U.S. peacekeepers receive new war-crimes exemption

June 12, 2003, 9:26PM
U.S. peacekeepers receive new war-crimes exemption
Los Angeles Times

UNITED NATIONS — The Security Council on Thursday grudgingly approved another one-year exemption for U.S. peacekeepers from prosecution by the newly established International Criminal Court, despite objections from some members that it puts the United States outside of international law.

Washington had pushed hard for the exemption, saying that its personnel were particularly vulnerable to politically motivated charges, and that it would not participate in peacekeeping operations without immunity. The measure does not “as some today suggested, elevate an entire category of people above the law. The ICC is not `the law,’ ” said U.S. deputy ambassador James Cunningham. “In our view, it is a fatally flawed institution.”

Although 12 of the council’s 15 members voted for the resolution, France, Germany and Syria abstained to register their opposition, charging that any immunity undermines the court before it has even begun.

In statements to the council, several diplomats put the United States on notice that the exemption was not designed to be permanent and that Washington was overreaching its legal limits.

But a European envoy said privately that most council members dared not vote against it at a time when transatlantic tensions are still high from the clash over Iraq.

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