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Last Updated: Monday, 25 August, 2003, 23:39 GMT 00:39 UK
US attacked over UN resolution

By Greg Barrow
BBC United Nations correspondent in New York

International human rights groups have accused the US Government of attempting to block a United Nations resolution that would seek to enhance the protection of humanitarian workers in conflict zones.

Lendu militia fighter outside Bunia in Congo

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).

Washington does not recognise the court.

It also insists on either removing reference to it from UN resolutions or having paragraphs inserted that give immunity to nations like America that have not ratified the Rome Statute establishing the ICC.

Human rights groups are angry that less than a week after the attack on the UN headquarters in Baghdad, the US is objecting to the draft UN resolution.

With emotions still running high in the aftermath, they now say Washington may have gone too far.

Human Rights Watch has accused the US of waging an ill-conceived and ideologically-driven crusade against the court and in the process, compromising efforts to protect aid workers.

"After the tragic killing of aid workers in Baghdad, the US opposition to the proposed resolution is disgraceful," said Richard Dicker, director of Human Rights Watch's international justice programme.

Other human rights groups argue that the court should be supported as it acts as a deterrent to those who might consider attacks on humanitarian workers.

Richard Dicker, Human Rights Watch
"To protest against a resolution protecting aid workers is disgraceful"

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