Sunday, November 28, 2004

The Congress vs. the ICC

On May 6, 2001, the Bush Administration took the unprecedented step of renouncing the December 31, 2000 decision of the United States Government to sign the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. The Administration also began a global campaign to convince states to sign bilateral "Article 98 agreements" designed to insure that no Americans would ever be handed over to the ICC for trial. (Art. 98, Sec. 2: "The Court may not proceed with a request for surrender which would require the requested State to act inconsistently with its obligations under international agreements pursuant to which the consent of a sending State is required to surrender a person of that State to the Court, unless the Court can first obtain the cooperation of the sending State for the giving of consent for the surrender.") At the United Nations, the United States secured resolutions in the Security Council in 2002 (SC Res 1422) and 2003 (SC Res 1487) to guarantee that no member of a U.N. peacekeeping mission from a state that is not a party to the Rome Statute (in other words, no American) would be liable to prosecution in the ICC. (Resolution 1487, which was itself an extension of Resolution 1422, expired on June 30, 2004. In the wake of the Abu Ghraib scandal and widespread opposition to the idea of extending the blanket immunity for a third year, the United States withdrew its proposal for a new Security Council resolution granting Americans immunity from prosecution.)

Now the United States Congress is getting into the act. The $338 billion appropriations bill set for a vote on December 8 contains a provision that would prevent countries that fail to sign Article 98 agreements with the United States from receiving foreign aid. The passage of such a measure has the potential to cut off not only development assistance to impoverished countries but to eliminate funding designed to fight drug trafficking and promote democracy as well.

See this article in last Friday's Washington Post for details.