International Information Programs
Office of Research Issue Focus Foreign Media Reaction

July 8, 2003

July 8, 2003





** Editorialists argue the U.S. threatens ICC credibility and shows disdain for international law. 


** Critics on the left and right chide the U.S. for pressuring small nations.


** Europeans view the ICC issue as the latest transatlantic "bone of contention" and see EU unity as key to resisting U.S. demands.




U.S. efforts to 'sabotage' ICC reflect a desire to 'restructure the world'--  Commenting on U.S. demands that American citizens be exempted from ICC jurisdiction, China's official Renmin Ribao judged that while the U.S. considers itself the most democratic nation in the world, it "always regards itself as a special citizen...and often ignores the authority of international norms."  Pakistan's liberal Daily Times accused the U.S. of  "treating with disdain...those nations trying to construct a system of egalitarian international justice."  Russia's pro-business Kommersant stated, "The Americans have always enjoyed trying others but they flatly reject the idea of being tried themselves."


The threat of sanctions forces small nations to 'choose between two evils'--  Editorialists assailed the U.S. for threatening to suspend urgently needed military aid to nations that fail to agree to Article 98 waivers.  Papers in Eastern Europe and the Balkans urged their governments to follow considerations of "realpolitik" towards U.S. pressure.  Independent La Libre Belgique identified a given nation's closeness with the EU as the governing factor in how it responded to U.S. requirements.  Riga's leading Diena agreed, interpreting Latvia's refusal to sign an exemption agreement as siding "with the EU, not against the U.S."  Conversely, FYROM's Skopje Flaka thought it "better to be with the U.S. than with anyone else."  Outside Europe, Nicaragua's center-right La Prensa excoriated the government for "giving in to U.S. interests," as did Uganda's independent Monitor, which condemned President Museveni for bowing to "petty U.S. imperialism."


The U.S. wants a 'blank check to do anything' without repercussions--  While most European editorialists acknowledged American fears of "politically motivated prosecutions against U.S. citizens," Latin American and African commentators were more skeptical.  Kenya's left-of-center The Nation concluded that "the U.S. military has been, or will be, committing just the kind of crimes the ICC will be trying."  African outlets noted that "we can only assume that the U.S. will also want to reserve for itself the right to haul leaders and soldiers of other countries before these very courts."  A Nicaraguan paper called the bilateral agreements "illegal" and charged the U.S. with wanting its citizens to be "above the law."  Analysts worldwide cited the Guantanamo detainees as an example of American judicial hypocrisy.



EDITOR'S NOTE:  Editorial excerpts from each country are listed from the most recent date.

This analysis is based on 63 reports from 30 Countries, June 23 to July 8. 




FRANCE:  “Washington's Response To The ICC”


Isabelle Lasserre wrote in right-of-center Le Figaro (7/3):  “Washington is carrying out its threats, as it did with Iraq.  By suspending financial aid to those nations which have refused to sign bilateral agreements, Washington is sending out a political message to the small nations that count on Washington's support....  This American campaign threatens the ICC’s credibility. But since the beginning the EU’s unity has played its role, especially with former Eastern block nations hoping to become EU members.  An approach which has irked the Bush administration but has had results.  And so, after Iraq, the ICC has become the latest bone of contention between the EU and the U.S.  The ICC is probably facing one of the most serious crises of its new existence.  But Europe, which appears to be more united on the issue of international law than transatlantic relations may be able to find within its ranks the necessary energy to save the ICC.”


"The Battle Between the U.S. and Europe.”


Claire Trean in left-of-center Le Monde opined (6/30):  “Washington's U.S.-EU summit was not ruined by the differences over the ICC....  But the virulence of the disagreement was nevertheless apparent and proves to what extent Europe can offer resistance to the U.S. when it stands united....  The Americans are afraid of the ICC, as they are of any new international system....  Faced with the preventive guerrilla attacks from Washington, the ICC is going to need Europe's unfailing support.”


GERMANY:  "Law of the Jungle"


Ingolf Karnahl commented on regional radio station Hessischer Rundfunk of Frankfurt (7/2): "Those who do not give in to the superpower, will be punished, for instance, by stopping military assistance, and additional means of pressure cannot be ruled out.  This hits, among other countries, the eastern and southeastern European countries that are planning to join the EU and NATO.  A large majority in the EU, including Germany and France, are strongly in favor of the ICC.  Again Washington is deliberately adding fuel to tensions in the EU according to Rumsfeld's formula of the old, recalcitrant, and new, America-friendly Europe.  But cutting military assistance for the Baltic nations and Bulgaria is also precarious, since they need military assistance to prepare for the membership in the Alliance.  They can be blackmailed.  The law of the jungle instead of the rule of law remains the only reliable policy of the Bush administration and is likely to remain their understanding of the new world order."


"Crime Prevention"


Erik-Michael Bader opined in center-right Frankfurter Allgemeine (7/2):  "The U.S. is pursuing a policy of a preventive prosecution of a crime.  It has thus far prompted 50 nations--one fourth of all existing states--to commit themselves in bilateral agreements not to extradite American nationals to the ICC....  Many of these nations did not sign such an agreement out of conviction...but did so out of realpolitik considerations, because they cannot afford to annoy the superpower...since they know that the superpower still has other means in reserve apart from suspending military assistance.  In the near future, America will not give up its obstruction of the ICC....  But in the long run, based on experience, [it may realize] that common rights and duties for all are more favorable even for the strong nation that, for the time being, prefers to rely on its own strength."


"Below The Belt"


Rolf Paasch judged in left-of-center Frankfurter Rundschau (7/2):  "The rule of law is a fundamental principle of every democracy, but where the ICC is involved, the Bush government uses all possible means to force other democracies to disrespect the rule of law....  The 'Immunity Agreements' violate the spirit of the Rome Treaties and contradict the declared EU policy.  Thus a transatlantic wrestling has begun for the support of those states that must decide between Europe's support for the ICC and America's sabotage of it.  And in this struggle, the U.S. is now attacking below the belt....  This pathological dislike of the world court even goes so far that the United States is even willing to damage its own strategic interests to force other nations to sign the immunity agreement."


