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Letters to the 107th Congress

May 10, 2001

Dear Representative:

As the House begins consideration of H.R. 1646, the Foreign Relations Authorization Act for 2002-2003, I write on behalf of the American Bar Association to urge you to oppose certain amendments that will have a deleterious effect on the United States' ability to promote the international rule of law and further the protection of human rights for Americans and others throughout the world.

United Nations Arrears. H.R. 1646 currently obtains provisions that would authorize the release of $582 million the U.S. owes in arrears to the United Nations. Proposals have been put forward to block the release of these funds until US representation is restored on the UN Human Rights Commission or International Narcotics Control Board. The payment of UN dues is a legal obligation owed by all member states under Article 17 of the UN Charter. It is inconsistent with that legal obligation to condition payment of U.S. assessments on reorganization or reforms at the UN, or to link payment to restrictions on funding for specific programs. We urge you to oppose any amendment that would link the payment of US arrears to actions taken by the UN or its member bodies.

International Criminal Court. It is our understanding that the American Servicemembers Protection Act will be offered as an amendment to H.R.1646. This act would prohibit U.S. cooperation with the proposed International Criminal Court, restrict U.S. participation in UN peacekeeping missions, and limit military aid to countries who join the court. The ICC will be a permanent court to try individuals who commit the most serious crimes of concern to the international community - genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity. Thirty countries, including six of our NATO allies, have already ratified the Rome Statute. The U.S. should not put itself in unilateral opposition to our allies and the interests of international justice by undermining the proposed court. We urge you to vote against the amendment.

United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). H.R. 1646 contains provisions to express the Sense of Congress that the president should renew U.S. membership and participation in UNESCO and to authorize funds for that purpose. UNESCO's mission to promote collaboration among nations in education, science, culture and communications is increasingly important in this time of global opportunities and challenges. In addition, UNESCO has successfully addressed the budget, management and other concerns that led to U.S. withdrawal in 1984. It is time for the U.S. to rejoin UNESCO. We hope you will oppose any amendment to remove the language that would enable us to take the first step toward that goal.

Changes made to H.R. 1646 by these amendments would do grave damage to the credibility of the United States abroad and hinder our ability to exercise leadership on international justice and human rights issues. The cost of such actions could be significant - both for the achievement of US foreign policy goals and for the future of international cooperation. We hope that you will oppose the amendments.

Thank you for your attention to these important matters.


Robert D. Evans
Director, Governmental Affairs Office

107th Congress Letters Home

Governmental Affairs Office
740 Fifteenth Street, NW
Washington, DC 20005
ph: 202-662-1760
fx: 202-662-1762

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