The United States submitted a draft Security Council resolution insisting that contributing states – not the International Criminal Court (ICC) – have exclusive responsibility for investigating and prosecuting crimes allegedly committed by their nationals during their peacekeeping missions, during discussions last week to extend the United Nations Mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina (UNMIBH). The draft resolution states: that peacekeepers “shall enjoy in the territory of all member states other than the contributing state immunity from arrest, detention, and prosecution with respect to all acts arising out of the operation, and this immunity shall continue after termination of their participation in the operation,” according to the UN Wire. The United States has threatened to withdraw its 712 troops from UN peacekeeping missions if demands are not met, according to Reuters. No one in the 15-member council agrees with the US position. According to Richard Dicker of Human Rights Watch: “Peacekeepers are protected by status of forces’ immunity agreements that are standard to all UN peacekeeping agreements, which say national courts have exclusive jurisdiction over their national soldiers. So any US personnel in a UN Security Council-mandated mission are already protected and under the exclusive authority of US courts.” The UN Security Council last month defeated a similar resolution submitted by the US at the UN Mission of Support in East Timor (UNMISET).
Sixty-seven nations have ratified the Rome Statute, the treaty establishing the ICC. The Court enters into force July 1. Last week, several European nations with troops in Afghanistan, received written assurances that their troops serving as peacekeepers would be immune from arrest or surrender to the ICC, according to the Washington Post. This agreement put the US and its allies sharply at odds with Bush’s proposal to exclude personnel in all UN missions from the reach of the ICC, according to the Post. For the past several months, the Feminist Majority and other women’s organizations as well as the United Nations and the interim Afghan government have asked the Bush administration to expand US peacekeeping troops in order to protect the Afghan people.