"Bush's Insolence"


Jochen Irmler commented on national radio station Deutschlandfunk of Cologne (6/17):  "The approach the U.S. uses to try to isolate the ICC is exemplary of the insolence President Bush demonstrates, even though the controversy over the statutes and the authorities of the ICC began even before the Bush administration came to power.  It is true that Bush's predecessors always welcomed the establishment of the ICC in public, but they always wanted the UNSC, where the U.S. has a right to veto, to keep the ICC on a tight rein.  What is so worrying for the U.S. about the ICC?....  The U.S. denies the ICC not only the legal objectivity, but it also insinuates that there could be political forces who could, under certain circumstances, influence the ICC politically.  The kind of arrogance, the kind of hubris that is behind it can be measured only by those who do not know too much about the U.S. legal system and about the numerous capital punishments of U.S. courts that turned out to be crass, wrong judgments in retrospect."


RUSSIA: "How Much Is A Pardon For America?"


Sergey Strokan wrote in reformist business-oriented Kommersant (7/3): "The Americans have always enjoyed trying others but they flatly reject the idea of being tried themselves.  No wonder Washington seeks to shield U.S. citizens from whatever the ICC may try to do to them.   The idea behind its efforts is Hands Off America.  Since it cannot shut down the ICC, the U.S. is looking to sign bilateral non-extradition agreements with individual countries.  It is a bargain in which it is up to you to decide whether to sell a pardon to America and for how much."


BELGIUM: “ICC: About 50 Countries in the United States’ Sights”


Christophe Lamfalussy commented in independent La Libre Belgique (7/2): “The EU ‘strongly’ supports the ICC, but it does not intend to sanction candidate countries that sign an agreement with Washington. ‘They are democratically elected Governments. They know what their responsibilities vis-à-vis the EU and the United States are,’ a European diplomat said. Each candidate country that has signed an agreement with the United States will probably have to modify its legislation once it joins the EU.  That is why the countries’ attitude was different depending on how close to the EU they are. Croatia, which hopes to join the EU in 2007, said no to the United States. Romania, Albania, and Bosnia, which are very eager to become NATO member countries, said yes. ‘The countries that sign are the weakest countries, and this is worrying us,’ the EU diplomat added."


"Washington's Punishment"


Financial daily De Financieel-Economische Tijd opined (7/2):  “The U.S. is halting its military support to some fifty countries.  With this measure Washington wants to punish those countries because they refuse to sign the so-called Article 98 agreements.  Those agreements are intended to make American citizens and military people immune to prosecution by the ICC....  The U.S. fears that politically motivated complaints will be lodged against American military leaders and politicians.  To exert pressure on those countries, the U.S. the possibility of sanctions.  Yesterday, the list of 47 countries was leaked.  The main victims are six NATO candidates: Bulgaria, Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia, Slovakia and Slovenia.  They urgently need American support to modernize their armed forces in the framework of their NATO membership."


"Back to Common Sense"


Chief commentator Luc Van der Kelen editorialized in conservative Het Laatste Nieuws (6/23):  “It was my initial conviction - and everyone expected that, too - that we would have to pay a price for our nerve after the Iraq war.  The worst thing is that the government gave the Americans an alibi by not taking the right measures.  Today, it is very much the question whether we will not be forced to go it all the way while the Americans force us to sign a bilateral agreement that stipulates that Americans can never be brought before a Belgian court or be extradited to the ICC....  Our government leaders constantly acted against the Americans, the Dutch, and the British.  We didn't make them our friends.  While Belgium may be on the world map again, the effect is negative.  Just ask our Ambassadors to NATO and Washington.“


BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA: "Democracy, Power, and Law"


Boro Hajdukovic opined in Republika Srpska hard-line weekly RS Oslobodjenje (6/25):  "Rational and well-intended people in the world, recruited from various countries, established the ICC....  But, America is boycotting this new international court....  The EU unanimously supported the establishment of the ICC.  Some of its members, the countries that were recently accepted into the EU, ratified agreements with America to exempt U.S. citizens....  Is it fair--no, is it sorrowful--YES!  Such appearances and relations enlarge the gap between the U.S. and the EU....  Americans diligently yell about terrible violations of human rights in China, Russia, and many other countries, just to cover the real situation in their own country."


BULGARIA: "Bulgaria's Dilemma"


Finance oriented Pari judged (7/1):  "Today we will learn Washington’s final decision on possible military aid sanctions.  Regardless of this decision, the Bulgarian leaders should finally face the new reality--after 9/11 and especially after the Iraqi war, Bulgaria will be forced to choose between the U.S. and the EU ever more frequently.  This is inevitable because we are not only talking about a new political-military configuration, in which the U.S. in the uncontested global leader, but also about new financial and economic interests."


CROATIA: "We Will Sign Secretly in the End?"


Zeljko Trkanjec commented in mass-circulation Jutarnji List (7/5): "When new American Ambassador, Ralph Frank, says that there are a few misunderstandings in our relations, he also has the ICC in mind.  It should be clear that The Hague Tribunal is Croatia's commitment, because it was established by the UNSC.  However, joining the ICC is an autonomous decision by every individual country based on the sovereign equality of countries, and it should be respected.  Croatia is the only member of the Adriatic Charter without American military assistance, and one should have no doubts that it will stand in our way toward NATO, and will not help us in joining the EU." 


CZECH REPUBLIC:  "Global Imperial Politics"


Martin Ehl wrote in business Hospodarske Noviny (7/3):  "Washington thus gave a signal to the whole world that conservative politics of President Bush makes the U.S. a global empire....  No one is entitled to expect U.S. military aid automatically.  However, Washington has created a network of 'clients' across the world, and they will have difficulties in finding substitute [funds].  This is why they are likely to start careful negotiations with the U.S. now, so that they don't lose also other forms of cooperation....  The U.S. is now the world's only superpower and it can dictate terms and conditions....  If it cannot influence things directly, it tries to undermine them indirectly, just like in the case of the ICC....  Bush's [neo-conservative] Administration keeps adding new elements that the international liberal environment finds hard to digest....  The representatives of the American State Department and Department of Defense use foreign policy to push through their own interests, which do not necessarily represent the American national interests....  Washington can force its way in a number of areas.  Bush's Administration has just given the world a sample lesson in global imperial politics."


