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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

U.S. Wants Exclusion From Global Tribunal

UNITED NATIONS -- Irritating its allies, the United States warned UN Security Council members it would not take part in peacekeeping operations unless its troops were excluded from the jurisdiction of a new global criminal court.

The first test comes this week, when the council has to renew its civilian mission in Bosnia, which includes 46 U.S. policemen. The United States also has 2,500 soldiers in Bosnia as part of a separate NATO-led peacekeeping contingent.

The U.S. government has introduced a resolution that would put all personnel, including those of the NATO-led Stabilization Force (SFOR) in Bosnia, beyond the reach of the International Criminal Court, the world's first permanent tribunal set up to try the crimes of genocide, war crimes and systematic gross human rights abuses.

SFOR was authorized in the 1995 Dayton peace accords ending the Balkan war and was later endorsed by the United Nations.

"We've made clear that we need to have the International Criminal Court issue addressed before we could support a resolution," U.S. envoy Richard Williamson said about Bosnia after a closed-door council session Wednesday.

"We will not put American men or women under the reach of the International Criminal Court while serving in a United Nations peacekeeping operation," he said.

But Washington faces an uphill battle because of the strong support for the new court in the 15-member council.

Its backers, including all 15 European Union members as well as Canada, consider it the most important development in international law since the Nazi war crimes tribunal in Nuremberg after World War II.

Questions have also been raised about the legality of the U.S. proposals -- whether the Security Council has the authority to rule on a court that is

technically not a part of the United Nations.

Russian diplomats raised that point in the council, and other envoys said it was a key issue their governments would have to address.

Typical was Colombia's UN ambassador, Alfonso Valdivieso. He said his country, which was moving to ratify the treaty, would have "impediments" to accepting the U.S. position, which he said undermined the spirit and the letter of the court.

"But we know that the United States also has difficulties and we are ready to cooperate with them in order to study alternatives," he said.

Of the 15 council members, six have ratified the treaty creating the court -- Britain, France, Ireland, Norway, Bulgaria and Mauritius. All the others have signed except for Singapore and China, but Beijing also opposed the U.S. stance.

The Bosnia action, diplomats said, was particularly interesting because of the temporary war crimes court in the former Yugoslavia, which has fewer constraints on prosecutions than the new International Criminal Court.

The treaty creating the court was signed by former U.S. President Bill Clinton and then renounced by President George W. Bush.

Its statutes come into force on July 1 but it is not expected to function until next year.