June 13, 2003
The Guardian (UK)

U.S. Threatens to Boycott Belgium Over War Crimes Law

by Ian Black and Ewen MacAskill

The bitter dispute between the US and Europe over Iraq burst into the open again yesterday when the US threatened Belgium with a boycott and Germany and France registered protests at the UN about Washington's continued opposition to the international criminal court.

The US defence secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, warned Belgium at a Nato meeting to drop its controversial war crimes law or face a boycott of Nato's Brussels HQ.

Belgium, a founder member of Nato, has a law giving it jurisdiction to try war crimes, genocide and other crimes against humanity wherever they are committed. . . .


[Deposed Panamanian dictator Manuel Antonio Noriega was convicted on eight of 10 drug and racketeering charges Thursday, two years after the United States took the extraordinary step of invading a foreign country to bring its leader to trial. --Robert L. Jackson and Mike Clary, "Noriega Convicted on 8 Drug and Racketeering Charges," Los Angeles Times, April 10, 1992]

[The US will today threaten to undermine the entire system of international treaties when it withdraws from plans for a court that will act as the world's first permanent war crimes tribunal.

To back out of the plans, the administration will assert it is no longer bound by the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, a 1969 pact detailing the obligations of nations to obey other international treaties.

Under the convention, a country that has signed a treaty cannot act to defeat the purpose of that treaty, even if does not intend to ratify it.-- David Teather, "US threat to wreck treaty system," Guardian, May 6, 2002]

[From Feb. 3 to 7, governments will be choosing the first panel of 18 justices for the International Criminal Court, the first permanent tribunal in history established to try individuals accused of the most horrible of offenses: war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity. . . . The Bush administration has rejected the new court because Washington has not been able to get a blanket exception from prosecution for Americans. . . . In 2000, the outgoing Clinton administration, . . . signed the treaty creating the International Criminal Court--Barbara Crossette, "U.S. Out Of Race For First ICC Judges," UN Wire, January 22, 2003]

[The United States and other nations violated the conventions in the 1991 Gulf War and the 1998 attacks on Kosovo, he added.Thalif Deen, "US, allies could be prosecuted for war: experts," Dawn, February 1, 2003]

Richard Overy, "Coalition in the dock: There is a strong war crimes case against US and British leaders, but big powers have immunity," Guardian, April 15, 2003

Dr. Daniel Amit, "'Some of Us Have Lived Through 1939'," May 4, 2003

[General Tommy Franks is threatened with a Belgian war crimes trial . . . --Jonathan Duffy, "US troops 'encouraged' Iraqi looters," BBC News Online, May 6, 2003

David Usborne and Stephen Castle, "Anti-war Nations Approve New UN Resolution on Iraq, Independent, May 22, 2003

[The US has bitterly attacked European leaders for trying to stop the UN security council voting tomorrow to renew America's exemption from prosecution by the new war crimes tribunal.--Gary Younge and Ian Black in Brussels, "War crime vote fuels US anger at Europe," Guardian, June 11, 2003]

Ian Black, "Belgium gives in to US on war crimes law, Guardian, June 24, 2003

[A report published by Amnesty International shows that most of the 43 states that have already signed bilateral immunity treaties are heavily indebted to the United States.--Robert Verkaik, "US forces nations to help its citizens avoid international court," Independent, June 30, 2003]

[The United States on Tuesday suspended military assistance to nearly 50 countries, including Colombia and six nations seeking NATO membership, because they have supported the International Criminal Court and failed to exempt Americans from possible prosecution.--"U.S. Suspends Military Aid to Nearly 50 Countries," Reuters, July 1, 2003]

[Belgium's re-elected center-left government has agreed to replace a war crimes law that has clouded relations with the United States, Israel and other countries.--"Belgium revising war crimes law," Associated Press, July 14, 2003]

Bryan Bender, "US debates bid to kill Hussein and avoid trial, Boston Globe, August 1, 2003

"Belgium Scales Back Its War Crimes Law Under U.S. Pressure, Associated Press, August 2, 2003

[Douglass Cassel, a law professor at Northwestern University, said there was a tension between America's enthusiasm for litigation and its resistance to foreign and international tribunals.

"A lot of countries have been saying, 'Where does the United States get off being the world leader in adjudicating these suits against other nations but not against the United States itself?'"--Adam Liptak, "U.S. Courts' Role in Foreign Feuds Comes Under Fire, New York Times, August 3, 2003]

Noam Chomsky, "Preventive War 'The Supreme Crime', Information Clearing House, August 11, 2003

[US officials are objecting to a section of the resolution which refers to attacks on humanitarian workers as a war crime under the statutes of the newly-established International Criminal Court (ICC).--Greg Barrow, "US attacked over UN resolution, BBC News, August 25, 2003]

Rupert Cornwell, "US will deny aid to countries that refuse court immunity deals, Independent, November 4, 2003

"UN Signs Pact with New World Court Opposed by U.S., Reuters, October 4, 2004

Julian Borger, "Congress threatens to cut aid in fight over criminal court, Guardian, November 27, 2004

Adam Liptak, "U.S. Says It Has Withdrawn From World Judicial Body, New York Times, March 10, 2005

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