U.S. Opposes International Court
from the Internet
Is the U.S. opposed to an international war crimes tribunal
because of Operation Tailwind and similar dark operations, which
we don't even know about, because they were "secret"
operations and would qualify as war crimes? What do you think?
The world's first permanent war crimes tribunal was been proposed
over strenuous U.S. objections. The vote was 120 to 7 with 21
abstentions to establish the court.
Countries joining the U.S. to denounce the treaty were: Israel,
India, Indonesia, Libya, Algeria, China, Qatar, Yemen whereas
Canada, Australia, and Britain in opposition to the U.S. supported
the treaty. Strange bedfellows indeed. Or, are they?
It also seemed ironic that Syria, which has been labeled a
"terrorist state" by the U.S. wanted a clause which
would define terrorism as a war crime and India, which just tested
nuclear weapons, wanted nuclear weapons to be considered a war
This creation of an international court was a logical extension
of Nuremberg, an idea whose time has come, especially since all
the global bloodbaths in the intervening period since W.W.II.
This new INTERNATIONAL criminal court will be situated at
the Hague in the Netherlands to try those guilty and accused of
genocide, crimes again humanity and war crimes.
The Court would not be attached to the United Nations, but
will remain independent and therefore less politicized. There
were however many attempts to politicize the treaty and the Arab
block voted to define as a war crime the transfer of civilian
The court would succeed the temporary war crimes tribunal
[also located at The Hague], which was established in '93 to prosecute
war crimes in Yugoslavia, which resulted in indictments for 75
There is also a U.N. court in Tanzania which has as its objective
the uncovering of those who perpetrated atrocities in the Rwandan
genocide of '94.
What does the U.S. fear from such a tribunal? Prosecution
for war crimes in Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia and elsewhere? The U.S.
wanted the right to veto prosecution of Americans. U.S. negotiators
expressed the concern that with U.S. soldiers all over the world,
they can become targets of "politically" motivated charges
for war crimes.
That option was opposed by even America's closest allies.
The U.S. pulled out all the stops and it threatened Third
World countries with cutting off aid if they supported the treaty.
Cicero said "laws are silent in time of war," and
by this behavior civilization has failed. This criminal court
can be a catalyst for correcting that fault and herald in a change
in civilized behavior, by prosecuting heinous crimes, and by declaring
to the rest of the world that acts of barbarity are not acceptable
behavior in the emerging 21st Century.
This is different from the World Court which tries nations.
The NEW ICC [International Criminal Court] will try individuals
- those accused of genocide, crimes against humanity, and war
The International Court may not however become a reality.
It still requires ratification. And, the U.S. doesn't want it
The United States was an important player and proponent of
the Nuremberg trials after World War II. And, Clinton pushed for
the creation of war-crimes tribunals for the Balkans and Rwanda
but the U.S. is opposed to the establishment of an international
court to try war crimes.
If the Clinton administration promoted an international court
for years publicly, why now did the U.S. oppose it so vehemently?
Was it because of new disclosures like Operation Tailwind that
has shaken Washington to the core?
It is reasonable to presume that the idea of an international
court to investigate war crimes would make the Pentagon nervous.
American troops do not track down war criminals. The Pentagon
is busy covering up it's own war crimes and doesn't want to be
accountable for to do so would make U.S. leaders subject to prosecution
by this special international court.
Clinton doesn't always appear to go along with the Pentagon,
but this decision may come from even higher up. The CFR, of which
Clinton and Kissinger are members couldn't have wanted this to
But in what may be considered irony, in the face of U.S. opposition
to the court, the U.S. Senate just passed a resolution urging
that Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic be tried as a war criminal
responsible for ``the deaths of hundreds of thousands, the torture
and rape of tens of thousands and the forced displacement of nearly
So, the U.S. is not happy. Israel is not happy. Many Arab
countries are unhappy. But even UNICEF is unhappy, though for
other reasons. UNICEF is concerned because of elements in the
statute which could "deny or severely delay justice for many
children and women."
A key provision which UNICEF finds fault with is one which
guarantees that nations can "opt out" of the agreement
seven years after the treaty goes into effect. They can simply
declare they do not accept the ICC's jurisdiction - if the crime
is committed on their territory or by one of their nationals.
So, where is the meat? Where is the substance? This is a serious
flaw in the treaty.
The treaty also allows for 15 year-olds to be drafted ["pressed
into"] into military service.
UNICEF's spokesman said: "This clause, if exercised,
could give those responsible for today's atrocities a green light
to continue their nefarious violations of human rights and international
The time frame for establishing the treaty also permits current
atrocities to go unpunished. Crimes can continue unabated until
the treaty becomes law.
UNICEF says this applies to current crimes where Dinka children
are stolen in southern Sudan and the maiming, kidnapping and slaughter
This also applies to the "wholesale mutilation of children
and rape of women from Sierra Leone to Indonesia" without
impunity and these crimes will not be prosecuted.
And, under pressure from the Arab states, chemical and biological
weapons were not mentioned in the final treaty.
The agreement does include the crime of aggression, but doesn't
define it. It will do that at a later date. The Court was championed
by the Non-Aligned Movement, but did not include India's demand
for the use of nuclear weapons to be defined as a war crime.
U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan said while it would have
been better if the court was vested with more far reaching power
and though he recognized the many shortcomings of the treaty,
"the establishment of the ICC is still a gift of hope to
future generations, and a giant step forward in the march towards
universal human rights and the rule of law."
But, ratification is still a long ways off.
If ratified, it will be a step towards justice for crimes
against humanity. Whether or not it is properly implemented remains
to be seen. Is this progress? Not as far as getting at the root
cause of oppression. For that we still have a very long way to
The treaty will have to be ratified by 60 countries for it
to become law. This ratification process is expected to take up
to five years and the U.S. can still put pressure on other nations
not to do so.
Human Rights, Justice, Reform