United Nations, 1 July 2002 (RFE/RL) -- The United States has vetoed a full six-month extension of United Nations peacekeeping operations in Bosnia in retaliation for the UN Security Council's rejection of a U.S. demand that Americans be granted immunity from prosecution by the new permanent international war crimes court. The United States agreed in a later vote to keep the Bosnia mission operating for at least three more days -- until the end of 3 July -- while diplomats seek to find a resolution to the row.
Without the brief extension, the 1,500-member UN mandate to train Bosnian police would have automatically halted at midnight last night.
U.S. Ambassador John Negroponte told the Security Council that the Bush administration fears that American peacekeepers could become special targets for politically motivated prosecutions before the new International Criminal Court that opens today in The Hague.
"We will not ask them [American peacekeepers] to accept the additional risk of politicized prosecutions before a court whose jurisdiction over our people the government of the United States does not accept."
UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan warned the Security Council that the possible premature termination of the Bosnia mission could hamper efforts to help the country build a lasting peace. Annan also warned of the possible negative impact on UN peacekeeping operations in other countries.