10 July 2002
Text: U.S. Urging Criminal Court Exception for U.N. Peacekeepers
(Amb. Negroponte's July 10 remarks to the U.N. Security Council)
United Nations -- Supporters of the International Criminal Court (ICC)
are taking "too alarmist a view of the pragmatic solution" that the
United States is proposing to protect American citizens serving in
U.N. operations, U.S. Ambassador John Negroponte said July 10.
In a speech to the U.N. Security Council, Negroponte discussed the
U.S. position on war crimes tribunals including the ICC, U.S. attempts
to protect its citizens serving in peacekeeping operations from
politically motivated prosecutions in the ICC, and negotiations in the
council to find a compromise that will enable the United States to
continue supporting peacekeeping missions.
The United States has proposed using Article 16 of the ICC treaty that
allows the Security Council to make requests to the ICC every 12
months not to pursue prosecutions of U.N. peacekeepers.
"Article 16 contemplates that the Security Council may make a
renewable request to the ICC not to commence or proceed with
investigations or prosecutions for a 12-month period" on peacekeeping
operations, Negroponte noted. "We believe it is consistent both with
the terms of Article 16 and with the primary responsibility of the
Security Council for maintaining international peace and security for
the Council to adopt such a resolution with regard to operations it
authorizes or establishes," he said. "And for the Council to decide to
renew such requests."
The public meeting on the situation in Bosnia-Herzegovina was held to
allow the council and other U.N. member states to air positions on the
stalemate over the ICC. The United States vetoed the mandate renewal
of the U.N. Mission in Bosnia-Herzegovina (UNMIBH) until the end of
the year because of concerns over the reach of the ICC (also known as
the Rome Statute) on Americans in the peacekeeping mission. The
mission currently has a temporary extension until July 15. The U.S.
has 50 civilian police in UNMIBH and more than 2,000 troops in the
U.N.-authorized, NATO-led SFOR peacekeeping operation.
Although the U.S. does not recognize the ICC's jurisdiction, it does
not question the good intentions of its architects, said Negroponte,
the chief U.S. envoy to the U.N. "We respect the obligations of those
states that have ratified the Rome Statute. Indeed, in the proposals
we have put forward before this council, we have sought to work within
the provisions of that statute."
"We hope that other states, in turn, will respect our concerns about
our peacekeepers," he said.
The U.S. veto of the draft resolution continuing UNMIBH was not a
rejection of peacekeeping in Bosnia, but reflected "our frustration at
our inability to convince out colleagues on the Security Council to
take seriously our concerns about the legal exposure of our
peacekeepers under the Rome Statute," the ambassador said.
Following is the text of the ambassador's remarks:
Thank you Mr. President:
A single important issue is usually enough to fill this historic
chamber. Today, however, we consider two issues: the relationship
between the Security Council and the ICC; and the future of
peacekeeping in Bosnia.
Ever since we chaired the committee that drafted the Universal
Declaration on Human Rights more than 50 years ago, the United States
has consistently led the effort to strengthen international justice
In the last decade the United States played a key role in the
establishment of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former
Yugoslavia, the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, and the
Special Court in Sierra Leone.
Slobodan Milosevic is on trial for his crimes because a coalition of
countries, led by the United States, not only gave political support
to the work of the ICTY for former Yugoslavia, but also supplemented
that support in practical ways, in cooperation with the new leadership
Foday Sankoh and his followers will be brought to justice for their
crimes in Sierra Leone because the United States sponsored a Security
Council resolution requesting the establishment of a Special Court of
which we are a key supporter and the largest financia1 contributor.
We continue to hope that the United Nations and the Government of
Cambodia can agree on a reliable, independent, and impartial structure
for trial of the Khmer Rouge leaders.
And we support the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda's
request for additional judges in order to speed the important work of
the Tribunal. We recently announced a Rewards for Justice program in
Central Africa with the goal of bringing to Arusha the authors of the
Rwandan genocide who are still at large.
Mr. President, as our record demonstrates, the United States believes
in justice and the rule of law, and in accountability for war crimes,
crimes against humanity, and genocide. We accept the responsibility to
investigate and prosecute our own citizens for such offences should
they occur. And we do not shirk from public and private protest --
here in New York, in the Human Rights Commission in Geneva, or
wherever our voice can be heard--whenever and wherever such outrages
Mr. President, our commitment to peace and security in Bosnia and
around the world is also not in question. The United States
contributes almost 10,000 of its citizens to U.N.-established or
U.N.-authorized peacekeeping operations, in addition to the thousands
of troops we deploy in the Republic of Korea with U.N. authorization.
