Britain proposes compromise for EU-US agreement on International Criminal Court

The British Government has proposed a compromise to other EU Member States for an agreement on the International Criminal Court with the US.

The proposals consists of agreeing with Washington that officials and military personnel sent by the US Government would have immunity from prosecution by the International Criminal Court (ICC). Britain is also proposing that bilateral immunity agreements, signed by the US with any other ICC signatory, should not be reciprocal.

According to theFinancial Times, this proposal is backed by Italy and Spain. Both Britain and Italy have indicated that they are willing to sign immunity agreements with the US but want to wait for the EU common position to be taken by the end of September.

The British proposal is due to be discussed by the body of legal experts of the 15 Member States' Foreign Ministers in Brussels.

The Commission and several Member States have indicated that any immunity agreement would undermine the ICC, created in July to persecute war crimes. The Commission's legal opinion states that such agreements are contrary to the Court's treaty.

The US fears the Court will be used to stage political processes against Americans participating in international peacekeeping missions. The Bush administration is threatening to withdraw its personnel from such missions unless ICC signatories sign immunity agreements. Only Israel, Romania, Tajikistan and East Timor have signed such immunity agreements with the United States, which are reciprocal.


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