Wednesday, June 23, 2004
Okay, when you consider the recent publicity, maybe it wasn't the absolutely optimum moment to argue to the Security Council that all American troops anywhere in the world should be beyond the reach of international law. But where's the trust, darn it? From the NYT:
The United States bowed to broad opposition on the Security Council today and announced that it was dropping its effort to gain immunity for its troops from prosecution by the International Criminal Court.UPDATE: At least our troops will not have to worry about the fully autonomous Iraqis:
"The United States has decided not to proceed further with consideration and action on the draft at this time in order to avoid a prolonged and divisive debate," the deputy American ambassador, James B. Cunningham, said on emerging from the council.
The envoys from the 15-member council had spent the morning in closed session discussing a rewritten version of the American troop exemption resolution circulated among them Tuesday night to try to meet the widespread objections.
A resolution granting a year's exemption had passed the council the past two years, but this year the attempt to renew it ran into difficulties because of the prisoner abuse scandal in Iraq and a strong statement of opposition from Secretary General Kofi Annan . . . .
The Bush administration has said it needs the protection to prevent people from using the court to bring politically motivated war crimes prosecutions against Americans abroad.
Elaborating on that today, Mr. Cunningham noted that the United States was the "largest contributor to global security" and said, "When the United States voluntarily commits its armed forces to participate in peacekeeping missions around the world, we believe it is wholly inappropriate to subject them to a tribunal which cannot provide adequate guarantees of due process."
Asked if the United States would limit its participation in peacekeeping activities in the future — a threat it has made in past years when disagreement over the resolution has emerged — Mr. Cunningham said, "I'm not going to comment on that."
Addressing concerns about American military conduct abroad, he said, "The United States has a well-functioning system of military justice that will assure accountability."
The Bush administration has decided to take the unusual step of bestowing on its own troops and personnel immunity from prosecution by Iraqi courts for killing Iraqis or destroying local property after the occupation ends and political power is transferred to an interim Iraqi government, U.S. officials said.
The administration plans to accomplish that step -- which would bypass the most contentious remaining issue before the transfer of power -- by extending an order that has been in place during the year-long occupation of Iraq. Order 17 gives all foreign personnel in the U.S.-led Coalition Provisional Authority immunity from "local criminal, civil and administrative jurisdiction and from any form of arrest or detention other than by persons acting on behalf of their parent states."
U.S. administrator L. Paul Bremer is expected to extend Order 17 as one of his last acts before shutting down the occupation next week, U.S. officials said. The order is expected to last an additional six or seven months, until the first national elections are held.