Mondial Article (Winter 2023)

The United States Should Ratify the Rome Statute

Ambassador David Scheffer

Ambassador David Scheffer

Former U.S. Ambassador at Large for War Crimes Issues. He currently serves as Senior Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, Professor of Practice at Arizona State University, and is a National Advisory Council member for Citizens for Global Solutions.

A quarter century ago, the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC) was completed following years of negotiations. I led the U.S. delegation in those talks. The Clinton Administration decided not to support the final text of the treaty in 1998, but after two more years of talks on supplemental documents, I signed the treaty on behalf of the U.S. on December 31, 2000. Despite the fact that 123 nations, including almost every American ally, have joined the ICC, the United States has not yet ratified the Rome Statute and thus has not become party to the ICC. That fact need not be the final chapter. The time has finally arrived to acknowledge some evolutionary developments and move towards American ratification of the treaty.

There is longstanding American policy that while the U.S. remains a non-party State to the Rome Statute, the ICC has no jurisdiction over U.S. nationals for actions undertaken even on the territory of a State Party of the Rome Statute. The same standard would apply to any other non-party State (like Russia) and its nationals acting on State Party territory (or territory of a non-party State — like Ukraine — that has fallen under the jurisdiction of the ICC voluntarily or because of a UN Security Council mandate). I term this the “immunity interpretation,” which makes it difficult for the United States to fully embrace the ICC’s investigations of Russian suspects for atrocity crimes (war crimes, crimes against humanity, genocide) committed in Ukraine.

The immunity interpretation reached its peak under the Trump Administration, with the threat and, in two cases, imposition of sanctions against key personnel of the ICC and foreigners. President Joe Biden repealed the executive order authorizing such sanctions on April 2, 2021, though Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken stated, “We maintain our longstanding objection to the Court’s efforts to assert jurisdiction over personnel of non-States Parties such as the United States and Israel.”

The immunity interpretation, however, is archaic, counter- productive, and largely rejected worldwide. I should know, as I presented the immunity interpretation before the 1999 annual meeting of the American Society of International Law. While the position articulated some logical premises, it also defied the core principle of criminal law, which is territorial jurisdiction. It ignored the decision-making authority of a sovereign government when entering a treaty regime, including to confer criminal jurisdiction to an international court.

In December 2019, during a hearing on the Afghanistan situation before the ICC Appeals Chamber, I spoke and publicly rejected the immunity interpretation, whatever its original merit, as an argument that has been overtaken by customary international law.

After three decades of rapid development in international criminal law and in tribunal-building and jurisprudence to enforce the law, it is implausible that a non-party State can invade a State Party, commit atrocity crimes that fall within the jurisdiction of the Rome Statute, and essentially enjoy immunity for doing so. To do so rewards the non-party State with impunity while rendering meaningless the State Party’s membership in the ICC.

In Washington, D.C., I have attended meetings recently where retired senior officials of the U.S. government, particularly having held legal positions, have reversed their own positions and believe the United States should abandon the archaic immunity interpretation. Granted, the Russian invasion of Ukraine has proven to be an inflection point. At some stage, the hypocrisy must be acknowledged. It simply is implausible to keep arguing the immunity interpretation with a straight face when the criminal assault against Ukraine and its people is so blatant, so widespread, so deadly, so destructive, and so persistent and while the U.S. Congress and the Biden Administration have evolved to support efforts, such as the ICC investigations, to hold Russian officials accountable under international criminal law.

The ICC cannot exercise jurisdiction over Ukraine for the crime of aggression because of the constraint built into Article 15bis(5) of the Rome Statute. This creature of the Kampala Amendments process in 2010, at the time strongly supported by the United States and some other major powers, reads, “In respect of a State that is not a party to this Statute, the Court shall not exercise its jurisdiction over the crime of aggression when committed by that State’s nationals or on its territory.” Consider for a moment how surreal that sounds, particularly if one recites it to the mother of a young girl who died from the impact of a Russian missile fired from across the border in Russia and hitting a civilian neighborhood in Ukraine.

There is a solution to the particular problem of the crime of aggression. Official U.S. statements condemning the Russian aggression against Ukraine ring rather hollow when the Biden Administration fails to support the creation, through a procedure involving a UN General Assembly resolution and a treaty between the United Nations and Ukraine, of an international Special Tribunal for Ukraine on the Crime of Aggression that can deny head of state immunity. Instead, the United States has opted for “an internationalized national court” in the Ukrainian legal system some day for the crime of aggression — a weak option that invites head of state immunity and hardly deters massive and continuous acts of aggression by Russia against Ukraine.

Recently, I attended a closed-door meeting in Washington with a senior government lawyer and, when asked, that official simply could not answer the question of why the Biden Administration would continue to uphold the longstanding and awkwardly hypocritical immunity interpretation, particularly in light of both the Russian actions against Ukraine and the Administration’s support for new laws that enable U.S. cooperation with the ICC to investigate Russian conduct. It also proves difficult to explain the ICC’s investigation, without any noticeable U.S. objection, of Myanmar officials, whose country is a non-party State, for atrocity crimes against the Rohingya who were persecuted and forcibly deported onto the territory of neighboring Bangladesh, a State Party, beginning in 2017.

I firmly believe that whatever the merits of the immunity interpretation 25 years ago, it has been overtaken by the march of customary international law combining both state practice and opinio juris, by judicial decisions, by persuasive scholarly work, by a renewed recognition of fundamental principles of criminal law and of sovereign decision-making, and frankly by common sense. Related to the immunity interpretation is the debate playing out in Washington overtheimplementation of ICC cooperation legislation that President Biden signed into law on Dec. 29, 2022. Administration officials have delivered tortured testimony before Senate committees in recent months when confronted by senators over the failure of the Administration to follow through on cooperation efforts with the ICC that are mandated by U.S. law regarding the Court’s investigation of Russian atrocity crimes in Ukraine.

