Page last updated at 18:23 GMT, Monday, 16 November 2009

US to resume engagement with ICC

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110 countries have ratified the ICC's Rome statute

US envoy for war crimes Stephen Rapp has announced that his country will for the first time attend a meeting of the International Criminal Court.

Speaking to reporters in Nairobi, Kenya, he said the US wanted to engage more with the court in The Hague.

The US has in the past refused to join the ICC, which was set up in 2002 to try individuals for war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity.

Mr Rapp said the US would attend the court's annual meeting as an observer.

'Concerns remain'

"Our government has now made the decision that Americans will return to engagement with the ICC," Mr Rapp said on Monday.

However, he said the US was still years away from joining the court.

"There remain concerns about the possibility that the United States, upon whom a great deal of the world relies for security, and its service members might be subject to politically inspired prosecutions," he said.

The court can only try individuals from countries which have ratified the treaty. At present, 110 countries have done so.

Mr Rapp said the court was a useful tool for trying suspects who may otherwise escape justice.

"We are certainly looking to engage with the ICC to ensure where there are no other avenues for accountability, that it will be an effective instrument for ensuring that individuals are brought to justice."

Mr Rapp said he would be leading the US delegation attending the annual meeting of the ICC in The Hague from 18 to 26 November 2009.

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