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Webinar: Designating Judges and Lawyers as Threats to National Security: U.S. Sanctions against the International Criminal Court

August 18, 2020 @ 11:00 am 12:00 pm

President Trump recently signed Executive Order 13928, which declared that any investigation of U.S. military operations in Afghanistan by the International Criminal Court (ICC) poses a threat to the national security of the United States. The order authorizes the U.S. Treasury Department to impose financial sanctions and travel restrictions on lawyers, judges and other employees of the court. The sanctions that could be imposed on the ICC, and potentially any parties aiding the Court in its work, are the same as those imposed on hostile nations, foreign terrorist networks and international drug traffickers.

The executive order raises serious issues about the use of presidential authority to declare a national emergency, the jurisdiction of the ICC, and threats to the independence of the judiciary in the international context. This program will present the legal basis for these sanctions, as well as information about the ICC investigations that triggered the unprecedented U.S. action and the implications for the ICC and its staff.


Speakers: Katherine Gallagher and Adam Smith

Moderator: Ric Bainter


Katherine Gallagher is a Senior Staff Attorney at the Center for Constitutional Rights. She works on universal jurisdiction and international criminal law cases involving U.S. and foreign officials and torture and other war crimes, and civil actions involving private military corporations and torture at Abu Ghraib. Her major cases include Situation of Afghanistan at the International Criminal Court, pressing to open a criminal investigation of U.S. torture in Afghanistan and at CIA blacksites; Al Shimari v. CACI, brought by Iraqis detainees tortured at Abu Ghraib; and Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) v. Vatican, seeking accountability for the crimes against humanity of sexual violence by clergy and cover-up.

Prior to coming to the Center for Constitutional Rights, she worked at the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia from 2001-2006; as a legal advisor for the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe in Kosovo; and with the Special Court for Sierra Leone in Freetown. She graduated from New York University with a joint M.A. in Journalism and Middle East Studies and from the CUNY School of Law, where she served as Editor-in-Chief of the New York City Law Review.

Adam M. Smith is a partner at the Washington, DC office of Gibson, Dunn, and Crutcher where he focuses on international trade, sanctions, and export controls.  From 2010-2015 Adam served as the senior advisor in the Obama Administration in the Treasury Department’s sanctions unit (OFAC) and as Director of Multilateral Affairs on the National Security Council. 

Adam is the author of three books – including the recently-published, first-ever desktop treatise on economic sanctions (U.S., E.U., and U.N. Sanctions – Navigating the Divide for International Business [Bloomberg BNA, 2019]) and two other works on international criminal law – has published dozens of other articles in the legal and popular press (including the leading piece analyzing the new Executive Order concerning potential sanctions regarding the International Criminal Court), has testified before the U.S. Congress, and is a frequent commentator in the media and presenter at industry and academic conferences globally.  Earlier in his career, Adam was a political economist at the United Nations and also held posts at the World Bank and the OECD.  Adam earned his law degree from Harvard, his master’s degree from Oxford, and his bachelor’s degree from Brown.

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