In a recent Senate Appropriations defense subcommittee hearing, Sens. Richard Durbin (D-IL) and Lindsay Graham (R-SC) pressed Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin on the Pentagon’s resistance to the legal mandate. Austin said that he was concerned about the issue of reciprocity. Such views are outdated and reflect the concern that someday the tables will be turned and the ICC will be investigating and prosecuting U.S. actions and that we would not want other governments to cooperate with the ICC in its investigative work. The cooperation train left the station decades ago. All of America’s allies, with the exception of Israel and Turkey, are States Parties to the Rome Statute and are obligated to cooperate with ICC investigations. But there is no comparison in modern times with what is transpiring in Ukraine. Ambassador-at-Large for Global Criminal Justice Beth Van Schaack answered Austin quite effectively when asked on the PBS NewsHour recently. She said, “I think there is virtually no equivalency or comparison to what Russia has done here to anything that might involve U.S. personnel or service members. We have a full-scale war of aggression being committed through the systematic and widespread commission of war crimes, crimes against humanity. There’s no comparison here. And so I do not see a concern that this would set any sort of a precedent that might rebound badly to the United States.”

Austin’s statement also reflects a presumption that should be challenged. During the Clinton Administration, my instructions as the U.S. chief negotiator of the Rome Statute were based on the intent of building an international criminal court which the U.S. one day would join. The instructions were not to negotiate for six years to build a court that the U.S. would never join. When I signed the Rome Statute, the intent was to signal that the U.S. would remain on deck with the treaty and work towards one day joining the Court, not to stand in permanent opposition to it.

President Bill Clinton conceded in his signing statement that the treaty would not (during his remaining three weeks in office) and should not be submitted by his successor to the Senate until “fundamental concerns are satisfied,” a primary one being to “observe and assess the functioning of the court.” That opportunity to “observe and assess” began on July 1, 2002, when the ICC became operational following ratification of the Rome Statute by 60 nations. We have had 21 years to “observe and assess” and while there are some imperfections in the workings of the ICC, as there are with every legal system, the ICC’s professionalism and track record merit Washington’s respect.

In any event, U.S. policy towards the ICC today should not be premised on, structured, or implemented as if it intends to be a permanent non-party State. Such isolation was never the Clinton Administration’s position and never reflected my negotiating instructions.

The immunity interpretation was not advanced by the U.S. in order to permanently keep it out of the ICC, but rather to explain its status and non-exposure to ICC jurisdiction until Washington ratified the treaty. Otherwise, why did we negotiate and sign the treaty?

Rationalizations for permanent non-party status may attract the support of those seeking that outcome, but such thinking defies all that was negotiated into the Rome Statute and its supplemental documents to protect U.S. interests, including due process protections, complementarity, Security Council backstop under Article 16, precise definitions of the crimes, judicial oversight of the Prosecutor’s investigations, tough admissibility standards, high approval requirements for amendments, precise rules of procedure and evidence, comprehensive elements of crimes, and much more.

If the U.S. were to become a State Party of the Rome Statute, the immunity interpretation would become irrelevant — a non-issue — for the U.S. even if Washington wished to argue its merits for Israel, Turkey, Pakistan, North Korea, China, Iran, Myanmar, Libya, Egypt, Russia, Belarus, India, Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, Cuba, and other non-party States.

Those who express concerns about “reciprocity” unfortunately convey an intimidated attitude about the ICC. Rather than be on the defensive about the ICC, the U.S. government and particularly the Pentagon should take the offensive and recognize how the ICC in fact advances critical U.S. values, particularly against an aggressor State like Russia. The U.S. can weigh in and influence gravity requirements at the ICC and how the Prosecutor can best utilize his discretion, not to mention placing an American judge on the bench and perhaps one day greeting an American chief prosecutor. Washington can use its diplomatic clout to advance ICC investigative and prosecutorial objectives globally and in ways that are compatible with U.S. foreign policy and global security needs. The ICC should become part of this nation’s lawfare strategy. In other words, Washington should weaponize the ICC for worthy objectives — such as justice in Ukraine and Darfur — that reflect critical American values, rather than taking an anemic defensive posture towards the Court.

The Pentagon should embrace the duty of the law and when necessary justify the conduct of warfare to Congress, to the public, and even to the courts during the adjudication of relevant cases. A skeptical fear of being accused of atrocity crimes is a long way from the reality of credibly being investigated or prosecuted for such international crimes. The world has changed, and any presumption of the right to commit atrocity crimes, or to be shielded from accountability, is quite antiquated. If the U.S. military dared to plan and implement genocide, crimes against humanity, or serious war crimes anywhere in the world, then such action would demand investigation and prosecution at home with enforcement of federal and military law.

Article 18 of the Rome Statute, which as a negotiator I proposed and largely drafted, is intended to give a country like the U.S. the opportunity to seize the reins of justice and hold onto them without interference by the ICC.

We should take that option seriously if the need arises, but which actually should not arise because U.S. armed forces and indeed our civilian leadership should never be engaged in the planning and commission of atrocity crimes and certainly not of the magnitude that could trigger ICC jurisdiction. One has to think counter-intuitively to enter the world of ICC paranoia, namely that the U.S. must never become a State Party because it should be at liberty to act with permanent impunity as a non-party State or that the U.S. should be free to plan and commit atrocity crimes without consequence even if it were to become a State Party, so the Rome Statute should somehow permit that outcome.

