Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is planning to close the State Department office that focuses on combating war crimes around the world, former U.S. officials told Foreign Policy.
Todd Buchwald, a career State Department lawyer who serves as special coordinator of the Office of Global Criminal Justice, has been told by Tillerson's office he is being reassigned to a different department, along with the rest of the office staff. Tillerson's top priorities are increasing economic opportunities for American businesses and strengthening the military, with human rights and fighting poverty falling by the wayside, officials said. "There's no mistaking it — this move will be a huge loss for accountability," Richard Dicker, director of Human Rights Watch's international justice program, told Foreign Policy.
Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright created the office in 1997, following the genocides in Rwanda and Bosnia. The United States wanted to show the world it took combating mass murder seriously, and the office has run a fund that pays for information leading to the capture of war criminals. A State Department spokesperson would not confirm or deny the closure, and a senior State Department official told Foreign Policy its report was based on "pure speculation."