On March 5, 2020, the Appeals Chamber of the International Criminal Court (ICC) unanimously authorized the Prosecutor to launch an investigation into the situation in the Republic of Afghanistan. According to a press release from the ICC, the Appeals Chamber judgment amended an earlier judgment by Pre-Trial Chamber II rejecting the Prosecutor's request to begin an investigation into the situation. In reviewing the case, the Appeals Chamber concluded that the Pre-Trial Chamber had incorrectly evaluated whether an investigation would be in the "interests of justice" under Article 53(1)(c) of the Rome Statute. In particular, the Appeals Chamber noted that an evaluation of the interests of justice factor fell to the Prosecutor, not to the Pre-Trial Chamber. The Pre-Trial Chamber should have only considered, according to Article 15(4), "whether there was a reasonable factual basis for the Prosecutor to proceed with an investigation, in the sense of whether crimes have been committed, and whether the potential case(s) arising from such investigation would appear to fall within the Court's jurisdiction" (para. 34). Judge Luz del Carmen Ibáñez Carranza filed a separate opinion on the interpretation of Article 15 and the dicta of the Appeals Chamber in paragraphs 28 to 33 of the judgment.
The U.S. Department of State issued a press statement by Secretary of State Michael Pompeo criticizing the ICC decision and the ICC itself, stating that the decision to authorize an investigation "is a truly breathtaking action by an unaccountable political institution, masquerading as a legal body." The United States is not a party to the ICC.