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CATHOLIC FAMILY & HUMAN RIGHTS INSTITUTE

866 United Nations Plaza, Suite 4038

New York, New York 10017

Phone: (212) 754-5948 Fax: (212) 754-9291

E-mail: cafhri@cafhri.com Website: www.cafhri.org

FRIDAY FAX

July 18, 1998

Volume 1, Number 40

ROME CONFERENCE ENDS WITHOUT CONSENSUS FOR CREATING INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL COURT

* By a majority vote late last evening in Rome, the nations of the

world approved the adoption of a statute to create a new International

Criminal Court. The court's future remains uncertain, however, as many

powerful countries voted against the statute, including the US, China,

India, and Turkey. Another 21 countries abstained. And it is widely

believed that many others, including Russia and many Muslim states,

won't ratify the treaty even if they sign it (most countries require

both signing and ratification before new international treaties can come

into force).

* Consequently, even if the ICC does secure the threshold of 66

national ratifications needed for the court to come into legal effect,

it won't have the endorsement of the governments of well over half the

world's people. It will also lack the support of at least three of the

five permanent members of the UN Security Council, making its status

even more uncertain.

* Nevertheless, the alliance of Western nations and activist NGOs who

have dominated the Rome negotiations process are claiming victory today.

They contend that even with the notable nations that have opted out, the

ICC will still be able to exercise "universal jurisdiction" and impose

its authority on every country, including the US and the ICC's other

major opponents. This seems to be a brand new notion in international

law.

* With regard to the struggle waged in the Rome between

pro-life/pro-family forces and the radical-feminist Women's Caucus, both

sides are claiming some successes. Radical-feminist and homosexual

activists cite the inclusion of references to "forced pregnancy" ­ a

Women's Caucus code word for criminalizing any denial of access to

abortion ­ and to "gender" ­ another vague and elastic term used to

advance other elements of the feminist and homosexual agendas ­ as

evidence that both concepts have now been recognized under international

law.

* The pro-life and pro-family contingent counters that virtually all of

the sting has been removed from both terms, courtesy of strictly

limiting definitions. In the ICC Statute, "forced pregnancy" is defined

as "the unlawful confinement of a woman forcibly made pregnant, with the

intent of affecting the ethnic composition of any population or carrying

out other grave violations of international law. This definition shall

not in any way be interpreted as affecting national laws relating to

pregnancy." Representatives of the Holy See delegation, a key player in

negotiating this final compromise language, feel certain that this

definition of "forced pregnancy" can never be used to justify access to

abortion.

* "Gender," meanwhile, is defined as "the two sexes, male and female,

within the context of society." Women's Caucus lobbyists clearly hope

that the "context of society" inclusion leaves sufficient room for

activist judges to interpret the term as legitimizing homosexual

"marriage" and other radical-feminist platforms. However, most

pro-family legal experts involved in the Rome negotiations regard this

as unlikely.

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