What do we have to fear from the ICC? I would argue that scenarios of illegal American conduct overseas or at home should never come to pass, but if they did, then the response must be first and foremost the enforcement of U.S. law, be it federal criminal law or the Uniform Code of Military Justice, or both, and adherence to Congressional oversight. The U.S. could become a pillar of complementarity and leadership in the ICC if some in Washington were not so intimidated by fear of ICC scrutiny.

Lawmakers still have work to do on complementarity. For many years, Sen. Durbin has advanced legislation to fill the gaps in federal criminal law for genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity. If the gaps can be filled, then the U.S. can demonstrate its capacity to investigate and prosecute the atrocity crimes found in the Rome Statute and thus, if addressed properly, avoid ICC scrutiny. This is the same goal shared by our allies, which are almost all States Parties to the Rome Statute, and many have amended their criminal codes accordingly.

Durbin has almost reached the finish line. Laws of essentially universal jurisdiction have been adopted for commission of genocide and war crimes. The next step should be the Crimes Against Humanity bill, which Durbin introduced as an amendment to S. 2226 authorizing appropriations for fiscal year 2024 for the Department of Defense. One should not expect a mirror image of Article 7 of the Rome Statute in the Durbin bill, but if adopted it will be the first opportunity to bring crimes against humanity into the federal criminal code.

Administration and Congressional negotiators should be able to get it over the finish line this year given the impetus afforded by the Russia-Ukraine war, the recent enactment of the Justice for Victims of War Crimes Act, and the new legal authority for cooperation with ICC investigations in Ukraine. Sen. Charles Grassley of Iowa (R-IA) stepped forward in 2022 to co-sponsor the Justice for Victims of War Crimes Act and thus build bi-partisan support for it.

Even though at present the United States is not a State Party to the Rome Statute, the consequence of these legislative acts would be that any Russian soldier or government official involved in atrocity crimes in Ukraine and who steps foot in the U.S., including Disney World with his family, would risk arrest and prosecution in federal criminal court for the crime of genocide, war crimes, or crimes against humanity. Even though President Vladimir Putin, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, and Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, if they dared to visit the U.S., could claim head of state immunity as the most senior officials of the Russian Government and thus avoid sustained arrest, the fact that a federal criminal indictment and an arrest warrant could be issued would present legal jeopardy and public shaming none of them may wish to risk. Of course, if the U.S. were a State Party to the Rome Statute, any ICC arrest warrant against such individuals should be honored if they were to visit this country.

In so many discussions I have had about the ICC and U.S. policy over the years, particularly dialogues with foreign scholars, lawyers, think tankers, diplomats, and journalists, there arises the constant refrain that American invocations about international criminal justice fall on deaf ears overseas, particularly in the Global South, because of the foreign perception of double standards. The complaint centers on the U.S. negotiating treaties like the Rome Statute that it then does not ratify. In their view, the U.S. military sometimes acts illegally on a large-scale, such as the Anglo-American invasion of Iraq in 2003 and the use of torture in Afghanistan, foreign black sites, and Guantanamo during the so-called war on terror. These are very deep scars.

While I was negotiating the Rome Statute, other negotiators often would press me in sidebar discussions about perceived American hypocrisy and the peculiar American failure to commit. They would remind me that they re-opened the Convention on the Law of the Sea at President Ronald Reagan’s insistence to revise the deep sea mining provisions. But once they met U.S. demands and ratified the treaty amendments, the U.S. never followed through with ratification of that critical treaty. And yet today our government relies heavily on the rights protected by that treaty, albeit claiming they are customary international law, to ensure U.S. commercial and military access on the seas. Our foreign friends are not pacified and are quite cynical. There is deep resentment that the U.S. intensively negotiates international treaties, signs many of them, and then often fails to follow through with ratification.

The U.S. would begin to overcome the double-standards perception, which cripples our influence on so many fronts, including international criminal justice, if the Senate were to follow through on major treaties that the U.S. took the lead in negotiating and then often signed. These include the Convention on the Law of the Sea, Additional Protocols I and II of the 1949 Geneva Conventions, the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, and, yes, the Rome Statute of the ICC. All but one of these treaties have been languishing for decades.

For example, it has been 23 years since the U.S. signed the Rome Statute. Despite some flaws in its performance, the ICC has demonstrated its credibility, competence, fairness in protecting due process rights, reasoned jurisprudence, and a mixture of convictions and acquittals. It also is demonstrating every day its relevance in a highly dynamic and violent world. All of Europe and Latin America, most of Africa, the Caribbean and Central America, and a good number of Asian and Pacific nations are committed to a credible ICC.

White House and Congressional support for ICC investigations in Ukraine is an encouraging signal of more open minds about the ICC in the Executive Branch and on Capitol Hill. The Biden Administration should take the following steps now to advance American engagement with the ICC and pave the way for U.S. ratification of the Rome Statute:

  1. The Crimes Against Humanity bill should be navigated towards adoption in the Senate and the House of Representatives as a bipartisan initiative to close an increasingly inexplicable gap in federal criminal law and better insulate the S. from ICC scrutiny. The White House should signal its intention to sign an acceptable bill into law.

  2. The Biden Administration should undertake a thorough review of the American Service Members Protection Act and determine what provisions, if any, should remain S. law as the government considers ratification of the Rome Statute.

  3. The Biden Administration should cease use of the immunity interpretation when discussing the Rome Statute, the ICC, and S. policy. There is no need to explicitly reject the immunity interpretation, but there is an imperative need now to stop defining U.S. policy as being anchored in it. A simple explanation would be that the immunity interpretation no longer guides U.S. policy.

