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U.S. Troops Must Not Be at the Mercy of the ICC

 
 
Reply Tue 14 Dec, 2004 10:55 am
December 14, 2004
U.S. Troops Must Not Be at the Mercy of an 'International Criminal Court'
By Senator Jon Kyl

This week, Congress will send legislation to President Bush denying economic assistance to any foreign government that refuses to protect U.S. troops, government personnel, and civilians from arbitrary arrest and prosecution before the United Nations International Criminal Court (ICC). While nearly 100 nations have signed "non surrender" agreements with the U.S., many refuse to do so.

The United States is not a party to the ICC and does not recognize its jurisdiction. Even so, the court can currently arrest and prosecute our troops and personnel operating in U.N. peacekeeping missions if the host nation is a member of the ICC, accepts its jurisdiction voluntarily, or is directed by the U.N. Security Council.

Consider: A U.N. report issued last week called for the Security Council to refer suspected cases of war crimes to the ICC. Almost simultaneously, war crimes charges were filed in a German court against Defense Secretary Rumsfeld for prison abuses at Abu Graib in Iraq. A German human rights group argued, under the much abused and misunderstood concept of "universal jurisdiction," that any citizen or group can file a claim against any world leader who may be guilty of committing crimes against humanity. Can anyone reasonably believe that more such cases are not soon to follow?

Although the Clinton Administration helped negotiate the terms and scope of the ICC, and even signed the treaty that created it in 1998, it was never submitted to the Senate for ratification. On May 6, 2002, the Bush Administration formally renounced any commitment to join the ICC or recognize its jurisdiction, citing fundamental structural flaws that would allow the court to undermine the role of the U.N. Security Council in maintaining international peace and security, as well as concerns over unchecked prosecutorial power and efforts to assert jurisdiction over citizens of states that have not ratified the treaty.

Congress then overwhelmingly passed the American Servicemembers' Protection Act, which spelled out strong objections to the ICC and prohibited any level of U.S. government cooperation with it. The legislation also required the Administration to pursue measures to protect Americans from the Court's reach.

It is no secret that the majority of U.N. peacekeeping operations are conducted in countries that are non-democratic and whose leaders are hostile to U.S. policies. Leaving our leaders, troops, and personnel vulnerable to arrest and use as political pawns would be a colossal mistake and one the President was right to avoid. But given the likelihood that the United States will be called upon to send troops to future U.N. peacekeeping missions, it is critical that additional steps be taken now to create more concrete and permanent protections.

First, Congress and the Administration should conduct a review of where U.S. troops and personnel are operating as peacekeepers, and determine whether their continued deployment is an appropriate use of our resources in the ongoing war against terrorism. The Administration must insist on "non-surrender" agreements with host countries to prevent any Americans from being turned over to the ICC. No troops or personnel should be committed to any mission without such protection.

Second, Congress must reaffirm its own commitment to protecting American citizens by passing a joint resolution calling on the U.N. Security Council to pass a permanent resolution providing immunity for U.S. troops and government personnel, and if necessary, exercise our veto over any resolution offered that would involve the utilization of U.S. resources.

Such provisions should not be interpreted as placing Americans overseas above the rule of law. The government will continue to hold all of our citizens, including our troops, to the highest standards of accountability. But at the same time we must recognize the unique nature of our position in the world, and the historical tendency of non-democratic leaders to use international institutions purely to score political points against the United States. Ceding criminal authority to an unaccountable and politicized ICC would hardly advance peace and security in today's world.

Every day our troops and personnel work around the globe to wage the war on terror and to secure freedom for not only our citizens, but countless others. Just as it is our duty to provide them with the tools they need, it is our solemn responsibility to protect them from being used as political pawns by despots and dictators.

