On March 15, the LWVDC testified in favor of the
Youth Poll Workers Act of 2002 before the DC Council Committee on
Government Operations hearings chaired by Councilman Vincent Orange. The
Act will allow youth age 16 and above to work at polls to supplement the
number of workers. In the same hearings, we opposed the District of
Columbia Election Code Amendment Act of 2002, which would
"eliminate the nominating petition requirement in the case of
certain primary election candidates who are endorsed by the executive
committees of political parties."
In keeping with the anniversary of the 9-11 tragedy,
Mrs. Barbara Childs Perry, a Deputy of the DC Office of
Emu Management Assistance, informed us that a Domestic Preparedness Task
Force has been established by Mayor Williams. The District has received
over $156 in federal funds to develop safety plans, purchase equipment,
and contract for any other necessary programs to ensure safety. DC has
joined the National Capital Area and COG to develop mutual aid plans,
and has established a protocol with the federal government for future
emergencies. A neighborhood-to-neighborhood awareness plan is underway,
through the ANCs and the Neighborhood Watch.
Jeanette Senecal, a LWVUS staff member, gave DC
members a hands-on overview of the D-net (Democracy-Intemet) system in
our office. We were made aware of the extent to which information on
candidates and election data can be installed on the Internet. This
system can be utilized from our homes on various occasions. Jeanette
provided a training session at the National Office for some members that
proved very stimulating, and will be useful in the coming election. This
system will supplement the Voters Guide, but will NOT replace it.
Four student interns from the University of the
District of Columbia are involved in updating KNOW THE DISTRICT OF
COLUMBIA. They are attending DC Council meetings and hearings as
Our Shadow representative Ray Browne received a
letter of support from us for State Governors and Legislators as he
travels obtaining endorsements for Full Voting Representation in
Congress for DC residents. He also received a letter of recommendation
from Councilwoman Carol Schwartz, and a letter signed by Mayor Williams,
Council Chair Linda Cropp, and Delegate Norton.
We will need volunteers to be downtown beginning
around noon to pass out flyers about the rally and encourage residents
to attend. We will also need volunteers to help throughout the coming
month to organize participants, create signs to use at the event; make
phone calls to volunteers and other activities. Cad Kathy Schmidt if you
Kathy Schmidt, DC VOTE Liaison (237-5550
We wish to thank the Northwest Evening Unit for the
wine and cheese fundraiser party they gave recently. Geri Albers was a
gracious hostess. Thanks also to Liz Martin for the card party
fundraiser, and to Elaine Melmed who donated the delicious luncheon.
E. Patricia Hallman, President
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Be Sure to Attend the
82nd Annual Dinner Meeting
Thursday, April 15, 2002
5:30 pm 9:00 pm
See below for more information
Attention League Members Who Work Downtown!
An evening unit meeting on the United Nations will be held at 6:00 p.m.,
at the Summer School; on Wed., April 17.
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Ed. Lazere, Executive Director of the DC Fiscal
Policy Institute, provided some much needed and valued information on
the DC Government Budget at our February Brown Bag Dialogue (lunch). The
timing could not have been better, since the Mayor's 2003 budget
proposal was scheduled to be delivered, to the DC Council, the week of
March 18, Council hearings will follow.
It became clear during the course of Mr. Lazere's
presentation that the interests of the DC Fiscal Policy Institute often
parallel our own. We look forward to close and useful cooperation with,
them as we address shared concerns.
A League participant commented that the League and
other community groups should make an effort to communicate concerns to
the members of the executive branch, or the schools, who prepare their
budget proposals to go to the DC Council: Often, by the Council hearing
stage in the budget process, much has already been decided. Thus, the
League might examine budgets for the schools, for health, or for
housing, and comment on them before the budget goes to the Council.
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On Tuesday, April 30 at 10:30 a.m., .the Healthcare
committee will meet to prepare for the May 15th General Meeting.
Problems of access to healthcare in the. District of Columbia will be
the topic of the program. Health coverage for the uninsured, managed
care and patients' rights, and long term .care are among the concerns
which are expected to arise in this meeting.
A panel including Robert A. Malson, President of the
D.C. Hospital Association; Lawrence Mirel, Commissioner, Department of
Insurance Regulation, DC government; and Gerald Kasunic, Ombudsman, long
term care for the DC Office of Aging, will respond to questions and
concerns raised by League members. The purposes of this meeting are to
educate and inform League members, to determine access to healthcare in
DC, to assess the need for new positions for League action, and to
broaden knowledge of the structure and function of the DC healthcare
The meeting will take place from 10 am to 1 pm. The
location has not yet been determined. See the May DC Voter for further
Natalie Howard (882-8762), Chair
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There has been much in the daily newspapers lately
about CareFirst's application to convert from not-for-profit to
for-profit status. CareFirst, as most of you know, is the Blue
Cross/Blue Shield affiliate for Maryland, Delaware, DC, and some parts
of Northern Virginia. Thus far, the action has been primarily in
Maryland, but it's only a question of time before DC officials begin
their process for consideration of the application.
