Page last updated at 16:46 GMT, Thursday, 19 November 2009

US war crimes envoy appears at International Court

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110 countries have ratified the ICC's Rome statute

The US envoy for war crimes has appeared at the International Criminal Court for the first time.

Stephen Rapp spoke as an observer at the court's annual meeting in the Hague, saying the US was keen to better understand the workings of the court.

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.

The court can only try people from countries which have ratified it.

Despite the US refusal to ratify the court, Mr Rapp said the country had "not been silent in the face of crimes against the basic code of humanity.

"Far from it: We have worked shoulder to shoulder with other states to support accountability and end impunity for hauntingly brutal crimes in the former Yugoslavia, Rwanda and elsewhere."

Mr Rapp attended the annual meeting of the Assembly of States Parties, which is made up of 110 countries that have ratified the Rome Statute that founded the court in 2002.

He mentioned again the US concerns over the term "aggression" in the statute.

"Our view has been and remains that should the Rome Statute be amended to include a defined crime of aggression, jurisdiction should follow a Security Council determination that aggression has occurred," he said.

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