Fiddling in Rome: America and the International Criminal Court

Courtesy Reuters

The recent, brutal civil wars in Cambodia, Bosnia, Rwanda, and the Congo make plain the need to prosecute amoral leaders who show no care for civilian lives. At least, this seemed the American position over the last four years as Bill Clinton and Madeleine Albright touted the creation of the International Criminal Court as a key aim of American foreign policy. And yet in July 1998, when the draft treaty to create the ICC was approved in Rome, the United States found itself in a nasty minority, siding with Libya, Iraq, Yemen, and Qatar against the court. (The final vote was 120 in favor, 7 opposed, and 21 abstentions.)

Some of Washington's concerns were serious and legitimate. American troops are deployed across the globe, and should not face the added danger of politically motivated prosecutions. But the administration failed to think through or effectively articulate its position on the court. Throughout the negotiations, wary

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