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08 July 2002

U.S. Says International Criminal Court Fundamentally Flawed

(July 4: Minikes tells OSCE U.S. committed to stability in Balkans)
(890)
While the United States strongly believes that those who perpetrate
genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes must be held
accountable, it believes the new International Criminal Court (ICC) is
fundamentally flawed, Ambassador Stephan Minikes told the OSCE
Permanent Council in Vienna July 4.
Minikes, the head of U.S. Mission to the OSCE, noted that the UN
Mission in Bosnia has been extended by the United Nations until July
15 to allow the Security Council time to arrive at a solution to U.S.
concerns about the ICC.
Those concerns include: the court's claim of jurisdiction over
nationals of states not party to the treaty; its lack of
accountability, which could result in "politically motivated attempts
to investigate and prosecute U.S. service members and other government
officials"; its claim to be able to decide unilaterally whether a U.S.
investigation or prosecution was adequate; and its potential power to
undermine the Security Council's role in determining when a state has
committed an act of aggression.
"We do have a workable solution, spelled out in the draft resolution
texts we have offered," Minikes pointed out. "Under Chapter VII of the
UN Charter, the Security Council can provide protection from the ICC
for participants in UN-authorized and UN-approved peacekeeping
operations."
He also reiterated that "the strong commitment of the United States to
peace and stability in the Balkans remains unchanged."
Following is Minikes' statement:
(begin transcript)
United States Mission to the OSCE
Vienna 
July 4, 2002
U.S. VIEWS REGARDING THE INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL COURT 
Delivered by Ambassador Stephan M. Minikes to the Permanent Council
Mr. Chairman, UN Security Council discussions on this important issue
are continuing. We understand our request for an extension of the UN
Mission in Bosnia until July 15 has been accepted, to allow that
Council more time to arrive at a solution. We hope very much that an
acceptable solution will be found.
As we have previously noted here in the Permanent Council, the United
States' concern with the International Criminal Court (ICC) remains a
matter of great importance and vigorous debate.
Let it be clear that we, like the European Union and others at this
table, strongly believe that those who perpetrate genocide, crimes
against humanity, and war crimes must be held accountable, and that
those horrendous deeds must not go unpunished. The United States has
been a world leader in promoting the rule of law. We believe that a
properly created court could be a useful tool in promoting human
rights and holding the perpetrators of the worst violations
accountable before the world.
But we cannot join the European Union in welcoming the entry into
force of the International Criminal Court, which the United States
believes to be fundamentally flawed.
Mr. Chairman, I have already noted on several occasions U.S. concerns
regarding the ICC, but let me again summarize these concerns.
The United States strongly objects to the ICC's claims of jurisdiction
over the nationals, including government officials and service
members, of states not party to the treaty. We are concerned that the
lack of accountability over the ICC and its prosecutors will result in
politically motivated attempts to investigate and prosecute U.S.
service members and other government officials. We strongly object to
the ICC's claim to be able to unilaterally decide whether an U.S.
investigation or prosecution was adequate. We think the treaty
provides an opening for the ICC to undermine the role of the UN
Security Council in determining when a state has committed an act of
aggression.
Mr. Chairman, as I noted in a May 9 statement at the Permanent
Council, "as a consequence of these defects, the ICC may constrain the
willingness of the U.S. to engage in military operations, such as
peacekeeping." Such a time has arrived.
We allowed the Security Council more than enough time to address our
concerns over the ICC before it entered into force on July 1.
Let me reiterate that the strong commitment of the United States to
peace and stability in the Balkans remains unchanged. Our policy on
Bosnia peacekeeping is under review, and we will fully share U.S.
views with this body and our allies when appropriate.
Our U.S. peacekeepers around the world adhere to the highest standards
of behavior and justice, and are answerable to U.S. courts for any
violations of those standards. Additional oversight by a prosecutor,
subject to no further supervision, is not necessary.
We have been clear and consistent in communicating our concerns about
the ICC since negotiations of the Rome Statute began. We worked
especially hard in New York to impress on Security Council partners
the seriousness of our position.
We do have a workable solution, spelled out in the draft resolution
texts we have offered. Under Chapter VII of the UN Charter, the
Security Council can provide protection from the ICC for participants
in UN-authorized and UN-approved peacekeeping operations.
Contributing to peacekeeping missions exposes our citizens to hardship
and risk to advance international peace and security. The U.S. wants
to continue to contribute, but peacekeepers should not be asked to
face unnecessary legal risks.
Again, we join the European Union and others in expressing our hope
that a solution acceptable to all can be found within the deadline.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
(end transcript)
(Distributed by the Office of International Information Programs, U.S.
Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)



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