"Prague as Seat of NATO?"


Petr Uhl opined in the left-of-center daily Pravo (6/20):  "The U.S. currently claims that war, especially the one waged by the U.S., is moral.  And it does not want to bear responsibility for its soldiers or politicians who wage their wars.  They oppose the ICC….  Europe, after the experience with the two world wars, knows better than that….  Belgium is not the only country, which has the legal apparatus to prosecute offenses against humanity, and the C.R. is one of them….  Our country can prosecute even those outside of the C.R.  If the offenders are in the country it is all the easier.  For this reason alone, the Czech government should not offer Prague as the NATO seat.  Let the Americans find a place where war crimes are tolerated."




Suzana Djamtoska commented in independent but pro-VMRO-DPMNE Skopje Vecer (7/2):  "Macedonia has agreed to sign the agreement with the United States on exempting U.S. citizens from the jurisdiction of the ICC....  As far as we are concerned, it was obvious from the very beginning that we will accept the U.S. request, regardless of how absurd it seemed....  Why?   Because in the bilateral agreement the reference FYROM would not be used, but the word Macedonia would be used instead.  The term the Republic of Macedonia would not be used, but only Macedonia.   This would allegedly be progress toward our recognition under our constitutional name....   According to [Prime Minister Branko] Crvenkovski, on the basis of the country's interests, we, as a country, could find our interest there..."  


"A Big Brother for Bigger Presents"


Ljube Profiloski editorialized  in nominally independent but pro-VMRO-DPMNE Skopje Nova Makedonija (6/28):  "In just one move, at a single session, the government of Macedonia managed to balance the request of the U.S. not to deliver its citizens to the CC and the threats by the EU if it did so.  It granted the U.S. request for the signing of a bilateral agreement that binds Macedonia not to extradite U.S. citizens wanted by the Court.  At the same time, Macedonia agreed to let the EU's first combat group, called "Concordia," continue its peace mission on our territory until the end of the year.  So we have managed to have our cake and eat it!  In this way, the Republic of Macedonia continues its political orientation toward a partnership with the United States and an alliance with the EU.  On the global political scene, there is an increasingly clear situation in which the Americans are an untouchable military and political power making gradual, yet persistent attempts to restructure the world in accordance with its own views, which it imposes on everybody.  In this kind of situation, opposing its policy or standing aside would have catastrophic consequences, especially for small states in crisis regions....  Obviously, the signature is well compensated for despite the skeptical view that it prolongs our road to Europe.   Meanwhile, a deeper analysis would demonstrate that the opposite may be true: it could speed up construction of the highway to Europe.  So far not a single country has become a member of the EU without joining NATO beforehand.   Macedonia's membership in NATO, which the U.S. push through after this agreement, will be a strategic argument that will take us more rapidly to Europe's gate..."  


"Between U.S., European Union, Macedonia Chooses Name"


Zana P. Bozinovska commented in independent Skopje Dnevnik (6/27):  "Macedonia has finally obtained what it needed most, an ally that will help it achieve its strategic and national interests.  By supporting the United States in exempting US soldiers from the jurisdiction of the ICC, Macedonia has once again obtained U.S. support on the most delicate issue, that is, the country's constitutional name....  The country is open for an active partnership with the United States and the European Union.  Or, as one of our prominent diplomats may say, it should not choose between a U.S. wife and a French lover.  It would be good to have them both." 


"Macedonia Rides 'Realpolitik'"


D. Dauti argued in independent Albanian-language Skopje Flaka (6/26): "....What Macedonia needs is a strategic partner, which it has lacked so far.   With the signing of a bilateral agreement with the United States exempting U.S. citizens from extradition to the ICC, Macedonia will get a kind of support from the United States that it has never had before.  The first step will be the opening of the doors to NATO....   Having in mind the fact that the United States bears the main burden of NATO activities, it does not require much wisdom to appreciate this pragmatism....  On the basis of international law -- the same law that the ICC is supposed to enforce--the American arguments are weaker than the arguments presented by EU experts and politicians.   However, the logic of pragmatism leads to different conclusions -- if a small country such as Macedonia has to choose between the divided Europeans, who all have their own individual interests, and the U.S., who also has its own interests, then go for the strongest party....  It seems that the Macedonian Government has learned a lesson from Albanians: it is better to be with the United States than with anyone else." 


IRELAND:  "EU Summit a Success"

Denis Staunton opined in the center-left daily Irish Times (6/23):  ....This week's EU-U.S. summit in Washington finds the EU more united in its approach to foreign policy than most would have imagined possible a few weeks ago. In their closing communiqué, the leaders expressed their conviction that ‘the development of transatlantic relations on an equal footing remains of fundamental importance in every domain, not only for the two sides but also for the international community’. The leaders made clear they were not budging in their opposition to U.S. demands for an agreement to prevent U.S. soldiers being brought before the IICC."

LATVIA: "With The EU Not Against The U.S."

Leading Latvian language daily Diena remarked (6/27):  "Latvia's decision not to sign an agreement at the moment with the U.S about immunity for its citizens against the ICC is a wise [decision] for our country, although it is a temporary solution to a situation which should be dealt with in negotiations between the EU and the U.S....  The U.S. has also signed the so called Rome statutes, which serve as legal basis for the ICC.  But the concerns that the new court can be used for politically motivated persecutions against U.S. citizens, primarily military personnel, without whose presence most international peacekeeping and humanitarian operations would be problematic, are well understandable."


