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Wednesday, 3 July, 2002, 04:31 GMT 05:31 UK
US offers court veto deal
UN peacekeeper in Bosnia
The UN mission in Bosnia is at risk
The United States has proposed a last-minute compromise in its dispute with the United Nations over the mandate of the new International Criminal Court (ICC).

Under the plan, America and the other four permanent members of the UN Security Council would have the right to veto any prosecution of their soldiers and policemen under the ICC, of which Washington is not a member.

International Criminal Court
Launched on 1 July and due to start work early in 2003
Aims to prosecute for atrocities committed anywhere in the world
Shunned by Washington but backed by most UN Security Council members
If accepted, the proposal would avoid a threatened halt to the UN peacekeeping mission in Bosnia.

Diplomats at the UN in New York report little enthusiasm for the deal as it appears to undermine the authority of the new court.

But Britain's ambassador to the UN, Sir Jeremy Greenstock, is optimistic that some form of agreement will be reached by the deadline of midnight New York time on Wednesday (0400 GMT).

He said it was "more likely than not" that a solution would be found to suit the US.

British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw played down the dispute, saying the impact of the US veto on peacekeeping in Bosnia would be "limited".

'Very troubling'

The US has slapped a veto on the renewal of the Bosnian mission, which involves over 1,500 UN personnel, for another six months.

It fears that US troops serving overseas could be vulnerable to unjustified accusations by America's enemies before the new court.


As the United States works to bring peace around the world our diplomats and or soldiers can be dragged into the court

George W Bush

"As the United States works to bring peace around the world our diplomats and or soldiers can be dragged into the court," said President George W Bush. "That's very troubling."

British Prime Minister Tony Blair has described US concerns as "perfectly legitimate".

"They do massive amounts of peacekeeping in the world and don't want their peacekeepers to be subject to some political prosecution," he told the UK's Channel Four News.

But most of the 14 other permanent and rotating members of the UN Security Council back the new court.

Richard Dicker, director of the International Justice Program at Human Rights Watch, described the US compromise as "wholly and completely unacceptable". The ICC came into being on 1 July and will start its work early next year.

Its aim is to bring to justice those responsible for the worst crimes - genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes - committed anywhere in the world

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Ian Pannell
"Diplomats are reported to have said there is no enthusiasm for the plan"
UN spokesman for peacekeeping operations Farhan Haq
"The effect would be dramatic for the UN mission in Bosnia"

Talking PointTALKING POINT
International Criminal Court
Can it work without America?
See also:

01 Jul 02 | Europe
01 Jul 02 | Americas
01 Jul 02 | Europe
01 Jul 02 | Americas
01 Jul 02 | In Depth
06 May 02 | Americas
01 Jul 02 | Media reports
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