Exacerbating an already deteriorating reputation in the international community, the United States this week resumed its call for extended immunity from the International Criminal Court (ICC). Today, before a vote on the UN resolution, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan urged the UN Security Council to oppose renewing the exemption, saying repeated immunity would undermine the Council’s authority. ICC advocates argue that the Council lacks power to alter an international treaty.
The Bush administration has strongly opposed the ICC, claiming that it could subject US personnel to politically motivated prosecutions abroad. Last year, the administration demanded full exemption of all US citizens from the ICC and threatening to pull military aid from countries that would not sign exemption agreements, “negotiated” bilateral deals to effectively bypass the court. To date, 37 countries—mostly small, poor nations strongly reliant on international aid—have signed ICC immunity deals (called “Article 98” agreements). The US’s ICC immunity expires July 1, the same day countries that have not signed Article 98 agreements will lose military assistance from the US.
Still, the ICC has widespread support in the US from groups such as the Feminist Majority because it identifies gender crimes and the crime of apartheid as crimes against humanity. Article 7 of the Rome Statute, which created the court, presents clear language that defines rape, sexual slavery, enforced prostitution, forced pregnancy, enforced sterilization, or any other form of sexual violence of comparable gravity as gender crimes. The United States is the only industrialized country that has not signed the treaty establishing the ICC. Currently, there are 150,000 US troops deployed in Iraq, 9,000 in Afghanistan, and tens of thousands throughout Eurasia and the Gulf region, according to OneWorld US.