American Press Briefing

Ambassador David Scheffer

Joan Veon, Journalist

The Woman's International Media Group, Inc.


Read statement

Q&A to Ambassador Scheffer:

Q: Major points of concerns in draft:

A. Absolutely essential that this document not purport to extend the jurisdiction of this court to the nationals of NON-STATE parties without either the consent of those governments or as a consequence of a decision by the Security Council to refer a matter to the Court. That is a key requirement.

It is essential (absolutely)_ that issues of cooperation between governments in the court be resolved in a manner that respects the for cooperation whether it be in the collection of evidence or the provision of accused to the custody of the court minimum requirements of sovereign governments in responding to requests from the court Those are absolutely key requirements.

Q. Does this mean that the U.S. will actively oppose the Court if it does not meet the criteria you just mentioned?

A. We would have to seriously consider--it is still premature considering the fact that we have a Chairman's Text which we are waiting for and we that there is an outcome on Friday that will not even give rise to that question. I remain optimistic that we will not have to address that question.

Q. Is the principle of complementarity a safeguard which is good enough to protect any soldiers on international missions in the world because the U.S. does have a well-respected functioning system?

A. It is a very, very critical requirement of this statute but it is not the reservoir of all safeguards for this statute. it is extremely important that if a government is not a state party to this statute and has not accepted its obligations or privileges which flow from this Statute, that there not be a presumption that its nationals are covered by the jurisdiction of this court. It is very important for governments to move towards acceptance and ratification of this document they need to understand that the ratification has meaning and when they ratify the document, then they accept obligations, then their citizens are exposed to the jurisdiction of this court. We cannot have a situation where ratification is a meaningless exercise. That is treaty law and that's what we will have to see develop in this document.

Q. To follow up - applied to the real world, unless the S/C send S. Hussein or Pol Pot for trial, theres no way if Cambodia or Iraq that those people could be tried, certainly while they are in office. you say that countries have to show proof that when they ratify that is when they are taking on these obligations. Would you oppose adding on any kind of protocol which enabled them to ratify this document and opt out of key obligations in that Statute?

A. On first question, I think it is a mistaken impression that that is how the real world works. That somehow the existence of this court will enable the international community to actually gain custody and prosecute a S. H. or Pol Pot. We need to construct a court that encourages the cooperation of states with the court. The only way these individuals will be brought to justice. If you construct a court that ignores requirements for cooperation, that ignores the sovereign decision-making that governments take in order to enter into treaty regimes, that cooperation will not evolve and this court will not be strong and it will not be effective. That is the really and the world.

To your second question, if ratification allow states to only taken part of responsibility.... I think what clearly is the object of some discussion is when the government ratifies the treaty, is it at the same time also joining an additional protocol to the treaty that would allow it to limit the jurisdiction of the court with respect to crimes that it is subjecting itself to by virtue of having signed that additional protocol. its still a ratifiying party to the treaty but it is also taking an additional step to sign an additional protocol that would limit the court's jurisdiction

with respect to that particular ratifying party. That is something we have no problem discussing with other governments.

Q. By identifying the two areas of concern that you did, does that signify that the U.S. does not expect to have any serious objections to other provisions that are expected to be contained in the next proposal of the bureau?

A. I would like to be optimistic about that. I think it would probably be too ambitious to think that all of the concerns that we have for this documents will in fact be resolved with the Chairman's Draft but we will wait and see and look at it and see where we can go in the next few days.

JV Question:

In light of the Clinton administrations acknowledgment of global governance and working very hard towards it in his administration and in light of the holdups here at this conference at the ICC with the fact that Britain is prepared to lead a group of countries to signing the Statute, where will that leave America on Friday/Saturday?

A. I hope America can stand in the leadership of international justice. I just hope that what is signed or agreed to represents the most effective mechanism for achieving international justice, that's the measure we will have when we decide to stand with any other particular country or not.

Question: do you envision or is there a negotiation toward a Statue that while the U.S. might not sign it still could be supported in many aspects?

A. too premature. I would hope that this Statute would meet all of our central concerns. the reason is that this Court will benefit enormously with the participation of the U.S. of A. anyone who questions that is walking around in a dreaming way about the utility of an ICC without not only the U.S. but several other permanent of the Security Council, without the participation of several other very populous democracies in the world. If that is the concept of this court and they think that's going to make this an effect and credible Court in the international system, then I would beg to differ and I think that would be a real defeat for international justice if a way could not be found or the U.S. and other key governments who can make such a contribution be able to participate as full state parties.

Q: How could developments in the next couple of days affect peacekeeping missions?

A. I would hope they would enhance those peacekeeping missions because we have always argued that the use of U.S. and other military force is a very effective partner with the purusit of justice and that is an arguement which I would have no problem on with you and those who are truly interested in international justice must recognize that we have to have a system in the future that acknowledges the utility of military force in appropriate situations to puruse the aims of international justice and humanitarian operations. We would like to think that this court would be an ally to those efforts and not a hinderance. I would like to think by this weekend we can walk away fro Rome securfe in the knowledge that we created an institution that works very well with both the on the ground enforcement of international law and as well as the adjudication of these cases in a court room.


