Monday, January 09, 2006

US Soldiers and the ICC

Yesterday, the Jordanian parliament passed a law requiring the kingdom to refuse to hand over to the International Criminal Court any US citizens or non-nationals working for the US government that may be accused of war crimes. The decision has drawn the ire and condemnation of many human rights groups, accusing Jordan of violating its commitments under the Rome Statute (the treaty that created the ICC). The US has refused to join the ICC, claiming that it fears politically motivated charges (a belief that was made stronger by the issuing of arrest warrants for US troops by a Spanish judge). US law requires the cessation of military and economic aid to any country party to the ICC that does not sign a similar agreement to the one Jordan signed.

As I wrote about in an earlier blog on Opinio Juris, any attempt to build strong international law that does not take into account US power and hegemony is doomed to fail. The US serves a valuable function as the guardian of international peace and security, and fear of prosecution could certainly curtail the abiity and willingness to fulfill that role. For example, the NATO bombing campaign against Serbia, carried out without legal authorization from the UN Security Council, could very well have prompted war crimes charges, and did in Belgium, until that state did away with its universal jurisdiction laws in 2003. A world that restrains US power without creating commensurate protections of the rights and liberties of all is a world of genocide and massive human rights violations. Rather than moaning about US intransigence, the international community would be better off building as strong of an ICC as possible among those willing states, and allowing the US to continue to provide security for the international community as a whole.

1 comment:

stefan moluf said...

Obviously, from my previous posts and opinions, I agree with you. However, assuming international bodies are essentially unable to touch the U.S. (which they can't, even if they claim the right), it means we have to be extra careful to balance ourselves here at home.