President Barack Obama certifies that U.S. peacekeepers in Mali Are immune from ICC jurisdiction.

Position:International Criminal Court

As part of the ongoing United Nations peacekeeping effort in Mali, the United States is providing "up to 10 military staff officers" as well as "training and critical equipment such as vehicles and communications gear to African peacekeepers and police." (1) Before agreeing to contribute U.S. troops to the peacekeeping force in Mali, and consistent with the requirements of the 2002 American Servicemembers' Protection Act (ASPA), (2) President Barack Obama certified that these troops were without risk of criminal prosecution or other assertion of jurisdiction by the International Criminal Court (ICC).

The peacekeeping force is the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA). The Security Council established MINUSMA in April 2013. Three months earlier, Islamist forces had launched an offensive, seized territory in northern Mali, and began advancing to the south. (3) With the aid of military forces from France and neighboring African countries, the Malian government was able to restore government control of most major northern cities and towns by the end of January 2013, but serious security challenges remained. (4) MINUSMA's mandate includes stabilizing key population centers, supporting the reestablishment of state authority throughout the country, and supporting the implementation of an agreed transitional road map towards the full restoration of constitutional order and democratic governance in Mali." (5) (The previous government in Mali had been overthrown in a coup d'etat in 2012; by 2013 Mali was being governed by transitional authorities pursuant to a framework agreement negotiated under the auspices of the Economic Community of West African States. (6))

The ASPA reflects concerns about the exposure of U.S. military members to the ICC's jurisdiction that date back to the negotiations of the Rome Statute that established the ICC. (7) Even though the United States is not a party to the Rome Statute, it is possible for U.S. citizens, including those participating in peacekeeping missions, to be subject to the ICC's jurisdiction. The ICC's jurisdiction extends to cases where the conduct in question occurred on the territory of a state that is a party to the Rome Statute without regard to the nationality of the individual, provided that additional jurisdictional and admissibility criteria are satisfied. (8) The United States has taken various steps to try to eliminate the possibility that U.S. nationals might be prosecuted by the ICC. (9) Among other efforts, the United...

To continue reading