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US Formally Retracts Support Of ICC

Coalition for the International Criminal Court

United States Formally Retracts Support of International Criminal Court Treaty
NGO Community Says Stated Reasons are Seriously Misinformed

(New York, 6 May 2002) -- The NGO Coalition for the International Criminal Court, a worldwide alliance of more than 1,000 civil society organizations and independent legal experts, expressed its disappointment at the announcement today by Marc Grossman, US Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, that the Bush administration had formally revoked its support of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. The treaty, signed by former President Clinton, will create the first permanent, independent tribunal capable of trying individuals for crimes against humanity, war crimes and genocide upon entry into force on July 1st.

William R. Pace, Convenor of the NGO Coalition, countered the US position that domestic judicial systems, rather than international institutions, should be used to combat the crimes addressed in the Rome Statute, saying, "It's unrealistic to think that perpetrators of the most serious crimes of international concern would submit themselves to trial by their own judicial systems. However, if a country is willing and able to try its own nationals, the ICC will not interfere." Mr. Pace added that support for the ICC would be the best way of achieving the stated US objective of strengthening domestic judicial systems, saying, "Implementation of the ICC treaty strengthens national laws regarding these crimes and the possibility of an international trial will make states more willing to handle these cases domestically."

In response to the US administration concern that the ICC would become a ploy for politically motivated prosecutions, Heather Hamilton, Director of Programs at the World Federalist Association, responded, "This statement has been made many times in the past and ignores the ample safeguards provided in the Statute. Every major US ally, including all NATO members except Turkey, has indicated their understanding of this and supports the treaty."

The legitimacy and impartiality of the court is protected through the power of the UN Security Council -- of which the US is a permanent member -- to defer a case from consideration by the ICC, and through the oversight functions of States parties to the treaty. "This court has been painstakingly negotiated by UN member states during an eight year process," Pace said. "It arises out of the will of democratic nations to make certain that the most serious crimes no longer be met with impunity; these countries will work to ensure that the court succeeds."


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