27th May 2019

US attacks EU over international court

Washington has renewed its criticism of European Union efforts to block immunity agreements that would prevent US citizens from being subject to the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court (ICC).

According to the Under-Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security, John Bolton, the EU is imposing an unfair choice on future EU member states by insisting that they do not undermine the ICC.

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An EU Common Position, agreed last year, lays out 'bottom line' principles in case current and new member states do sign a bilateral agreement with the US.

Speaking at the conservative think-tank, the American Enterprise Institute, Mr Bolton yesterday (3 November) said that the US will press ahead with the immunity agreements - the so-called Article 98 exemption agreement - and will cut off military aid to countries which do not comply, according to media reports.

The ICC has long been a bone of contention between the EU and the US. While the EU has been a champion of the Court, which was set up to prosecute war criminals, the US has refused to sign up.

It fears that its citizens will be subject to politically motivated prosecutions.

The whole debate centres around the crucial Article 98 which allows for exemptions from ICC jurisdiction. The EU is not opposed in principle to article 98, but the scope of its application.

It objects to US attempts to secure exemption from the Court for all US citizens and not just officials.

However, the US is forging ahead with the agreements which exempts its citizens. Mr Bolton said that exemption agreements have been signed with 70 countries - of which 50 belong the Court's 90 signatories.

The latest to sign are Antigua and Barbuda, Botswana, Ghana, Malawi, Uganda and East Timor.

Rejecting the ICC was one of the first acts of the Bush Administration when it came to power in 2001. It withdrew America's signature, one of Bill Clinton's final acts as US President, from the Treaty of Rome, which established the ICC.


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