U.S. Applies Pressure to Obtain Article 98 Immunity Agreements

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Tuesday, October 1, 2002
Bruce Zagaris
In the aftermath of the Security Council resolution in August providing for a one-year exemption for U.N. peacekeepers for prosecution for a year, the U.S. has intensified its requests to countries for an agreement that would obligate signatories to never surrender a U.S. national to the International Criminal Court. As of August 31, 2002, the U.S. had succeeded in achieving Art. 98 (2) agreements with Israel, Romania, East Timor and Tajikstan. In addition, the British Government supported the U.S. view that signing agreements pursuant to Article 98 (2) of the Rome Treaty was ?not incompatible? with the statutes. The U.S. has encountered potential obstacles with the European Union. Secretary of State Colin Powell sent letters to individual European governments, dated August 16, 2002, requesting that they ignore the EU?s request to wait and take a united stand on the issue. Powell urged them instead to sign separate agreements with the U.S. ?as soon as possible? Despite the British Government?s support of the U.S. efforts to sign Art. 98(s) agreements, Germany, France and Austria have said their own legal experts support the confidential legal opinion that such agreements would not be compatible with the ICC?s statute. Switzerland has said it would refuse to sign the proposed agreement. Human Rights Organizations have accused the Bush Administration of hypocristy for pressuring Yugoslav. Croatian and Bosnian authorities to surrender nationals to the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) while it is demanding an exemption for U.S. nationals.