MALTA:  "Relations Between Friends"


Independent, English-language Malta Independent held (7/7):  "Last week's spat on Malta's backing of the ICC and the ensuing U.S. suspension of military aid to Malta and other countries will not affect the 'excellent bilateral relations between the U.S. and Malta,' the foreign minister said over the weekend.  Indeed, the relations are, have been, and will continue to be, excellent....  We respect the U.S. stand, just as we expect the U.S. to respect our commitments in favour of peace and neutrality, but we still say we cannot understand it at all.  Nor do we understand why the U.S. should have linked this difference between friends to the suspension of military aid to those countries who signed and backed the ICC...  As a friend to a friend, we can also tell the U.S. that such a decision does nothing to improve the much battered international image of the U.S."


"An Unfortunate Decision By Washington"


Independent, English-language weekly Malta Independent on Sunday opined (7/6):  "The decision by the U.S. government to suspend military aid to nearly 50 countries, including Malta, over their support for the International Criminal Court is unfortunate... Malta's position on the ICC, however, which is also the position of its EU partners, is correct, and the U.S. opposition to the ICC unfortunately sends out the wrong message to the international community, namely that the U.S. is above international law...  One hopes that common sense will prevail before September when Washington's foreign military aid budget is drawn up, and the ban will be lifted."


NORWAY: "Two Types of Justice"


Ivar Iversen of Social Democratic Dagsavisen editorialized (7/7):  "...The USA’s fight against the ICC illustrates an old truth: There are two kinds of justice…For the past half year, President George W. Bush has repeated ‘We’ll bring the terrorists to justice, or justice to the terrorists.’  What it really means is: ‘We’ll kill them, an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. So the word ‘justice’ means two things: Juridical legitimacy, and Old Testament justice…The first applies to Americans, and the second to the rest of the world…. The U.S. is often compared with an obstinate teenager that refuses to listen to mother Europe’s mild attempt to regulate the teenager’s life. The teenager knows best himself… The U.S. plays moral hard-rock, and Europe does very little more than put wads of cotton in its ears. To live in the USA’s global political teenager’s room, one must accept that there are two types of justice."


“The U.S. fight against the ICC”


Newspaper of record Aftenposten commented (7/3):  “The USA is now putting undue pressure on a number of countries to get them to sign agreements that ensure U.S. citizens won’t be prosecuted for war crimes.  While the intent may appear good--to protect ones own citizens against arbitrariness from abroad--it’s a good example of how wrong things can get when one country chooses a law for itself, and demands that all other countries should follow other rules….We others only see a USA that demands a special position in international society, while at the same time undermining the international community governed by law by both blackening the ICC and pressuring other countries to commit to agreements that give the Americans immunity… The U.S., a constitutional state with liberties guaranteed under the law, should not have anything to fear by reversing its decision to withdraw its acceptance of the ICC. This is not the way the Bush administration sees it. Unfortunately.”


SERBIA AND MONTENEGRO:  "Letting the Bird Out"


Radivoj Cveticanin, political commentator for Independent Danas, remarked (7/5-7/6):  “SAM made a serious political mistake by postponing its decision on signing a bilateral agreement with the U.S.  Europe has not applauded us for that, however, the slap from Washington already came leaving us empty handed on both sides.  Once again a wrong move was made. The U.S. knows how to respect loyal allies....  On the other hand it is almost cruel to those who change sides, or are reluctant....  Yes, America has the bad habit of either punishing or rewarding....  The punishment was known, the reward would have been U.S. support.  Analysts made the biggest mistake by saying that it wouldn’t cost SAM much, because it will." 


"Fear From Uncle Sam"


Vecernje Novosti commented (7/4): "If SAM signs an agreement, it will confirm that we are not equal, that American citizens are better, and that the American war crimes are untouchable."


“No Excuses”


Pro-government Politika’s commentator Bosko Jaksic lamented (7/3):  “Belgrade officials tried to postpone the decision, to use up the time, and finally decided not to make a decision.  Washington officials again showed  that they don’t care for etiquette and considered that those who didn’t sign are against the U.S. and should be punished.…  Of course we want good relations with the U.S. but must say, under the circumstances, SAM tried everything.”


"Principles or Threats"


Pro-government daily Politika commented (6/27): “Regarding a decision as to whether SAM will sign a bilateral agreement on nonextradition of U.S. citizens to the ICC--SAM’s highest officials will probably have to choose between two evils.  Regardless of which “empire” we choose, the superpower America or the EU which we want to join, we will regret it. According to the views of political parties, the decision should be reached in accordance with moral principles; in other words, we should resist U.S. pressures. However, the delicate situation where we find ourselves in a sandwich between the U.S. and the EU will not be resolved for a while."


"The Honor of the Poor"


Independent weekly Vreme's commentator Stojan Cerovic wrote (6/26): "If [SAM] had some sovereignty, the answer to Washington would undoubtedly be a polite No. ... However, this state is not such, so the answer will be positive although maybe not polite....  The [positive] decision will be presented as the regime's well-thought out and calculated move, although refusing Washington this time would not be dangerous, nor cost much. Belgrade is not threatened with sanctions, all it could lose is some promised military assistance, in which case the public ought to know what type of assistance has been promised and how big it is, i.e. the price of this historic humiliation.  I think we have the right to know the price of our honor....  All we can do is to be disappointed.  We cannot even be angry with this regime, because it is too weak."


"US-EU Sandwich"


Pro-government daily Politika and independent Danas published a commentary by state owned news agency Tanjug (6/25): "In Brussels, all attention is headed in the direction of Balkan countries, after Uganda, Egypt, Tunisia, Mongolia, Nicaragua and Seychelles signed bilateral agreements with Washington on exemption of U.S. citizens from the jurisdiction of the ICC. According to the stand of the EU, Balkan countries are under great pressure from the U.S., which wants them to sign controversial bilateral agreements which Washington has already signed with 43 other countries. According to the EU's official stand, as well as that of other numerous international organizations for protection of human rights, the agreements subvert the authority and competence of the ICC. Albania and Bosnia-Herzegovina have already signed such agreements, while Slovenia and Croatia, according to Brussels, have practically rejected Washington's demand and will not sign them. This is why it is deemed that U.S. pressure is particularly headed towards Serbia-Montenegro and Bulgaria. In such circumstances, Brussels analysts point out that the two countries are in a dangerous US-EU sandwich. Namely, on one side, the U.S. is threatening to suspend its military assistance to those countries, and on the other, at a recent EU-West Balkans summit, EU leaders pointed out clearly in their closing declaration that Balkan countries should not sign bilateral agreements with the U.S.."


