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Permanent Immunity For U.S. Personnel In Liberia

Security Council Authorizes Deployment of Multinational Force to Stabilize Liberia

U.S. Obtains Permanent ICC Immunity from Personnel in Liberian Deployment

NEW YORK - In today's vote authorizing the deployment of a UN- authorized force to stabilize war-torn Liberia, the U.S. put Security Council members in an impossible position by linking the vote to the U.S. effort to ensure permanent immunity for its own nationals from the International Criminal Court.

"It is very troubling the lengths to which U.S. negotiators are willing to go to pursue their efforts to undermine the Court," said Gaelle Laroque, a senior attorney at the Lawyers Committee for Human Rights. "In this case, the U.S. government was willing to jeopardize a peacekeeping force which had widespread international support in order to weaken the authority of the Court. In effect, the U.S. forced the Council illegally to amend the treaty that created the Court and to mandate states to violate their obligations under the Geneva Convention to prosecute serious war criminals."

Although those opposed to the immunity provision attempted to separate it from the authorization for the multinational force, the U.S. delegation refused to negotiate. As a result, several members of the Security Council were forced to abstain even though they fully endorsed the deployment of peacekeepers from West African states.

"No one should be granted immunity from prosecution from the sorts of crimes the International Criminal Court was established to try - systematic war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide," concluded Laroque.

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