The last updates for tonight (I promise):
The United States allowed the U.N. Security Council on Thursday to refer war crimes suspects in Sudan's Darfur region to the International Criminal Court in The Hague, a tribunal it opposes.
The Bush administration abstained in a vote on a resolution after receiving concessions that would bar prosecution of Americans participating in U.N. operations in Sudan. The vote was 11-0 with four abstentions.
From the AP...
In a major reversal for the Bush Administration, the United States agreed Thursday not to oppose a U.N. Security Council resolution that authorizes prosecuting Sudanese war crimes suspects before the International Criminal Court, diplomats said.
The U.S. government compromised after getting ironclad guarantees in the resolution that Americans who are part of any U.N. peacekeeping operation in Sudan would not be handed over to the court for trial if any accusation was made against them.
The diplomats, speaking on condition of anonymity, said at least four countries would abstain: the United States, Brazil, China, Algeria and possibly Russia.
Even with the concessions, the U.S. decision not to veto was a landmark shift. Ever since he took office, President Bush had actively opposed the court, and American diplomats had repeatedly said they opposed any variation that referred the Sudan cases to it.
But in the end, the pressure against the Americans was too great. France, Britain and seven other Security Council members have ratified the ICC statute, while two more have signed and are expected to ratify.
The document is the last of three Security Council resolutions aimed at putting pressure on Sudan to stop a crisis in Darfur, where the number of dead from a conflict between government-backed militias and rebels in Darfur is now estimated at 180,000.
The United States itself has declared genocide has occurred in Darfur and demanded swift action. A veto could have also been politically damaging exactly because of those American demands, and the impression that a veto would have made it look like the United States was stalling.
The Bush administration had wanted an African court to try those accused of war crimes, but the U.S. proposal had little support among the 14 other Security Council nations.
The U.S. decision to allow the court to prosecute war crimes perpetrators could raise hackles among conservatives for whom the court is an unaccountable body that cannot be trusted.
They include John Bolton, the undersecreta ry of state for arms control and international security and President Bush's nominee to become the next U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.