Belief | Ilhan Omar: U.S. should sign up for Worldwide Criminal Court docket

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Ilhan Omar, a Democrat, signifies Minnesota’s 5th Congressional District in the U.S. Household.

The earth has been rightly shaken to the core by the atrocities becoming perpetrated by Vladimir Putin and his Russian forces in Ukraine. I have recoiled in horror viewing bodies of civilians — even kids — strewn across city streets. Reviews of massacres of civilians, mass graves and rapes by Russian forces are rampant, recalling some of the worst atrocities in historical past.

For me personally, it evokes a traumatic earlier. As an 8-year-old lady in Somalia, I try to remember viewing armed militias go by my family’s window, listening to bombs go off outdoors our doors and questioning if our residence was subsequent.

No child in Ukraine or wherever in the earth need to have to witness what I witnessed as a tiny female.

Accountability is the key to prevention. If there are no implications for committing these atrocities, we will uncover ourselves in the very same location in the foreseeable future. Putin ought to be billed and held absolutely accountable for his crimes versus humanity by the Global Legal Court docket (ICC). And anybody accountable for this illegal war of aggression need to experience justice.

Luckily, there are by now bipartisan phone calls for accountability, and President Biden himself has labeled Putin a “war legal.” But sadly, a evident asterisk hangs around any phone calls for justice created by the United States. That is for the reason that, a lot more than two decades following its generation, we have but to ratify the Rome Statute — the treaty establishing the ICC. We are in the company of international locations such as Iran, Sudan, China, and, of course, Russia as 1 of many nations that have refused to indicator onto this bedrock of intercontinental regulation.

In truth, the Trump administration went so considerably as to approve sanctions on the team customers of the court docket for carrying out their work.

Biden fortunately lifted these sanctions. But Secretary of State Antony Blinken reiterated our country’s “longstanding objection to the Court’s efforts to assert jurisdiction over staff of non-States Parties” previous calendar year. In other text: We’re not joining, and do not investigate us or any person that is not a member.

Sadly, it is this specific posture that is now hamstringing the United States as we seek out accountability for Putin. If we oppose investigations into nations around the world, like our own, that haven’t joined the ICC, how can we help an investigation into Russia, a different country that hasn’t joined the court?

There’s a very simple alternative to this: The United States ought to sign up for the Global Prison Courtroom.

Equality less than the regulation is just one of the core tenets of our legal process and the global authorized procedure. If we certainly feel in prioritizing human rights and imposing worldwide law, how can we not be part of the courtroom that upholds that legislation?

Our absence also will allow regimes to commit human legal rights abuses with impunity. If the most powerful country will not hold by itself accountable to the rule of regulation, other nations come to feel emboldened to violate it. And in truth, we have turned a blind eye to wanton human legal rights violations by regimes in nations this sort of as Saudi Arabia, Egypt, El Salvador and even India, in the identify of political usefulness. Even when war criminals are properly convicted— as Malian terrorist Ahmad al-Faqi al-Mahdi was in 2016 — our absence only undermines the legitimacy of people verdicts.

It is also essential to try to remember that the ICC is a court docket of final resort. It does not have jurisdiction in excess of crimes except the place in dilemma — like Russia — is unable or unwilling to prosecute the perpetrators domestically. Simply because we are not customers of the ICC, we cannot have interaction directly in the efforts to prosecute criminals. Picture how much we could complete if we aided legitimize the ICC.

Several will argue that there are areas of the legal court docket that need to have to be reformed. I concur. Let’s perform as a member condition to make improvements to it and make absolutely sure it lives up to the highest criteria of impartiality.

The United States after led the planet on worldwide justice. In response to the horrors of the Holocaust, we spearheaded the Nuremberg trials to maintain Nazi war criminals accountable and, for the to start with time, create worldwide felony legislation. We intentionally created an impartial judicial procedure modeled on our possess judiciary, somewhat than merely executing Nazi war criminals without the need of trial. The previous living Nuremberg prosecutor, Benjamin Ferencz, boiled this philosophy down to a simple axiom: “Law not war.”

In this instant of horrifying violence, it’s time to reclaim the mantle of leadership we seized right after Earth War II. It is time to hold the perpetrators of crimes in opposition to humanity accountable for their steps and mail a information to the total environment that legitimate justice is blind, that no focusing on of civilians, no use of chemical weapons and no wars of aggression will at any time be tolerated yet again. It’s time for the United States to sign up for the Worldwide Criminal Courtroom.

If we believe that Putin ought to be held accountable for violating international regulation, then we have to help intercontinental law. This week, I will be introducing a resolution to join the courtroom, and I hope other members of Congress will join me in supporting it.

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