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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Russia Seeks Controls On UN World Court




ROME -- Russia dug in its heels Thursday, saying that unless a proposed International Criminal Court was placed under the strict control of the UN Security Council, it was "doomed to failure."


"I should like to point out our non-acceptance of any attempt to set the court ... against the Security Council," Deputy Foreign Minister Yury Ushakov told a UN conference on establishing a permanent tribunal for the most heinous crimes.


"Such attempts are counter productive. A court not working in close combination with the Security Council of the United Nations is doomed to failure," he said.


Russia was the last of the five permanent members of the Security Council to speak, and Ushakov made clear that it followed in the footsteps of the United States and China in seeking strict limits and veto power on the court's powers.


France had previously been in that camp, but broke ranks Wednesday with a significant compromise in which it said it would accept the automatic jurisdiction of the court over genocide and crimes against humanity, but not over war crimes.


Britain, the fifth permanent council member, is among a group of about 50 so-called "like-minded" states pressing for a world court with an independent court and a prosecutor free to initiate proceedings with no strings attached.


However, Britain has put forward a formula on the issue of whether states should be allowed to give their consent for the tribunal to open proceedings, and lawyers said that was likely to end up being adopted as a compromise solution.


Ushakov said the court could not work in a "political vacuum" and should have jurisdiction in all cases "where a situation giving rise to the concern of the international community is referred to it by the Security Council."


He said the court should have jurisdiction for crimes of aggression after a preliminary recommendation from the Security Council.


Alternatively, it should have jurisdiction with the consent of the states where the crime was committed or where the suspect was held, provided they had given such consent when they ratified the court's statute.


The United States and France, active in peacekeeping operations and fearful their widely deployed troops could be hauled before the tribunal on political charges, oppose a prosecutor with the right to initiate proceedings independently. U.S. delegation head David Scheffer denied that Paris's shift away from Security Council control had left Washington more isolated. A third group of states, including India, Pakistan, Iran and Iraq, also want strictures on the court's powers to stop it encroaching on national sovereignty.


Mexico used its address on the final day of opening gambits -- before delegates from 157 states move into working groups to hammer out some 13,000 differences in the draft text of the world court statute -- to demand a court free from Security Council control.


Among states under fire for their human rights records, Turkey opposed an independent prosecutor and insisted on state consent or the Security Council triggering referral, saying a more liberal solution would dissuade states from signing up.