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Type: Discussion • Score: 1 • Views: 7,327 • Replies: 148
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FreeDuck
 
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Reply Tue 14 Dec, 2004 10:57 am
Should anyone's troops be subjected to ICC authority?
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McGentrix
 
  1  
Reply Tue 14 Dec, 2004 10:57 am
No, the ICC should be abolished.
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FreeDuck
 
  1  
Reply Tue 14 Dec, 2004 10:59 am
Why?
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McGentrix
 
  1  
Reply Tue 14 Dec, 2004 11:03 am
Because it serves no real purpose, has no real leverage, and duplicates UN responsibilities.
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FreeDuck
 
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Reply Tue 14 Dec, 2004 11:05 am
What about what they did (maybe still doing?) in Rwanda? Who would have tried those people absent the UN?
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McGentrix
 
  1  
Reply Tue 14 Dec, 2004 11:11 am
The UN, again, missed it's opportunity to prove it is an international organization of use.
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FreeDuck
 
  1  
Reply Tue 14 Dec, 2004 11:13 am
...in preventing it, yes. As did we. But what of the trials?
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arnielubbock
 
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Reply Tue 14 Dec, 2004 11:19 am
Freeduck who is "we"?
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FreeDuck
 
  1  
Reply Tue 14 Dec, 2004 11:29 am
The U.S. We is us. Ha ha ha, I kill me.
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arnielubbock
 
  1  
Reply Tue 14 Dec, 2004 12:42 pm
Quote:
The U.S. We is us. Ha ha ha, I kill me.



So that unilateral stuff is ok with you? Sometimes?
0 Replies
 
FreeDuck
 
  1  
Reply Tue 14 Dec, 2004 12:48 pm
That unilateral what? You can't talk about the UN without talking about its permanent members, of which we are one -- the biggest one.
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McGentrix
 
  1  
Reply Tue 14 Dec, 2004 12:58 pm
FreeDuck, what is your opinion on this? Do you believe that US troops should be allowed to be brought before an international court like the ICC?

Do you foresee any of the trouble that others see?
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Frank Apisa
 
  1  
Reply Tue 14 Dec, 2004 01:01 pm
U.S. troops should not be at the mercy of George Bush!
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Walter Hinteler
 
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Reply Tue 14 Dec, 2004 01:04 pm
I don't know Senator Jon Kyl. But from he wrote in the quotation, he can't have read a lot about the ICC, the Rome Treaty etc.
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FreeDuck
 
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Reply Tue 14 Dec, 2004 01:05 pm
McGentrix wrote:
FreeDuck, what is your opinion on this? Do you believe that US troops should be allowed to be brought before an international court like the ICC?

Do you foresee any of the trouble that others see?


My opinion is that it's all or nothing. Either everyone is subject to the ICC or no-one is. I understand the arguments against having US troops brought before an international court, but those are arguments that every country could make.

But aside from that I think that having an international criminal court has been valuable in certain instances -- Rwanda being one example. And that's about as close as I get to having an opinion on this.
0 Replies
 
McGentrix
 
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Reply Tue 14 Dec, 2004 01:05 pm
Walter Hinteler wrote:
I don't know Senator Jon Kyl. But from he wrote in the quotation, he can't have read a lot about the ICC, the Rome Treaty etc.


What would lead you to believe that Walt?
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Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Tue 14 Dec, 2004 01:06 pm
Or - might be he had, but he thinks, e.g. that the USA doesn' have a functional juridical system?
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FreeDuck
 
  1  
Reply Tue 14 Dec, 2004 01:07 pm
Frank Apisa wrote:
U.S. troops should not be at the mercy of George Bush!


We've missed you here, Frank.
0 Replies
 
McGentrix
 
  1  
Reply Tue 14 Dec, 2004 01:14 pm
Walter Hinteler wrote:
Or - might be he had, but he thinks, e.g. that the USA doesn' have a functional juridical system?


It is my understanding that the US govt believes the US law and court system is competent enough to take care of US citizens and that our constitution trumps international law when applied to it's citizenry. With this being the case, an international organization like the ICC can only undermine foriegn relations because the US will need to worry about our troops/citizens being held to laws and rules that might be contrary to the US constitution.

How will the UN be able to conduct peace keeping missions in countries like Rowanda, Liberia, Ethiopia, Serbia, Aghanistan, Burma, Indonesia, etc., if any 2-bit leader can bring charges against the US leadership for breaking laws in that country? That would lead the US to no longer be able to participate in those activities and would then keep the UN from b eing effective, not the UN effectiveness has been that great in the past 2 decades...
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