Fri, Jul 12, 2002 - Page 1 News List

US softens demands for world court immunity

REUTERS , UNITED NATIONS

After a day of fierce criticism from its closest allies, the White House softened demands for blanket immunity for American peacekeepers from the world's first permanent criminal court.

The new US proposal, that was to be discussed by UN Security Council members yesterday, would prevent the investigation or prosecution of peacekeepers for a year, subject to renewal.

Previously Washington demanded a permanent exemption from the tribunal's jurisdiction for soldiers from countries that had not ratified a 1998 Rome treaty creating the International Criminal Court, which came into existence on July 1.

Nevertheless, many of the Security Council's 14 other members said the new US draft resolution still violated the letter and spirit of the court's treaty, signed by 139 countries and ratified by 76 nations. But the US modification was the first indication that a resolution of the dispute, in which the US threatened to shut down all UN peacekeeping missions, might be resolved soon.

Washington has made Bosnia the test case. It vetoed an extension of the 1,500-member UN police training mission and the council's endorsement of a 18,000-strong NATO-led peacekeeping force, unless its demands were met. Another vote is due by Monday.

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