- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 2, 2002

The Bush administration said yesterday that it will consider scuttling as many as a dozen U.N. peacekeeping missions in the coming months in a growing dispute over the new International Criminal Court.
"Every time one of these [peacekeeping] resolutions comes up for renewal, we're going to face this question," said State Department spokesman Richard Boucher.
John D. Negroponte, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, vetoed on Sunday a Security Council renewal of the peacekeeping operation for Bosnia-Herzegovina but then relented and allowed a three-day extension.
Asked whether the United States would veto other peacekeeping operations, including those in which U.S. forces are not involved, Mr. Boucher answered: "I cannot make that statement at this point. So I don't want to prejudge the outcome of this attempt and what the implications may be of that for other operations."
He said the United States has also withdrawn its three military observers from an operation in East Timor, "and we'll have to review other peacekeeping deployments."
The veto on Sunday went far beyond previous U.S. threats to pull the 46 U.S. police officers out of the 1,536-strong police-training mission in Bosnia. It would end the mission altogether.
The veto would also halt U.N. support for 19,000 NATO-led troops in the Sfor Stabilization Force that is keeping Serbs, Muslims and Croats from resuming their civil war. That operation would be able to continue because its mandate comes from NATO, but German troops might have to pull out.
Thirteen members of the council voted in favor of renewing the Bosnia mission. The 15th member, Bulgaria, abstained.
U.N. diplomats said in New York that they believed the U.S. plan is to veto the renewal of all U.N. peacekeeping operations until other nations agree to exempt U.S. peacekeepers from the jurisdiction of the court, whose operations began yesterday.
"That's what it looks like now," said a diplomat from a council member nation, speaking on the condition of anonymity.
"Otherwise, they could just pull their people out of [Bosnia]. But they're saying, 'No, we don't want partial solutions. In order to get what we want for U.S. personnel, we're going to say no to anything.'"
U.N. spokesman Fred Eckhard said the world body was "very concerned about what will happen" to future peacekeeping missions.
British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said his government disagreed with the U.S. veto, which he called "a serious matter." But he added that talks were continuing to overcome U.S. objections.
The United States and its council partners have until midnight tomorrow to negotiate a solution that would save the police mission in Bosnia. If no solution is reached, it is likely to affect the fate of four other U.N. missions of the 15 missions in operation slated for renewal this month.
"This will be the dominant issue," said one council envoy. "We are in for long nights and heartburn."
The United States was backed yesterday by Israel, which said it is withdrawing support for the ICC and will not ratify its signature on the treaty creating the court.
Israel fears the ICC will be dominated by hostile Third World nations or European critics who will seek indictments for Israel's occupation and settlement activities in the Palestinian territories.
"The moment the charter of the court took the shape of a political institution rather than a judicial institution, we could no longer be a part of it," said Justice Ministry spokesman Yonaton Baker.
But there was harsh criticism of the U.S. move from several European capitals, and the government of Bosnia warned that the progress of recent years could be undone if the peacekeeping mission ends prematurely.
"I deeply regret this dramatic step that threatens U.N. peace operations in general," said Foreign Minister Per Stig of Denmark, which yesterday assumed the rotating presidency of the European Union.
NATO ambassadors said after an emergency meeting in Brussels that they expected the Sfor mission to continue with its NATO mandate. And in Bosnia, U.S. Ambassador Clifford Bond said, "U.S. troops will stay in Bosnia."
But Germany, a major troop contributor, may have to pull out since its constitution allows it to participate only in U.N.-sanctioned missions.
Mr. Boucher noted that the United States has agreed to extend the Bosnia mandate for three days to allow further discussion, "and we still intend to work with other members of the council during these days to try to come up with a solution."
But a U.S. diplomat in New York said the administration would not alter its position and was only giving the European allies more time to meet its demands.
Some diplomats said they feared Washington which deems the ICC a threat to U.S. sovereignty, was using the peacekeeping issue as a ploy to undermine the court.
"If the Americans want a practical solution to a practical problem protecting American soldiers we can find one," said one council envoy. "But if they are looking for some larger political point, and we fear that may be the case, there is no common ground."
U.S. diplomats have been seeking an expansion of a standard U.N. agreement that gives troop-contributing nations the right to try and discipline their soldiers. They want that protection extended to military and political leaders and to all other persons involved in U.N.-endorsed military actions.
Betsy Pisik contributed to this article from New York.


Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.

 

Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide