Schluss mit lustig! Keine Immunität mehr für amerikanische Soldaten
No US immunity from war crimes prosecutions

Straffreiheits-Resolution wird nicht verlängert - Schwere Niederlage für die USA im UN-Sicherheitsrat - "Sieg für die internationale Justiz"
Exemption of U.S. troops from the jurisdiction of the ICC will be not extended - A heavy diplomatic defeat for the U.S.

Die USA haben den Entwurf für eine UNO-Resolution zurückgezogen, wonach US-Soldaten Immunität vor dem Internationalen Strafgerichtshof (ICC) genießen sollten. Es habe keine ausreichende Unterstützung im Sicherheitsrat für den Entwurf gegeben, sagte der US-Vizebotschafter bei den Vereinten Nationen, James Cunningham am 23. Juni 2004 in New York. Vorausgegangen war ein wochenlanges Tauziehen um den Resolutionsentwurf.

Im Folgenden informieren wir über die diplomatischen Kämpfe, die sich weitgehend hinter den Kulissen abgespielt haben, in Form von Meldungen aus der
Angesichts starken Widerstands im UNO-Sicherheitsrat gegen eine weitere Verlängerung der Immunität amerikanischer Soldaten vor internationaler Strafverfolgung lassen die USA einen entsprechenden Resolutionsantrag fallen. Dies kündigte der stellvertretende US-Botschafter James Cunningham am 23. Juni 2004 in New York an. Zuvor hatte Washington einen Kompromissvorschlag ins Spiel gebracht, wonach statt einer generellen Ausnahmeregelung nur noch eine letztmalige Verlängerung um ein Jahr angestrebt wurde. Auch dieser Vorschlag stieß jedoch auf Widerstand.

Cunningham erklärte, die USA verfolgten die Resolution zum gegenwärtigen Zeitpunkt nicht weiter, um eine langwierige und Uneinigkeit schürende Debatte zu vermeiden. Der gegenwärtige Ratspräsident, der philippinische Botschafter Lauro Baja, erklärte vor der Sitzung, er bezweifle, dass die USA die für die Annahme der Resolution nötigen neun Ja-Stimmen erhielten. Besonders stark war die Ablehnung aus den Reihen der Länder, die den von den USA abgelehnten Internationalen Strafgerichtshof (IstGH; ICC) unterstützen. UNO-Generalsekretär Kofi Annan hatte angesichts der Foltervorwürfe gegen US-Soldaten im Irak dazu aufgerufen, die Ausnahmeregelung nicht zu verlängern. Am 18. Juni warnte er davor, dass eine erneute Immunitätsregelung für Amerikaner "den Sicherheitsrat spalten" und "die Vereinten Nationen diskreditieren" würde.

Der spanische UN-Botschafter Juan Antonion Yanez-Barnuevo begrüßte die Entscheidung der USA die Resolution zurückzuziehen. Annans Erklärung habe eine bedeutende Wirkung gehabt, sagte er. William Pace, Chef einer Kommission aus rund 2.000 Nichtregierungsorganisationen, die sich für die Errichtung des Gerichtshofs eingesetzt hatten, sprach von einem "Sieg für die internationale Justiz". Die Befürchtungen der USA hinsichtlich ihrer "Friedenssoldaten" seien stets übertrieben gewesen.

Das 1998 in Rom verabschiedete Statut des IStGH haben 94 Staaten ratifiziert. Die USA lehnen den Gerichtshof strikt ab, weil sie befürchten, dass ihre Soldaten aus politischen Gründen angeklagt werden und willkürlicher Strafverfolgung ausgesetzt sein könnten. Die USA hatten sich ursprünglich um einen dauerhaften Schutz vor der Strafverfolgung durch den IStGH bemüht, angesichts des internationalen Widerstands aber dann bisher zwei Mal eine auf ein Jahr befristete Ausnahmeregelung akzeptiert. US-Bürger, die an internationalen Einsätzen teilnehmen, müssten vor "irregeleiteter Strafverfolgung" geschützt werden, begründete Außenamtssprecher Richard Boucher am 23. Juni 2004 in Washington den Schritt seiner Regierung. Boucher machte erneut deutlich, dass aus Sicht der USA die Rechtsprechung des Strafgerichtshofes nicht auf Bürger von Ländern angewendet werden dürfe, die dem Gerichtshof nicht beigetreten seien. Deshalb müssten US-Bürger, die an UNO-Friedensmissionen teilnehmen, davor geschützt werden. Darüber hinaus hat Washington bilaterale Abkommen mit bisher 90 Ländern geschlossen, in denen diese zusichern, Amerikaner nicht an den Strafgerichtshof auszuliefern.

