Diplomats from around the world are meeting in Kampala, Uganda, to review the workings of the International Criminal Court and possibly expand its authority. The court's founding in 2002 was a key development in international law, creating a permanent forum to bring to justice those responsible for crimes of staggering scale and providing recognition and relief to their victims. With 111 member-nation signatories, its mandate is no less than to protect future generations from the savageries of genocide and other crimes against humanity that have ravaged generations past and present.
In reviewing the court's operations, delegates and observers at the Kampala conference are discussing how effective the ICC and the broader system of international justice have been and what might be done to improve their effectiveness. They are also considering amending the ICC's founding document, the Rome Statute. One amendment would define the crime of aggression, which the statute gives it power to prosecute, but does not delineate. The aggression issue has divided delegates wary of expanding the ICC'S mandate at a crucial time in its development, when it has yet to complete a trial in the cases already before it.
The United States joins in this sense of caution, and has warned that pushing ahead without consensus could entangle the court in political disputes and jeopardize its ability to carry out its already challenging mission.
While the United States isn't a party to the ICC, it has an abiding interest in its work and success. The U.S. fight against genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes is reflected in its support for the work of the tribunals for Yugoslavia, Rwanda, Sierra Leone and Cambodia, among others. The end of impunity and the promotion of justice are stabilizing forces in international affairs.