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UN Human Rights Chief Regrets US Rejection of ICC - 2002-05-07


The United Nations human rights chief, Mary Robinson, has said she regrets the U.S. decision to renounce a treaty establishing an International Criminal Court.

The U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mary Robinson, has added her voice to those criticizing the U.S. rejection of the International Criminal Court.

The Bush administration told the United Nations on Monday that the United States is renouncing the 1998 treaty to establish the court.

The Clinton administration had signed the treaty, but never sent it to the U.S. Senate for ratification.

The objective of the court would be to try defendants accused of war crimes, genocide and other crimes against humanity. U.S. officials have said America's enemies could lodge frivolous prosecutions against American military personnel, diplomats and political leaders.

Mrs. Robinson told British radio Tuesday the U.S. announcement sets back efforts to uphold international standards of human rights and humanitarian law.

"It is very regrettable and actually quite serious. It has been known that the United States did not favor ratifying the International Criminal Court. Fair enough. But to move to unsign, or to set aside what has been signed, is a very dangerous signal," she said.

In other comments, the U.N. human rights chief criticized Israel's decision not to cooperate with a U.N. investigation into alleged Israeli military atrocities.

The U.N. had wanted to send a fact-finding team to the Palestinian refugee camp at Jenin. Palestinians claim there was a massacre there. Israel denies the allegations, but objected to the agenda and membership of the proposed U.N. team.

Mrs. Robinson said that while she condemns Palestinian suicide attacks against Israeli civilians, she also has found evidence of disproportionate Israeli military force against Palestinian civilians.

Mrs. Robinson was in London Tuesday to speak on corporate responsibility in the field of human rights.