In yet another attempt to undermine the power of the first international court created solely to protect victims of genocide and other crimes, the Bush administration has threatened to withdraw military aid to countries that will not guarantee US immunity in the International Criminal Court (ICC). A provision of the new antiterrorism law – passed with bipartisan support in Congress and signed by the president last week – grants Bush the authority to force as many countries as possible to sign bilateral agreements not to extradite Americans to the newly created court for trial.
The Bush administration has strongly opposed the ICC, claiming that it could subject US personnel to politically motivated prosecutions abroad. The ICC 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, which created the court, 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, which President Bush then renounced in May. However, in light of severe criticism from some of its closest European allies, the Bush administration agreed to drop its demand for US immunity and instead opt for a compromise with the United Nations Security Council for a one-year exemption from prosecution.