State Department Reeker: ICC Article 98 Agreements
State Department's Reeker on ICC Article 98 Agreements
(Excerpt from June 10 State Dept. briefing)
The United States is trying to work with its friends "to find practical solutions" to the International Criminal Court (ICC) issue "and preserve everyone's interests," State Department Deputy Spokesman Philip T. Reeker said during the daily briefing June 10.
Reeker was responding to a question about a newspaper report that said the United States had warned the European Union not to interfere with its negotiations with other countries on bilateral Article 98 agreements, which aim to ensure that Americans are not brought before the ICC.
"We have been very clear with Europeans and others all around the world that we are not trying to sabotage the ICC," Reeker said. "Our efforts are geared at, first of all, protecting the integrity of international peacekeeping efforts, and we have respected the European Union's request not to attempt to influence other countries regarding their decisions to become a part of the Rome statute to join on to the ICC."
While the United States respects the rights of other countries to become parties to the Rome statute that created the ICC, Reeker said that at the same time "we have asked other countries to respect our right not to do so." Thus far 37 countries have signed Article 98 agreements and Washington is continuing negotiations with others.
Following is an excerpt from the briefing:
U.S. Department of State Daily Press Briefing Index Tuesday, June 10, 2003 1:05 p.m. EDT
BRIEFER: Philip T. Reeker, Deputy Spokesman
QUESTION: July 1st [is] the deadline for any -- for countries that receive military -- U.S. military assistance to either sign Article 98 agreements or lose their cash. I understand that you have got two new -- you're now at 37. You signed Bolivia and Thailand. But I'm wondering, if you know, how many countries right now have not signed them that would, if they don't sign them by the 1st, lose their U.S. military assistance?
MR. REEKER: I haven't done that math, Matt. I'll have to find the time to sit down with my list of countries.
QUESTION: Well, so have I. That's why I was hoping you guys had done it already.
MR. REEKER: I'll leave you to do the calculation and read about it in your --
QUESTION: Okay. Well, then on a related matter then, there was a report today out of the UN that you guys have warned the European Union not to interfere with --
MR. REEKER: Report out of the UN that we have warned the EU?
QUESTION: Yeah, it was datelined the UN. There was a report in The Washington Post today that was datelined United Nations.
MR. REEKER: Okay. I just want to make sure I have got the --
QUESTION: Yeah. It said that you had warned the European Union not to interfere in your negotiations with these -- for these agreements with either current EU members or aspiring EU members. Is there any substance to that?
MR. REEKER: I think we have been quite clear and transparent all along. We certainly discussed it from here in this forum many times that we are trying to work with our friends to find practical solutions to [the] International Criminal Court issue and preserve everyone's interests, and the solution has been to pursue these agreements under the Rome statute under Article 98 of that statute.
We have been very clear with Europeans and others all around the world that we are not trying to sabotage the ICC. Our efforts are geared at, first of all, protecting the integrity of international peacekeeping efforts, and we have respected the European Union's request not to attempt to influence other countries regarding their decisions to become a part of the Rome statute to join on to the ICC.
We certainly respect the rights of other countries to make their decisions, to become parties to the Rome statute, but, at the same time, we have asked other countries to respect our right not to do so. And so an essential element in that, in respecting our right and separating U.S. citizens from the ICC, is negotiating these Article 98 agreements. And we've taken that quite seriously. It's a serious matter. It's been addressed by our Congress and our laws.
And this was, in fact, the course that was suggested by several EU member-states and we understand was approved by the EU Council. So, once again, our proposal in terms of negotiating Article 98 agreements is couched within the framework of the Rome statute which created the ICC, and we see no conflict either legally or even in respect to the spirit of the treaty.
So we've been quite clear that we want to pursue these as bilateral agreements with individual countries. As you noted, 37 countries have signed Article 98 agreements and we continue to pursue that with others.