  4. The State Department should send a letter to the United Nations, as depository of the Rome Statute, to withdraw the George Bush Administration’s letter of May 6, 2002, which states the intention of the U.S. not to become a party to the Rome Statute and to abandon any obligations as a signatory party. Those statements undermine U.S. foreign policy objectives and are embarrassing even to read in 2023. The letter remains a beacon of hopelessness for other countries seeking to understand the U.S. posture towards the ICC. Fortunately, the U.S. signature has never been removed from the Rome Statute but no longer should be soiled by such statements. A fresh State Department letter would send a powerful signal that the U.S. is shedding this symbol of weakness.

  5. The S. should take the lead in the U.N. Security Council to ensure that the fresh investigation by the ICC Prosecutor of the recent atrocity crimes in Darfur can be fully resourced and supported by the Council under the UN Charter Chapter VII enforcement authority of UN Security Council Resolution 1593 of March 31, 2005, which referred the Darfur situation of 18 years ago to the ICC and which the U.S. enabled at the time. This would demonstrate that the Biden Administration not only is interested in supporting ICC investigations of the atrocity crimes in Ukraine but also is backing other designated ICC investigations, notably in Darfur. Further, the State Department should indicate its clear support for the ICC investigation of atrocity crimes committed against the Rohingya and seek Congressional authorization for that assistance, similar to what has been obtained for investigation of the Ukraine situation.

  6. The National Security Council should chair an inter- agency task force to draft “declarations” to the Rome Statute that would address key S. interests, including adherence to the U.S. Constitution and to full complementarity within the U.S. judicial system. Senators undoubtedly would craft their own declarations, and those would be critical to consider, in part to ensure that none of them rise to the level of reservations, which are prohibited by the Rome Statute to all States Parties. But the initiative to draft declarations, which many nations have employed for the Rome Statute, would be a pragmatic and constructive means to mold acceptable terms for ratification of the Rome Statute.

  7. President Biden should express his intention to take the necessary steps with consultations and legislation on Capitol Hill so that the U.S. can ratify the Rome Statute with bipartisan support in the S. Senate. (He will need 67 out of 100 votes to achieve U.S. ratification.) Everyone knows this will take time (likely years) to achieve but the stated intention will boost American credibility and blunt the double standards criticism that constrains U.S. foreign policy aims.

My hope is that it will not take another 25 years before the U.S. is part of the ICC. The fact that it took the U.S. 40 years to ratify the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide is a dishonorable precedent in American history and we should strive not to repeat it. Atrocity crimes are the scourge of our times and the U.S. should be proudly and confidently at the forefront of bringing the perpetrators of such heinous acts to justice.


This article was originally published by the Lieber Institute of U.S. Military Academy at West Point.

Mondial Cover for Winter 2023

Mondial is published by the Citizens for Global Solutions (CGS) and World Federalist Movement — Canada (WFM-Canada), non-profit, non-partisan, and non-governmental Member Organizations of the World Federalist Movement-Institute for Government Policy (WFM-IGP). Mondial seeks to provide a forum for diverse voices and opinions on topics related to democratic world federation. The views expressed by contributing authors herein do not necessarily reflect the organizational positions of CGS or WFM-Canada, or those of the Masthead membership.

Anthony Vance

Anthony Vance

Senior Representative, Bahá'ís of the U.S. Office of Public Affairs

Anthony oversees the development of the Bahá'ís of the United States Office of Public Affairs programs and strategic direction. He joined the office in 2010 after spending four years at the Baháʼí World Center in Haifa, Israel representing it to the diplomatic community, civil society, and parts of the host government. A lawyer by training, he spent 21 years in the U.S. Agency for International Development in legal and managerial positions in Washington, Cote d’Ivoire, Kenya, Botswana, and Egypt. Anthony holds a B.A. in Economics, an MBA, and a J.D. from Harvard University.

Tanner Willis

Tanner Willis

Operations Officer

Tanner Willis has a master’s degree from United Nations Institute of Training and Research (UNITAR) in international affairs and diplomacy. During his time at UNITAR he has been part of two fellowships, one with Al Fusaic as an information and communication technology and international affairs fellow. Al Fusaic is a non-profit who aims to provide education and career advancement to promote peace and security in Southwest Asia and North African region. His second graduate fellowship was with the United Nations Association – National Capital Area (UNA-NCA). UNA-NCA advocates alongside UNA-USA for further partnership with the United States and the United Nations to achieve goals surrounding global issues and uphold the UN charter.

Tanner’s research experience focuses on how information & communications technology influences social and political dynamics with civil society and their relationship with governments. His experience will help CGS utilize digital technologies to promote CGS' mission in promoting peace, international law, and human rights in a responsible and ethical manner. 

