White House demands immunity for its peacekeepers

  • From: "Muslim News" <editor_@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
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  • Date: Sat, 22 Jun 2002 10:07:03 +0100

NEW YORK: America has infuriated its allies at the United Nations by
threatening to keep US troops out of peacekeeping forces unless they are
granted a blanket immunity from prosecution by the International
Criminal Court, which comes into being next month, reports The Guardian
in its latest issue. 

Richard Williamson, a US representative at the UN, said he had warned
the Security Council that “there should be no misunderstanding. If there
is not adequate protection for US peacekeepers, there will be no US

Williamson’s comments reflect long-standing US opposition to the court,
which opens its doors on July 1. 

The treaty to establish it was ratified by more than 60 countries. But
America failed to sign up, saying it was not bound by former president
Bill Clinton’s support for the court. The decision was interpreted by
critics of the Bush administration as a concession to conservative
Republicans who fear US citizens could become the victims of politically
motivated war crimes trials. 

The court, strongly supported by the British government, will have the
power to prosecute political leaders or military officers thought to
have committed war crimes or crimes against humanity. 

According to The Guardian, diplomats at the UN dismissed the idea that
the security council would agree to a US proposal, made on Tuesday
morning, for a resolution placing all peacekeepers outside the court’s

“That will not get support,” a Western diplomat said. “The US ideal is
almost certainly more than the others can accept. Members of the
council, even where they haven’t yet ratified the court, are supporters,
and don’t want to do anything that would completely damage the court and
the spirit of the court.” 

Another diplomat said: “Even close friends are very, very nervous. This
is really a serious assault on the international legal order.” 

“This is a scare campaign, driven by a unilateralist animosity towards
international institutions, and the rule of law in particular,” said
Richard Dicker, a legal expert with Human Rights Watch. 

“Those in this administration who are the most virulently opposed to
extending the rule of law are dictating a shortsighted and ultimately
pathetic policy.” 

The framework of the court allows for signatories to reach individual
agreements with the US that its citizens will not be subject to the
court’s rule. Supporters of the court argue that this ought to be enough
to protect US troops. 

But a US official said on Tuesday that those agreements were
insufficient. “They don’t go far enough, they take a long time, and we
don’t think that’s the best approach,” the official said. “This
resolution is the best way. We’re not trying to undercut the court,
we’re trying to make sure that peacekeeping will be workable in the
future and that peacekeepers will not have to worry about having
politicised charges brought against them.” 

Source:  Balochistan Post

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