In light of severe criticism from some of its closest European allies, the Bush administration agreed yesterday to drop its demand for US troops serving in United Nations peacekeeping missions to be declared immune from prosecution by the International Criminal Court (ICC). Instead, Bush is calling for a one-year exemption from prosecution for US troops – a compromise to be voted on by the UN Security Council.
This position represents a marked retreat from the Bush administration’s threats just weeks ago to withdraw US personnel from all peacekeeping missions if they were not exempted from the ICC. However, some Security Council members have called the new proposal an “improvement,” but “not enough.”
The ICC, 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.
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.