"The Authorities in Dilemma"


Belgrade independent daily Glas Javnosti commented (6/24): “The Ministers Council of the state union of Serbia and Montenegro should decide by July 1 whether to sign a bilateral agreement with the U.S. regarding the nonextradition of American citizens to the ICC. This agreement is not in accordance with EU policy and we are, like many other European countries, in the position to cause anger by one of the two powers. The European Commission warned that current and potential EU members have to comply with the EU’s rules of the game…Anyway, it is clear now that we are going to have certain consequences regardless whether we decide to sign or not to sign a bilateral agreement.”


SPAIN: "Blackmail Of Impunity"


Conservative ABC editorialized (7/3): "The persistence of the U.S. in being outside the ICC's jurisdiction is not an internal issue, but a burden for its strategic relations to third countries and, of course, to the EU....  The lack of unequivocal commitment to assume the prosecution of its nationals for crimes established by the Statute of Rome leads to an absolute impunity of [U.S.] troops which Europe should not favor....  This exercise of arrogant superiority by the U.S. is unnecessary considering the mechanisms of precaution foreseen in the Statute of Rome, is counter-productive to creating conditions for public opinion to favor Washington's leadership and, in short, is a tarnish on the political and moral arguments of relations with its best allies."




CHINA:  "If You have No Consideration For Me, You Will Not Get Money Out of My Pocket"


Cao Yutian commented in the official Communist Party People's Daily Renmin Ribao (7/3): "The U.S. always regards itself as a 'special citizen' in the world, and often ignores the authority of the UN and international norms. This time, the U.S. openly uses foreign aid as a tool of coercion to other countries.  Such behavior is really arbitrary."




PAKISTAN: "America and War Crimes"


Brian Cloughley editorialized in Lahore-based English language Daily Times (6/18):  "The U.S. has bribed and bullied over thirty countries to help it cripple and if possible destroy the ICC, but the great majority of nations (including many of the bullied ones) consider it a major advance in international cooperation.  In humanitarian terms it is a practical step forward for global maturity and decency. The only circumstances in which the ICC would have a case referred to it would be if individuals alleged to have committed war crimes had not been subject to their own national judicial process.  What could be fairer than that? But it isn't a matter of being fair.  It is a matter of America being above the law.  No American citizen is ever going to be charged with committing a war crime. The U.S. will ride roughshod over international law and treat with disdain and contempt those nations trying to construct a system of egalitarian international justice.  Bush is determined to destroy internationalism.  That's the way it goes, and there is nothing we can do about it.  Little wonder that terrorists thrive." 




KENYA:  “U.S. Hypocrisy Astounding”


Independent left-of-center Nation extolled (7/3): “The United States has flexed its muscles once more by announcing a suspension of military aid to about 35 countries that ignored deadline to exempt its soldiers from jurisdiction of the ICC....  Why the mightiest economic and military power on earth would want to act outside the purview of such a court has never been adequately explained.  But the only conclusion one can draw hardly needs stating - that the U.S. military has been, or will be, committing just the kind of crimes the international court will be trying.  This reveals deep hypocrisy.  Since the end of the Second World War, the U.S. has been at the fore front of internationalism when it comes to trying the kind of crimes outlined….We can only assume that the U.S. will also want to reserve for itself the right to haul leaders and soldiers of other countries before those very courts….”


TANZANIA: "Military Assistance Should Not be our Priority"


Anti-Government daily Majira commented (7/4):  "Yesterday, this paper published a report saying that America would penalize Tanzania and other 49 countries, by withholding military assistance for refusing to sign an agreement that would protect U.S. servicemen from prosecution in the course of their duties abroad.  This penalty is also as a result of Tanzania joining other countries in signing the Rome Statute establishing the ICC.  For America this is a good decision, but it will definitely affect Tanzania and other poor countries.  But Tanzania is a sovereign country and should not waver in its resolve to punish people that abuse human rights. That is why it decided to sign the ICC Statute. There is no reason to be pressurized by big nations, just because they offer us assistance. We do not think that military assistance is the priority of this country, especially because we believe in fighting for human rights and peace in the world.”


"Do Our Academics Have Only U.S. Degrees?"


Islamist Al-Nuur editorialized (6/27): "East African leaders are becoming wary of America because of the threat posed by its campaign against terrorism.  And now, according to political circles, several African countries are being pressured by the U.S. to accept the stationing of American troops in their countries and to sign bilateral agreements to exempt these soldiers from any prosecution for crimes they might commit.  This will give them a blank check to do anything and go scot-free.  Any country that hesitates to endorse the agreement risks losing U.S. aid.  "It is likely Tanzania will succumb to American pressure and sign this agreement. But what kind of aid is Tanzania afraid of losing? Had it been European and specifically Scandinavian countries withholding their aid, ordinary Tanzanians might have understood. But for America, what aid?"  All we are just seeing are some people being taken to America, including academics, journalists, religious leaders and police officers supposedly for training."


SENEGAL: "A Question of Interests"


Bocounta Diallo, chairman of the National Human Rights Organization commented on independent radio station Dakar WalFadjri FM Radio (7/1): "There is an impending peril because, to begin with, a country has refused to associate itself with the efforts made by the international community to set up the ICC.  It is, therefore, quite harmful to have the same country request other countries to sign accords that run contrary to the Rome Treaty that gave birth to the ICC....  It was most frightening listening to U.S. State Department Spokesman Richard Boucher saying that seven countries have secretly signed an accord with the United States for the non-extradition of U.S. nationals who might be wanted for trial by the ICC....  I believe that up until now, we have considered the U.S. as a country where the rule of law prevails, and we have viewed it as a model country, of course, in terms of democracy and international justice. Thus, we are saddened to note that the U.S. is not on the same wavelength with the world's democratic and developed countries, which accepted to set up the ICC.  Why is the United States not on our side? Evidently, it is a question of interests. There are interests, and the U.S. does not want to see a situation whereby its nationals are put on trial. This is to enable it to carry out its duties in a sovereign manner with the scenarios that are common knowledge such as the violation of laws governing wars, and the non-trial of the violator. I believe that no country today can ascribe such a privilege to itself. On our part, we believe everything must be done within the framework of the international community, which accepted to set up this court to punish war crimes and crimes against humanity."


