to speak out – outweighing material concerns and security dependence on the U.S., contributing to broader understandings about the motivations for – and roles of – public statements in international relations, as well as scholarship on the development of the ICC.