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(EU) EP/INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL TRIBUNAL: PARLIAMENT CALLS ON EU TO SEEK TO CONVINCE UNITED STATES TO CHANGE ITS POSITION

Brussels, 28/02/2002 (Agence Europe) - The EU Member States and the countries associated to the Union, which have not yet done so, should ratify the statute of the future International Criminal Tribunal as soon as possible (the statute has so far been ratified by 52 countries, but 70 are needed for it to take effect). This request was made by the European Parliament while adopting, on Thursday, a resolution presented by practically all political groups. The Parliament also invited the EU Council to adopt during Spanish Presidency, over and beyond its common position of June 2001, a concrete action plan to promote accession by a large number of countries to the statute approved in Rome. It invited the Administration and the American Congress to review their positions on the future Tribunal. Many MEPs took part in the debate and evoked this problem of American reticence. Christian Democrat Arie Oostlander affirmed that one must speak to the Americans, but "gently" without "irritating" them, while Dutch Liberal Bob van den Bos (who spoke of "The Hague, the legal capital of the world"), said it should be done "in a friendly but firm way". Italian Green member Monica Frassoni said one must seek "creative pressure instruments" (what can one do, "take the United States before the Court?", was the provocative remark by Spanish Socialist Rosa Diez Gonzalez). Italian Radical Emma Bonino, who has been fighting for the new Tribunal for years, insisted it should be of universal nature and have political-geographical balance within it. She welcomed the favourable reaction of Mexican President Fox and the "positive and unexpected" position taken by the Arab League, but criticised those "absent", including Russia and China. Commissioner Verheugen, who recalled the concrete effort that the Commission has made in favour of this project, said the creation of the Court will be the most significant conquest in international law since the creation of the United Nations. In 2002, he announced, the Commission will focus its financing on aid to train experts and to the necessary transposition of "binding rules" in national law. We have every hope that the statue of the tribunal will come into effect under Spanish Presidency, said Council President Ramon de Miguel, who recalled that the EU had taken on a leading role in this affair, and that 130 States have signed the statute so far.





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