Verschiedene Medien berichtete am 24. Juni 2004, dass es bei dem diplomatischen Tauziehen um die Verlängerung der Immunität auch hart zur Sache gegangen sei. Die USA hatten für den Fall der Nichtannahme gedroht, ihre Soldaten von UNO-Missionen abzuziehen und die Verlängerung der Mandate für solche Missionen mit Hilfe ihres Vetorechts zu verhindern. Außenamtssprecher Richard Boucher sagte, entscheidender Faktor dabei sei das Risiko einer Strafverfolgung amerikanischer Soldaten durch den Internationalen Strafgerichtshof.

Nach Einschätzung von Uno-Diplomaten beugten die USA mit dem zurückgezogenen Antrag auf Immunität ihrer Bürger einer drohenden Abstimmungsniederlage im Weltsicherheitsrat vor. Der amerikanische Uno-Botschafter James Cunningham begründete den Schritt damit, dass Washington "eine ausgedehnte und Uneinigkeit stiftende Debatte vermeiden" wollte.

Sein chinesischer Amtskollege Wang Guangya begrüßte die Entscheidung der USA als "weise". Der Resolutionsentwurf der Amerikaner habe den Sicherheitsrat erneut zu spalten gedroht, sagte Wang. Das US-Militär sei durch den Folterskandal im irakischen Gefängnis Abu Ghureib ins Zwielicht geraten. Bei einer Abstimmung hätte sich China ebenso wie einige andere Länder im Sicherheitsrat geweigert, den USA einen "Blankoscheck" für die Straffreiheit ihrer Bürger zu geben. Das Ansinnen, Amerikaner generell von Strafverfolgung durch den Gerichtshof in Den Haag auszunehmen, war bei der Uno angesichts des Skandals über die Misshandlung irakischer Gefangener durch amerikanische Soldaten weithin auf Empörung gestoßen. Eine Verlängerung der erstmals 2002 vom Sicherheitsrat gebilligten Immunitätsregelung um ein drittes Jahr würde nach UNO-Gepflogenheiten zu einem "Völkergewohnheitsrecht" führen, wenn ein solcher Beschluss nicht mit einer klaren Einschränkung verbunden ist. Deutschland, Frankreich, Chile und weitere Mitglieder des Sicherheitsrates hatten deutlich gemacht, dass sie einer bedingungslosen Verlängerung der Immunität nicht zustimmen würden.

Der IStGH-Chefermittler Luís Moreno Ocampo gab derweil in Den Haag die Einleitung des ersten Ermittlungsverfahrens des im vergangenen Jahr eingerichteten Gerichts bekannt. Es gelte den Menschenrechtsverletzungen im afrikanischen Bürgerkriegsland Kongo. "Die Eröffnung des ersten Ermittlungsverfahrens ist ein großer Schritt nach vorn für das Völkerrecht, gegen Straflosigkeit und für den Schutz von Opfern", hieß es in einer Erklärung. Der Erklärung zufolge liegen dem Gericht Berichte von Staaten und internationalen Organisationen vor, wonach in der Demokratischen Republik Kongo seit 2002 Tausende Menschen durch "Massenmord und willkürliche Hinrichtungen" ums Leben gekommen seien. "Die Berichte lassen vermuten, dass es ein Muster von Vergewaltigung, Folter, Vertreibung und Einsatz von Kindern als Soldaten gibt."

Zusammenstellung: Pst
Quellen: Der Standard, 24.06.2004; SPIEGEL ONLINE, 24.06.2004; AFP, dpa, AP, 24.06.2004.

World resists extending US immunity from war crimes prosecutions

The Abu Ghraib prison abuse scandal has led to a situation in which the U.S. faces a diplomatic defeat in the U.N. Security Council if it presses ahead with plans to seek a resolution indicating an intention to demand yearly exemptions from war crimes prosecutions in the International Criminal Court. The U.S. will therefore seek a resolution that extends immunity from prosecution through July 2005 only -- one more serving of humble pie from the U.N. to an American president who once mocked it as an organization that risked acquiring the irrelevance of "a debating society."

Three articles:
  1. a piece by Jim Lobe provides relevant background, and is followed by reports (excerpts) from
  2. the New York Times" and
  3. the Washington Post.
WILL THE WORLD GIVE THE U.S. WAR CRIMES IMMUNITY?

By Jim Lobe


The willingness of the administration of U.S. President George W. Bush to show greater deference to the United Nations and international law will be severely tested this week as it tries to persuade the Security Council to extend its exemption of U.S. troops serving in peacekeeping operations from the jurisdiction of the new International Criminal Court (ICC) for another year.

To prevail, Washington must secure at least nine votes from the 15-member Council, but indications so far are that it is likely to fall short of that goal. In the past, the administration has threatened to veto UN peacekeeping operations if it does not get its way on the issue.

