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(New York) - The U.S. government is extending its campaign against the new International Criminal Court to peacekeeping efforts at the United Nations, Human Rights Watch said in a backgrounder released today. 
At the U.N. Security Council, the Bush administration is pressing to exempt peacekeepers from the authority of the court. Ratified by sixty-nine states, the court treaty will enter into force on July 1.  
"The U.S. is trying to get at this treaty through the back door," said Kenneth Roth, Executive Director of Human Rights Watch. "It's using the Security Council as a battering ram, to attack an institution that dozens of countries regard as a fait accompli."  
Roth called on France, the United Kingdom, and other members of the Security Council to "defend the integrity" of the new court. He noted that the U.S. delegation's previous attempts to exempt peacekeepers in East Timor from the court's jurisdiction ended in failure.  
The Human Rights Watch backgrounder examines various proposals the United States has advanced at the Security Council to exempt U.N. peacekeepers from the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court. It also analyzes the British-initiated agreement for international troops in Afghanistan (the ISAF agreement), which U.S. diplomats have cited to justify Washington's own efforts to obtain exemption.  
At a meeting of the Security Council on Tuesday, June 18, U.S. diplomats presented two alternative proposals to exempt peacekeepers: the first text would apply only to peacekeepers deployed in Bosnia, while the second proposal would exempt peacekeepers in all U.N.-authorized or -mandated operations.  
"The U.S. failed to win ironclad guarantees insulating itself from the court when the treaty was negotiated, and now Washington is trying to achieve its goal through other means," said Roth. "This puts the very idea of treaty-making at risk. Why negotiate a document if the U.S. can change it later, behind the closed doors of the Security Council?"  
The International Criminal Court will be the first-ever permanent international criminal court authorized to try those accused of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes when national courts conduct sham trials or fail to investigate at all. Beginning July 1, people accused of those crimes could be brought to trial before the court, which will be located in The Hague.  
President Clinton signed the Treaty on December 31, 2000. On May 6, 2002, the Bush Administration announced its intention to withdraw U.S. signature.  
U.S. War Crimes Ambassador Pierre Prosper has said that President George Bush "was not going to war" against the International Criminal Court.  
"What's happening at the United Nations right now looks to me like a full-scale assault on the court," said Roth.  

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