In his spare time Tanner is an avid basketball fan of his home team of the University of Kentucky Wildcats. He has played, refereed, broadcasted, and coached basketball and enjoys all levels of the game. He also loves going to art museums, hiking, and traveling with his wife

Bruce Knotts

Bruce Knotts


Bruce Knotts was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Ethiopia, worked for Raytheon in Saudi Arabia (1976-80) and on a World Bank contract in Somalia (1982-4), before he joined the Department of State as a U.S. diplomat in 1984. Bruce had diplomatic assignments in Greece, Zambia, India, Pakistan, Kenya, Sudan, Cote d’Ivoire and The Gambia, where he served as Deputy Chief of Mission. While in Cote d’Ivoire, Bruce served as the Regional Refugee Coordinator for West Africa. Bruce worked closely with several UN Special Representatives and observed UN peacekeeping operations in Sierra Leone from 2000-2003. Bruce retired from the Foreign Service in 2007 and began directing the Unitarian Universalist United Nations Office (UU-UNO) in 2008. Bruce founded faith-based advocacy for sexual orientation/gender identity human rights at the United Nations and continues to advocate for the rights of women, indigenous peoples and for sustainable development in moral terms of faith and values. Bruce is co-chair of the UN NGO Committee on Human Rights, the chair of the NGO Committee on Disarmament, Peace and Security, a member of steering committee of the NGO UN Security Council Working Group. Bruce retired from the UUA September 30, 2022. Bruce is currently the UN representative of the International Convocation of Unitarian Universalist Women. In 2006, Bruce and Isaac Humphrie were wed in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

James Lowell May

James Lowell May

Program Officer

James May is a programme and project development specialist. He has lived in Serbia since 2005, and prior to joining Citizens for Global Solutions, worked across the Western Balkans on a broad range of issues including human, minority and child rights, accountability for war crimes and crimes against humanity, Holocaust commemoration, democratic participation, social justice and economic empowerment, and environmental restoration.

James began working in the Western Balkans on issues related to accountability for human rights violations, first for the Youth Initiative for Human Rights, a coalition of NGOs active in the countries of the former Yugoslavia, as the network’s development coordinator, then the Lawyers’ Committee for Human Rights, leading a research project documenting the nomenclatural of the Milosevic Regime, and then the Federation of Jewish Communities in Serbia, running a Holocaust research and education project.

James then transitioned from accountability to efforts to protect and fulfil the rights of marginalised communities. For a decade James worked for the Centre for Youth Integration, an NGO that provides specialized services for children and youth in street situations in Belgrade, where he began as a volunteer before taking up a permanent role, while concurrently volunteering for community mental health organizations, as well as consultancy work for a number of local and international organizations, and most recently branched out to apply his experience to the environmental sector, focussing on social impact assessments and community-oriented nature-based solutions projects.

James has a degree in Archaeology from University College London. He was born and grew up in Great Britain. He is an avid cyclist.

Honorable David J. Scheffer

Honorable David J. Scheffer

Former U.S. Ambassador

Amb. David J. Scheffer is senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), with a focus on international law and international criminal justice. Scheffer was the Mayer Brown/Robert A. Helman Professor of Law (2006-2020) and is Director Emeritus of the Center for International Human Rights at Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law. He is Professor of Practice at Arizona State University (Washington offices). He was Vice-President of the American Society of International Law (2020-2022) and held the International Francqui Professorship at KU Leuven in Belgium in 2022. From 2012 to 2018 he was the UN Secretary-General’s Special Expert on UN Assistance to the Khmer Rouge Trials, and he was the Tom A. Bernstein Genocide Prevention Fellow working with the Ferencz International Justice Initiative at the Simon-Skjodt Center for the Prevention of Genocide, U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum (2019-2021).

During the second term of the Clinton Administration (1997-2001), Scheffer was the first ever U.S. Ambassador at Large for War Crimes Issues and led the U.S. delegation to the UN talks establishing the International Criminal Court (ICC). He signed the Rome Statute of the ICC on behalf of the United States on December 31, 2000. He negotiated the creation of five war crimes tribunals: the International Criminal Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda, the Special Court for Sierra Leone, the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, and the ICC. He chaired the Atrocities Prevention Inter-Agency Working Group (1998-2001). During the first term of the Clinton Administration (1993-1997), Scheffer served as senior advisor and counsel to the U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Dr. Madeleine Albright, and he served on the Deputies Committee of the National Security Council. Ambassador Scheffer received an A.B. (Government and Economics) from Harvard College, B.A. (Honour School of Jurisprudence) from Oxford University (where he was a Knox Fellow), and LL.M. (International and Comparative Law) from Georgetown University Law Center.

Alex Andrei

Alex Andrei

Director of Technology and Design

Alex is an experienced professional in designing digital products, managing online applications, and providing IT consulting services. Their background is in working with online applications design, digital accessibility, learning management platforms, user experience and interface design for online and mobile applications. They have over 10 years of experience working with higher-education institutions, nonprofits, and business.

He believes that in today’s rapidly evolving landscape, organizations need to adapt and thrive in the digital realm to gain a competitive edge and be as successful as they can be. Alex specializes in supporting organizations in their digital transformation initiatives and creating effective user experiences and driving efficiency through technology to empower people.

As Director of Technology and Design, Alex focuses on identifying opportunities to integrate various technologies in ongoing operations and new initiatives at CGS to support programs, partners, and team members in achieving their goals.

Alex has a passion strategically leveraging cutting edge technologies to maximize the value of what can be done with limited resources to create a lasting impact and great experiences for people.

Jon Kozesky

Jon Kozesky

Director of Development 

Jon brings over 17 years of experience in development and fundraising in both the public and private sectors.  He started his career in politics working in the Ohio Statehouse and later in the office of U.S. Congressman Steven LaTourette, as well as former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. After leaving Capitol Hill, Jon pursued his passion of helping nonprofits secure the resources they needed to best serve their constituents. This passion led to his founding of Jon Thomas Consulting, a boutique nonprofit management and development firm serving organizations across the United States and throughout the world in streamlining their processes and maximizing their revenue growth through grant writing, government affairs, donor stewardship, and major event planning.

Prior to his fundraising career, Jon proudly served his community as a firefighter and water rescue diver. In his personal time, Jon is a champion competitive sailor and a bit of a thrill-seeker, having skydived and bungee jumped on 6 continents.

