The International Criminal Court (ICC), operative since July 2002, is empowered to try individuals for genocide, crimes against humanity and serious war crimes. The court, whose seat is in The Hague in the Netherlands, has been investigating situations in Darfur, Uganda, Central African Republic (CAR), and Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). In the court’s first case, the defense rested in July 2009 in the case of the DRC’s Thomas Lubanga Dyilo, a militia commander accused of recruiting and conscripting child soldiers. The defense was expected to present its case beginning in October.
In other cases allegations include ethnic cleansing in the deaths of 300,000 people and displacement of 2.5 million in Darfur, Sudan; the abduction of more than 20,000 children to serve as child soldiers and sex slaves in Uganda; and widespread killing, rape and looting in 2002 and 2003 in the CAR.In 2000 President Clinton signed the Rome Treaty that established the ICC, but in 2002 the Bush administration nullified the U.S. signature. The Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns advocates that the U.S. restore its signature and ratify the treaty. In April 2009, 26 non-governmental organizations urged the Obama administration to complete its review of the ICC as soon as possible, and to reinstate the U.S. signature on the Rome Treaty.