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Tuesday, 2 July, 2002, 11:07 GMT 12:07 UK
ICC: Can it work without America?
The International Criminal Court (ICC) starts work in The Hague on Monday.

The tribunal, the first in the world, which has been ratified by more than 70 countries, will have power to try individuals for crimes committed anywhere in the world.

However, hours ahead of the court's opening, the US vetoed the renewal of the UN mission in Bosnia over concerns that its peacekeepers could be prosecuted by the ICC.

The country says it fears that the court will infringe US sovereignty and that American troops could become the target of politically motivated prosecutions.

But experts say America's concerns are groundless, because the court will only deal with cases that domestic courts are unable or unwilling to handle.

Do you agree with the Americans that the ICC could undermine international sovereignty? Or should the US support the court? Could the tribunal work without America?

This debate is now closed. See below for a selection of your comments.

This political farce

Philip Ross, England
Congratulations to the US on the decision to protect their citizens from this political farce. It is most unfortunate that our own government didn't take the same line.
Philip Ross, England

Any country should think very seriously about subjecting its citizens to a potential lynch mob (kangaroo court). The Australian government is also unwilling at this stage to ratify an international court.
Tom Elder, Australia

The United States refusal to be part of the ICC is a prime example of George W Bush's innate inability to grasp the principles of international policy.
Paul James Nelson, England

It won't have any real power

Milan, Serbia & Montenegro
This new tribunal is powerless without signatures from the US, Russia, China and other big players from around the globe. Therefore it won't have any real power, and it might only be used to torment small and weak nations as opposed to delivering world justice, which I believe was the main drive behind its creation.
Milan, Serbia & Montenegro

The world cannot wait for the US to join the ICC. There is a dire humanitarian need to stop atrocities happening around the world. The process has to start and in time the ICC mandate will be recognised globally if it performs well.
Antsun, Singapore

The ICC answers to no particular sovereign country. There is no direct check on its power and no actual system of appeal. There is no guarantee that the judges will be impartial and no remedy if they are not impartial. And yet people wonder why America would be hesitant to join?!
Daniel B. Rego, USA

The US has to tone down its unilateralist rhetoric

A K, Denmark
There is too much anti-Americanism (some deserved, some not) in Europe and the world at this time for the US to see this court as an objective body. Why should Mr Bush then come out in favour of this court when tensions are so high? The US has to tone down its unilateralist rhetoric and Europeans have to make an attempt to understand the precarious (though sometimes overly aggressive) position of their brethren across the Atlantic before the US will enter into such an agreement.
A K, Denmark

If the rest of the world took care of its own backyard, the United States wouldn't have to police the world. We don't need to be judged by European liberals who whine and cry about the death penalty and other effective means of punishment. If you want us to take care of your problems, then leave us alone to get the job done. Most US citizens don't want US troops overseas babysitting your countries and taking care of your problems anyway. How about just saying "thank you".
Paul, USA

There will be fewer politically motivated cases

Daniel Hilliard, USA
Actually, the court may work better without US involvement. There will be fewer politically motivated cases from countries with scores to settle. And it would also avoid an embarrassing confrontation if the US decided not to prosecute a soldier and the court decided it should.
Daniel Hilliard, USA

Under the law of the jungle, the strongest prevail. Those of us who believe that everyone should be equal before the law must work hard to make sure the court is a success and is not ruined by the wild west cowboys.
A. Dawar, UK

There's a bit of confusion about the world court. The US is something of a democracy, among many in the world. The world as a whole, however, is not. The overwhelming majority of Americans would rise in rebellion against any government that made our citizens subject to judges from such defenders of due process as China, Nigeria, or Saudi Arabia.
Michael Adams, USA

The ICC is just another political forum. If a particular case rises to the point of needing an international court then one can be convened for special cases as happens now. A permanent one will only lead to these political abuses.
George Milton, USA and Italy

My guess is that US refusal to participate in the International Criminal Court will take little from the court's credibility and a lot from the US credibility.
Chris Neville-Smith, England

We do need justice for all

Manu, Belgium
The law exists to protect the strong against the weak. It is logical for the strongest nation in the world to feel that it has no need for a court, and that it may indeed be a hindrance. But the others need it very much. So the court must be established against US opposition, which is only too predictable. We do need justice for all. Survival of the fittest may be the Texan way but on an international scale it will lead to tragedies.
Manu, Belgium

This is just another blatant case of the USA riding roughshod over the principles of democracy which it expects the rest of the civilised world to adhere to. Complete double standards in my book and another frightening reminder of how far removed the world's only remaining superpower has become from the moral high ground.
Shaun, Teignmouth UK

Who decides what a 'case', is? The nations that have a grudge against the US? Then we can expect daily indictments, and even if the cases are baseless, every one will be a propaganda coup for nations which have been seething over the US for involvement or lack of involvement on some or other issue for a long time.
Alexander Schofield, US/UK in US

If the court only deals with cases that domestic laws can't or won't handle, then by definition isn't the ICC designed to supersede national sovereignty? No country, even the US, should be above international law, and this court is good start to enforce that ideal.
Martin, England, UK

International Criminal Court
A new dawn for justice?
See also:

01 Jul 02 | Americas
01 Jul 02 | In Depth
20 Jun 02 | Americas
11 Apr 02 | Europe
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