25th Oct 2016

France puts US under pressure to accept war crimes court

France has tabled a draft resolution at the UN that would refer crimes against humanity in Sudan’s western Darfur region to the International Criminal Court in The Hague (ICC).

The resolution places the US in the difficult dilemma of accepting the International Criminal Court or casting a politically damaging veto in the UN Security Council.

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According to the New York Times, the French will call for a vote today (24 March) in the UN Security Council, where France has been assured of at least 11 votes in favour. Only nine votes are needed to pass the resolution, provided no veto is cast.

Tanzania or The Hague

The ICC has long been a bone of contention between the EU, which champions the court, and the US, which has refused to sign up to it.

The ICC is the first permanent global criminal court to try individuals for genocide, war crimes and massive human rights abuses. But Washington has refused to sign up out of fears that its citizens could be subject to politically motivated prosecutions at the Court.

The United States earlier this week circulated three separate resolutions at the UN to pave the way for a 10,000-strong UN peacekeeping force to be sent to Sudan.

The US resolutions would separate the decision on the peacekeeping force from the decision on how to punish those responsible for atrocities.

The US had earlier proposed establishing a new court in Arusha, Tanzania for the prosecution of Darfur's war crimes. A five-member independent UN commission however earlier this year recommended the Darfur cases be referred to the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague.

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