Immunity for Peacekeepers against the Ailment of ICC Prosecution

Canadian Speeches, July-August 2002 | Go to article overview

Immunity for Peacekeepers against the Ailment of ICC Prosecution


There is no known history of peacekeeper troops committing war crimes. Denying them immunity would restrict their ability to perform peacekeeping effectively. While peacekeepers should be subject to their national laws, prosecution for crimes in the ICC is unecessary. Non-members of the ICC should not be forced to abide with ICC legal procedures. The threat of legal action by the ICC against non-members' peacekeeping troops jeopardizes continued contributions for future missions. Speech to the United Nations before the UN Security Council on the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina, New York, June 10, 2002.

The issue that has so far prevented the Council from adopting a substantive resolution is the immunity to peacekeepers from the jurisdiction of third parties, including international criminal tribunals, with respect to possible allegations of criminal offences committed during peacekeeping operations.

We appreciate the opportunity given to non-Council members to share their perspective on the ongoing debate in the informal consultations of the Security Council on this important and, indeed, divisive issue. We shall do so in a constructive spirit and with a sense of responsibility as a major contributor to UN's peacekeeping operations.

UN peacekeepers, by definition, are deployed to serve the cause of international peace, often in lands unknown to them, far removed from their homes or national interests. They operate under strict mandates and tight rules of engagement established by the UN.

They are drawn from a number of countries and are supervised from the UN headquarters, in addition to the political leadership of the concerned mission. Moreover they are accountable to their own governments for their actions in the field. It is, therefore, highly unlikely that UN peacekeepers would commit criminal offences of an egregious nature or gross, premeditated and systemic crimes.

As of now, UN peacekeepers are provided immunity under the Status of Forces Agreement. Such immunity is provided for sound practical reasons that have stood the test of time. Exposing them now to allegations and possible harassment through charges of crimes committed during their exercise of functions as peacekeepers, apart from laying them open to the possibility of motivated charges, are likely to put these forces on the defensive, constrict their capacity to take firm action when required, and eventually adversely affect the preparedness of potential troop contributors to provide troops to the UN for peacekeeping functions.

Over the past five decades, UN peacekeepers have contributed immensely to the preservation of peace in different parts of the world. Their record has been a matter of pride for all of us. This is particularly true for countries like India that have contributed peacekeepers in significant numbers. …

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