CareFirst Watch , the coalition of which the DC
League is a member, carefully reviewed CareFirst's filing and concluded
that the filing does not supply enough information for proper
consideration of the proposal. In an extensive letter to Lawrence H.
Mirel, Commissioner, Department of Insurance and Securities Regulation,
and Robert R. Rigsby, Corporation Counsel, the coalition asserted that
the filing did NOT establish that:
ownership interest in CareFirst."
"(1) CareFirst needs to convert in order to
remain a viable provider of healthcare services;
(2) the proposed merger will, in fact, benefit
citizens of the National' Capital Anew by improving accessibility,
affordability, and quality of their healthcare; and
(3) the terms of the proposed merger and the amount
of the proposed purchase price fully protect
The letter proceeded to describe some of the major
deficiencies in the, filing, and. added a detailed list of questions and
reqests for additional information that would be needed before a
decision could be reached. Copies of this letter were also sent to
Council members, along with draft legislation clarifying "what
factors District regulators must consider in determining whether a
proposed conversion and acquisition of a non-for-profit insurance
company is in the public interest" and other matters.
The Coalition is planning a public forum to provide up-to-date information bout this issue. and
encourage people to participate in the process. The forum will be held on April 8, 2002, from 6:30 p.m. until
8:30 p.m. at the Martin Luther King Library, 901 G Street NW (Gallery Place Metro Station). It is impossible to
overstate the importance of this issue, so join us if you can.
Naomi Glass (686-0124) 2nd Vice President
Public Forum on CareFirst
April 8, 2002 from 6:30 - 8:30 P.M.
Martin Luther King Library
901 G Street, NW
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Unit meetings in April will turn to the challenge of
updating the League's current position on the United Nations, adopted
back in 1977 in a very different world. The position remains basically
strong and has allowed the League over the years to work with other
concerned organizations to urge Congress to meet its financial
obligations to the UN. It does not, however, address the range of new UN
strategies related to peacekeeping, nor does it speak to other recent
developments, such as the proposed establishment of the International
Criminal Court, or proposals to enlarge the Security Council.
Following the Convention 2000 agreement to update the
UN position, a Task Force of state and local League representatives has
been working with LWVUS Board and staff to guide the update process.
The LWVDC sponsored a General Meeting on the UN at the Sumner School on
March 15, attended by over fifty League members from DC, Maryland and
Virginia and their guests, when we heard from distinguished officers of
the United Nations Association and from the Better World Campaign (see.
insert for a fuller report of this meeting).
Our Unit Meetings in April will offer members the
opportunity to discuss what they have learned and what they still may
question. At the same time, we will review a proposed statement of an
updated LWV position developed by the Task Force and LWVUS Board, with
which we are asked to concur. The proposed position appears in the March
April National Voter, together with a concurrence response form.
As with the recent Trade concurrence, members will be
given time, at the conclusion of our Unit discussions, to fill out the
concurrence response form, which will be collected and returned to LWVUS
by the Committee (be sure to bring the National Voter with you to the
meetings). Those who cannot attend the Unit meetings should fill out the
concurrence response form and return it individually to LWVUS by May 21 (FAX online deadline is May 24).
To prepare for our discussion, re-read the
December-January 2002 National Voter article on the UN by NY Times
correspondent Barbara Crossette, and read the enclosed Q&A paper on
the International Criminal Court, which is sure to be controversial. Or
call Sheila Keeny for information available on the web or in back issues
of the DC Voter, which carried material on the UN as used in Unit or
General meetings in 1993, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, and 1999: Our interest
in a UN update is longstanding.
