- The Washington Times - Saturday, July 13, 2002

NEW YORK The U.N. Security Council voted unanimously yesterday to exempt U.S. peacekeepers from war-crimes prosecution for a year, ending threats to U.N. peacekeeping operations.
The council prepared to immediately extend the mandates of the 1,500-strong U.N. police-training mission in Bosnia and the small U.N. observer mission in the Croatian enclave of Prevlaka. Both were set to expire Monday.
"This one-year directive is a temporary immunity from the International Criminal Court for not only the U.S., but for any country that is not a party to the treaty," said Richard Grenell, spokesman for the U.S. Mission.
The resolution will lift a U.S. threat to end the world body's peacekeeping operations if it didn't get sufficient protection for Americans serving in U.N. missions.
The United States did not ratify the treaty establishing the court, arguing that it could be used by other countries for frivolous or politically motivated prosecutions of American troops.
The court's supporters on the council said the resolution did not violate the treaty establishing the tribunal. But some countries continued to argue that the resolution still undermined the court.
Facing intense international opposition, the United States backpedaled this week on its demand for permanent immunity for American peacekeepers.
Some in Congress criticized the Bush administration, in a letter to Secretary of State Colin L. Powell on Wednesday, for agreeing to the one-year limit on protection from prosecution.
Republican Sens. Jesse Helms of North Carolina, John W. Warner and George Allen of Virginia and Democrat Zell Miller of Georgia called for the United Nations to "permanently immunize American peacekeeping personnel from the ICC jurisdiction."
Court supporters argued that the demand would have amounted to an amendment of the treaty.
The impasse was resolved when key court supporters Britain, Mauritius and France proposed yesterday that there be a 12-month delay in prosecuting U.N. peacekeepers from countries that don't support the court "if a case arises."
The resolution allows the exemption to be renewed when the year is up.
The earlier debate dealt with whether the Security Council should be asked to renew the request after 12 months on "a case-by-case basis." The United States opposed the reference to the "case-by-case" terminology, so compromise language was found that didn't use the phrase.
Establishment of the court culminated a campaign that began after World War II for a permanent tribunal to prosecute individuals for war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity. It will prosecute crimes committed after July 1, 2002, when it came into existence with ratifications from 76 countries and signatures from 139.
The United States objects to the idea that Americans could be subject to the court's jurisdiction if a crime is committed in a country that has ratified the treaty, even if the United States is not a party.
Supporters argue that the court can step in only when states are unwilling or unable to dispense justice, one of many safeguards to prevent such abuses.
Richard Dicker, head of the International Justice Program at Human Rights Watch, said the effect of the resolution "remains blanket immunity for 12 months for peacekeepers."


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