Jacopo Demarinis

Social Media & Communications Coordinator

Jacopo De Marinis is a 2022 graduate of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where he majored in Public Policy and Law, and is pursuing a career in peacebuilding and conflict resolution. While studying at UIUC, he co-founded a student chapter of Chicago Area Peace Action, CAPA UIUC, and spearheaded student campaigns for climate justice, justice for Black farmers, and a Chicago Department of Peacebuilding. He currently sits on the boards of Anne's Haven, a Chicago community-based organization dedicated to women's empowerment, and Chicago Area Peace Action. Jacopo has published articles on topics including conflict diplomacy, US-China relations, and United Nations reform in CounterPunch, Countercurrents, the LA Progressive, and on the Nepal Institute for International Cooperation and Engagement's website, among others. Jacopo joined the CGS team in September of 2022, as he strongly believes that stronger global governance and UN reform is necessary if we are to realize a more peaceful and just world.

Marvin Perry

Accounting Manager

Marvin has been working in the areas of HIV/AIDS, international peace and human rights. He has worked with both national and international non-profits in the DC area. Marvin brings years of experience in non-profit finance and administration. Marvin is a certified human resources professional and holds an MBA from Howard University School of Business.

Peter Orvetti

Communications Consultant

Peter Orvetti is an editor and political analyst who has spent most of his career providing daily intelligence briefings for the White House across four presidential administrations, as well as multiple Cabinet agencies, trade associations, and Fortune 500 companies. He is the author of several “Young People’s Guides” to various U.S. federal elections and is a former daily columnist for NBC Universal’s Washington, D.C., website.

He has been involved with CGS and other world federalist organizations for more than a decade and publishes the daily “One World Digest” email newsletter. He is also a theater reviewer and an actor in both professional and amateur productions.

Drea Bergman

Director of Programs

Drea Bergman has been shaping world citizens developing global youth programs as Director of Programs for CGS. She is a public policy researcher with master’s degrees from Maastricht Graduate School of Governance and the United Nations University-MERIT (Maastricht Economic and Social Research Institute on Innovation and Technology). She specializes in evidenced-based public policy programs using mixed-methods research and has focused especially on spearheading digital transformation for a variety of NGOs and foundations. Some of her other projects have included research in Eastern Europe and the Middle East. More recently, she has lent her expertise by providing strategic planning for social enterprise start-ups.

Bob Flax

CGS Education Fund President

Bob Flax, Ph.D. is the former Executive Director of Citizens for Global Solutions (now retired). He has spent a lifetime addressing human suffering, first as a psychologist, then as an organization development consultant, and for more than a decade, as a global activist through the World Federalist Movement. He also teaches in the Transformative Social Change Program at Saybrook University.

Bob has a B.A. in Psychology and Philosophy from New York University (1977), an M.A. in Psychology from Long Island University (1980), a Ph.D. in Psychology from Saybrook Institute (1992), an M.A. in Organization Development from Sonoma State University (2007), a Certificate in Global Affairs from New York University (2015) and a Diploma in Global Leadership at the UN Peace University in Costa Rica (2019).

Bob’s love of adventure has led him to international trekking, scuba diving, and climbing the tallest mountains on 3 continents. He also maintains a Buddhist meditation practice and lives in a co-housing community in Northern California.

Rebecca A. Shoot

Executive Director

Rebecca A. Shoot is an international lawyer and democracy and governance practitioner with more than 15 years of experience in the non-governmental, inter-governmental, and private sectors supporting human rights, democratic processes, and the rule of law on five continents.

In nearly a decade with the National Democratic Institute (NDI), Rebecca held numerous positions in headquarters and the field supporting and leading democracy and governance programs in Central and Eastern Europe and Southern and East Africa. She subsequently moved to a leadership role steering NDI’s Governance projects globally and directing programming for the bipartisan House Democracy Partnership of the U.S. House of Representatives. Rebecca created a global parliamentary campaign for Democratic Renewal and Human Rights as Senior Advisor to Parliamentarians for Global Action (PGA), an international network of legislators committed to collaboration to promote democracy, human rights, and the rule of law. Prior to that, she directed PGA’s International Law and Human Rights Programme and ran PGA’s office in The Hague. Most recently, she helmed global programming to promote gender equality and criminal justice reform for the American Bar Association Rule of Law Initiative (ABA ROLI).

Rebecca has spoken at high-level conferences and events on five continents (and increasingly, globally through online platforms). Her publications include the first Global Parliamentary Report (IPU & UNDP 2012), Political Parties in Democratic Transitions (DIPD 2012), and Navigating between Scylla and Charybdis: How the International Criminal Court Turned Restraint Into Power Play (Emory Int’l L. Rev. 2018), which was honored with the Emory International Law Review’s Founder’s Award for Excellence in Legal Research and Writing.

Rebecca is admitted to practice law in the District of Columbia and is a member of several bar associations, including the American Branch of the International Law Association (ABILA), where she serves as Advocacy Director for the International Criminal Court (ICC) Committee. She served as a Visiting Professional in the Presidency of the ICC and has provided pro bono legal expertise to The Carter Center, International Refugee Assistance Project, United Nations Working Group on Enforced and Involuntary Disappearances, and U.S. Marine Corps University, where she helped develop the international humanitarian law curriculum.

Rebecca earned a Juris Doctorate with Honors from Emory University School of Law, where she received several academic distinctions, including the David J. Bederman Fellowship in International Law and Conley-Ingram Scholarship for Public Interest Leadership. She earned a Master of Science in Democracy & Democratisation from University College London School of Public Policy and a Bachelor of Arts Magna Cum Laude in Political Science from Kenyon College. She holds certificates in Conflict Analysis from the U.S. Institute of Peace and in Public International Law from The Hague Academy of International Law.

