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SLUG: 3-236 Leila Sadat/ICC








/// Editors: This interview is available in Dalet under SOD/English News Now Interviews in the folder for today or yesterday ///

HOST: The United States has recalled three military observers serving with United Nations' peacekeepers in East Timor, amid squabbles over the new International Criminal Court -- the first permanent world tribunal for war crimes. The U-S wants guarantees that American troops serving with U-N peacekeeping missions are given immunity from prosecution by the new international criminal court.

Leila (LAY-luh) Sadat is a law professor at Washington University in Saint Louis, Missouri. She's written a book titled The International Criminal Court and the Transformation of International Law. She tells VOA News Now's Kent Klein the Bush administration's concerns about the Court arise from a philosophical opposition to U-S involvement in international peacekeeping....

PROF. SADAT: I think the position of the administration on this issue is fairly consistent with its position on other issues, which is that there should be an American exception to the application of international law. I suppose that is a little bit of a harsh critique of the administration, but I do think there is the view that others should be subject to international law and the United States should not.

There is also I think an ideological aversion to the United Nations among certain elements now in the United States. And I think there is a real hardening of opposition to the International Criminal Court, which the Treaty came into force yesterday (Monday). And I think that is prompting this very harsh approach to the United Nations peacekeeping missions and to international cooperation in general.

MR. KLEIN: One explanation we hear is that the Bush administration says this Treaty just does not do enough to protect U.S. forces from politically motivated prosecution. Is there enough protection for U.S. forces? Is this a valid concern on the part of the White House?

PROF. SADAT: I think that the United States is concerned that because it is more active in the world militarily, the United States is concerned that the Court might be a focus of politically motivated prosecutions. But there are actually three separate layers of protection that any soldier, any country, or any individual would receive before anything could happen. And the first is that any investigation by the prosecutor has to be authorized by the Pretrial Chamber.

The second is that even after an investigation has been authorized, which is not easy because it has to meet fairly stringent legal requirements, any state that wishes to, that would have jurisdiction over the crimes, which is virtually any state in the world in which there are crimes over which there is universal jurisdiction, may come forward and challenge either the jurisdiction or the admissibility of the case before the Court.

Finally, if the United States was concerned about an investigation of one of its soldiers, all the United States has to do is say "We're investigating ourselves," and the Court is completely deprived of jurisdiction over the case. And that's even before you get to the investigation having been commenced, the issue of whether or not an indictment can be brought, et cetera, et cetera.

Those provisions of the Treaty were actually introduced by the United States during the negotiations, and other states essentially gave us what we wanted. So I think it is really a political position of the administration; I don't think it is one that is terribly well founded in the reality of the Treaty regime.

MR. KLEIN: Does the United States have a valid legal basis for its argument against being involved in this? Is there any precedent for this kind of thing?

PROF. SADAT: The precedent actually is the precedent that the United States of America created, which is Nuremberg. At Nuremberg, four nations signed a treaty, and it subjected a nation, Germany, to the jurisdiction of the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg. Nineteen other countries ultimately ratified that treaty. And so the Nuremberg Tribunal, which was of course an American initiative and most believe laid much of the foundation for all of international human rights law and the international justice movement, was very much a product of American ingenuity, and has been well accepted by the entire international community as valid international law.

So, actually, the irony of the U.S. position on the ICC is we are rejecting the precedent that we created. And I think that is one of the reasons that the international community has reacted with such horror and shock and amazement to our position on the ICC, because it is inconsistent with really the last 50 years of positions that the United States itself has taken.

HOST: Law professor Leila Sadat, author of a book about the International Criminal Court. She spoke to VOA News Now's Kent Klein.


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