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U.S.-U.N. struggle moves to ICC

By Henry Lamb
web posted June 23, 2003

The media spotlight has dimmed on the conflict between the United States and the United Nations Security Council. The conflict has now moved behind the scenes, and spread to the International Criminal Court, created in Rome in 1998.

In an unprecedented action, President Bush withdrew the U.S. signature from the Rome Statute in May, 2002. The European Union, joined by the United Nations Association, and the World Federalist Association, launched scathing criticism. When the court officially came into existence on July 1, 2002, the U.S. vetoed a U.N. resolution to extend peacekeeping operations in Bosnia, because it did not contain a guarantee that U.S. forces would be exempt from prosecution by the International Criminal Court.

Panic quickly spread across the international community at the thought of U.S. withdrawal from U.N. peacekeeping operations, and the diplomats quickly discovered a way to interpret Article 98 of the statute, which would provide a one-year exemption for the U.S. from ICC jurisdiction.

As that one-year exemption approaches expiration, the U.S. State Department has been busy negotiating new exemption agreements with individual nations that are a party to the ICC statute. As of June 16, there were 38 such agreements, and again, the EU, and the U.N. supporters in the U.S. are furious.

The U.S. position respects the right of other nations to participate in the ICC, but expects other nations to respect the U.S. right not to participate. That respect is demonstrated when a nation agrees to not allow U.S. citizens to be subject to the ICC while in their country. Nations that are unwilling to sign this agreement are subject to the withdrawal of U.S. bases, civilian employees, and financial aid.

The EU, which has adopted a strong position of support for the ICC, calls the Article 98 agreements heavy-handed bullying tactics. At the same time, the EU has issued threats to ten applicant nations that their future membership in the EU could be in jeopardy if they sign an Article 98 agreement with the U.S. The EU has declared that these agreements are "inconsistent with ICC states parties' obligations…."

The battle over the ICC is, perhaps, the sharpest example of the contest between U.S. sovereignty and global governance. Without U.S. support and participation, the court's relevance is seriously jeopardized. Should the U.S. fall victim to the court's jurisdiction, U.S. sovereignty will fade into history.

The contest will be won or lost in the United States. Were Al Gore in the White House, U.S. sovereignty would already be fading into history. The Clinton-Gore administration, after refusing to vote for the final draft of the Rome Statute in 1998, signed the document just hours before the deadline, on December 31, 2000. Powerful organizations in the United States have mobilized to support U.S. participation in the ICC.

The World Federalist Association has created a coalition to lobby Congress and mount a propaganda campaign. Another coalition, called USA for ICC has also launched a massive, well-funded campaign in support of U.S. participation in the court.

It is not surprising that these organizations have targeted President Bush, and all Republicans for that matter, for replacement in 2004. The ICC, and U.S. involvement in the United Nations, is not simply a partisan issue. Many Republicans support the ICC, and the United Nations, and there are Democrats who adamantly oppose U.S. involvement in either. The contest is between conflicting philosophies, not between political parties.

Those who support U.S. involvement in the ICC, and the U.N., support a socialist philosophy that holds that the power of government is omnipotent, and thus, may, or may not, grant rights to citizens.

Those who oppose U.S. involvement in these institutions, tend to believe that government is not omnipotent, but is empowered only by the consent of the governed. They realize that the policies of the ICC and the U.N. are formulated way beyond their consent, and beyond any accountability to the governed.

This contest cannot be allowed to dally until another Clinton-Gore-type administration moves into the White House. Those who value U.S. sovereignty, and the freedom it guarantees, should insist that Congress adopt the American Sovereignty Restoration Act of 2003 (HR1146), which removes the U.S. from the U.N.

The time has come for the U.S. to make a clean break with the socialist-dominated global governance regime that seeks to define the U.S. role in the world community. The United States should define its own role in the world, based on the principles of freedom set forth in the U.S. Constitution. Anything less is acquiescence to the enemies of freedom.

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

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