France Sides With International Criminal Court After Trump Administration Threats

France has publicly reaffirmed its commitment to the International Criminal Court (ICC) a day after the Trump administration threatened to sanction the intergovernmental organization if it investigates war crimes accusations against the U.S.

Agnes von der Muhll, a spokeswoman for the French Foreign Ministry, said in a Tuesday statement that her country will continue to support the judicial body financially and cooperate with the organization, along with other nations in Europe, Reuters reported.

"The court must be able to act and exercise its prerogatives without hindrance, independently and impartially, within the legal framework defined by the Rome Statute," she added.

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National security adviser John Bolton speaks at a Federalist Society luncheon at the Mayflower Hotel on September 10 in Washington, D.C. During his remarks, Bolton announced the United States will not cooperate with the International Criminal Court. Win McNamee/Getty Images

On Monday, President Donald Trump's national security adviser John Bolton called the court "illegitimate" and threatened that the U.S. will target the organization, its judges and prosecutors if they investigate war crime accusations against Washington or Israel, The Guardian reported. Currently, the court is considering launching an investigation of American servicemen over alleged abuses against prisoners in Afghanistan.

Bolton slammed the Afghanistan case as an "utterly unfounded, unjustifiable investigation."

"We will let the ICC die on its own. After all, for all intents and purposes, the ICC is already dead," he added.

Based in the Hague, Netherlands, the ICC was established in 2002 by the Rome Statute. It was designed to prosecute those suspected of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide. It is legally independent of the United Nations, though the two bodies cooperate closely. George W. Bush, who was president at the time, was opposed to the court and the U.S. never ratified the international treaty. Former President Barack Obama also failed to officially join the intergovernmental body.

Despite Washington's threats, the ICC released a statement vowing to continue its work "undeterred."

"One hundred and twenty-three countries from all regions of the world are party [to the court] and have pledged their support through ratification – as an instrument to ensure accountability for crimes that shock the conscience of humanity," the ICC said. "The court is an independent and impartial judicial institution."

Jamil Dakwar, the director of the American Civil Liberties Union's human rights program, said the move was "straight out of an authoritarian playbook."

"This misguided and harmful policy will only further isolate the United States from its closest allies and give solace to war criminals and authoritarian regimes seeking to evade international accountability," Dawkar said, The Guardian reported.

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Presiding Judge Robert Fremr (C) stands at the courtroom of the ICC during the closing statements of the trial of former Congolese warlord Bosco Ntaganda in the Hague, Netherlands, on August 28. BAS CZERWINSKI/AFP/Getty Images

Afghanistan's human rights commission chief Sima Samar called the U.S. position "very unfortunate," saying that "delivering justice to victims will help to facilitate the peace process in Afghanistan…Justice is not a luxury. It is a basic human right," she said, according to the British newspaper.

While the criticism from the U.S. is very different, it is not the first time the ICC has faced significant international criticism. In February of last year, the African Union called for the mass withdrawal of its member states from the ICC, after South Africa and Burundi announced their plans to leave the court. Several African countries claimed the ICC is undermining their sovereignty and unfairly targeting their officials, BBC reported.

Although the ICC denies the accusations, Burundi's parliament has alleged the court is merely "a political tool used by [foreign] powers to remove whoever they want from power on the African continent." Until now, the ICC has launched 11 official investigations since its establishment, and 10 have targeted individuals in African nations. The only non-African investigation is currently underway in the former Soviet Union country of Georgia.