Josh Spesaison

Government Relations Coordinator

CGS Partners

CGS Banquet Commission on Global Security, Justice & Governance Coalition Working Group Richard Ponzio

It’s not uncommon to hear issue advocates claim that different organizations are “siloed”—focused on their approach to the issues that concern their organization. Working every day on any one issue can create tunnel vision and prevent sharing best practices. It’s for that reason that Citizens for Global Solutions is committed to working across a number of issue groups that bring together like-minded organizations working broadly on related issues, but in different ways. It's this work that makes CGS a prime example of an interdependent and collaborative organization.

Citizens for Global Solutions is currently active in seven coalitions or working groups. Personally, my favorite is WICC, the Washington Working Group on the International Criminal Court, but since I'm WICC’s Advocacy Chair, maybe I’m biased. CGS co-founded WICC, which is why as Advocacy Chair, I’ve been happy to keep CGS at the forefront of ICC advocacy on Capitol Hill and continue to bring the CGS brand to many congressional offices. WICC regularly meets with congressional staffers and sponsors briefings and other events to raise awareness of the Court's important work in international justice and human rights.

2014 Midterms Make Small Waves for Foreign Policy

Jeff Merkley, Jeanne Shaheen, Al Franken Win Re-election

The 2014 elections are over, and though we now know that the Republicans did take control of the Senate, any resulting policy changes in DC will not happen until January when the new Congress takes their seats. There has been a large amount of hype around this pending policy change, but what exactly are the policies that will change?

Yes, we know the Republicans would love to tear Obamacare to pieces, but we also know that’s never going to happen as long as President Obama is still in office. Like repealing the Affordable Care Act, Republicans may put many bills to a vote that are merely talking points, insofar that they would not be signed by President Obama.

For example, a Republican-controlled House and Senate is more likely to pass legislation to prohibit the US from paying its UN dues in full and funding UN initiatives. Nevertheless, we can be sure that Obama would veto such nonsense. Though not all Republicans vote for such irresponsible legislation, the more extremist ones unfortunately do. My recent analysis of Congress on global issues shows that foreign policy is absolutely under partisan sway. Additionally, Congressional candidates in midterm elections typically pander to their bases, which helps to create more extremist and partisan candidates.

US Needs Greater Discussion on ICC

Ambassador Tiina Intelmann speaking at the Congressional briefing on the ICC

US Congressional attitudes on the International Criminal Court have moved away from the days of open hostility epitomized by the Bilateral Immunity Agreement (BIA) Campaign. Now, there are many US representatives and Senators that support the ICC and its mission – to hold individuals accused of crimes against humanity and war crimes accountable.

Senator Leahy (D-VT) put his opinion on the ICC on record during the Bush administration, saying that

By sitting on the sidelines, the United States is losing out on its ability to influence the structure and culture of this important new institution. Each time we refuse to join another treaty or international organization, which has become a pattern of this Administration, we erode our international leadership.

Senator John McCain (R-AZ) mirrored Leahy’s distaste for sitting on the sidelines in 2005: “I want us in the ICC, but I'm not satisfied that there are enough safeguards.” His concern for safeguards is fine, just so long as they don’t prevent US leadership on the world stage.  

In spite of this support for the ICC in Congress, the US is still prohibited from financially supporting the ICC under law. Public Law 106-113, enacted in 1999, forbids any US funds to be directed towards the support of the ICC. The American Servicemembers’ Protection Act (ASPA) also outlaws US cooperation with the ICC in any form unless it is in the US's national security interests and the President issues a full waiver of the law.