Report on trade Concurrence: Twenty-two League
members filled out concurrence forms on the proposed LWV position on
Trade at a General Meeting held on February 12. One member was strongly
opposed; seven strongly supported, and fourteen simply accepted the new
position. Four members were concerned that this method of obtaining
member agreement was not appropriate for issues of such complexity, a
position consistent with earlier LWVDC matrons about the concurrence
Great Decisions: The title of the April 5 meeting is
Aids in Africa: is the World Concerned Enough? Again at this meeting we will have a resource person,
Dr. George Gill, who was involved in the development of AIDS drugs and
later in research in AIDS complications. The April 19 meeting will
discuss Russia Reexamined: New Politics and Economy. Both meetings will
take place from 10 am to noon in the Lounge at the Ingleside Community,
3050 Military Road, NW. Guests are welcome; call our Great Decisions
facilitator Hope Marindin (966-6367) for information. Sheila Keeny (966-1692) Co-Chair
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The very small advocacy staff at LWVUS must focus on
top priorities, and often do not have time to attend coalition meetings
and other events related to second tier priorities, such as Reproductive
Choice and Environmental Issues. Linda McDaniel of the LWVUS Board
thinks staff would welcome help from reliable, League-knowledgeable
members in covering the Waterfront on those two issues. If you are an
experienced Leaguer and interested in either of those issues, you could
email Linda McDaniel at email@example.com, or call the LWVDC office at
347-3020 and leave a message.
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The next big push in the housing initiative is to ensure funding for
the Housing Production Trust Fund. The financial forecasts for the
District are not encouraging; but without funding in this year's budget, we
will not see the results of our hard work until at least 2004. This fund has
existed' for more
than ten years without funding. Every year there is a more pressing
need. However, with our crisis in affordable housing, we cannot wait
In February, the Affordable Housing Committee met
with Eric Price, Deputy Mayor, Economic Development, and his staff to
discuss implementation of the Fund as well as Inclusionary Development,
which was promised for implementation this spring. Both initiatives are
moving slowly, with the latter now targeted for the fall. This
discouraging scenario has spurred the housing organizations to move
rapidly in the policy and budget arenas. It is important to let the
Mayor and Council members know that we want the Housing Production Trust Fund (HTPF) funded this
year, FY 2003. Critical questions include:
- Have the regulations and specifications for allocation of funds in the HPTF been developed?
If not, when will they be? Who is responsible for doing. this?
When will the Advisory. Board be appointed?
- What is the schedule for
As part of the League's effort to extend its reach
and become more effective, the League Board agreed to support the
Coalition for Nonprofit Housing and Economic Development. Its mission is
to strengthen and support the ability of nonprofit housing and economic
organizations with the goal to improve the quality of life in District
neighborhoods. Just what the League is working for, too. Liz Martin (537-3043) & Julia Cuniberti (387-0122),
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Proposed Budget, 2002-2003. After discussion, the Board approved with some changes the budget as
presented by Joan Domike for the Budget Committee.
After the vote to approve, Liz Martin suggested that
a committee be appointed to develop a long-range fiscal policy to
balance future budgets, and her suggestion was approved. Pat Hallman
emphasized that LWVDC needs a major fund raising event.
Pat Hallman reported plans for LWVUS National
Convention, which will take place in Miami, Florida June 15-18. The NCA
League plans a pre-convention meeting of its member Leagues to discuss
issues. (Discussion was limited at the last convention because floor
time was used by a number of outside speakers.) It was noted that the
National Capital Area League plans to present a wares table (at a shared
cost of $100) at the convention for Virginia, Maryland, and D.C.
Yancey, Private Elections, said we have been asked by the Department of
Corrections to oversee an election of officers of the Fraternal Order of
Police Union, with some 800 members in, the DC Jail; Corrections
Headquarters, and a Halfway House. The election will take place in
mid-May, and ten Leaguers will be needed to assist. The Board
accepted Yancey's recommendation that we agree to oversee the election.
Joan Wilson announced plans for a bus tour of Anacostia to take place on
April 4. Cost per person will be $15, and pick-up points can be arranged
for members on request.
Elinor Hart reported that 48 new voters were
registered by students at a basketball tournament.
Natalie Howard said the theme of the May 15th
general meeting on Health Care will be "Access to Health Care in
D.C." (See article p. 2.)
Kathy Schmidt said DC VOTE is planning a Lobby Day
during the first half of May, to urge a hearing in the Senate. A letter
from the D.C. League Board as well as the NCA League Board will be
helpful. In response to the question whether LWVUS should also be a
sponsor of this Lobby Day, it was decided that LWVDC should send a
letter to LWVUS urging them to support and participate in Lobby Day. It
was suggested that our delegates arrange to play the "Sweet Honey
& the Rock" CD, supporting DC VOTE, at the LWVUS Convention.
