Saturday, July 05, 2003
Warmed up Leftovers - 5th July 2003, 11.27

David Ignatius, formerly executive editor of the International Herald Tribune, analyses the tit-for-tat exchanges between the United States and France. These are focussed specifically upon the bilateral treaties that the United States is arranging to guarantee exemption from the International Criminal Court. France is using its diplomatic clout to warn those countries that sign of the possible consequences.

When Romania agreed to US requests for a waiver, for example, France reportedly reacted by warning the Romanians that they could be jeopardizing future membership in the European Union. The French are said to have issued a similar warning to at least one Baltic state that hopes to join the EU.

US diplomats claim the French also backtracked on their pledge to exempt from ICC prosecution US troops that are involved in UN peacekeeping missions. The French had signaled they would support an automatic rollover of this exemption when it was drafted last year. But when it came up for renewal in the Security Council last month, France abstained.

The French have already obtained an exemption for themselves:

What’s particularly galling, say US officials, is that the French negotiated for themselves a seven-year waiver from prosecution by the ICC ­ which a French friend tells me makes them the only country with such blanket immunity.

After all, France signed the treaty for the ICC on the July 18th 1998 and ratified the ICC on the 9th June 2000, with a small proviso:

At the time of ratification, France made a reservation on Article 124 of the Rome Statute, which excludes prosecutions of French citizens for war crimes from the ICC’s juridiction for seven years.

The United Kingdom signed up hook, line and sinker under our present incompetent masters.

It is no surprise that the French gave themselves seven years to examine whether the ICC would prove a successful venture. If it proved to be a viper that encroached too heavily on French foreign policy, they would withdraw without any further thought. Would that Britain were so naked and analytical in its national interest.


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