International Law

The Security Council Should Ask the ICC to Investigate the Islamic State

By John Bellinger
Thursday, April 2, 2015, 10:30 AM

I have an op-ed in the International New York Times today entitled “Make ISIS’ Leaders Face Justice” in which I argue that the UN Security Council should refer the Islamic State to the International Criminal Court.

The op-ed is keyed to a report issued last month by the UN Human Rights Office that concluded that the Islamic State has committed war crimes, crimes against humanity, and potentially genocide.

I argue that it “makes more sense for the court’s prosecutor to investigate the Islamic State than to investigate the United States or Britain for treatment of detainees or Israel for its handling of last year’s Gaza conflict.”

Here is my conclusion:

The United States has reason to be concerned about inappropriate and politicized investigations of the United States and Israel, but the International Criminal Court still has an important role to play in investigating and prosecuting acts of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity — all of which have reportedly been committed by the Islamic State.

Even if the United States continues its use of military force against the Islamic State and considers possible federal prosecutions of its members responsible for murdering Americans, the administration should still support a Security Council referral of all Islamic State offenses to the court. Whatever one’s view of the International Criminal Court, these offenses clearly fall within its jurisdiction.