This is an August 2007 copy of a website maintained by the Center for International Policy. It is posted here for historical purposes. The Center for International Policy no longer maintains this resource.

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Last Updated:3/31/04
The International Criminal Court and U.S. Military Aid to Latin America
By Eric Stoner, CIP intern
March 31, 2004

In May 2002, the Bush Administration reneged on President Clinton’s signature of the Rome Statute, the treaty that forms the basis of the International Criminal Court (ICC, an institution that has ninety-two signatories). Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld explained the administration’s position that the court would expose U.S. personnel overseas to frivolous or hostile prosecutions: “We have an obligation to protect our men and women in uniform from this court and to preserve America's ability to remain engaged in the world.” Added U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Negroponte, “Should the ICC eventually seek to detain any American, the United States would regard this as illegitimate.”

Pressuring the International Community

However, by signing into law the American Servicemembers’ Protection Act (ASPA) in August 2002, the Bush administration went further than mere withdrawal from the ICC. The ASPA, a measure sponsored by an overwhelmingly Republican group of legislators in the House and Senate, requires the president to cut off military aid to all countries that have ratified the Rome Statute and failed to sign a bilateral immunity agreement (BIA) exempting U.S. personnel on their soil from extradition to the ICC.

As of January 30, 2004, the State Department reported that 82 bilateral immunity agreements, commonly known as “Article 98” agreements, had been signed worldwide.

Most of these signatures have resulted from intense U.S. pressure. Within the framework of the ASPA, the United States is using the power of the dollar, withholding almost $34 million in military aid from 20 countries.

The result is a situation brimming with irony. The chief sponsors of the ASPA included some of the Congress’ strongest proponents of military assistance to the developing world: figures like now-retired Sen. Jesse Helms (R-NC), Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), former Rep. Benjamin Gilman (R-NY) and Rep. Henry Hyde (R-IL). Many of these legislators have a long record of fighting hard for aid to armed forces in Latin America and elsewhere, despite concerns for human rights and democratic development. By sponsoring the ASPA, however, the bill’s sponsors stumbled upon a very effective way to cut off the same aid they so strongly favor.

Latin America Targeted

Colombia, the largest recipient of U.S. military aid in the hemisphere, is slated to receive over $550 million in military aid during 2004. The State Department has determined that, for the purposes of the ASPA, counter-drug aid for militaries and police does not count as “military aid,” so most aid to Colombia and its neighbors is exempt from the ASPA. Non-drug military aid is still significant, though: nearly $112 million of Colombia’s expected 2004 aid was contingent on the Bogotá government’s signing of an Article 98 agreement. Faced with the possibility of losing this assistance, the government of President Alvaro Uribe signed in September 2003.

Eight other Latin American countries currently have $16 million in non-drug military aid frozen. With $7.61 million held up by its unwillingness to sign an agreement, Ecuador has by far the most aid at stake. Peru has $2.43 million frozen, followed by Uruguay with $1.45 million. With a new fiscal year due to begin in six months, more aid will remain frozen if nothing is resolved; non-drug military aid programs in these countries will grind to a halt.

The Center for International Policy has long supported reduced military assistance to Latin America and the Caribbean. We did not expect to see it happen, though, as a result of the Bush administration’s pursuit of a bullying, go-it-alone foreign policy. With the ASPA, the administration and congressional Republicans have simply let their disdain for international organizations outweigh their desire to arm the developing world.

Aid being withheld (millions of US$):

World total (20 countries): $32.97 million
Latin America & Africa Total: $25.27 million
Latin America (8 countries*): $15.99 million

  • Ecuador: $7.61 million
  • Eastern Caribbean (4 countries) $4.21 million
  • Peru $2.43 million
  • Uruguay $1.44 million
  • Paraguay $0.3 million

* The Bush administration plans to give no non-drug military/police aid in 2004 and 2005 to four more countries that have not signed Article 98 agreements: Brazil, Costa Rica, Trinidad andTobago, and Venezuela. The administration's original 2004 aid request had indicated plans to give these countries a combined $2.05 million in military aid in 2004.

Africa (8 countries): $9.28 million  

  • South Africa $7.6
  • Benin $0.5
  • Mali $0.25
  • Tanzania $0.23
  • Namibia $0.225
  • Niger $0.2
  • Central African Republic $0.15
  • Lesotho $0.125

Other (4 countries): $7.7 million

  • Croatia $5.8
  • Malta $1.25
  • Serbia & Montenegro $0.5
  • Samoa $0.15

Senate ASPA Sponsors (S. 857 / S. 1610): Jesse Helms (R-NC), Kit Bond (R-MO), Larry Craig (R-ID), Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Jon Kyl (R-AZ), Trent Lott (R-MS), Frank Murkowski (R-AK), Jeff Sessions (R-AL), Richard Shelby (R-AL), John Warner (R-VA) and Zell Miller (D-GA)

House ASPA Sponsors (H.R. 1794 / H.R. 4775): Tom Delay (R-TX), Benjamin Gilman (R-NY), Henry Hyde (R-IL), Chris Smith (R-NJ), Bill Young (R-FL), and John Murtha (D-PA)

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