The US would have reached agreements with 12 countries to exempt its nationals from the ICC jurisdiction.

U.S. Cites Progress on Int'l Court.

WASHINGTON- Twelve nations have agreed with the United States' request not to turn American peacekeepers over to a new international criminal court, the U.S. ambassador-at-large for war crimes issues said Tuesday.

Pierre-Richard Prosper did not name the 12 countries. The State Department said Micronesia was signing an agreement on Tuesday, joining Romania, Israel, East Timor, the Marshall Islands, Afghanistan, Honduras, Uzbekistan, Mauritania, Dominican Republic, Palau and Tajikistan.

Prosper promised the U.S. campaign to reach more one-on-one pacts will yield "quite a handful of agreements in coming days and weeks."

"A lot of states are coming forward, and don't see our agreements as a problem," Prosper said during a forum at the American Society of International Law. "We're getting the progress we need to get."

The International Criminal Court, established through a treaty reached in Rome and signed by 78 nations, was set up to prosecute those accused of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes committed after July 1. It will intervene only when a country is unable or lacks the political will to carry out a trial.

President Clinton signed the Rome treaty in 1998, but the Senate did not ratify it. President Bush rescinded the U.S. signature in May.

The Bush administration argues that the court is structured in a way that gives prosecutors unchecked power and creates a forum for trumped-up charges and highly politicized prosecutions, particularly of American troops.

David Stoelting, an American Bar Association delegate to the Rome conference, said the U.S. effort to go around the court is not faring well, mainly because many countries view the Bush administration's outreach as an unfair "diplomatic assault" on a judicial process that is hardly under way.

"We just simply don't know how the court is going to behave operationally," Stoelting said. "The United States is absolutely isolated in this campaign."

The European Union supports the court, and advised nations aspiring to EU membership not to enter an agreement to shield U.S. troops from prosecution. Romania is among the EU aspirants.

The United States respects other countries' right to participate in the court, Prosper said, and asks that they, in turn, respect the U.S. desire to avoid it.

"We do not want this as a talking point in our relations with states," Prosper said. "The court will go on. We'll just be on the sidelines."

Source: Sonya Ross for Associated Press - Las Vegas SUN - September 24, 2002.

International Criminal Court

small logo
This document has been published on 26Sep02 by the Equipo Nizkor and Derechos Human Rights