As Executive Director of CGS, Rebecca will continue her current role as Co-Convener of the Washington Working Group for the International Criminal Court (WICC), a diverse coalition of human rights organizations, legal associations, former government officials, and leading legal professionals. CGS and WICC have a rich and intertwined history that this dual appointment brings full circle, with CGS formerly serving as host for the coalition and with several current and former common Board and National Advisory Committee members.

She also acts, directs, and writes for the theater.

Helen Caldicott

Physician, Author, and Speaker

Helen Caldicott is a physician, author, and anti-nuclear advocate. She founded several associations dedicated to opposing the use of nuclear power, depleted uranium munitions, nuclear weapons, nuclear weapons proliferation, and military action in general. In 1980, she founded the Women’s Action for Nuclear Disarmament (WAND), which was later renamed Women’s Action for New Directions. In 2008, she founded the Helen Caldicott Foundation for a Nuclear Free Future.

Blanche Wiesen Cook

Blanche Wiesen Cook

Professor, Author, and Historian

Blanche Wiesen Cook is a Distinguished Professor of History and Women’s Studies at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, City University of New York. She is author of a three-volume biography of Eleanor Roosevelt, as well as The Declassified Eisenhower: A Divided Legacy of Peace and Political Warfare.

David Cortright

Author, Activist, and Leader

David Cortright is director of Policy Studies at the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies at the University of Notre Dame and chair of the Board of the Fourth Freedom Forum. In 1977, Cortright was named the executive director of he Committee for a SANE Nuclear Policy (SANE), which under his direction became the largest disarmament organization in the U.S. Cortright initiated the 1987 merger of SANE and the Nuclear Weapons Freeze Campaign and served for a time as co-director of the merged organization. In 2002, he helped to found the Win Without War coalition in opposition to the U.S. invasion of Iraq.

He is the author or co-editor of 19 books including Waging Peace in Vietnam: U.S. Soldiers and Veterans Who Opposed the WarGandhi and Beyond: Nonviolence for a New Political Age, and Peace: A History of Movements and Ideas.

Andrea Cousins

Andrea Cousins

Psychologist, Psychoanalyst, and Anthropologist

Andrea Cousins is a psychologist and psychoanalyst who has practiced for more than 30 years. She has a doctorate in anthropology from Harvard University and a Doctor of Psychology degree from the Massachusetts School of Professional Psychology. Her father, journalist and peace activist Norman Cousins, served as president of the World Federalist Association and chairman of the Committee for Sane Nuclear Policy, and was honored with recognitions including the United Nations Peace Medal.

Gary Dorrien

Gary Dorrien

Professor, Author, Social Ethicist

Gary Dorrien is the Reinhold Niebuhr Professor of Social Ethics at Union Theological Seminary and Professor of Religion at Columbia University. An Episcopal priest, he has taught as the Paul E. Raither Distinguished Scholar at Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut, and as Horace De Y. Lentz Visiting Professor at Harvard Divinity School. He is a member of the Democratic Socialists of America’s Religion and Socialism Commission and the author of 18 books on ethics, social theory, philosophy, theology, politics, and intellectual history.

Daniel Ellsberg

Lecturer, Writer, and Activist

Daniel Ellsberg is a political activist and former military analyst. While employed by the RAND Corporation, Ellsberg precipitated a national political controversy in 1971 when he released the Pentagon Papers, a top-secret Pentagon study of the U.S. government decision-making in relation to the Vietnam War, to The New York Times, The Washington Post and other newspapers.

Since the end of the Vietnam War, Ellsberg has continued his political activism, giving lecture tours and speaking out about current events. Ellsberg was awarded the Right Livelihood Award in 2006. In 2018, he was awarded the 2018 Olof Palme Prize for his “profound humanism and exceptional moral courage.”

Oscar Andrew Hammerstein

Oscar Andrew Hammerstein

Painter, Writer, Lecturer, and Historian

Oscar Andrew Hammerstein is a painter, writer, and lecturer. He has taught graduate-level courses on New York theatre history and general musical theatre history as an adjunct professor at Columbia University. He is the author of The Hammersteins: A Musical Theatre Family.

Randy Kehler

Randy Kehler

Pacifist Activist

Randy Kehler is a pacifist activist who served 22 months in prison for returning his draft card in 1969 and refusing to seek exemption as a conscientious objector, seeing that as a form of cooperation with the Vietnam war effort. He played a key role in persuading Daniel Ellsberg to release the Pentagon Papers, and later served as executive director of the National Nuclear Weapons Freeze Campaign. Kehler and his wife Betsy Corner refused to pay taxes for military expenditures, resulting in the federal seizure of their Massachusetts home in 1989. They continue to withhold their federal income taxes.

Gordon Orians

Gordon Orians


Gordon Orians, an ornithologist and ecologist for more than half a century, has focused his work on behavioral ecology and the relationships between ecology and social organization, as well as on the interface between science and public policy. He was director of the University of Washington Seattle’s Institute for Environmental Studies for a decade and has also served on the Board of Directors of the World Wildlife Fund and on state boards of the Nature Conservancy and Audubon.

Orians was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 1989 and to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1990.

William Pace

International Organizer

William Pace was the founding convenor of the Coalition for an International Criminal Court (ICC) and a co-founder of the International Coalition for the Responsibility to Protect. He has been engaged in international justice, rule of law, environmental law, and human rights for four decades, serving as executive director of the World Federalist Movement-Institute for Global Policy, secretary-general of the Hague Appeal for Peace, director of the Center for the Development of International Law, and director of Section Relations of the Concerts for Human Rights Foundation at Amnesty International, among other roles. He is the recipient of the William J. Butler Human Rights Medal from the Urban Morgan Institute for Human Rights and was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for his work on the ICC.

