Wednesday, June 23, 2004


The U.N. Security Council develops a backbone

Last year the U.N. gave the U.S. a one-year exemption from any war crimes prosecutions by the International Criminal Court. The exemption is about to run out, and some folks in the Bush administration and Pentagon seem to need it more than ever.

The AP this afternoon carried this:

Facing strong opposition, the United States announced Wednesday it was dropping a resolution seeking a new exemption for American peacekeepers from international prosecution for war crimes.

U.S. deputy ambassador James Cunningham made the announcement after a U.S. compromise that would limit the exemption to one final year failed to win support from key Security Council opponents.

Of course, we couldn't just leave it at that. A veiled threat was made.

Cunningham said,
[I]n the absence of a new resolution, the United States will need to take into account the risk of ICC (International Criminal Court) review when determining contributions to U.N. authorized or established operations.

The U.S. has also threatened not to participate in any future U.N. peacekeeping operations.

All is not lost. By using the power of the purse, the U.S. has forced a number of smaller, impoverished countries to provide it with just such an exemption.
Washington has signed bilateral agreements with 90 countries that bar any prosecution of American officials by the court.

Cunningham said Wednesday that the United States will "continue to negotiate bilateral agreements" to protect Americans.

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