US blocks UN resolution on protecting aid workers over ICC reference.

The United States on Monday blocked the adoption of a UN Security Council resolution to boost the protection of aid workers in conflict zones because it contained a reference to the International Criminal Court (ICC), officials said. A Security Council vote on the resolution, proposed by Mexico after last week's attack on the UN headquarters in Baghdad, had been expected on Monday but was delayed by at least 24 hours after US Secretary of State Colin Powell intervened to express concerns, UN diplomats said.

The State Department would only confirm that Powell had raised US objections in a Saturday phone call to his Mexican counterpart Luis Ernesto Derbez.

Deputy spokesman Philip Reeker said the United States supported the protection of international humanitarian aid workers but maintained that the reference to the ICC was unnecessary. Washington vehemently opposes the court. "We fully appreciate the need for protection of humanitarian workers and the provision of access necessary for workers to carry out that type of work," he told reporters. But, he added that the United States could not support the resolution if it referred to the ICC.

"Our concerns particularly involve language on the International Criminal Court," Reeker said. "We're concerned that the language discussing that in the resolution is unnecessary." He said there were discussions with the Mexicans and others to find language for a resolution "that's acceptable to all parties on the Security Council".

A senior State Department official said later the ICC reference was "unacceptable" to the United States. "We weren't comfortable with the language and told the Mexicans that." The Mexican resolution includes a passage that says attacks like the one on Tuesday in Baghdad, which left 23 dead, are "a war crime in accordance with the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court."

The United States strongly opposes the ICC -- the world's first permanent international court for war crimes and crimes against humanity -- because it fears the tribunal may be used for politically motivated prosecutions of current and former US officials, soldiers or other Americans.

Since the court came into being in July, 2002, Washington has sought to sign deals with as many countries as possible giving US citizens immunity from ICC prosecution.

And it has cut off military aid to ICC member countries that have not inked such deals.

[Source: Agence France Presse, 25Aug03]

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This document has been published on 21oct03 by the Equipo Nizkor and Derechos Human Rights, in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.