James T. Ranney

Professor, International Legal Consultant, and Author

James T. Ranney is an adjunct professor of international law at Widener Law School. He co-founded the Jeannette Rankin Peace Center in Montana and served as a legal consultant to the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia. He has written extensively on the abolition of nuclear weapons and the establishment of international dispute resolution mechanisms.

Rick Ulfik

Rick Ulfik

The Founder of WE, The World, and the WE Campaign

Rick Ulfik is the founder of We, The World, an international coalition-building organization whose Mission is to maximize social change globally. He and his organization work closely with the New York Center for Nonviolent Communication, where he has been a facilitator since 2004. He is also the co-creator of the annual 11 Days of Global Unity - 11 Ways to Change the World, September 11-21.

He is an award-winning composer and keyboard player who has written, arranged, produced and orchestrated music for television networks, feature films, commercials, and albums. He has performed with Queen Latifah, Phoebe Snow, Carlos Santana, Bernadette Peters, and Judy Collins.

John Stowe


John Stowe is the Roman Catholic bishop of the Diocese of Lexington, Kentucky. He is a member of the Order of Friars Minor Conventual, a mendicant religious order founded by Francis of Assisi. In 2015, Pope Francis appointed Stowe bishop of the Diocese of Lexington. He is the Episcopal President of the U.S. board of Pax Christi, an international Catholic Christian peace movement with a focus on human rights, disarmament, nonviolence, and related issues.

Barbara Smith

Author, Activist, and Scholar

Barbara Smith has played a significant role in Black feminism in the U.S. for more than 50 years. She taught at numerous colleges and universities for 25 years and has been published in a wide range of publications including The New York Times Book ReviewMs.Gay Community NewsThe Village Voice, and The Nation.

Among her many honors are the African American Policy Forum Harriet Tubman Lifetime Achievement Award, the Lambda Literary Award, and the Stonewall Award for Service to the Lesbian and Gay Community. In 2014, SUNY Press published Ain’t Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me Around: Forty Years of Movement Building with Barbara Smith.

William J. Ripple

Conservationist, Author, and Professor

William J. Ripple is a Distinguished Professor of Ecology in the Department of Forest Ecosystems and Society at Oregon State University. He has published two books and has authored more than 200 scientific journal articles on topics including conservation, ecology, wildlife, and climate change. He was the co-lead author on the 2020 paper “The World Scientists’ Warning of a Climate Emergency,” which was endorsed by more than 14,000 scientist signatories from around the world. He is the director of the Alliance of World Scientists, which has approximately 26,000 scientist members from 180 countries.

Mark Ritchie

President, Global Minnesota

Mark Ritchie is Chair of Minnesota's World Fair Bid Committee Educational Fund. From 2019 - 2022 he served as president of Global Minnesota, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization devoted to advancing international understanding and engagement. Ritchie was Minnesota's elected Secretary of State from 2007 to 2015. Since leaving elected public service, he has led the public-private partnership working to bring a world exposition (World's Fair) to Minnesota and he has served on the board of directors for LifeSource, Communicating for America, U.S. Vote Foundation, and Expo USA. He is also a national advisory board member of the federal Election Assistance Commission, where he serves as National Secretary.


Kim Stanley Robinson


Kim Stanley Robinson is the author of many works of science fiction, including the internationally bestselling Mars trilogy, and more recently Red Moon, New York 2140, and The Ministry for the Future. His work has been translated into 25 languages, and won awards including the Hugo, Nebula, and World Fantasy awards. In 2016, asteroid 72432 was named “Kimrobinson.”

Leila Nadya Sadat

Special Advisor to the ICC Chief Prosecutor, Professor, Author

Leila Sadat is the James Carr Professor of International Criminal Law at Washington University School of Law and the director of the Whitney R. Harris World Law Institute. She is an internationally recognized expert on the International Criminal Court (ICC) and served as Special Advisor on Crimes Against Humanity to Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda of the ICC. She is also the director of the Crimes Against Humanity Initiative, a multi-year project to study the problem of crimes against humanity and draft a comprehensive convention addressing their punishment and prevention. She is a former member of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, served as the Alexis de Tocqueville Distinguished Fulbright Chair at the University of Cergy-Pontoise in Paris, and is the author of several books.

Martin Sheen

Martin Sheen

Actor, Activist, and Leader

Martin Sheen is an Emmy Award-winning and Golden Globe Award-winning actor who has worked with directors including Francis Ford Coppola and Oliver Stone, in addition to starring as the U.S. president on the long-running television drama “The West Wing.” In his early days as a struggling actor in New York, he met activist Dorothy Day, beginning his lifelong commitment to social justice.

The self-described pacifist was an early opponent of the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq and has been a consistent opponent of nuclear arms. As honorary mayor of Malibu, California in 1989, he declared the city a nuclear-free zone. Nearly 20 years later, Sheen was arrested during a protest at the Nevada Test Site. Sheen said in 2009 that he had been arrested 66 times for acts of civil disobedience, leading one activist to declare Sheen to have “a rap sheet almost as long as his list of film credits.”

Sheen has also been active in anti-genocide and pro-immigrant causes, as well as in the environmental movement. In 2010, he told a crowd of young people, “While acting is what I do for a living, activism is what I do to stay alive.” In a 1963 episode of “The Outer Limits,” he portrayed a future astronaut wearing a large breast patch that read “UE. Unified Earth.”