As the International Criminal Court (ICC) opened its doors in The Hague today, the United States government showed its opposition by casting a vote in the UN Security Council to withdraw American peacekeepers in Bosnia. This vote by US Ambassador John Negroponte, which was diluted with a three-day reprieve, was a show of the Bush administration’s defiance to US allies for their repeated refusals to exempt American peacekeepers from prosecution by the ICC.
“This would create a two-tier system of justice, one for Americans and one for the rest of the world,” Richard Dicker, director of the international justice program of Human Rights Watch told The New York Times. So far, 74 countries have ratified the Rome Treaty – on December 31, 2000 former President Bill Clinton added the US signature, however, President Bush renounced it in May.
The court, created by the Rome Treaty of 1998 to prosecute war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide, has widespread support in the US from groups such as the Feminist Majority because it identifies gender crimes and the crime of apartheid as crimes against humanity. Article 7 of the Rome Statute presents clear language that defines gender crimes as rape, sexual slavery, enforced prostitution, forced pregnancy, enforced sterilization, or any other form of sexual violence of comparable gravity. Under this law, the Taliban’s brutal gender apartheid imposed on the women of Afghanistan would qualify as crimes against humanity and would be eligible to be tried before the ICC.
The launch of the ICC comes at a time when lawsuits are underway about alleged sex trafficking of women as young as 12 by employees of DynCorp, a private defense contractor, in Bosnia. These men, who have not faced criminal charges because of their immunity from Bosnian and US law, could technically have been charged under the ICC, according to Salon.com.