Spkesman: The U.S. position is that the Security Council., should and msut play a role in this process. We have an international system in place that includes the S/C. This court is to be part of that international system. To suggest that ths court act outside the s/C is to suggest that it would act outside of the international system.

The reality is that if we do not create a court that does not reflect treaty law as its exists, it will be difficult for a number of countries to be able to sign on to this document.

Q. Suggested that several proposals would be a threat to peacekeeping--what mean?

A. There are a number of countries which provide peacekeeping. When these forces go into a peacekeeping situation, they should not have a politically motivated prosecution hanging over their work. I am not going to go into specifics about different parts of the world--its every part of the world that's every country invovled in peacekeeping.

JV: Follow-up on my first question to the Ambassador - Can you tell me where Jesse Helms plays in with the current stands by the Clinton Administration here in rome.

A. The delegation respects Sen. helms views ont he cout and we all know what they are. The U.S. senate has an important part to play in the advise and consent process. The U.S. delegation of the Senator's concerns and there was a gorup of Helm's staffers who were here in the 3rd week of the conference who met with the delegation and well as a delegation of NGOs.

Q. What conceivable actions with the U.S. take in the aftermath of this conference. Are there any... that the U.S. would sign the treaty.....

A. We dont' speculate on this. Sheffer made it clear what he thought had to be done to see the U.S. sign this and let's leave it at that.


Q. Reports that the U.S. delegation is exercising pressures on key points with other governmetns.

A. The U.;S. does not comment on bilateral negotiations in a multilateral conference. We view such discussions as very important and normal as part of any negotiations. It is essential that we maintain the confidentiality of those discussions.

Q. The U.S. has repeatedly put stock int he S/C as the refering agency. In 2 recent situations with Khmar Rouge and with the congo report to the S/C, they have failed to act on ititiatives to form a tribunal. Isn't this proof that the S/C is not working?

A. No system is perfect and its clear that if it were going to create an internaitonal system that will promote justice, we need to do it in the context of what exists. The U.S. has moved to the Singapoe prosal witout the Canadian additon. The U.S. still feels the S/C can play an important role it is no longer at the point it was with regartd to the S/C. what I can tell you is that the U.S. wants to see this effort succeed and with the S/C doing what it has to do. Clearly it is not going to work 100% of the time but without the Security Council, its not going to work hardly ever because if you do not have an enforcement mechanism in place to ensure that the Court's actions and decision are enforced then it is going to be impossible for the Court to secure international justice.

A. The reason that we are here is to establish a court to try individuals. In terms of your broader question, to secure international justice, state partis are going to play a role and to suggest that the Court will indite, try and sentence individuals witout state actors playing a role. State Actors are going to help fund this court, state actors are going to help staff, state parties are going to help secure evidence and bring people to the court so when then get talking about it in terms of rough states that may not be involved in the court or states that are involved in the court, they have to play a role. No matter how you create this court, the rough states are not going to sign this treaty so the question is, what is the most effective way to create a court to bring abourt international justice. We feel taht the most important way to do this is to bring as many states into this as possible. If we were to create a court that is a club and not a court, it would not have the ability to secure international justice and that would be a mistake and create a court that would not do what it is set out to do.

Q-kathie - Are there any other senators which have been here. The delgation of staffers which were here included from Helms, Biden and Rod Grahams. The reasons why these statffers came is that they represent the Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations committee, the Ranking Minority member of the Senate Foreign Relations committee and the chairman of the International Operations sub-committee which are the committees wihch will make the decision when the treaty goes to the Senate, if it goes to the Senate. They will be the ones who are involved in the initial process.

Q. Is the Opt-in/opt out what creates the club atmosphere

A. When have standard which requires states to accede to automatic jurisdication then you will only have a a very small number of states who are willing at this time to sign up to the court. You will only end up with the majority of these states in Europe. That is reality now. Other states that would like to opt in on this but do not feel comfortable at this point on all three core crimes, in those cases, what automatic jurisdiction suggests is that you have a number of states which would like to be part but would not be willing to opt in on all 3 would not be part of this. So let's take a state, no names, that is 10 years out of dictatorship and it does not have a long history of rule of law, democratic governance. In that state they want to be apart of this court but for a number of different reasons--internal ethnic concerns, or army on their border or whatever, they are uncomfortable with opting in to war crimes but perfectly comfortable signing the treaty and opting in on crimes against humanity, in that case ...and if that happens, you have excluded a country that could play a part in the court. I go back to what I said about state involved and the people of that state helping to pay for the Court, helping staff the court and secure international justice and having the courts actions play a role in shaping domestic law in that state. None of that will happen if you have a standard jurisdiction where a state is unable to meet that standard and therefore you are automatically excluding a large number of states that would like to participate in this. why not create a system that those states who could opt in to all 3 categories would have that opportunity and then have the opportunity for states not comfortable opting in to all three still participate in the court. That is all that is being suggested.

Q. Has an impasse been reached--can't comment.