The United States is committed to the robust pursuit of international justice. Unique among foreign ministries worldwide, the State Department has a special office specifically devoted to dealing with mass atrocities, as Ambassador-at-Large Morse Tan, who heads the Office of Global Criminal Justice, pointed out in a recent interview:
“We’re talking genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity, and whatever we can do to help prevent, mitigate or address these sorts of injustices, these gross injustices, these horrible injustices. That’s what we’re all about.”
Ambassador Tan said his office advises the Secretary of State and helps leverage the vast resources of the entire U.S. government on matters relating to global criminal justice:
“Whether it’s economic, whether it’s diplomatic, whether it’s legal, whether it is even military. There’s a whole array of different tools that the U.S. government has at its disposal. And we are the policy shop, if you will.”
Ambassador Tan said the Office of Global Criminal Justice shares the same fundamental mission as the International Criminal Court – to bring those responsible for mass atrocities to justice. But because of issues like sovereignty, the U.S. has never been a party to the Rome Statute that created the ICC. And unfortunately, the ICC has deviated from its mandate as a court of last resort established to investigate and prosecute the worst international crimes. Instead, Ambassador Tan declared, the ICC has become “politicized and corrupt.”
It is the United States, he said, that continues to lead the world in pursuing accountability for mass atrocities.
“The ICC is not the only game in town in terms of international courts, or mixed or hybrid courts that are part domestic, part international, as well as domestic courts. And that’s true of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, the Specialist Chambers of Kosovo, the IIIM, which is trying to gather information in regards to atrocities committed in Syria, or the IIMM, which has tried to gather evidence in regards to the atrocities committed in Myanmar. We support all these things, and we also help in terms of evidence collection.”
Ambassador Tan said the United States “is utterly committed and determined” in its quest for global justice. “Thinking about those who have suffered from these mass atrocities gives strong motivation,” he said. ”And if anything, we are extending and increasing our resources to pursue this mission.”