Housing co-chair Liz Martin said the committee's
meeting with Eric Price of the Mayor's office revealed no stated city
policy on housing, and the LWVDC Housing Committee will. prepare and
offer a draft policy to the city for consideration. Martin described the
Coalition for Non-Profit Development (CNHED), and moved
that LWVDC join the Coalition. Dues are $100. Her motion was seconded
and approved by the Board. Frances Gemmill
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COLOMBIA AND DRUG TRAFFICKING (4th Great Decisions Discussion)
The fourth meeting in the Great Decisions series,
"Colombia and Drug Trafficking," was fortunate to attract an expert in the field, William Olson,
Republican Staff Director of the Senate Caucus on International
Narcotics Control. Mr. Olson said he has a special interest in
"small wars," typically engaged in by "weak states with
strong problems." Colombia is a perfect example, exhibiting the
largest drug production and processing industry in the hemisphere, a
weak government, and a historically violent, dysfunctional society.
Seventy percent of the populace is urban, living in
the low lands near the Pacific and Caribbean coasts; cocaine is grown in
the mountainous and jungle areas. Large planes fly into settlements so
small that they land on the main street to pick up bales of coca leaf,
to be processed elsewhere in the country for sale to eager users in the
U.S. and Europe. Facing an apparently ineffective police force are large
rebel forces, paramilitary groups, guerillas, and private armies for
self-defense, all extremely well armed. The violence they, use and their
wealth from drug proceeds translates into dominance of the
"Plan Colombia," drafted by the Colombia
government and the United States, calls for Colombia to man the attack
on the drug operations, while the US contributes logistical support in
the form of helicopters, equipment, and training programs to reform the
police and the judiciary.
One way to curtail the drug industry is by reducing
U.S. and European demand. According to Mr. Olson, a person who reaches
the age of 21 without using drugs is unlikely to become addicted. Toward
this end, the U.S. government's budget of $19 billion is aimed at
prevention and treatment, as well as interdiction of dealers. Mr. Olson
mentioned programs such as the Drug Free Communities Act (DFCA) and
noted that state and local governments also budget monies for drug
programs. He stated throughout the session that there needs to be more
discussion and debate about drug trafficking in order to develop a more
cohesive strategy. Hope Marindin and Liz Martin
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NCA ANNUAL MEETING: Saturday, May 18, 9:30 a.m., at
the Marriott at Metro Center registration at 9:30 a.m., breakfast at
10:00. The program will be presented by the Alliance for Better
Campaigns. Registration fee, $25 (which is less than cost!) Make sure
it's on your calendar.
NATIONAL CONVENTION (JUNE 14-18): LWVUS Convention:
Speakers - At its February meeting the NCA Board decided to ask LWVUS to
limit the number of convention speakers, to avoid the last-day time
crunch that marred Convention 2000. Citing the concurrence of all NCA
member-League presidents, President Barbara Sherrill sent the letter to
each National Director. A copy to each of the related listserves invited
Leaguers nationwide to endorse our request. Pre-Convention Dialogue -
NCA will conduct a meeting (date to be determined) for delegates and
other interested Leaguers to discuss the Convention program and
administrative matters that will come up at the Miami Convention.
Details will be coming to member-League presidents.
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Income Tax Return Day, April 15, DC Vote is
sponsoring the second annual protest event. It will be at Farragut
Square from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.
Join in the 2nd Annual Tax Protest Day
April 15, 2002 5:00-7:00 P.M.
Bring COPIES of your income tax return.
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New Members: We welcome the following new National
members who live in the District of Columbia: Tent' Baker, Alice A.
Bishop, Mary Cooper, Edgar D. Hunting, Myles M. Johnson, Ralph Krause,
Grace M. Littlejohn, Toni Linowitz, Joan M. Nelson, Mary Jane Patterson,
and Betty Y. Taira.
New Member Social: In anticipation of increasing
member involvement in League activities, members who joined June 2001
through this month were invited to a New Member Social at the home of
Jeanette Miller at 1:00 p.m. on Saturday, April 6 to acquaint them with
the various activities that are available to them.
Do we have your email address? (Have you changed or just obtained a email address? Please
send a quick email message to firstname.lastname@example.org
stating "Put me on the LWVDC Member Email List." We will add your email address to our list so you
won't miss out on activities that you might want to attend. Because of the delayed receipt of the DC
VOTER by so many, we emailed our members the activities so they would not miss out. We received
reports that some email addresses were no longer active. Please keep us informed of any email
changes. Thank you.
Contributions: The League appreciates the generous
contributions from its members: Dorothy Armstrong, Barbara Kemp, Dr.
