American Essay: EX-PROSECUTOR WARNS AGAINST NEW WAR CRIMES LAW
by Benjamin B. Ferencz
American Reporter Correspondent
NEW ROCHELLE, N.Y. -- A misguided trap is being set by right-wingconserv= atives. It threatens our national security interests and endangersour milit= ary personnel.
The cleverly mislabeled "Servicemembers Protection Act" wasrecently pass= ed by the House and is now pending in the Senate where it wasappended as an= amendment linked to the Foreign Relations Act authorizingpayment of past-d= ue membership fees to the United Nations.
In the guise of protecting our military, the amendment is clearlydesign= ed to abort the creation of an International Criminal Court (ICC) now being= formed at the United Nations. The Act threatens to imposeeconomic and military sanctions against any na= tion that dares to supportthe court.
Republican Senator Jesse Helms of North Carolina leads thevigorous campa= ign that would repudiate the rule of law laid down at theNuremberg trials a= fter World War II -- that aggression, genocide, crimesagainst humanity and = major war crimes would never again go unpunished. Senator Helms and his sup= porters demand exemption and immunity for allU.S. personnel.
Conservative= attempts to abort the ICC defy the clear wishes ofthe vast majority of nat= ions, including our leading European allies. Weare seen as a bully that wan= ts the rule of law for everyone else but notfor ourselves. Without such a = court, our military personnel will remaincompletely at the mercy of their c= aptors, rather than under the protectiveshield of a fair tribunal created a= nd supervised by the internationalcommunity.
The campaign to kill the court relies on unfounded allegations designed= to frighten an uninformed public. Scholarly studies by outstanding legal e= xperts agree that it would be in the U.S. national interest to support the = International Criminal Court.
See for example, the publication last year = by the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the comprehensive speech by S= enator Leahy of Vermonton Dec. 15, 2000; the recommendation of the American= Bar Association in Feb. 2001, the conclusion sent to Congressman Henry Hyd= e on Feb. 13, 2001 by 10 former Presidents of the American Society of Inter= national Law,endorsing "U.S. acceptance of the Treaty without change... ."
Or, read the January 2001 editorial in the American Journal ofInternatio= nal Law by Monroe Leigh, former Counsel to both the State andDefense Depart= ments, that says the United States can most effectivelyprotect its national= -security interests, as well as the individualinterests of U.S. nationals, = by accepting the International Criminal Court"better sooner than later." N= one of these persuasive opinions are evermentioned by opponents of the ICC.
Those who believe in the rule of law that applies equally toeveryone ha= d better let their voices be heard very soon if we are to movetoward a more= humane and peaceful world.
Benjamin Ferencz was a prosecutor at the War Crimes Tribunalfollowing Wo= rld War II in Nuremberg, Germany. Write him firstname.lastname@example.org