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NGOs: US Arm Twisting Leads To Int. Law Violations

NGOs Condemn Broad Immunities in Security Council Resolution on Multinational Deployment to Liberia

U.S. Arm-Twisting Leads to Violations of National and International Law, NGOs Say

(New York, August 1, 2003) - The UN Security Council today voted 12 - 0 to pass a resolution authorizing the deployment of a multinational stabilization force to Liberia after Council members conceded to U.S. insistence on language providing for broad-ranging immunities. These immunities grant some troop contributing states participating in the multinational force with exclusive jurisdiction over crimes allegedly committed by their personnel, effectively opening the door for permanent immunity from International Criminal Court (ICC) jurisdiction over genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.

Security Council members to abstain from voting in the adoption of Resolution 1497 were France, Germany and Mexico. In a statement to the press immediately following the vote, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan said, "Frankly my sentiments are with those countries that abstained."

William Pace, convenor of the NGO Coalition for the International Criminal Court (CICC) said, "While we welcome the UN authorization of desperately needed humanitarian intervention in Liberia, we are deeply concerned by the U.S. initiated provision granting exclusive jurisdiction and permanent ICC exemption for its personnel deployed in Liberia."

International law experts and NGOs have harshly condemned the U.S. proposed immunity language, arguing that it has broad implications for national and international law that go far beyond the ICC. "This language would effectively shelter genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes with impunity," said Yvonne Terlingen, Amnesty International representative at the UN.

Recent Security Council negotiations regarding U.S. demands for ICC immunity resulted in the renewal of Resolution 1422, which, on July 1, 2002, exempted from ICC jurisdiction for a one year renewable period any personnel on UN peacekeeping or authorized missions from countries not party to the ICC treaty. Resolution 1422 was renewed as Resolution 1487 by a vote of 12 - 0, with France, Germany and Syria abstaining. The new U.S. immunity language in the resolution on Liberia, however, goes well beyond these previous resolutions.

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