Sunday, March 6, 2011

US Supports International Criminal Court (ICC)

US Supports War Crimes Tribunal for First Time," N.Y. Times, March

Posted by: "Mike Woloshin"   mikewoloshin2002

Fri Mar 4, 2011 9:59 am (PST)

New York Times, March 2, 2011

"US Supports War Crimes Tribunal for First Time"

(AP) — The U.N. resolution imposing tough sanctions against Libya
marked the first time that the United States has given its support to the International Criminal Court and signified a remarkable turnaround, though it includes a key exemption demanded by the Obama administration.

The resolution adopted unanimously by the Security Council on Saturday refers the actions of Moammar Gadhafi's regime since Feb. 15 to the court's prosecutor
who must decide whether there is enough evidence of alleged crimes against humanity to warrant a
full investigation. Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo is required to
deliver an initial report to the council in two months.

"It's a historic vote by the United States government because it's the
first time in a Security Council resolution the United States has voted
affirmatively on the side of the International Criminal Court,"
Richard Dicker, head of the International Justice Program at Human Rights Watch. "That's a positive step."

But the United States insisted on including a provision in the
resolution to protect Americans from investigation or prosecution by the
International Criminal Court, known as the ICC. It requires that any
citizen of a country that hasn't joined the ICC be investigated or
prosecuted in his home country — not by the ICC — for any alleged
actions stemming from operations in Libya authorized by the Security

Dicker called this "carve-out" for nationals from countries that aren't
parties to the ICC "troubling" though limited since it only deals with
the current situation in Libya.

"If, for example, there is a no-fly zone established by the council, and
the U.S. dropped bombs and accidentally killed 100 Libyan school
children, that U.S. airman or those who ordered the attack would be
subject to the jurisdiction exclusively of a U.S. court — not the ICC,"
Dicker told the AP on Tuesday.

The International Criminal Court, which began operating in 2002, was
established after a long campaign to ensure that those responsible for
the most heinous crimes could be brought to justice. Under the Rome
treaty that established the tribunal, the court can step in only when
countries are unwilling or unable to dispense justice themselves for
genocide, crimes against humanity or war crimes.

Currently, 114 countries have ratified the Rome statute and are parties
to the statute. Libya is not a party to the ICC and therefore the
Security Council stepped in to refer Gadhafi's deadly crackdown on
anti-government protesters to the tribunal.

Liechtenstein's U.N. Ambassador Christian Wenaweser, president of the
Assembly of State Parties to the ICC, told a press conference Tuesday
that the U.S. support for the court and its sponsorship of the
resolution was "an important development."

Former U.S. President Bill Clinton signed the Rome treaty on Dec. 31, 2000, but President George W. Bush renounced the signature, citing fears that Americans would be unfairly prosecuted for political reasons.

"We have seen for several months that certainly the U.S. is looking for a
more positive engagement with the ICC," Wenaweser said. "The U.S. is
participating again in the work of the Assembly of States Parties very
actively. So there have been changes before, but certainly this is a
very important step — while I don't think this will lead to ratification
anytime soon."

He called the exception barring investigation or prosecution of citizens
from non-ICC countries a "very, very narrow provision."

U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice
agreed, telling reporters Tuesday "we have thought it important that if
we were going to for the first time affirmatively support such a
resolution to make sure that it was clear the limitations as to who
jurisdiction applied to."

She said criticism "that somehow this provides a pass for mercenaries I think is completely misplaced."

"I don't think the International Criminal Court is going to spend its
time and effort on foot soldiers that have been paid small amounts of
money by Gadhafi," she said. "They're going to focus on the big fish."

France's U.N. Ambassador Gerard Araud told reporters after the vote that
included the exception in the resolution "was a red line for the
United States."

"It was a deal breaker," he said. "This is the reason why we accepted this unanimously."

Wenaweser and Jordan's U.N. ambassador, Prince Zeid al Hussein, who is
leading the search to replace Ocampo whose term expires in June 2012,
agreed that the council's referral of Libya was good for the court and
will hopefully lead to new ratifications.

"Privately many ambassadors, ministers, will concede that eventually
their countries will probably become state parties," Zeid told reporters
Tuesday. "It's only a matter of time as to when."

"The court hasn't died because there are too many cruel people around
the world willing to commit atrocities and so long as that's the case,
unfortunately and sadly, tragically, there is a need for a court like
this. For the foreseeable next few decades at least, we will continue to
have these sorts of events, and the public will demand that governments
be responsive."

Mike Woloshin, AMH-2, USN

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