NGOs blast US for undermining Criminal Court

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The US has already withdrawn both from the Human Rights Council in Geneva and the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in Paris while, at the same time, it has either cut off, or drastically reduced, funding for the UN Population Fund (UNFPA), the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) and for UN peacekeeping operations (by a hefty $500 million).

The most recent attack has been directed at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in the Hague which was planning to investigate war crimes committed in Afghanistan, focusing both on the Taliban and US soldiers.

The US action to revoke the visa of Fatou Bensouda, Chief Prosecutor of the ICC, has not only triggered protests from academics and from human rights and civil society organizations (CSOs) but also left several lingering questions unanswered.

When the United Nations decided to locate its secretariat in the city of New York, the United States, as host nation, signed a “headquarters agreement” back in 1947 ensuring diplomatic immunity to foreign diplomats and pledging to facilitate the day-to-day activities of the world body– without any hindrance.

Is the revocation of the visa the shape of things to come, with political leaders from countries such as Iran, Venezuela and Cuba– blacklisted by the Trump administration– being refused admission when they are due in New York next September for the annual General Assembly sessions?

The protests against the US decision have come from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ), the International Service for Human Rights (ISHR) and the World Federalist Movement- Institute for Global Policy (WFM/IGP). The letter from the three non-governmental organizations (NGOs) states “the purpose of the visa restrictions is to block and deter legitimate criminal investigation into serious crimes under international law”.

Dr. Tawanda Hondora, Executive Director of WFM-IGP, told IPS the Trump administration has been consistent in its reckless application of retrogressive policies that undermine a rules-based international order. He said its policies are seriously damaging the post-WWII system of international law and practice, and have exponentially increased the risk of armed conflict in a world in which many more states now possess weapons of mass destruction.

Dr Martin S. Edwards, Associate Professor of Diplomacy and International Relations at Seton Hall University in the US, told IPS both civil society and other countries are right to be critical here. It would be ironic that a President that frames his accomplishment as a reassertion of American power would be afraid of what he would say from the podium, said Dr Edwards. But the hallmark of this US Presidency has been a singular focus on controlling perceptions and information, rather than confidently relying on our diplomatic prowess to produce results.

[Inter Press Service]

This entry was posted in , , by Grant Montgomery.

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