Despite widespread unhappiness with the resolution, which is vehemently opposed by international human rights groups who say that the exemption violates international law and undermines the global struggle to end impunity for the most serious human rights abuses, it was considered likely to be approved until the photographs of the abuse of Iraqi detainees at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq became public.

Subsequent revelations of more widespread abuses, as well as high-level administration policy memos that appeared to sanction torture, have greatly bolstered opposition to the resolution, provoking UN Secretary- General Kofi Annan himself to criticize it more harshly than ever before.

"For the past two years, I have spoken quite strongly against the exemption, and I think it would be unfortunate for one to press for such an exemption, given the prisoner abuse in Iraq," he told reporters last week before privately briefing the Security Council on his views.

"Given the recent revelations from Abu Ghraib prison," said Richard Dicker, who follows the international justice issues for Human Rights Watch, "the U.S. government has picked a hell of a moment to ask for special treatment on war crimes."

Debate on Washington's request, which appears to have the support of Angola, Britain, the Philippines, and Russia, is expected to begin this week, probably Thursday. To date, however, Benin, Brazil, Chile, China, France, Germany, and Spain have indicated they intend to abstain.

Seven abstentions would kill the resolution.

Romania has said it is prepared to abstain unless its vote is responsible for defeating the U.S. resolution, according to the Washington Post, while Algeria and Pakistan have not yet tipped their hands, although the latter is considered more likely to side with Washington.

The vote, which is almost certain to take place before July 1 when the current resolution lapses, comes at a particularly sensitive time. In the wake of serious setbacks to the U.S. occupation in Iraq, Bush signaled a more conciliatory approach toward his international critics last month in agreeing to a Council resolution that vested more authority in Iraqi government that is supposed to gain "sovereignty" over the country July 1 than Washington had initially wanted.

Bush's willingness to compromise in order to get UN backing for the continued U.S. presence in Iraq was interpreted by some as a shift from the strong unilateralism pursued by Bush since the 9/11 attacks on New York and the Pentagon to a more multilateral approach. But Washington's push for extending the ICC exemption will severely test that thesis.

The proposed resolution prohibits the ICC, which formally opened for business one year ago in The Hague, the Netherlands, from investigating or prosecuting any current or former official or personnel from any country that has not ratified the Rome Statute, the international treaty that created the ICC, for acts committed by them during their participation in a mission authorized by the UN.

Under the treaty, the ICC has jurisdiction to prosecute cases of genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity in situations where the country that should be responsible for doing so is either unable or unwilling to pursue prosecutions on its own.

ICC supporters have long made the argument that Washington has nothing to fear from the new tribunal so long as the U.S. government is willing to investigate and prosecute such crimes as it says it is currently doing in Abu Ghraib cases and several others that have since come to light.

But the Bush administration insists that the ICC threatens U.S. sovereignty. They also argue that, given Washington's military predominance and the unique responsibilities for maintaining international peace that go with it, U.S. peacekeepers were particularly vulnerable to politically-inspired prosecutions by the ICC.

Former President Bill Clinton signed the Statute just before Bush's inauguration, but in May, 2002, the administration formally renounced Clinton's signature and launched a campaign to persuade as many countries as possible -- about 80 to date -- to sign bilateral agreements with Washington forbidding them from transferring any U.S. national in their custody to the ICC.

The administration has also cut off military assistance to about three dozen countries that so far have refused to sign such an agreement. Ninety-four countries, including virtually of Europe and most of the Caribbean, Latin America, and a substantial number of African states, have ratified the Statute.

At the same time, it launched its effort to secure an exemption from the Security Council. In 2002, the Security Council reluctantly went along after Washington threatened not only to withdraw all U.S. personnel from UN peacekeeping missions, but also to veto the extension of existing missions or the creation of new ones.

One World June 22, 2004;
http://www.antiwar.com/lobe/?articleid=2851


U.S. REWORDS A RESOLUTION ON IMMUNITY FOR ITS TROOPS

By Warren Hoge

UNITED NATIONS -- The United States circulated a reworded resolution among Security Council members on Tuesday evening [june 22] to try to overcome broad opposition to its effort to keep its troops immune from any prosecution by the International Criminal Court.

The measure, introduced last month and then withdrawn, would extend such protection to American soldiers participating in United Nations-approved peacekeeping forces. The current expiration for such immunity is June 30.

That same day, next Wednesday, Iraq regains sovereignty and the mostly American force there becomes a United Nations-mandated one. The United States is pressing hard for a vote beforehand.

This is the third year in which the United States has sought the exemption, and though there were three abstentions last year and several more expected this year, American diplomats in May said they felt confident they could obtain support for a "technical rollover" of the measure. (...)

