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U.S. confrontation with the U.N.

By Henry Lamb
web posted April 15, 2002

It will happen. It is inevitable. The International Criminal Court will seize an American somewhere on this planet, and the United States will be forced to choose whether it will uphold the U.S. Constitution or surrender its national sovereignty to global governance.

Supporters applaud as Hans Corell, the UN under secretary-general for legal affair announces the ratification of the Rome treaty, which establishes the International Criminal Court, the United Nations headquarters in New York on April 11. Despite vehement U.S. opposition, the world's first permanent war crimes tribunal will come into force on July 1
Supporters applaud as Hans Corell, the UN under secretary-general for legal affair announces the ratification of the Rome treaty, which establishes the International Criminal Court, the United Nations headquarters in New York on April 11. Despite vehement U.S. opposition, the world's first permanent war crimes tribunal will come into force on July 1

The global court, adopted at a Rome conference in 1998, entered into force April 11, when the last of the required 60 nations delivered instruments of ratification.

The United States was one of only seven nations to vote against the court in Rome, but in the final hours of eligibility, Bill Clinton signed the Statute committing the United States to support the court until the U.S. Senate eventually ratifies it.

The court's jurisdiction is limited to "the crime of genocide; crimes against humanity; war crimes; and the crime of aggression," which may be prosecuted in the territory of any "State Party, and by special agreement, the territory of any other state."

The ICC is different from the International Court of Justice, which is nothing more than a referee between disputing nations, and whose decisions are non-binding. The ICC prosecutes individuals, including soldiers, diplomats, and even heads of state, with the power to confiscate property and impose jail sentences upon conviction.

Who defines the crime of aggression, and crimes against humanity? Delegates from states who have ratified the Statute, of course.

And what, exactly, is the crime of aggression, or a crime against humanity - in the view of the makers of the ICC? The official newspaper at the 1998 conference, Terra Viva, claimed that the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 1991 was an act of aggression, and that with a little luck, the ICC would "...herald the start of a court for Bush." (Daily reports from the conference).

Delegates to the U.N. Climate Change conference in Buenos Aires accused the United States of "crimes against humanity" for allowing SUVs to pollute the atmosphere, causing global warming. Buenos Aires reeked with diesel fumes throughout the meeting.

There is no doubt that the U.S. action in Afghanistan, and in other nations in the war against terrorism, would be seen as aggression by the ICC. The U.N. Commission on Human Rights has already said U.S. detention of combatants in Cuba violate international law.

Can the U.S. ignore the ICC? Not likely. Nations that ratify the Statute are bound to "cooperate" with the ICC prosecutor. England, Canada, France, Germany, and many other allies have ratified the Court, and must comply with the court's decisions.

When, not if, but when, CIA or FBI agents, or U.S. soldiers are captured while trying to rid the world of terrorists, they will be subject to the ICC. Much of the world eagerly awaits the opportunity to exercise collective international power over the United States. It's only a matter of time before the U.S. will be forced to confront the U.N.

It's too late to stop the ICC. The Clinton administration led in the court's creation, expecting the U.N. Security Council (where the U.S. has veto power) to have the final say in any prosecution. The delegates to the Rome conference rejected this provision, forcing the U.S. to oppose the court it had worked so hard to create.

"Since early 1995, we have spared no effort to draft and negotiate a statute for a permanent international criminal court that would serve the interests of international justice...," says David J. Scheffer, at the 1998 meeting in Rome. Scheffer was Clinton's chief negotiator in Rome, and now, in a New York Times article, is urging President Bush not to "unsign" the document. Instead, he says we should "secure agreements that prevent the surrender of Americans to the court, while still supporting the treaty's basic purpose."

What kind of ridiculous reasoning is this? He says we should remain a signatory but seek agreements that exempt Americans. Bush has inquired of the U.N., and found that the U.S. signature can legally be withdrawn.

We should withdraw the U.S. signature, and exempt all Americans by universal declaration. We should withhold financial support and military defense from any nation that supports the court. Moreover, the U.S. should recognize the ICC to be one of the last mechanisms necessary for the implementation of world government by the U.N., and immediately suspend all payments to the U.N., and its various organizations.

Confrontation with the U.N. is inevitable; the longer we wait, the more difficult it will be.

Henry Lamb is the executive vice president of the Environmental Conservation Organization, and chairman of Sovereignty International.

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