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U.S. Postpones UN Protection Resolution


U.S. Postpones Resolution Needed To Protect UN Personnel

United States Postpones Adoption of UN Resolution to Protect Humanitarian Personnel Over ICC Stance U.S. Delays Security Council Negotiations, Opposes ICC Reference

(New York, August 25, 2003) - The United States today postponed the adoption of a Security Council resolution seeking increased protection for UN peacekeepers and other humanitarian personnel due to a reference to the ICC in the draft text. The proposed resolution, tabled on Friday by Mexico, and co-sponsored by Bulgaria, France, Germany, Russia and Syria, recalls that under the Rome Statute of the ICC, an attack intentionally directed against humanitarian personnel is a war crime.

"Regardless of the Bush Administration's ideological opposition to the ICC, the Rome Statute properly treats serious crimes against humanitarian workers as war crimes," said William Pace, convenor of the more than 2,000 member NGO Coalition for the ICC. "The Rome Statute provides both added deterrence and protection to those taking tremendous risks to secure peace, such as the UN personnel who were killed in Baghdad last week."

U.S. demands for ICC immunity language in UN Security Council resolutions have delayed the passage of a number of peacekeeping resolutions and aggravated tensions between the U.S. and other UN member states. In July 2002, the U.S. pushed through Resolution 1422, which requested immunity from ICC jurisdiction to peacekeepers from countries not party to the Rome Statute for a renewable one-year period. That resolution was renewed this June as Resolution 1487, with France, Germany and Syria abstaining from the vote. Earlier this month, the Security Council adopted Resolution 1497, which authorized the deployment of a multinational stabilization force to Liberia. At U.S. insistence, Resolution 1497 included sweeping immunities language that challenged not only international law under the Rome Statute, but also national laws, leading France, Germany and Mexico to abstain.

"Like in the Liberia resolution, the issue at stake here is not only the ICC, but the larger issue of no impunity," said David Donat-Cattin of the International Law program at Parliamentarians for Global Action. "The US opposition to the new resolution protecting humanitarian workers is unacceptable, especially considering the gravity of last week's war crimes against the UN in Baghdad."

Since the ICC was created last July, the Bush administration has launched a number of initiatives to gain broad-ranging immunity from the court's jurisdiction. The adoption of the "American Servicemembers Protection Act" in August 2002 laid the groundwork for the withdrawal of U.S. military assistance to 35 countries supporting the ICC on July 1, 2003. Those countries had refused to grant the U.S. with an agreement guaranteeing the non-surrender of U.S. nationals and military personnel to the ICC's jurisdiction. Nearly 60 countries, mostly small nations or fragile democracies with weak economies, have reportedly concluded these bilateral immunity agreements with the U.S.

The ICC is the first permanent international court capable of trying individuals accused of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. All senior ICC officials, including its President, Judge Philippe Kirsch of Canada; its Prosecutor, Luis Moreno-Ocampo of Argentina; and its Registrar, Bruno Cathala of France, have taken office at the ICC's headquarters in The Hague. A Deputy Prosecutor for Investigations is expected to be elected at the next meeting of the Assembly of States Parties, which will convene the 91 countries to have ratified or acceded to the Rome Statute, from September 8 to 12 at UN headquarters in New York.

# # #

NB: The following resources are available online:

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

About the NGO Coalition for the International Criminal Court

The NGO Coalition for the International Criminal Court (Coalition) is a global network of over 2,000 civil society organizations working together in support of a permanent, fair and effective International Criminal Court. Established in 1995, the Coalition is the leading online provider of information on the ICC. For more information, please visit http://www.iccnow.org .

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