US lifts sanctions on international court officials

AP – United States (US) President Joe Biden on Friday lifted sanctions that Donald Trump had imposed on two top officials of the International Criminal Court (ICC), undoing one of the past administration’s more aggressive moves targeting international institutions and officials.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in a statement stressed that the US still strongly disagreed with some actions by the court, which is a standing body based at The Hague in the Netherlands charged with handling genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. The US is not one of the about 120 member countries of the court.

“We believe, however, that our concerns about these cases would be better addressed” through diplomacy “rather than through the imposition of sanctions”, Blinken wrote.

The removal of the sanctions was the latest signal that the Biden administration is intent on returning to the multilateral fold.

The Trump administration had unapologetically removed the United States from numerous international institutions and agreements and harshly criticised others, including the ICC, deeming them flawed and working against American interests.

Since Biden took office, his administration has rejoined the World Health Organization, re-engaged with the United Nations Human Rights Council, returned to the Paris climate accord and on Friday started talks aimed at returning to the Iran nuclear deal. Trump had pulled out of all five.

The court was created to hold accountable perpetrators of war crimes and crimes against humanity in cases where adequate judicial systems were not available.

Rights groups on Friday applauded Biden for throwing out Trump’s sanctions.