U.S. Troops Must Not Be at the Mercy of an 'International
Senator Jon Kyl
week, Congress will send legislation to President Bush denying
economic assistance to any foreign government that refuses
to protect U.S. troops, government personnel, and civilians
from arbitrary arrest and prosecution before the United
Nations International Criminal Court (ICC). While nearly
100 nations have signed "non surrender" agreements
with the U.S., many refuse to do so.
United States is not a party to the ICC and does not recognize
its jurisdiction. Even so, the court can currently arrest
and prosecute our troops and personnel operating in U.N.
peacekeeping missions if the host nation is a member of
the ICC, accepts its jurisdiction voluntarily, or is directed
by the U.N. Security Council.
A U.N. report issued last week called for the Security Council
to refer suspected cases of war crimes to the ICC. Almost
simultaneously, war crimes charges were filed in a German
court against Defense Secretary Rumsfeld for prison abuses
at Abu Graib in Iraq. A German human rights group argued,
under the much abused and misunderstood concept of "universal
jurisdiction," that any citizen or group can file a
claim against any world leader who may be guilty of committing
crimes against humanity. Can anyone reasonably believe that
more such cases are not soon to follow?
the Clinton Administration helped negotiate the terms and
scope of the ICC, and even signed the treaty that created
it in 1998, it was never submitted to the Senate for ratification.
On May 6, 2002, the Bush Administration formally renounced
any commitment to join the ICC or recognize its jurisdiction,
citing fundamental structural flaws that would allow the
court to undermine the role of the U.N. Security Council
in maintaining international peace and security, as well
as concerns over unchecked prosecutorial power and efforts
to assert jurisdiction over citizens of states that have
not ratified the treaty.
then overwhelmingly passed the American Servicemembers'
Protection Act, which spelled out strong objections to the
ICC and prohibited any level of U.S. government cooperation
with it. The legislation also required the Administration
to pursue measures to protect Americans from the Court's
is no secret that the majority of U.N. peacekeeping operations
are conducted in countries that are non-democratic and whose
leaders are hostile to U.S. policies. Leaving our leaders,
troops, and personnel vulnerable to arrest and use as political
pawns would be a colossal mistake and one the President
was right to avoid. But given the likelihood that the United
States will be called upon to send troops to future U.N.
peacekeeping missions, it is critical that additional steps
be taken now to create more concrete and permanent protections.
Congress and the Administration should conduct a review
of where U.S. troops and personnel are operating as peacekeepers,
and determine whether their continued deployment is an appropriate
use of our resources in the ongoing war against terrorism.
The Administration must insist on "non-surrender"
agreements with host countries to prevent any Americans
from being turned over to the ICC. No troops or personnel
should be committed to any mission without such protection.
Congress must reaffirm its own commitment to protecting
American citizens by passing a joint resolution calling
on the U.N. Security Council to pass a permanent resolution
providing immunity for U.S. troops and government personnel,
and if necessary, exercise our veto over any resolution
offered that would involve the utilization of U.S. resources.
provisions should not be interpreted as placing Americans
overseas above the rule of law. The government will continue
to hold all of our citizens, including our troops, to the
highest standards of accountability. But at the same time
we must recognize the unique nature of our position in the
world, and the historical tendency of non-democratic leaders
to use international institutions purely to score political
points against the United States. Ceding criminal authority
to an unaccountable and politicized ICC would hardly advance
peace and security in today's world.
day our troops and personnel work around the globe to wage
the war on terror and to secure freedom for not only our
citizens, but countless others. Just as it is our duty to
provide them with the tools they need, it is our solemn
responsibility to protect them from being used as political
pawns by despots and dictators.
Kyl is chairman of the U.S. Senate Republican Policy Committee
and the Judiciary Subcommittee on Terrorism, Technology
and Homeland Security.
This Page to a Friend
2000-2004 RealClearPolitics.com All Rights