Dear Friends:

Thanks to all of you who have disseminated information that should sound the alarm regarding a new threat designed to abort the establishment of an international criminal court I refer to House Concurrent Resolution 23, submitted by Republican Representative Ron Paul of Texas and colleagues on Feb. 8, 2001. (He was the only member of Congress who voted against House Res. 34 on Feb, 13, 2001, calling for peace in the Middle East.)

H.C.R. 23 expresses “the sense of Congress that President George W. Bush should declare to all nations that the United States does not intend to assent to or ratify the International Criminal Court Treaty… and the signature of President Clinton to that treaty should not be construed otherwise.” . An organization called “The Liberty Committee” (boasting that it has some 50,000 members representing every district in the USA) has launched a nationwide campaign and has reported that some 20,000 people have already signed their petition to President Bush to rescind the signature to the treaty authorized by President Clinton on Dec. 31, 2000. The Resolution has been referred to the House Committee led by Representative Hyde who is reported to have denounced the treaty as “an assault on our sovereignty.”

Everyone, of course, is entitled to express their own views regarding the court. But it should be cause for grave concern to see the Petition of “The Liberty Committee”, displaying the American flag and the heading AMERICAN JUSTICE FOR AMERICANS, list on their website a host of press releases and articles, editorial and position papers denouncing the court for reasons that are palpably false and misleading. This is part of a well organized attempt to frighten and stampede the American public into believing that the new court would pose a threat to the United States, its military personnel and all its citizens . The arguments and goals are similar to those made in connection with the pending U.S. Servicemembers Protection Act introduced by Senator Jesse Helms of North Carolina, the most outspoken critic of the Court.

No one argues that the treaty is perfect – far from it – but it is a important new institution to deter major international crimes against humanity by bringing leading perpetrators to justice. The recent careful study by the American Academy of Arts and Sciences contains views of leading scholars from academia, the government and the military that support the conclusion that signing the treaty would be in the interest of the United States.

The views of the so-called “Liberty Committee,” are reminiscent of the “America First” positions prior to World War II. Isolationism and unilateralism can only exacerbate the growing feeling abroad that the U.S. seeks to lay down rules for the rest of the world that it is not willing to accept for itself. That would be a flagrant repudiation of legal principleslaid down by the United States and its allies at Nuremberg and hailed by the entire General Assembly of the United Nations. Helen Brady’s fine article of Feb. 13, circulated by the CICC, made plain that the ICC would not diminish national sovereignty but would reinforce a nation’s “commitment to a peaceful and just world and the rule of law.” NGO’s in the coalition, and nations, including America’s leading allies, that have signed on for the court, have made plain that they share the same view. We must continue to make our voices heard if this great hope is to be kept alive until a more favorable climate for its ratification by the U.S. can be created. Please see my website for more detailed comments.

Now is the time for all good men, and women, to come to the aid of their country.

Benjamin B. Ferencz