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Disarmament Diplomacy

Issue No. 28, July 1998

Conference on International Criminal Court Rejects Indian Amendment on WMD Dimension

In Rome on 17 July, an Indian amendment calling for the use of weapons-of-mass-destruction (WMD) to be declared a war crime under the terms of reference of the new International Criminal Court (ICC) was defeated - on a motion to take no further action on the proposal - by 114 votes to 16, with 20 abstentions. The same day, the UN Diplomatic Conference - attended by 160 States - agreed the statute and remit of the ICC by 120 votes to 7 - including India and the US - with 21 abstentions. The motion to take no action on India's amendment was proposed by Norway, supported by Chile and Malawi.

In the explanation of votes given after the establishment of the Court, Benin, Egypt, Mexico and Sudan, on behalf of the Arab Group of States, expressed disappointment that the amendment had been defeated. As paraphrased in the UN account of proceedings, India noted that, "as a nuclear-weapon State," it had:

"[T]abled an amendment to list nuclear weapons among those whose use is banned for the purposes of the Statute. This was not accepted. The message this sends is that, at the level of plenipotentiaries, the international community has decided that the use of nuclear weapons is not a crime. What is worse, the Statute does not list any weapon of mass destruction among those whose use is banned as a war crime..."

Reports: Indian nuclear war crimes amendment crushed, Reuters, 17 July; UN diplomatic conference concludes in Rome with decision to establish permanent International Criminal Court, United Nations Press Release L/2889, 20 July.

© 1998 The Acronym Institute.

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