It is hard to imagine that China, Russia and the United States could find much to agree on. However, those three nations, along with Israel, stand in opposition to the world's first permanent war crimes tribunal, officially known as the International Criminal Court.
The permanent war crimes tribunal comes under the auspices of the United Nations and will be set up in The Hague in Amsterdam, Netherlands. Yesterday was its first day in operation even though the 18 judges will not be elected until probably February 2003.
The United States opposed the court because it will not subject its soldiers and citizens to an international court. The opposition of the other countries is for the same reason. However, the irony of an oppressive Communist government standing with a democratic government in opposition is rich to think about.
In an effort to show just how much the U.S. opposes the court, America is prepared to cease its involvement with the peacekeeping effort in Bosnia. The significance of July 1, 2002 is because the court has no jurisdiction prior to that date. And in an effort to protect American citizens from being held accountable to the court, the U.S. is prepared to end its involvement in Bosnia. As I write this U.S. troops and advisors may be out of that European country by the end of the week.
A total of 74 countries have ratified the court, including Great Britain and the European Union.
It is interesting to note that individuals, not countries, will be tried by the court.
It is also interesting to note that groups supporting the world court have criticized the U.S. for its opposition to the court, yet have made very little noise in criticizing Russia or China. Obviously, the U.S. is the biggest obstacle to the court and if it were to capitulate most of the battle would be won. Russia is virtually inconsequential in the world political scene as much as it would not like to admit that fact. Probably no one expected China to sign on as a supporter. And realistically no one expects China to send one of its soldiers to appear before the court anyway.
It is also interesting that most news reports of the larger media outlets focus on President Bush's criticism of the international court. Yet, they fail to mention that former President Clinton also spoke out against subjecting American citizens to the whims of a court made up of judges elected by third world despots. Clinton, despite his objections and criticism did sign the treaty in 1996 and had it rejected by the Senate in 1999.
Criticism of Americans as elitists and not being subject to the same law as the rest of the world is sure to come. However, when such republics as Jordan, Congo, Mongolia and Slovakia are sitting as judges of, or at least have the ability to name individuals who will judge U.S. citizens, it is time to walk away from the treaty.