The Security Council and the ICC: signs of movement?

By David Bosco

Last month, I wrote at some length about the possibility of a Security Council-mandated delay in any ICC investigation of Palestine. I argued that the United States would likely need to lead the push for a deferral, but that there might be some support among other Council members for such a move. A new report from Colum Lynch and John Hudson of Foreign Policy suggests that diplomats at the United Nations could be moving in that direction:

Ilan Goldenberg, a former member of the Obama administration’s Mideast peace team, told FP that Washington might be inclined to support a Security Council resolution backing a two-state solution as an alternative to the Palestinian effort to hold Israel accountable at the ICC.

“If it was done, it could protect Israel from a worse outcome,” he said.

Under this scenario, the United States would seek guarantees from the international community to hold off on ICC activity in exchange for a Security Council resolution outlining international standards for a final peace agreement between the Israelis and Palestinians.

As Goldenberg goes on to point out, it’s not at all clear that Israel would want a Council deferral, particularly if it’s coupled with other measures it doesn’t support. Because a deferral could only be for twelve months and would require renewal, the specter of ICC prosecutions would not be removed. In effect, the Council would hang the ICC over Israel’s head as an implicit threat of what could happen without movement on the peace process.

About David Bosco

Assistant Professor at American University's School of International Service. Contributing editor at Foreign Policy magazine. Author of Rough Justice: The International Criminal Court in a World of Power Politics and Five to Rule Them All: The UN Security Council and the Making of the Modern World
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