Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law

First Page



It is a great pleasure to be here in this beautiful lecture hall at Vanderbilt University Law School and to have the opportunity to speak to you this afternoon about the International Criminal Court (ICC). In recent months, one newspaper or magazine article after another, in examining the foreign policy of the current administration and the gulf (which seems to be so pronounced now) between the United States and even its closest allies throughout the rest of the world, has listed a basic set of treaties as being partly explanatory of that gulf. The Kyoto Protocol, for example, is always part of that discussion in the context of climate change. But another such treaty is the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court...

The International Criminal Court has become an icon of analysis as to why that has happened. Thus, especially for students on the verge of going out into the world to practice, it is an interesting phenomenon to examine how central this treaty has become in a much larger geopolitical dialogue about the role and responsibilities of the United States in the world. That the treaty has suddenly become a fulcrum of that discussion was something rarely anticipated during the negotiations, because at times it was so incredibly technical. I think it is extremely important that we start any discussion about the International Criminal Court with its purpose. That is what is most commonly lost in the United States when we debate the ICC. Our primary concern always seems to be the potential exposure of the United States to this court.