The United States is withholding millions of dollars in military aid to Ecuador because of Ecuador’s reluctance to sign an agreement with the US that would grant US military immunity from the International Criminal Court (ICC). Last July, the US stated that it would freeze military aid, such as the $15 million for Ecuador, to nations that would not enter into bilateral agreements in which the countries agree never to surrender American nationals to trials on war crimes, genocide, and crimes against humanity.
According to the International Press Service, US officials last week used the first intergovernmental conference on genocide to be held since 1948 to lobby against the ICC. Fifty-five countries signed a declaration on ways to fight genocide, and the ICC is the body that would be used to try crimes such as genocide. Due to the pressure from the United States, the declaration did not even mention the International Criminal Court as a vehicle with which to prevent and try crimes against humanity such as genocide and ethnic cleansing, reports the Associated Press.
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. 132 countries have signed onto the treaty establishing the ICC. The United States is currently the only industrialized country that has not signed the treaty.
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