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   US Tells UN It Will Not Participate in UN Peacekeeping Operations Without War Crimes Immunity for Americans

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US Tells UN It Will Not Participate in UN Peacekeeping Operations Without War Crimes Immunity for Americans

from Associated Press Reports

On June 19, the US announced it would not participate in U.N. peacekeeping operations unless the UN Security Council agrees to grant Americans immunity from prosecution by the International Criminal Court. In April, the Rome Treaty calling for the establishment of the Court received the ratifications necessary to become a reality on July 1, 2002. (see http://www.iccnow.org/), with operations to set to begin a year later. The drive for ratification was led by Canada.

The US seeks protection for Americans taking part in U.N. peacekeeping missions and those serving in the NATO-led force in Bosnia. U.S. deputy ambassador Richard S. Williamson stated, "We will not put American men or women under the reach of the International Criminal Court while serving in a United Nations peacekeeping operation."

The US initiative is viewed as unlikely to succeed because the new court has wide support in the 15-member Security Council--including veto-wielding France and Britain.

President Clinton signed the treaty, but the Senate never ratified it. In May of this year, the Bush administration denounced both the treaty creating the court and the tribunal. No other country has been so vocal in opposition. Most nations have expressed enthusiasm for the Court, which is also endorsed by organizations advocating for human rights.

The campaign to create a permanent international criminal tribunal began following the Nuremberg and Tokyo war criminal trials.

Richard Dicker, director of the International Justice Program at Human Rights Watch, said, "This amounts to the US trying to obtain through the back door what it was unable to obtain at the Rome conference itself--an iron-clad exemption for U.S. nationals. That kind of immunity runs counter to the most basic principle of law, its equal application to all."

Over 700 Americans are participating in UN peacekeeping operations mandated by the Security Council--from Kosovo, Georgia, Bosnia, East Timor and the Sinai to Western Sahara and the Iraq-Kuwait and Ethiopia-Eritrea borders.

US opponents of the Court charge that it threatens US sovereignty because other countries could use the Court to prosecute US soldiers.


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This story was published on July 3, 2002.
  
JULY 2002
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