SOUTH AFRICA: "Please Just Say No"


Pro-government, Afro-centric Sowetan judged (7/4):  "The U.S. is resorting to extreme means to force other nations to change their principles and see the world through its eyes.  Washington slapped an effective batch of sanctions on all the countries that support the creation of the ICC.  Mbeki must try, one more time, to assure Bush to have faith in the principle of global solidarity.  Bush's refusal to support the court's creation is based on the fear that America's enemies will use it to pursue political agendas.  This is not an entirely unreasonable fear.  Still, to refuse to endorse the court's creation is a wrong tool to deal with this legitimate concern...  The court is way too important to be undermined by bullyboy tactics of a super power.  While Washington's support is crucial, it can do without it, if needs be."


"America Not Above the Law"


Conservative Citizen charged (7/3):  "America displays remarkable arrogance by demanding immunity from prosecution at the ICC in The Hague....  Why should President George W Bush and company be above the law, especially since in 1998 the U.S. signed the treaty creating the court? Having chosen to act outside the mandate of the UN over Iraq, it must face the consequences....  SA is in a tricky position, being one of more than 30 countries which have declined to sign such accords. U.S. military aid is therefore automatically suspended.  What makes SA's predicament more sensitive is the visit by Bush next week....  This new curved ball from the U.S. must be handled carefully. Although SA was not expecting much military aid between now and the end of the fiscal year on September 30, the cut-off gesture is symbolic.  President Mbeki needs U.S. co-operation in his larger vision of African renewal. He will have to walk a tightrope, balancing the immoral U.S. stance and the continent's economic future.  This is a time for quiet diplomacy."


"Bunkum U.S.-Style"


Liberal Star commented (6/16):  "It is astounding that the Americans want everybody bar themselves to behave according to recognizable international norms....  [They] remain unenthusiastic about the ICC....  In essence the Americans are petrified their citizens-also military personnel-will be prosecuted.  Is that because there may well be reason to do so?   In a further move, Washington is signing accords with individual countries that will stop them from surrendering Americans to the Hague court.  But it objects to the fact that the EU is advising potential member states not to sign such agreements.  And the reason?  Promoting the court in this way would add to the strain in transatlantic relations.  What a load of nonsense."


"RSA Not a Major Recipient of U.S. Military Aid"


Jackie Cilliers, Director of the Institute of Security Studies, observed on Johannesburg's nominally-independent but government funded SAfm Radio (7/2):   "[Loss of military aid is] not really significant because SA is not a major recipient of U.S. military aid, and I think, for SA it probably feels that it's important to take a principled stance on this....  SA is a regional power, the U.S. collaborates and will continue to collaborate with SA....  It's almost a philosophical issue.   For the U.S. most of us would argue that internal law takes precedence over domestic law for the United States being the single military super power in the world, their argument basically is that United States legislation and law is dominant and that it takes precedence over any other legislation.   That is the fear for them that American soldiers, for example, engaged in Iraq or whatever, may be handed over to the ICC and not to an American court to stand trial for gross violations of human rights abuses.  Now most of us would say that we would have no problem with letting our nationals appear in front of an international tribunal, the ICC, but it's an approach to international law that underpins a lot of the American engagement whether it is with the UN, with the ICC, or with a variety of international protocols and treaties.   Basically for them national law is sovereign and above international law."


UGANDA: "Museveni-Bush ICC pact could Invite Al-Qaida”


The Muslim weekly The Message warned (6/24-6/30): "[After] 17 years in power after a 16-year struggle, Museveni has registered a number of opponents at home and enemies abroad. In order to balance his budget, ensure peace and security and food the country with essential items however expensive, Museveni needs foreign aid. Thus becoming a comprador of British Neo-Colonialism and a petty bourgeoisie of US imperialism through AGOA, Liberalization, Privatization and now signing into agreement the pact to exempt American citizens from prosecution at the ICC.  [Mr. Museveni] should collaborate with care and not be the first to jump on the bandwagon.  Like defying parliament’s resolution and openly support U.S. for attacking Iraq and ousting Saddam Hussein and signing that protocol immunizing U.S. officers and men from international law against crimes committed in other countries. There is fear that you can even avail Americans a base here. You should be cautious enough that unnecessary extreme collaboration with U.S. and its may be an invitation card for the al-Qaida net work to come and operate here in a manner mostly victimizing innocent ordinary men, women and children. This is what happens in Nairobi, Dar es Salaam and Mombasa."


"Not in Our Name, Mr. President"


The independent Monitor ruminated (6/19):  "He has done it again! President Yoweri  Museveni broke ranks with the dominant opinion of the international community and signed an agreement that exempts American personnel from prosecution in the ICC.  This comes on the heels of his support for the U.S. war in Iraq, where he again broke ranks with African and other world leaders committed Uganda to support the dubious American military campaign.  The exemption of the U.S. creates a two-tired standard of justice-one for Americans and the other for the rest of us....  For all his arrogance and unilateral streak, Mr. Bush has the backing of the American congress on his stance on the ICC.  And his administration has clearly put its case before the bar of American public opinion.  Mr. Museveni could attempt to justify his scratch-my-back politics with the Americans on grounds that Uganda needs U.S. military support to finish off Joseph Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army. But a more plausible reason is that he hopes the Americans who have a rich history of unprincipled alliances with dictators from Africa, Latin America and Asia will turn a blind eye to his political excesses."


