The United States Congress is at it again. Surprised? The Republican controlled congress has added an amendment that will impose further sanctions on countries that have ratified the International Criminal Court (ICC) treaty.
The United States does not recognize this court. The US has good reason not to, given the recent invasion or war with Iraq and many other covert and less covert actions.
Now many countries will pay a big price. The message is clear, you are either with the United States or against them.
The United States Supreme Court has dealt with a similar matter concerning Microsoft and how they bundle their products, making it more difficult to choose different products other than Microsoft. Given the principles and law allowing for such action to taken against Microsoft, how can the Congress decide, you can not do it in the United Sates but the Government of the United States can do it to the World.
My ramblings end here with a backgrounder on this issue prepared by Citizens for Global Solutions
The measure targets democracies that uphold the rule of law and work along side the U.S. to further our foreign policy priorities. We should not be punishing them over unnecessary agreements that fail to provide any additional protection for our troops above and beyond what they already have through existing Status of Forces Agreements and Status of Mission Agreements.
Affected countries could include:
* Jordan: The amendment would withhold $250 million intended to help "promote economic growth and support healthcare, education, and governance reforms" from one of our strongest allies in the Middle East. Jordan, whose UN ambassador is also the President of the ICC's Assembly of States Parties, firmly believes that it cannot sign a bilateral immunity agreement that would put it in breach of the ICC treaty.
* Ecuador, Paraguay, Peru and Venezuela: The amendment would cancel $32.5 million in support for these countries intended to "pursue justice sector reform, strengthen democratic institutions, and promote the rule of law; facilitate implementation of free trade agreements; improve local governance and promote decentralization; fight corruption; and promote respect for human rights." An additional $4 million would be withheld from the Peru-Ecuador Peace initiative. These countries have already lost millions in military aid because they have chosen to uphold their legal commitment to the ICC (for FY04 military aid withheld includes $15.65 million for Ecuador, $2.7 million for Peru, and hundreds of thousands for Venezuela and Paraguay).
* Caribbean states including Barbados, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and Trinidad and Tobago would lose funds appropriated for the Third Border Initiative (a $9 million project), which improves immigration systems and border security and funds "disaster preparedness and coordination exercises." These three countries have also seen their military aid withheld; Trinidad and Tobago, which was instrumental in the creation of the ICC and now has a judge on the Court, has made very clear that its hands are tied legally.
* South Africa: An important strategic U.S. ally in the region, South Africa has already forfeited $7.6 million in military aid because of its strong support for the ICC. This amendment would withhold millions more from South Africa that is intended to fund anti-terrorism training, as well as "enhance trade and private sector development and promote human rights." South Africa has a judge currently serving on the Court.
* Ireland: This amendment would cancel $8.5 million to promote peace in Northern Ireland. It also deletes the $3.5 million Walsh Visa Program. Ireland also has a judge presently serving at the ICC. The European Union concluded that no European Union country could legally sign a bilateral immunity agreement as proposed by the U.S. because it would put them in breach of their legal commitments under the ICC's treaty. No EU country has publicly signed an agreement; all but one EU country (Czech Republic) are full members of the ICC and thus would be ineligible for Economic Support Fund monies under this amendment.
* Cyprus: Cyprus will lose $13.5 million intended to further its peace process. The former President of the Cypriot Supreme Court is now a judge at the ICC.
Full list of countries barred from receiving funds from the Economic Support Fund under this amendment:
Andorra, Argentina, Austria, Australia, Benin, Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Republic of Congo, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cyprus, Denmark, Estonia, Ecuador, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Jordan, Latvia, Lesotho, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxemburg, Mali, Malta, Namibia, New Zealand, Netherlands, Norway, Niger, Paraguay, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Korea, San Marino, Samoa, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Tanzania, Trinidad and Tobago, Uruguay, United Kingdom, and Venezuela.
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