Bush vs. UN’s International Criminal Court: Stay Tuned

August 5, 2002

By Tom DeWeese

President Bush did the right thing when he announced that the United States would not be a party to the United Nations’ International Criminal Court (ICC). He officially “unsigned” the ICC treaty that Bill Clinton had bound us to during the waning hours of his presidency. Bush’s action was a bold move and marked the first time in recent memory that an American president had taken such a strong stand against the United Nations in favor of American interests.

The truth is, without U.S. participation the ICC is little more than an empty shell, just like the rest of the UN operation. The internationalists can huff and puff all day about enforcing their will on the world, but they simply are not powerful enough to make the United States do anything against our will. Many anti-UN activists, myself included, were excited at the prospects of declaring the International Criminal Court “dead on arrival.”

However, no sooner had the Bush Administration announced its intention to ignore the ICC than the waffling began. Once again, the Bush Administration took the stance of the American paper tiger as it opened negotiations with ICC officials to exempt U.S. soldiers and officials from potential criminal prosecution. The UN simply refused to budge. Then the U.S. threatened to remove American soldiers from UN peacekeeping missions unless they were given the exemption. Again, the UN refused and the U.S. announced an extension of our peacekeeping mission in Bosnia.

Why would the Bush Administration allow itself to be put in this weakened position? The simple refusal to participate was enough to protect American soldiers. We don’t need assurances from the UN for that protection. If the U.S. says no, there’s not an entity on earth that would or could try to enforce trials of U.S. soldiers.

More importantly, the United States is not the only nation to refuse to join the ICC. Communist China, Japan and India have refused to join. Moreover, Russia and Israel regret joining and would very likely reverse that decision if the United States would stick to its guns and refuse to participate in the ICC. Without those major nations involved there would simply be no International Criminal Court. Who would enforce it? Who would we fear coming to arrest American soldiers?

The United States has an opportunity to start a trend away from the growing UN drive for global governance, if we stand strongly for our convictions. Apparently, however, the Bush Administration lacks the ability to stick with its original, proper instincts. Thankfully, there is another way to achieve the same goal.

Once again, Congressman Ron Paul of Texas has provided the answer. He has introduced the “American Service Member and Citizen Protection Act” which he says, “repudiates ICC jurisdiction over American Citizens.” The bill essentially provides that “the International Criminal Court is not valid with respect to the United States.” The bill would ban the use of taxpayer funds for the court and deems ICC actions against American servicemen as acts of aggression against America.

“The ICC is completely illegitimate, even under the UN’s own charter,” says Rep. Paul. The bill notes that under the terms of the 1969 Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, “no nation can be bound by a treaty to which that nation has not consented.”

Americans need to rally behind the Paul bill and send a strong message to the Bush Administration that it needs to stand behind the just interests of the United States.

Tom DeWeese
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Tom DeWeese is one of the nation’s leading advocates of individual liberty, free enterprise, private property rights, personal privacy, back-to-basics education and American sovereignty and independence.