Threatened with cuts in US military assistance, nearly 50 countries-mostly small, poor nations strongly reliant on international aid-have signed immunity deals (also known as Article 98 agreements) with Washington, allowing the US to effectively bypass the International Criminal Court (ICC). Those bowing to US pressure include Micronesia, Marshall Islands, Israel, and the Philippines, among others, reported the Toronto Star. The Bush administration has strongly opposed the ICC, claiming that it could subject US personnel to politically motivated prosecutions abroad. With the July 1 cooperation deadline (set under the American Servicemember’s Protection Act) passed, nearly 50 countries-now stand to lose millions in military equipment and training, according to Reuters. NATO members and non-NATO allies, including Egypt, Australia, New Zealand, South Korea, Japan, Jordan, Argentina, and Bahrain have already received presidential waiver, according to Agence France Presse.
Richard Dicker, director of Human Rights Watch‘s International Justice program, told the Toronto Star, “The whole approach to the ICC is coloured and shaped by US exceptionalism…I think [the US sees its] role as superpower as a licence to roam the world, deploying armed forces where they see fit, and they see the court as some potential arbiter of that conduct.” 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 rape, sexual slavery, enforced prostitution, forced pregnancy, enforced sterilization, or any other form of sexual violence of comparable gravity as gender crimes. The United States is the only industrialized country that has not signed the treaty establishing the ICC.