- The Washington Times - Monday, June 24, 2002

Count U.S. out
The International Criminal Court does not enter into force until July 1, but Washington has already begun re-evaluating which U.N. peacekeeping missions are worth the risk that American troops could be held accountable to a supernational tribunal.
The first to go is East Timor. The Pentagon has decided to withdraw nearly 80 Americans from the U.N. mission there, saying that it's not worth exposing three military observers and 75 civilian police officers to the possibility of prosecution by the world court.
The United States tried to get a blanket exemption from foreign prosecution for all of the mission's troop-contributing nations when the mandate was renewed three weeks ago, but Security Council members refused to go along.
Many foreign diplomats and legal experts say the standard U.N. agreement with troop contributors which sends peacekeepers accused of wrongdoing home for investigation and trial in their own countries is sufficient protection.
But Washington wants a clearly worded policy with the weight of the Security Council behind it.
"I can tell you that, absent a response to our concerns, we will withdraw our personnel from East Timor," Marshall Billingslea, the deputy undersecretary of defense for negotiations policy, said Friday. "The ICC raises costs on a cost-benefit analysis."
A peacekeeping official said last week that the loss of the Americans wouldn't compromise the mission, but it would be nice to have the broadest possible involvement in international efforts. In fact, the United Nations is chronically short of civilian police, and losing a U.S. police presence could be a painful blow.
The Bush administration, meanwhile, has been trying to win similar language to exempt all foreign troops in Bosnia, with similar resistance.

And good will to all
Is Angelina Jolie the new Audrey Hepburn? It's at least a decade or two too early to tell, of course, but Miss Jolie seems to want to pick up the mantle of Goodwill Ambassador extraordinaire.
"A big part of our role is to be the voice for the voiceless people of the world," said Miss Jolie during a two-day training seminar for movie stars, beauty queens, athletes and other public figures recruited by the United Nations to promote programs, issues and the organization itself.
The actress is off to a good start in her quest to bring a little star power to the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees: She has traveled to Thailand, Afghanistan, Ecuador, Sierra Leone and the Balkans, cheering field staff and possibly even the refugees in her journeys. Her diaries from those trips are on the Internet.
She also has just completed a movie involving refugees, international aid workers and the issue of removing land mines, she told reporters Wednesday, adding that the studio agreed "to make sure that the [international] agencies would be accurately reflected and respected."
The actress was one of four dozen celebrities to attend the sessions last week, not so much stealing the limelight as absorbing it. The purpose of the two-day seminar was to school the unpaid, informal ambassadors on the organization and issues so they would be persuasive in public appearances.
Roger ("007") Moore was here last week, aging gently but still donating nine months a year to UNICEF. He said that the United Nations needs good promotion the way a film does, and urged his fellow good-will ambassadors to "speak as often and as loudly as possible," while avoiding political statements.
By contrast, Irish politician and European Parliament member Mary Banotti clearly sees political discourse as part of her defense of the U.N. Population Fund, accusing "a bizarre international coalition" of Washington, Islamic countries and others of trying to limit women's access to birth control.
Other famous faces who came to New York last week to learn more about the United Nations: author and Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel; singers Harry Belafonte, Judy Collins, Nana Mouskouri, Geri Halliwell and Mikko Kuustonen; Indian actress and member of Parliament Shabana Azmi; actor Danny Glover; Miss Universe Mpule Kwelagobe of Botswana; Egyptian film star Adel Imam; and Indian tennis champion Vijay Amritraj.
"I think I must be in the wrong place," U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan said at the start of the tutorial. "I seem to have wandered into a combination of the Oscars, the Olympics, the Grammys and the Pulitzers."
Betsy Pisik can be reached by e-mail at [email protected]


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