"But before all these, they shall lay their hands on you, and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues, and into prisons, being brought before kings and rulers for my name's sake" (Matt. 21:12).
(CNN) U.N. delegates on Saturday voted overwhelmingly in favor of establishing the first permanent international war-crimes tribunal --without the support of the United States.
Coming at the end of a five-week conference, the final vote of 120-7 paves the way for the creation of a court to try genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and aggression, once that offense is clearly defined. Twenty-one countries abstained from voting.
Saturday's action came after delegates beat back the United States' attempt to give countries the option of refusing to allow their nationals to be tried by the new tribunal under certain circumstances.
U.S. diplomats are worried that the new International Criminal Court could be used for politically motivated prosecutions of troops sent on peacekeeping missions to various parts of the world.
Libya, China back U.S.
Chief U.S. delegate David Scheffer said he wished his country could have given its backing. "The United States is a leader in promoting international justice and it is truly tragic that we reached a juncture today where our desire ... to be an engine of this court has been derailed," he told reporters.
The United States' position created some strange bedfellows. During voting on U.S.-proposed amendments, supporters of the American position included nations such as Libya and China.
Meanwhile, traditional U.S. allies, including Great Britain, Australia and France, chose to override U.S. objections and support the establishment of the tribunal.
"I warmly welcome the news that the meeting in Rome has agreed (to) the terms of a statute to establish the International Criminal Court," British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook said. "It is an historic step, and I am delighted that the U.K. played a leading role in its achievement."
Khmer Rouge first target?
A leading human rights investigator in Cambodia said members of the Khmer Rouge should be the first to be tried before the new court. "If the court can bring this (the Khmer Rouge) case to justice it will prove it can work," said Youk Chhang, director of a human rights center. "We won't be able to tell if the court works or not until we test it."
An estimated 1.7 million people were killed during the four-year reign in the late 1970s of the radical Khmer Rouge, who forced Cambodia's people to slave on vast agricultural work camps. The group's former leader, Pol Pot,died of a heart attack in April having never faced an international war-crimes court.
The new tribunal will come into existence in The Hague, Netherlands, once 60 countries have ratified the treaty -- a process diplomats said could take up to five years. Cases tried by the tribunal could be triggered by the court's independent prosecutor, by a country or by the U.N. Security Council. To proceed, the court would need the permission either of the nation where the crime allegedly was committed or the suspect's home country.
U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan was due to attend a signing ceremony at 4 p.m. (1400 GMT) Saturday at the site of the ancient Roman Capitol.
Starting with the Nuremberg trials after World War II, the international community has conducted war-crimes trials under the auspices of temporary tribunals, but there has not been a permanent body to investigate and try such cases.
"I think this is a great, historic achievement," said Benjamin Ferencz, 78, who was a prosecutor at Nuremberg and has worked since then for the establishment of a permanent tribunal. But some delegates worried that without the support of the United States, the world's sole remaining superpower, the court's effectiveness will be limited. "I'm afraid we will have a court that may not work. It may be like the League of Nations or certainly will take a very, very long time to be effective," said Muhammed Sacirbey, a Bosnian delegate to the U.N. treaty conference.
The United States proposed an amendment that would have exempted peacekeepers and others from war-crimes prosecution for actions committed on official duty, unless their home country consented to a trial. But human rights organizations said that provision would gut the court's effectiveness.
"It would mean that if you wanted to ever investigate or prosecute [Iraqi President] Saddam Hussein, you would have to ask Iraq's permission to go ahead," said Jelena Pejic of the Lawyers Committee for Human Rights. In the end, only 17 nations expressed support for the American amendment, with 113 opposed and 25 abstaining. The rebuff was greeted with prolonged rhythmic applause.
Court 'weak in reality?'
Scheffer warned the conference that it was in danger of creating a court that was "strong on paper and weak in reality." He also pointed out that under international law, a treaty isn't binding on nations that do not ratify it. U.S. delegates have been under pressure from powerful congressmen back home in Washington, who reject even the possibility that a U.S. citizen would face trial by an international tribunal.
Correspondent Gayle Young and Reuters contributed to this report.
The folks who brought us the Irish, Croatian, and Vietnamese Holocausts are now going GLOBAL!! The greatest mass killers in world history now want the whole world to share the blessings. The Vatican cares nothing for human life. Nations, people and even young children are but pawns in her mad scheme to make the entire world Roman before her time runs out. The real object of the Tribunal is to make the entire world an Independent State of Croatia!! Would you like to live in this Jesuit paradise?
Picture courtesy of Chick Pub.
In 70 A.D. the Old Testament era ended with the Roman army surrounding the Jewish Temple and leveling it to the ground. . . . . The New Testament era will end with the Roman Papal army surrounding the spiritual Temple - the true Church, and attempting to destroy it. This Last Great Inquisition is symbolized in Scripture as Armageddon, the great tribulation, the time of trouble such as never was, Satan attacking the camp of the saints etc.,etc.
The past 40 years have been an exact replay of the time just before the destruction of that city. That era was characterized by wars, famines, earthquakes, plagues, false prophets, the worldwide preaching of the Gospel etc., etc.
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