Friday, November 20, 2009

First US Showing at War Crimes Court in The Hague

I find it highly ironic that, despite being the world leader in the pursuit of human rights before the Bush/GOP regime destroyed that image, the US has not signed onto the Rome Treaty, which established the ICC.

war criminal U.S. ambassador-at-large for war crimes issues Stephen Rapp made a debut appearance for the United States at the world's war crimes court Thursday and said the U.S. remained wary of politically driven prosecutions.

The United States is not a signatory to the 2002 Rome treaty that established the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague, and Rapp's attendance at meetings this week and next is the clearest sign yet of Washington engaging with the court.

"Our view has been and remains that should the Rome Statute be amended to include a defined crime of aggression, jurisdiction should follow a Security Council determination that aggression has occurred," he said.

Rapp said however that the United States was keen on "gaining a better understanding of the issues being considered and the workings of the court."

"The court itself has an interest in not being drawn into a political thicket that could threaten its perceived impartiality," he said.

Rapp's attendance comes after U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said in August it was a "great regret" the United States was not a full ICC signatory.

war criminal2 But Rapp, the former chief prosecutor at the Special Court for Sierra Leone, said the United States remained concerned about the issue of the crime of aggression since U.S. officials or servicemen and women could risk ICC investigation for their roles in wars due to politically inspired prosecutions.

That was one factor behind Washington's decision not to ratify the Rome Statute.

The issue of crimes of aggression is to be addressed next May in Uganda at a review of the Rome Statute.

William Pace, one of the conveners of a coalition of groups supporting the ICC, said although the administration of U.S. President Barack Obama was not calling Rapp's attendance at the ICC meeting a policy change, he welcomed what was "essentially a constructive speech of re-engagement."

"We are not surprised that every permanent member of the United Nations Security Council wants to keep as much control over the power to determine whether an act of aggression has occurred as they interpret the U.N. charter to give them," he said.

But Pace said most other countries do not believe the Security Council's permanent members should have sole control over determining whether an act of aggression has occurred.

Rapp is leading the U.S. delegation attending the Assembly of States Parties (ASP), which is made up of 110 countries that have ratified the court's founding treaty. The ASP oversees the ICC's activities.

The United States, along with Russia, China and Israel, has not yet ratified the treaty…

Inserted from <Common Dreams>

There is little difficulty in understanding what constitutes a war of aggression.  When a nation invades or attacks a nation that did not commit an act of war against them or a third party with whom they have a mutual defense treaty and there is no UN mandate to permit the invasion or attack, that is a war of aggression.  This is not rocket science, folks.  There can be only two reasons for the US to require a determination by the Security Council.  The first reason is to spare our nation the embarrassment of having our war criminals convicted of war crimes.  This has nothing to do with protecting our troops from from politically driven investigations.  The Hague would have no interest in trials for common soldiers.  They are after bigger fish like Milosevic, Pinochet, Bush and Cheney.  The second reason is to keep the option of aggressive warfare on the table for us and our clients.  There should be a single set of standards for all nations.  The US should sign the treaty and turn over our war criminals for international judgment.


Lisa G. said...

Agreed. Can we send Bush and Cheney first?

TomCat said...

I'd rather he was accompanued by Rumsfeld and Rice.

Randal Graves said...

That's four too many. You're so aggressive. See why we haven't signed on?

TomCat said...

Hell! I'm at least a dozen too few!!