- The Washington Times - Sunday, May 5, 2002

The Bush administration has decided to renounce formal involvement in a treaty creating the world's first permanent war crimes tribunal, a senior administration official said yesterday.
The International Criminal Court gained the necessary international backing to come into being when 10 nations joined 56 others last month in announcing their ratification of the treaty.
Although the treaty, negotiated in Rome in 1998, was signed by President Clinton, he never submitted it to the Senate for ratification and the Bush administration has made clear its opposition.
The senior official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said that opposition was expected to be formalized today in a speech by Undersecretary of State Marc Grossman and at news briefing by Pierre-Richard Prosper, the State Department's ambassador for war crimes issues.
Neither the White House nor the State Department would comment directly on those plans yesterday.
Mr. Prosper restated President Bush's opposition to the treaty and refusal to submit it for ratification in mid-April, saying the United States fears American citizens would be subject to frivolous or politically motivated prosecutions.
Mr. Prosper had said two weeks earlier that the United States was considering "unsigning" the treaty to stress that it will not be bound by its provisions.
The court, to be formed this summer without U.S. participation, will fill a gap in the international justice system first recognized by the U.N. General Assembly in 1948 after the Nuremberg and Tokyo trials for World War II's German and Japanese war criminals.
The International Court of Justice now deals with disputes between states. Tribunals have been created for special situations like the 1994 Rwanda genocide and war crimes in former Yugoslavia but no mechanism existed to hold individuals criminally responsible.
The new court is to step in only when countries are unwilling or unable to dispense justice themselves for the most serious crimes committed by individuals: genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and eventually crimes of aggression when parties agree to a definition.

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