News & Events

LENS Conference - Spring 1999 - The United States and the International Criminal Court:

January 14, 1999

Dear Colleague:

     The Center on Law, Ethics and National Security (LENS) at the Duke University School of Law will sponsor a major conference at the Washington Duke Inn in Durham, NC on April 8-9, 1999, entitled "The United States and the International Criminal Court: Which Way from Here?" I hope that your schedule will allow you to attend.

     On July 17th of last year,120 states signed a Treaty in Rome which would for the first time establish a permanent International Criminal Court (ICC). During the negotiations preceding the final vote, the United States urged two points: first, that the United Nations Security Council be given a mandate to refer cases to the Court; and second, that, in situations where the Court acts without such a mandate, there be safeguards to protect against prosecution of a state's nationals without that state's consent. Although certain amendments to the draft text of the Treaty were made to address the United States' concerns, a final change urged by the American delegation was defeated. That amendment would have required the consent of a non-state party only in cases involving acts of officials or agents of the state in the course of official duties, acknowledged by the state as such. In the wake of that defeat, the United States joined six other countries in voting against the Treaty. As a non-state party, the United States is now in the position of being unable to have a judge on the Court or to be a full participant in many of the significant decisions to be made as the Court is established. Ironically, while refusal to become a state party has engendered these disadvantages for the United States, that refusal has not achieved the purpose of shielding U.S. nationals from the reach of the Court.

     Our conference will assemble Administration officials, several of the United States and international delegates to the Rome conference, and some of our nation's leading scholars on these issues in an atgeneral/programt to evaluate the events of last year, explore possible future options, and then propose a resolution to the dilemma in which this country now finds itself.  I hope to see you at the Washington Duke Inn for this important conference.


Executive Director