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U.N. Votes for Court to Try Sudan Cases

The measure is passed after its language is negotiated and the U.S. drops its veto threat.

April 01, 2005|From Associated Press

UNITED NATIONS — The U.N. Security Council approved a resolution Thursday to prosecute Sudanese war crimes suspects before the International Criminal Court, after the United States agreed not to veto the measure.

The United States, which abstained with three other countries, won significant concessions, including guarantees that Americans working in Sudan would not be handed over to the ICC or any other nation's courts if they were charged with crimes.

Acting U.S. Ambassador Anne Patterson said the United States still "fundamentally" objected to the court but was determined to get something done on Sudan. Algeria, Brazil and China also abstained in the 11-0 vote.

The Sudanese government is being pressured to stop a crisis in its western region of Darfur, where the number of dead from a conflict between government-backed militias and rebels is estimated at 180,000.

Even with the legal concessions, the U.S. decision not to veto was a major shift. President Bush had actively opposed the court. U.S. officials argued that American military personnel or civilians could be subject to politically motivated prosecutions.

The Bush administration had wanted an African court to try those accused of war crimes, but the U.S. proposal had little support among the 14 other Security Council nations.

U.S. officials had said they were dropping their objections to using the ICC for Sudan cases, but the threat of a U.S. veto loomed all day Thursday as diplomats grappled with language acceptable to all sides.

France, Britain and seven other Security Council members have ratified the ICC statute, and two more have signed and are expected to ratify.

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