On June 11, 2020, President Trump issued Executive Order 13928 “Blocking Property of Certain Persons Associated with the International Criminal Court” (“ICC EO“), which authorizes the imposition of sanctions and visa restrictions on non-US ICC officials in connection with investigations into US or allied government officials or military personnel.  The United States is not a party to the Rome Statute, which is the treaty that established the ICC. 

The President declared a national emergency under the International Emergency Economic Powers Act in response to the ICC’s “assertions of jurisdiction over personnel of the United States and certain of its allies, including the ICC Prosecutor’s investigation into actions allegedly committed by United States military, intelligence, and other personnel in or relating to Afghanistan.”  The President stated that such developments threaten to subject current and former US government and allied officials “to harassment, abuse, and possible arrest,” and “to infringe upon the sovereignty of the United States.”

The ICC EO does not immediately impose sanctions on any individuals but authorizes the US government to designate as Specially Designated Nationals (“SDN”) any non-US person determined to have:

  • Directly engaged in any effort by the ICC to investigate, arrest, detain, or prosecute any US personnel without the consent of the United States;
  • Directly engaged in any effort by the ICC to investigate, arrest, detain, or prosecute any personnel of a country that is an ally of the United States without the consent of that country’s government;
  • Materially assisted, sponsored, or provided financial, material, or technological support for, or goods or services to or in support of, either of the two above activities, or any person designated as an SDN under the ICC EO; or
  • Acted or purported to act for or on behalf of, directly or indirectly, any person designated as an SDN under the ICC EO, or who is owned or controlled by any such person.

The ICC EO also requires that any non-US person determined to meet one or more of the above criteria, and their immediate family members (defined here to include spouses and children), be banned from entry to the United States. In public statements accompanying the release of the ICC EO, Secretary of State Pompeo noted that designations under the ICC EO “will be made on a case-by-case basis against specific individuals” and Attorney General Barr stated that the Department of Justice is investigating “substantial, credible information that raises serious concerns about a long history of financial corruption and malfeasance at the highest levels of the [ICC] office of the prosecutor,” that “calls into question the integrity of the ICC’s investigations.”

Authors: Janet K. Kim, Eunkyung Kim Shin and Daniel Andreeff.