Over strong American opposition, a draft treaty creating the world's first permanent war crimes tribunal emerged early Friday from marathon U.N. negotiations.
Delegates from 160 countries have until midnight to endorse the treaty, and several said the draft had a good chance of passage.The proposed treaty fails to address major U.S. concerns, said a spokesman for the American delegation who asked that his name not be used. He said negotiations were continuing and the delegation hoped for a satisfactory outcome.
Despite weeks of arm-twisting, U.S. diplomats failed to block the creation of an independent prosecutor and insert a loophole that would allow American citizens and soldiers an exemption from the court's jurisdiction. Most of Washington's closest allies opposed the U.S. position.
A number of democratic countries and human rights groups argue that the U.S. requests could cripple the court. The carefully crafted plan makes concessions designed to win broad support, but many of Washington's demands were rebuffed.
As envisioned in the draft, the international criminal court would prosecute individuals for genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and aggression.
The court, to be based in The Hague, Netherlands, fulfills a dream born after World War II with the Nuremberg trials of Nazi war criminals and revived with the ad hoc tribunals for alleged offenders from Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia.
Under draft guidelines, a case could be initiated by the prosecutor, with the approval of a pretrial panel of judges, by a country or by the U.N. Security Council.
Permission from the nation where an alleged crime was committed would be enough for a court to go forth with a case. The United States wanted the option to veto the prosecution of any American citizen.