Courting trouble

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 02 July, 2002, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 02 July, 2002, 12:00am

The administration of United States President George W. Bush is making a mockery of its supposed respect for international law through expressing its disapproval of the International Criminal Court by vetoing a renewal of the United Nations police force in Bosnia.

That the world's most powerful nation should have resorted to frustrating a peace mission in order to impose its will on others is a big shame.

The United States is concerned that its forces on missions abroad will be vulnerable to politically motivated charges. But the constitution of the court has provided for elaborate safeguards, many inserted at the insistence of US officials under former president Bill Clinton, to prevent frivolous and trumped up charges being laid against anyone.

A total of 74 countries, including European democracies that are members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and whose forces take part in many peace-keeping missions around the world, have found the safeguards adequate.

Americans have to realise that their country will lose the moral authority to be the world's policeman if they refuse to subject their nationals to the jurisdiction of a properly constituted court that aims to deter war crimes.

It is thus disturbing that a bill asserting the United States' rights to use 'all means necessary' to free any Americans detained in the court's prison is even making its way through Congress.

Should the bill become law, the United States will lose all credibility as a nation that stands for human rights. Even though it is not ready to embrace the court, the Bush administration should at least stop its campaign to undermine it.