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Should the Subject Matter Jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court Include Drug Trafficking?

NCJ Number
International Journal of Comparative Criminology Volume: 3 Issue: 2 Dated: 2003 Pages: 175-190
George S. Yacoubian Jr.
Date Published
16 pages
This paper argues for United States' support for bringing drug trafficking under the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court (ICC), which would also require that the United States accept the ICC's jurisdiction over currently specified crimes.
The ICC was established in July 2002 with the authority to investigate and prosecute serious violations of international criminal law, i.e., genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and the crime of aggression. Drug trafficking, another crime of international significance, has not been assigned ICC jurisdiction under the ICC authorization statute. The recent relationship between the United States and the ICC has been contentious. Although President Clinton signed the ICC Statute on December 31, 2000, on May 6, 2002, the Bush administration declared that it would no longer consider the United States legally bound by that signature, in effect nullifying it. Moreover, two pieces of legislation enacted by the U.S. Congress are designed to hinder the operations of the ICC. For states that value human rights, such as the United States, opposition to the ICC is based on preserving sovereignty over its citizens and a fear that the court may become a vehicle for other countries to criminalize and punish actions by U.S. citizens. This paper documents the damage that drug trafficking is causing in the United States and argues that the prosecution of drug traffickers by the ICC would be a significant step in addressing the international drug problem. The author reasons that the benefits of countering international drug trafficking through the ICC warrant U.S. support for such action and acceptance of the ICC's jurisdiction over the other international crimes it currently investigates and prosecutes. 21 notes and 26 references