- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 3, 2002

The Bush administration has plenty of allies in its case against the International Criminal Court.
Although often portrayed as a fight between Washington and the world over the new global court, the deep U.S. skepticism over the ICC is shared by some powerful and unlikely countries, including:
China, the world's most populous country; India, the world's most populous democracy; and Indonesia, the world's most populous majority-Muslim nation, which together account for more than a third of the globe's population.
Russia, the world's second-biggest nuclear power, and Japan, its second-biggest economy.
Turkey, the new head of the international peacekeeping force in Afghanistan; Pakistan, a critical ally in the U.S.-led war on terrorism; and Israel, the most reliable U.S. ally in the Middle East.
Iran, Iraq and North Korea, the charter members of President Bush's "axis of evil."
"You're definitely not alone in this," said Mark Regev, spokesman for the Israeli Embassy. "Israel has definitively decided not to be a part of this effort because our concerns about the potential politicization of the court have never been addressed."
To date, 76 countries have ratified the treaty that created the court, and another 63 including the United States have signed the treaty but not ratified it. Countries that never signed the 1998 Rome treaty include China, India and Turkey, while a number of states that did sign, including Egypt and Thailand, have moved slowly at best on ratification.
The United States has borne the brunt of the international criticism, especially in Western European capitals, with the issue of U.S. military participation in peacekeeping missions fueling the debate. ICC-watchers suggested this week that many of the court's other critics are happy to let the United States take the heat.
"Historically, there has always been a real eagerness by some to let the United States do their dirty work for them," said William Pace, executive director of the World Federalist Society and founder of a coalition of about 1,000 private organizations supporting the ICC.
But Swedish diplomat Phillippe Kirsch, who chaired the recent ICC preparatory commission meeting, said the United States has been by far the most aggressive in its opposition to the court.
"The United States is the only country in the world that has taken an actively adversarial attitude to the court," he said in a recent interview with the Radio Free Europe-Radio Liberty service.
"Other states that may not have signed or ratified yet are taking a much more cooperative approach, including China and Russia," he said.
Reasons for opposing the ICC vary from country to country.
India has refused to sign the Rome treaty because, it argues, the drafters gave the U.N Security Council too much power in deciding which case to pursue and rejected a proposal to include the use of weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear weapons, under the court's jurisdiction.
India and its South Asian rival, Pakistan, both tested nuclear weapons just as the treaty was being completed.
China has objected, as the United States has, to the idea that the court could target individuals for acts of aggression, and also to the notion that the ICC could directly prosecute Chinese citizens.
Russian officials have been highly critical of the U.N. international tribunal now trying former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic in The Hague, and there is further concern in Moscow that the military campaign in Chechnya could face scrutiny in the ICC.
Israeli officials at the United Nations say a treaty provision on the transfer of civilian populations could drag the question of Israeli settlements in the West Bank and Gaza Strip before the global court.
Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch International, said many Asian regimes have traditionally been hostile to Western notions of universal justice.
"In Asia, you have everything from highly repressive regimes Burma and China to more moderate governments that are nevertheless hostile to the human rights environment," he said.
No Middle Eastern Arab government has ratified the treaty, while virtually all of the economic "tigers" in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations have yet to join the ICC.
Staff writer Betsy Pisik contributed to this story from New York.

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