Monday

27th May 2019

Rumsfeld warns Europeans not to erode sovereignty

The US Defence Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld has warned the Europeans against eroding state sovereignty.

Speaking in Germany on Wednesday (11 June), at a ceremony marking the 10th anniversary of the George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies in Garmisch, Mr Rumsfeld said: "We need to be able to hold states accountable for their performances. Those who want to push sovereignty away can't have it both ways: Either states are responsible for the governance of their countries or they are not,"

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"We must take care to not damage the core principle that under girds the international system – the principle of state sovereignty," he warned.

The secretary said he sees respect for the principle of sovereignty eroding. "We see it – in my view – in the International Criminal Courts claim of authority to try the citizens of countries that have not consented to ICC jurisdiction," he said.

"We see it in the new Belgian law purporting to give Belgian courts 'universal jurisdiction' over alleged war crimes anywhere in the world."

NATO officials at risk

Mr Rumsfeld hit out in particular at Belgium for allowing anyone to prosecute anyone for war crimes and called the law "dangerous".

The American Defence Secretary said the law had turned Belgium's legal system into "a platform for what I believe will be divisive, politicised lawsuits against officials of her NATO allies."

Charges have already been filed against U.S. Central Command's Army General Tommy Franks, who lead the Iraq war. "I suppose if George Marshall were alive, there would be suits against George Marshall in the Belgian courts," he said.

Mr Rumsfeld visited Germany as part of a four day trip to Europe, including stops in Portugal, Albania, Germany, and Brussels. On Thursday, 12 June, he will meet with other NATO defence ministers in Brussels to discuss a possible redesign of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization structures.

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