"Uganda Joins List of Shame"


The independent Monitor commented (6/18): "By [signing an Article 98 exemption] he has exposed this country to a situation where an American soldier can commit crimes against humanity here and get away with it.  The soldier would escape because the U.S. is presently carrying out a diplomatic operation that frees it from the jurisdiction of the ICC.  The ICC was a conscious effort by the world community to put an end to the impunity of perpetrators of war crimes, genocide, crimes against humanity and aggression. This was an attempt to end crimes, vivid examples of which are provided by the illegal internment of Afghan prisoners of war by the U.S. at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and the ongoing killings inside Iraq.  But almost from stage one, the U.S., a country that purports to uphold human rights and dignity in all its forms, thwarted this noble effort enshrined in the ICC....  Did our President sign because he believed it was in the national interest or was he buying some hidden favours from the Americans, who as we all know are increasingly acting in near criminal fashion worldwide?"




CANADA: "Fighting Terrorism is not a War Crime"


Centrist Victoria Times Colonist commented (6/16): "The United States has won for its troops-- and the peacekeepers of all nations--another year of immunity from war crimes prosecutions by the ICC....  The possibility that U.S. troops--including their generals and even their commander-in-chief, President George W. Bush--might be hauled before the court for war crimes seemed far-fetched. But that was before the war in Iraq, in which the U.S.-led coalition inflicted casualties on civilians. A considerable number of people, not all of them from Arab countries, believe this can be classified as a war crime....  The definition of war crimes is not limited to genocide, rape and pillage, torture and mutilation.  It includes attacking civilians, attacking undefended places and causing excessive incidental death or injury--all of which enemies of the U.S. have claimed it has done in Iraq....  For the past year, Washington has been pressing ICC member countries to sign bilateral agreements promising not to arrest U.S. personnel on behalf of the court, which has assumed a mandate to charge and prosecute war criminals wherever it sees fit.  Until the ICC makes some permanent accommodation to satisfy the U.S., the immunity issue will come up each year to cause friction in the UN.  If the court is to function as its founders intended, other nations must make it possible for the U.S. to join."


ARGENTINA:  "Colombia, Controversial Ally, Turns Into Leading Case"


Juan Castro Olivera, daily-of-record La Nacion columnist on military issues, opined (7/2): "Unable to convince the world that ICC had to leave aside U.S. military cases and officials, the Bush administration yesterday decided to exercise pressure in order to achieve its goals. And it did, by turning Colombia into a leading case: a country whose future depends, to a great extent, on U.S. military aid to face guerrillas and drug trafficking. It's a 'high impact' gesture aimed at those who refuse the proposed immunity agreement rather than a measure with immediate practical effects.... Due to its numerous presence in Colombia and in view of the degree of its involvement in the fight against the narcs and the guerrillas, the USG believes there are more than enough reasons for U.S. soldiers to count on the necessary guarantees that they won't be denounced at an international court."


"Bush Sanctions 35 Countries for Refusing to Grant Immunity to U.S. Troops"


Ana Baron, leading Clarin Washington-based correspondent, noted (7/2): "The Bush administration called off the military aid for 35 countries around the world--among them, Colombia and Brazil--because so far they haven't signed the immunity the White House wants for U.S. soldiers at ICC....  By cutting off its military aid the White House made clear that it's determined to exercise its power in the international scenario without any legal restrictions that aren't its own.  'The bilateral agreements wanted by the U.S. exceed what's authorized by ICC in Article 98, and lead countries to a crossroads,' said a Human Rights Watch specialist.  If ICC requests the detention of a U.S. soldier in a country that signed a bilateral agreement with the U.S., and if that country sends him to the ICC, it doesn't respect the bilateral treaty. And if it fails to send him, it fails to respect ICC'."


"ICC: Argentina Won't Grant the Guarantee Requested by the U.S."


Maria Luisa Mac Kay, leading Clarin political columnist, remarked (7/2):  "The GOA won't sign any special agreement that will exempt the U.S. from being tried in Argentina, under ICC regulations.  This was confirmed yesterday by a Foreign Ministry source after the political uproar triggered by the U.S. ultimatum. 'Argentina can't sign this exemption for-- at least--four reasons,' said one of the sources, who added, 'First, because Argentina actively promoted the creation of ICC, therefore we would be contradicting our foreign policy. Second, ICC prosecutor, Moreno Ocampo, is Argentine; third, the claim contradicts legal criteria and, last but not least, politically, it's impossible for Congress to ratify such a measure.'"


"U.S. Won't Sanction Argentina On Judicial Immunity Yet"


Ana Baron, leading Clarin Washington-based correspondent, opined (7/1):  "The U.S. is fully determined to prevent its military from being tried for crimes against humanity at the ICC. This is why the Pentagon will automatically interrupt--as from today--military aid to those countries that are members of this Court and haven't yet signed agreements with Washington to give them such immunity.  However, the Bush administration has decided to leave three categories of countries out of this group: NATO countries, Non-NATO allies and Taiwan. This means that, for the time being, Argentina is safe because it enjoys a similar status to Egypt, Israel or Australia. But this doesn't mean that the exception will be permanent....   Sooner or later, there will be a cost." 


BRAZIL: "American Immunity"


Liberal Folha de Sao Paulo held (7/4): "Once again acting unilaterally, the U.S. has suspended military assistance to 47 nations (Brazil included) that have not signed an accord exempting American military personnel from possible punishment by the ICC....  Washington's attitude toward the ICC reminds one of its decision about the Kyoto Protocol, [when] the international community's reaction did not dissuade Bush from putting the interests of U.S. firms first."


DOMINICAN REPUBLIC: "The Price of Impunity"


International analyst Alejandro Baez, international analyst for conservative, independent El Caribe, stated (7/3):  “The Court is a guarantee of respect for liberty in the XXI century, but the U.S. and other countries - such as Russia and China - have opposed its creation from the beginning.  Russia fears accusations for its participation in the war against Chechnya, China for its treatment of minorities-- such as the case of Tibet--and the U.S. for obvious reasons....  The government in Washington fears that in a world that is more anti-American than ever, the ICC judges may decide to try a U.S. citizen.  Former President Bill Clinton was against the ICC, but his successor George W. Bush, loyal to his unilateral style, has been much more forceful...  What is being applied is disproportionate diplomatic pressure that is against national sovereignty, especially in Latin America.” 


