us-sanctions 18 June 2020

Swiss call on US to ‘revoke’ ICC sanctions

Switzerland has called on the United States to recall sanctions against employees of The International Criminal Court (‘ICC’) who are investigating whether US forces may have committed war crimes in Afghanistan.

‘Switzerland is concerned about the additional visa restrictions and new economic sanctions which the United States has imposed on ICC employees, their families and natural and legal persons who support investigations against American citizens,’ the Swiss Foreign Ministry said. ‘Switzerland calls on the USA to revoke these comprehensive measures.’  It added that Switzerland also ‘calls on the United States to conduct a full investigation and prosecution of US personnel implicated in such crimes.’

Last week, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced travel and economic sanctions against ICC personnel investigating whether US forces violated international law in Afghanistan.

Meanwhile, a visiting fellow at the Brookings Institution in the United States, warned that the use of sanctions against ICC personnel ‘is a dangerous step toward undermining one of the most powerful and important tools of U.S. foreign policy – international sanctions.’

William Burke-White wrote, ‘Carefully crafted and strategically applied sanctions are a key tool of U.S. power. For sanctions to work, however, they must be used judicially and viewed as broadly legitimate.’

He warns that, ‘Applying tough sanctions against the personnel of an international organization undermines their efficacy and legitimacy for times when they could actually advance U.S. national security.’