In Bosnia, the U.S. has more than 2,000 troops and nearly 50 civilian
police. The senior U.N. official is an American citizen, on loan from
my government. With such a record, it is clear that our veto of the
UNMIBH resolution did not reflect rejection of peacekeeping in Bosnia.
But it did reflect our frustration at our inability to convince our
colleagues on the Security Council to take seriously our concerns
about the legal exposure of our peacekeepers under the Rome Statute.
Peacekeeping is one of the hardest jobs in the world. While we fully
expect our peacekeepers to act in accordance with established mandates
and in a lawful manner, peacekeepers can and do find themselves in
difficult, ambiguous situations. Peacekeepers from states that are not
party to the Rome Statute should not face, in addition to the dangers
and hardships of deployment, additional, unnecessary legal jeopardy.
If we want troop contributors to offer qualified military units to
peacekeeping operations, it is in the interest of all U.N. Member
States to ensure that they are not exposed to unnecessary additional
risks. This principle has been acknowledged over decades in U.N.
Status of Mission Agreements and by parallel agreements such as in the
Dayton Accords and the Military Technical Agreement for ISAF.
We should be very clear: the legal position of peacekeepers and the
states contributing them has been an issue throughout the history of
peacekeeping, and has been an important consideration for the
governments that must decide whether to contribute their citizens to
peacekeeping operations, or to help out in unexpected in crisis or
emergency situations, as the U.S. frequently is asked to do.
The Secretary-General noted that peacekeepers have not been prosecuted
for such crimes in the past. We agree. And this is an additional
reason why we do not believe the ability of the ICC to pursue
peacekeepers is central to its functions.
Does anyone really believe that the ICC should be aimed at the citizen
soldiers of contributing states, deployed voluntarily at the request
and with the authorization of the international community, solely for
the purpose of maintaining peace and security?
Does anyone really believe that deferral of ICC action in the unlikely
event of an accusation against peacekeepers, which would certainly be
examined by national authorities, would undermine the court's ability
to go after the gross violators at whom it truly is aimed? Some have
suggested that the United States is taking too alarmist a view of the
dangers that the ICC poses to troop contributors. I would argue that
supporters of the ICC take too alarmist a view of the pragmatic
solution that the U.S. is proposing.
Deferral of investigations and prosecutions, in keeping with the Rome
Statute, cannot undermine the role the ICC plays on the world stage.
Failure to address concerns about placing peacekeepers in legal
jeopardy before the ICC, however, can impede the provision of
peacekeepers to the U.N. It certainly will affect our ability to
Mr. President, although we do not recognize the jurisdiction of the
ICC and do not intend to become party to the Rome Statute, we do not
question the good intentions of its architects. We respect the
obligations of those states that have ratified the Rome Statute.
Indeed, in the proposals we have put forward before this Council, we
have sought to work within the provisions of that Statute. We hope
that other states, in turn, will respect our concerns about our
Our latest proposal uses Article 16 of the Rome Statute, as we were
urged to do by other Council members, to address our concerns about
the implications of the Rome Statute for nations that are not party to
it, but which want to continue to contribute peacekeepers to U.N.
missions. We respectfully disagree with analyses that say our approach
is inconsistent with the Rome Statute.
Article 16 contemplates that the Security Council may make a renewable
request to the ICC not to commence or proceed with investigations or
prosecutions for a 12-month period on the basis of a Chapter VII
resolution. We believe it is consistent both with the terms of Article
16 and with the primary responsibility of the Security Council for
maintaining international peace and security for the Council to adopt
such a resolution with regard to operations it authorizes or
establishes. And for the Council to decide to renew such requests.
We have offered a solution to this problem that is consistent with the
obligations of all U.N. Member States, including those party to the
Rome Statute, that provides the protections we seek, and that
strengthens the capacity of the United Nations to carry out peace
operations. We urge other delegations to consider this balanced
solution and work with us on a practical way forward.
(Distributed by the Office of International Information Programs, U.S.
Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)
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