EQUADOR:  "The Big Club"


Carlos Jijon of center-left Hoy opined (7/3): “President George W. Bush’s Government cut military aid to 35 countries, ours among them, for not having signed the agreement to exonerate U.S. citizens from the jurisdiction of the ICC.  The U.S. did it to retaliate....  Traditionally, the U.S. has been the leader in the defense of human rights.  Since Monday at midnight, it has become clear that the only ones in the world who cannot be tried for violations of human rights are U.S. citizens....  And that goes against its most deeply-rooted traditions, against the reasons for which the U.S. is the most admired nation in the world, and for which it has maintained a moral leadership far beyond mere military power.  But times change.  Until not long ago, to lie was dishonorable for a U.S. President....  To lie is not a problem for U.S. presidents any longer, and defending human rights is not a task they pursue now....  The cause of liberty has suffered a terrible setback.  The U.S. does not defend principles any more, but interests.  Bush junior is to blame.”


“A Decision that Honors Us”


Carlos Arcos Cabrera of center-left Hoy urged (7/3):  "The creation of the ICC in 2002 was a step of enormous importance in the long and complex path to creating an international system of justice.  Since mid 2002, the Bush Administration has carried out a shameless campaign against the ICC in order to undermine the importance of this initiative and weaken it.  In this campaign, the Bush Administration has used various strategies such as blackmail and intimidation....  For those who did not sign the agreement before July 1st, there will be reprisals.  Time is up.  I am glad that Ecuador, along with Costa Rica, is among the countries that did not sign the agreement and for that reason is no longer receiving U.S. military aid.  Ecuador does not want that aid.  To sign such an agreement is to guarantee impunity to U.S. citizens who commit genocide, even in our country....  The blackmail by the Bush administration may take other directions such as economic sanctions, or restrictions to U.S. markets....  The problems are just starting for Ecuador and it will be difficult to resist the pressure....  This is a judgment that honors us.”


“Rejecting Washington’s Sanctions”


Quito's center-left Hoy stated (7/2):  “The ICC, which has been in effect since yesterday represents an advance in the fight for human rights.  Crimes against humanity--among them terrorism, torture, and genocide-have in the Court at The Hague a last instance court for cases which competent authorities do not want to or cannot try.  Therefore, it is a global safeguard against impunity....  Overcoming the outdated notion that national criminal jurisdiction to try crimes against humanity represents a guarantee for human life is of greater importance in a globalized world....  The attitude of the present U.S. Administration goes against the best tradition of that nation in respecting individual freedoms and will certainly provoke a wave of rejection in the world."


JAMAICA: "ANR blasts U.S. for cutting military aid"


The moderate, influential Daily Gleaner argued (7/3): “It is an attack on the national community and international law....  The only persons who are going to be happy in respect to this move by the U.S. are going to be the drug lords. They are going to be happiest of all because one would have thought the U.S. is engaged in a campaign with the rest of the Caribbean region in the fight against crime, particularly those committed by the drug lords.”


NICARAGUA: "U.S. Wants Its Citizens To Be Above The Law"


Center-right La Prensa fulminated (7/1): "The bilateral agreement with the U.S. is illegal and should not be ratified [by the Nicaraguan national assembly].  According to international law, there is already a commitment to judge whoever is responsible for crimes against humanity, crimes of war and genocide.... The ICC is established so as not to allow a Saddam Hussein or an Augusto Pinochet to be freed by their country's own judges. But that is exactly what the U.S. wants, to have their citizens above the law....  The ICC responds to a need by the international community to not remain with its arms crossed when it comes to human rights in countries where justice seems to be subjected to political power or to a foreign power."


"A Question of Interests"


Center-right Managua daily La Prensa argued (6/21):  "Criteria used to weight the quality of the agreement between Nicaragua and the U.S. regarding the ICC must be serious, responsible and institutional, based on the interests of the nation and not on ideological phobias."


TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO:  "Dollars Or International Court: U.S. Blackmail"


Tabloid Newsday wrote (7/2):  "Former President Robinson condemned the move, saying it was obviously a campaign against the system of universal criminal justice.  He described the U.S. decision as a cause which was destructive to all humanity.  It was astonishing for a great democracy and was contrary to the stand taken by the U.S. in the past, when Nazi War criminals were tried for crimes....  Robinson said the only people who would be happy with the U.S. decision are the drug lords." 


"Bush Puts On Squeeze Over ICC - Morean Surprised"


Richard Lord of the Express Newspapers commented (7/2):  "Expressing surprise, Attorney General Glenda Morean said yesterday Trinidad and Tobago is expected to maintain its unconditional support for the ICC, despite the U.S.' decision to stop military aid to this country for failing to support a request for Americans to be exempt from prosecution under the court."


"A Very Regressive Move"


Carol Matroo of the business oriented Trinidad Guardian interviewed former President of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, Arthur N.R. Robinson, one of the founders of the ICC.  Excerpts follow (7/2): "Robinson said it was unfortunate that the U.S. should position itself between international law and democratic procedures....  The ICC is not directed against any particular country.  It is to uphold and propose the system of international criminal justice....  Robinson added the U.S. action was a reversal of what it stood for during World War II  and was 'a very regressive move'.....I am supremely disappointed about the U.S. decision, but the ICC has already been established.  It will be defended and it will survive against all attacks,' Robinson vowed."   


"Gift Sees U.S. Threat to Caricom"


Richard Lord of the tabloid Express opined (6/20):  "Foreign Affairs Minister Knowlson Gift yesterday warned of an imminent threat by the United States to the 'solidarity and solidity" of Caricom over the ICC....  One can imagine the blandishments that will be offered to get the Caricom countries, whether singularly or collectively, to repudiate the ICC, so we have to be very careful about that one, as far as the sub-region goes." 



Commentary from ...
Middle East
East Asia
South Asia
Western Hemisphere

This site is produced and maintained by the U.S. Department of State. Links to other Internet sites should not be construed as an endorsement of the views contained therein.

Back To Top

blue rule
IIP Home  |  Issue Focus Home