Wednesday, July 02, 2003

The United States suspended military aid to about 35 countries in a dispute over the International Criminal Court (ICC). The countries failed to exempt American troops from prosecution in the ICC, which Washington fears will target American troops in politically motivated prosecutions, despite the numerous safeguards which make such an eventuality almost impossible.

Others fear that the ICC will undermine the jurisdiction of national courts, yet this fear is unfounded. The ICC will only be relevant when national authorities are unwilling or unable to deal with accusations. The NGO CICC notes:

14. Will the International Criminal Court infringe on the jurisdiction of national courts?

No. The International Criminal Court will complement, not supercede, the jurisdiction of national courts. National courts will continue to have priority in investigating and prosecuting crimes within their jurisdiction. Under the principle of complementarity, the International Criminal Court will act only when national courts are unable or unwilling to exercise jurisdiction. If a national court is willing and able to exercise jurisdiction, the International Criminal Court cannot intervene and no nationals of that State can be brought before it. The grounds for admitting a case to the Court are specified in the [Rome]Statute and the circumstances that govern inability and unwillingness are carefully defined so as to avoid arbitrary decisions. In addition, the accused and interested States, whether they are parties to the Statute or not, may challenge the jurisdiction of the Court or admissibility of the case. They also have a right to appeal any related decision.

To inform yourself further on how the ICC will actually operate, go to for more facts.

Anyway, the US has decided to cease military aid to several dozen countries. Among the countries are: South Africa, Croatia, Serbia-Montenegro (former Yugoslavia), Malawi, Mali and Zambia. Considering that all of these countries are valliantly taking steps to recover from a recent history which included ruthless dictatorship, massive human rights abuses, ethnic cleansing and/or rampant corruption, do we really want to punish them for upholding the rule of law and send them the message that immunity/impunity is not only acceptable, but imperative?


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