28 March 2012
The USA has signed up 70 states, including 50 of the 90 states who support the International Criminal Court (ICC), to sign bilateral agreements which exempt US officials and personnel from prosecution in the the court. This has been achieved by aggressive diplomacy, which rejects outright the role and remit of the ICC, and the threat or withdrawal of military aid and/or humanitarian aid to any country which refuses to sign the so-called "Article 98" exemption agreements with the USA. In July military aid was cut off from 35 countries including Baltic and eastern European countries (under the American Service Members Protection Act).
In a talk to the conservative American Enterprise Institute, John Bolton, Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security, said that the ICC:
"is an organisation that runs contrary to fundamental precepts and basic constitutional principles"
These agreements, says Bolton, will protect its citizens in the 100 countries in the USA operates from:
"politically motivated criminal accusations, investigations and prosecutions"
The USA is in favour of prosecuting:
"those who commit genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes"
But not if they are said to have been committed the the US government or its officials, agents or military because:
"we will not submit American troops to prosecutors and judges whose jurisdiction we do not accept"
The Article 98 exemption agreements (named after Article 98 of the Rome Statute which set up the ICC) prohibits the surrender/extradition of US citizens to the ICC, transfer to a country where they could be prosecuted and assisting anyone who wants to send them to the court.
1. Website of the: ICC
2. Speech by John Bolton: Speech by Bolton (link)
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