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EU Moves To Prevent U.S. Anti-ICC Pressure

European Union Forms New Common Position Reinforcing Support of the International Criminal Court

(New York, June 10, 2003) - Following a meeting on Friday of legal advisors at European Union (EU) headquarters in Brussels, the EU Political and Security Committee today adopted a revised Common Position reinforcing EU support for the International Criminal Court (ICC). The new EU Common Position includes for the first time a call to prevent the signature of US-proposed non-surrender agreements amidst increased US pressure to disengage from influencing countries involved in US negotiations. To date, 37 countries that are most vulnerable to US pressure have signed these agreements, yet only a handful have ratified them.

"We support the EU in defending the ICC and the integrity of the Rome Statute, and commend their efforts to maintain a constructive relationship with the United States on this issue," said William Pace, Convenor of the more than 2,000 member NGO Coalition for the ICC. "We welcome and value the significance of the recent joint letter sent to European states under pressure to sign US non-surrender agreements, and encourage the EU to engage in similar efforts with other third States," he said.

On September 30, 2002, the EU adopted a set of "guiding principles" stating that the US-proposed agreements were clearly inconsistent with the Rome Statute as well as with obligations arising from other international treaties. The "guiding principles" called on countries to look into existing extradition agreements and set a list of benchmarks with which any such agreement should be drafted in compliance.

Since May 2002, the US has renounced its signature of the Rome Statute and launched a multi-pronged campaign to exempt its nationals and contractors from ICC jurisdiction. The most recent developments in Brussels come on the heels of renewed debate at the UN regarding the July 1, 2003 expiration date of UN Security Council Resolution 1422. At US initiation, Resolution 1422 requests that the ICC not proceed with the investigation or prosecution of personnel in UN peacekeeping or authorized missions who are nationals of States not Party to the Rome Statute. The vote on the renewal of Resolution 1422 is scheduled to take place this Thursday and will be preceded by an open meeting of the Security Council, during which both Security Council members and non-members may make statements regarding the Resolution. All 15 European Union Member States supported the request to the Sec urity Council for an open meeting, despite some Council members' efforts to rush the vote.

"The Council Common Position has had enormous significance," said Irune Quijera-Aguirrezabal, European Coordinator of the NGO Coalition for the ICC. "Without the firm commitment of the European Union and its 15 Member States, and, in particular, without their extraordinary success in joining their efforts through the Common Position on the International Criminal Court, we would probably not be where we are today," she said.

The Rome Statute of the ICC entered into force on July 1, 2002, creating the first permanent court capable of trying individuals accused of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity. The Court was inaugurated on March 11, 2003 when its first 18 judges were sworn in in The Hague, the Netherlands, where the Court is based. The first ICC Chief Prosecutor, Mr. Luis Moreno Ocampo of Argentina, will be sworn in in The Hague on Monday, June 16.

NB: The following resources are available online:

A background on Peacekeeping and the ICC: http://www.iccnow.org/pressroom/factsheets/FS-AMICC-Peacekeeping.pdf

A chronology of U.S. opposition to the ICC: http://www.iccnow.org/pressroom/factsheets/FS-AMICC-USStrategyPostNull.pdf

Questions & Answers about U.S. so-called "Article 98" or Bilateral Immunity Agreements: http://www.iccnow.org/pressroom/factsheets/FS-CICC-BIAs.pdf

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