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Thank God for Jesse!

By Henry Lamb
web posted December 17, 2001

Just minutes before the December 31 deadline last year, President Bill Clinton signed the onerous International Criminal Court (ICC) agreement, fashioned by the United Nations at a Rome conference in 1998. His signature does not ratify the agreement, but it does obligate the United States to take no action contrary to the goals of the agreement.

Jesse HelmsSenator Jesse Helms is having none of it. He introduced the "American Service Members Protection Act" shortly after the agreement was reached in Rome. The bill languished. He reintroduced the Bill (S1610), which was referred to the Foreign Relations Committee - which he no longer chairs.

He didn't give up. When the Senate was finally forced to pass the Defense Appropriations Bill, it included much of the language contained in the American Service Members Protection Act. His amendment was adopted December 7, by a vote of 78 to 21.

What's shocking is that 21 Senators voted against limiting the power of the ICC. Senator Christopher Dodd (D-CT) tried to short-circuit the Helm's amendment with one of his own. The Dodd proposal would have only required the President to suggest what Congress might do to protect U.S. interests from the ICC. The Helms amendment takes the bull by the horns.

The ICC is designed to prosecute "war criminals" and "crimes against humanity." Its charter claims jurisdiction in all nations, whether ratified or not by any particular nation. Critics of the Helms amendment claim the ICC is the appropriate venue for prosecution of terrorists such as Osama bin Laden. Mary Robinson, head of the U.N. Human Rights Commissions, has labeled American soldiers as potential subjects of prosecution for their "war crimes" and "crimes against humanity" in Afghanistan.

Helms says humbug! His amendment blocks U.S. cooperation with the ICC, and prohibits any U.S. funding of the enterprise, and bars the sharing of classified information. His amendment prohibits the use of U.S. forces in any nation which will not exempt U.S. troops from ICC jurisdiction by signing accords preventing the delivery of American soldiers to the ICC. Moreover, his amendment would stop the flow of foreign aid to any country that refuses to sign such accords.

Senator Dodd, in arguing against the Helms amendment, said the U.S. has "to be a player" in the ICC. A spokesman for Human Rights Watch called the vote "a low point in the U.S. Senate's commitment to international human rights."

The vote is a high point in protecting national sovereignty and limiting the rapidly expanding power of the U.N.'s global governance tentacles. The Senate measure must be reconciled in conference with the House bill which has no language similar to the Helms amendment. The House, however, has expressed approval of limiting the ICC by a vote of 282 to 137, when language similar to Helms' was included in a State Department Authorization bill last May.

It's far too late to block the creation of the ICC. Forty-seven of the necessary 60 nations have already ratified the Charter, and it is expected to be fully in force before the big blowout in Johannesburg next year, the World Summit on Sustainable Development.

It should have been blocked during the Clinton administration, but instead, the U.S. was a major force in its creation, thinking that special provisions would be included to protect U.S. citizens. In the final days of the conference, the rest of the world pulled the rug out, and would not allow any special provisions for the U.S., and Clinton delegates were forced to vote against the final document - one of only seven nations voting against the measure. But for some strange reason, minutes before the deadline, less than a month from the end of his term, Clinton signed the document.

The ICC gives the United Nations a mechanism through which it can prosecute individuals in any country for any infraction it may include in its definition of "war crimes" or "crimes against humanity." I have heard U.N. officials describe America's "pollution" coming from our "extravagant" life style, as a "crime against humanity." I have heard U.N. officials describe America's involvement in Kosovo, Bosnia, Iraq, and now Afghanistan - as "war crimes."

Make no mistake. Many people in this world see the United Nations as the only hope of controlling the United States. The ICC is a new and important tool available to those folks who want to control us. They will not hesitate to use it the moment they have the power to do so.

Sadly, there are some in Congress who are willing to let this happen.

Jesse Helms is not one of them.

Thank God for Jesse!

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

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