NATO and the ICC: Time for Cooperation? A New Transatlantic Current from CTSS...
Transatlantic Current #4
NATO and the ICC: Time for Cooperation?
by Ulf Haeussler
Following the wars in the Balkans, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) established solid cooperation, whereby NATO supported ICTY in its quest to bring persons indicted for war crimes (PIFWCs) to justice. NATO Headquarters has provided substantial material used as evidence in various ICTY cases. NATO members have participated as witnesses to ICTY. Personnel of the NATO-led operations in Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as Kosovo, have detained and handed PIFWCs over to ICTY personnel who arrested them based on indictments issued by the tribunal’s prosecutor. The solid working relationship, while possibly temporarily challenged, was not put in serious jeopardy when the ICTY prosecutor investigated NATO’s conduct of operations during Operation Allied Force (also known as the Kosovo Air Campaign). The investigation did later clear NATO of the allegations of war crimes levied against it.
The International Criminal Court (ICC) might be interested in cooperation of a similar nature since it is investigating the situation in at least one theater where NATO has led an international military operation and is reportedly conducting preliminary examinations regarding other theaters where NATO currently deploys forces. On the one hand, the ICC prosecutor was reported to have opened a preliminary file regarding Afghanistan and earlier conducted a preliminary examination regarding Iraq. For the purpose of analyzing the seriousness of any allegations that lead to opening these files, the ICC prosecutor may seek information from appropriate sources, including international organizations. Nothing, however, is publicly known as to whether some interaction between NATO and the ICC followed suit. On the other hand, the possible investigation of NATO’s conduct of operations regarding Libya—as requested by the lawyer of Colonel MuammarQadhafi’s family—might also warrant interaction. Again, however, no related press reporting exists. All mentioned theaters should be expected to involve crimes within the ICC’s jurisdiction.
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