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The U.S. and the ICC

March 20, 2009

Re "Judging the ICC," editorial, March 16

The Times' editorial ignores a gradual approach of U.S. reengagement that could lead eventually to ratification.

First, the U.S. could participate as an observer in the International Criminal Court's governing body, the Assembly of States Parties, from which it has been absent since the court was established in 2002.

Second, the U.S. could reactivate the U.S. signature of the ICC treaty, demonstrating that it will not undermine the treaty (as the Bush administration wanted) and signaling a commitment to international accountability for the perpetrators of atrocity crimes. The court, after all, is about these perpetrators, not about Americans.

Third, the U.S. should cooperate with the ICC on cases in its national interest. It does not need to join the court to do so.

All of these actions would help the U.S. become comfortable with the court and its goals and gain the goodwill of the 108 countries that have already joined the court.

Matthew Heaphy

New York

The writer is deputy convener, American NGO Coalition for the ICC, United Nations Assn. of the United States of America.

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The Times' argument for joining the ICC stated that it was "laughable" that the United States would ever be unwilling or unable to prosecute its own war criminals.

I find that claim to be laughable.

The Red Cross recently issued a report stating that the treatment of 14 detainees in CIA custody constituted torture. Yet Congress and the president have been staunchly against any kind of criminal investigation regarding the treatment of detainees.

I wholeheartedly believe that we should join the ICC, and eight years ago I would have made an argument very similar to yours.

However, today your editorial misses the reality on the ground: The United States is becoming exactly the kind of outlaw regime that the ICC is designed to target.

Michael Sall

Los Angeles

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