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The Proposed International Criminal Court

This week's In the News concerns the UN Conference, July 26-August 13, focussing on the proposed International Criminal Court. Once established, the International Criminal Court will have a permanent status and global jurisdiction. It will be the first court of its kind empowered to investigate and charge individuals, rather than countries, who commit the most serious of crimes against the international community, such as genocide, war crimes, torture, and crimes against humanity. Such a court would have the power to charge sovereign leaders such as Pol Pot, Saddam Hussein, and Slobodan Milosevic as individual international criminals. First drafted at an international conference in Rome last summer, the treaty concept has been accepted by 120 nations, but the United States has withheld support, one of only two democracies to do so. The United States argues that such a court could abuse its authority for political purposes, charging, for instance, American soldiers for their participation in the bombing of Serbia in the recent NATO operation. Treaty advocates maintain that sufficient safeguards have been built into the treaty, per U.S. recommendations, to preclude such scenarios, but the State department remains opposed.
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