Last week, Secretary General Kofi Annan called on the Security Council to turn back the American move, saying it was "of dubious judicial value" and particularly objectionable in the aftermath of the prisoner abuse cases in Iraq.

Mr. Annan said that passing the measure would discredit the council, the United Nations and the "primacy of the rule of law," and he appealed to the 15 members to maintain the common purpose they had shown earlier this month in voting unanimously on a resolution affirming the arrangements for transferring power in Iraq.

That appeal caused several nations to rethink their backing of the original resolution and of their reluctance to be seen as defying the United States.

The version that American diplomats circulated on Tuesday dropped language in the original proposal that expressed the intention to renew the one-year exemption each July 1 for further 12-month periods "for as long as may be necessary."

Mr. Annan had protested that the clause would perpetuate United Nations approval of what was meant to be a temporary emergency departure from international law. (...)

Richard Dicker, director for international justice at Human Rights Watch and an opponent of immunity for American troops, expressed doubt that the compromise would change enough minds. "I wonder how one reconciles support for even one year's exemption with the very strong words of the secretary general," Mr. Dicker said.

But Abdallah Baali, the Algerian ambassador, said he thought otherwise. "A number of countries have been looking for a gesture from the Americans," Mr. Baali said, "and this could be that gesture."

New York Times June 23, 2004

U.S. ALTERS ITS PLAN FOR FOR EXEMPTION AT COURT

By Colum Lynch

UNITED NATIONS -- The Bush administration has abandoned its plan to seek a Security Council resolution providing an open-ended exemption for U.S. personnel serving in U.N.-authorized peacekeeping missions from prosecution by the International Criminal Court, senior U.S. and Security Council diplomats said.

The United States, under increasing criticism for U.S. abuse of detainees in Iraq and Afghanistan, was facing a diplomatic defeat in the 15-nation council over the U.S.-sponsored text. The United States is pressing instead for a resolution that would shield U.S. personnel from prosecution only through June 2005.
(...)
(...) Senior U.S. officials said Tuesday [june 22] that they have obtained written assurances from 90 countries that they would not to surrender U.S. personnel to the court, which is based in The Hague.

Still, without a Security Council exemption, there is a possibility that U.S. troops accused of engaging in massive human rights violations could be subject to prosecution by the court if U.S. authorities refused to try the cases. In such cases, the crime must have been committed on the soil of a country that has ratified the 1998 treaty but has not signed an agreement with the United States.

Afghanistan, for example, has ratified the treaty but also has signed an agreement with the United States pledging not to hand over U.S. personnel to the court. Iraq has not ratified the treaty.

At the request of the United States, Philippine U.N. ambassador Lauro L. Baja Jr. said he intends to introduce an amendment calling for a final one-year extension of a July 2002 resolution that shields troops from countries, such as the United States, that have not ratified the treaty.

"This is a suggestion that will address the concerns of some Security Council members that this not go on in perpetuity," said Stuart Holliday, the U.S. representative to the United Nations for political affairs. The Philippines is "consulting with other council members to see whether this in fact would accommodate their positions."

Last week, U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan urged the Security Council to oppose the U.S. resolution seeking an open-ended exemption. In a confidential memo, Annan told the Security Council that it would discredit the United Nations and undercut efforts to "promote the rule of international law."

Annan's remarks have hardened council opposition. Several key council members -- including Chile, Algeria and Pakistan, which recently considered supporting the U.S. resolution -- say they are now undecided. "Everybody is watching to see what the others are going to do," said Algeria's U.N. ambassador, Abdallah Baali.

Chile's U.N. ambassador, Heraldo Munoz, said that Annan's remarks "created a new political context" for the debate.

"We do not want to slap the secretary general in the face," added German U.N. ambassador Gunter Pleuger. Germany, like France, indicated that the latest U.S. concession was not sufficient to win its support.

The treaty establishing the court has been signed by 135 countries and ratified by 94. President Bill Clinton signed it in December 2000, but the Bush administration renounced it in May 2002, cautioning that it could be used to carry out frivolous trials against U.S. troops.

A month ago, the administration was confident that the council would adopt the resolution. But the initiative began to unravel after Chile decided to abstain, and China warned that it was considering abstaining, or even vetoing the resolution, citing abuses at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. (...)

Washington Post June 23

Source: United for Peace of Pierce County, Washington website
http://www.ufppc.org/index.php?option=content&task=view&id=866


Siehe auch/See also:
Weiterhin Straffreiheit für US-Soldaten?
UN-Sicherheitsrat soll über Antrag der USA entscheiden - Menschenrechtsorganisationen protestieren - Die letztjährige Resolution 1487 (2003) im Wortlaut (22. Mai 2004)


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