Billie K. Press, Ellyn Swanson, and Anne Meredith Smoke
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Unit Meetings in April will offer the opportunity to
discuss the proposed new position on the U. N. Note that Leaguers
working downtown are particularly invited to their own Unit Meeting at
the Sumner School on Wednesday, April 17th from 6:00 to 8:00 P.M. The
next Unit Council meeting will be on Monday, April 8 from 12:30 to 2:00
P.M. at the League office, 733 15th St., NW, Suite 432. Sheila Keeny, Unit Director
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Concurrence on the UN position
TUESDAY, APRIL 16
9:45 a.m. Southwest Unit,
Hostess: Yvonne Marshall (488-4760),
510 N St. SW #N333
12:45 p.m. Northwest Day, Unit Hostess: June Bashkin (337-0949) Iona
Senior Services, 4129 Albemarle St. NW Metro Station: Tenleytown
WEDNESDAY, APRIL 17
9:45 a.m. Upper Sixteenth Street, Unit Unit Chair; Paula McKann
(829-0656), 4709 16th Street, NW
6:00 p.m. Downtown Evening, Hostess: Joan Domike (966-3865), The Sumner
School 1201 17th' St. NW
THURSDAY. APRIL 18
9:45 a.m. Chevy Chase-Ingleside, Hostess/Unit Chair: Joan Wilson
(237-6264), The Lounge, Ingleside Community 3050 Military Road NW
7:30 p.m. The Northwest Evening Unit, Hostess/Unit Chair: Joan Domike
(936-3865), 4200 Massachusetts Ave. NW Parking on premises, on street;
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The VOTER mailing committee continues to work on
problems of delivery to our members. We have been in contact with the
Post Office Consumer Affairs and Claims Office Manager who spoke to us
at length about the Anthrax problem and the closing of the Brentwood
facility that necessitated the transfer of bulk mail to three separate
out-of-District facilities in Northern Virginia. Baltimore and Calvert
County. They have had a meeting during the first week in March with all
postal staff workers involved and report that significant distribution
changes are being made that will improve the situation within a month.
If you have not received your DC VOTER by the seventh
day of the month it is dated, please leave a message for me at the League Office [347-3020], with your name and zip code.
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When: Thursday, April 25, 2002, 5:30-9:00 pm
Where: Kellogg Convention Center
Members attending the 82nd Annual Meeting will
elect three officers and three board members as well as approve the
2002-2003 budget. In preparation for the meeting, League members were
sent a separate mailing on March 13th that included a flyer/reservation
form, the nominating committee report, the proposed 2002-2003 Budget,
and the eleventh month Treasurer's Report. If you have not received this
mailing, please call the League office at 347-3020.
A buffet dinner will follow the annual meeting. The
cost is $28 (members and guests) $30 (non-members). Reservations for the
dinner must be received in the League office by Monday, April 22, 2002.
Chairs will be available to members who wish to attend the annual
meeting and not stay for the dinner.
We are pleased to have two dinner speakers:
Walter A. Smith, Executive Director, DC Appleseed Center for Law and Justice, Inc.
The quest to obtain parity in tax payments from
the commuters who are employed in the District, the status of Full Congressional Representation,
and the status of the Blue Cross/Blue Shield CareFirst
Lois G. Williams, Senior Counsel for Litigation and
Communications, Washington Lawyer's Committee for Civil Rights and
The pending lawsuit challenging the prohibition
against the District taxing non residents.
Print and send return reservation form with check by Monday,
April 22, 2002. No late reservations will be accepted.
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||3 10:00 am,
LWVDC Board Meeting
||8 12:30 pm,
Unit Council Mtg.
6:30-8:30 pm, Public Forum on CareFirst
|9 Deadline for
May DC Voter
Education Committee Mtg.
pm, 2nd Annual Tax Protest Day
||16 9:45 am,
12:45 pm, Northwest Day Unit
|17 9:45 am,
Upper 16th Unit
6:00 pm, Downtown Evening Unit
|18 9:45 am,
Chevy Chase/Ingleside Unit
9:30 pm, Northwest Evening Unit
|19 May DC
||25 82nd Annual
Meeting 5:30-9:00 pm
||30 10:30 am,
HealthCare Comm. Mtg.
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From LWVUS Concurrence
Kit, March 2002
THE INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL COURT: ACHIEVING JUSTICE FOR ALL
The proposed new LWVUS position on the United Nations includes a statement
of support for the creation of a permanent international tribunal (e.g., the
International Criminal Court) to try individuals charged with crimes of
genocide, war crimes, and other crimes against humanity. The new position
would allow the League to advocate for U.S. participation in the ICC.
Q. What is the International Criminal Court?
A. The ICC will be a permanent court that will prosecute individuals charged
with the most heinous of crimes, such as genocide, war crimes, and crimes
against humanity. The statute calling for the creation of the ICC was endorsed
by 120 countries attending the UN-convened conference in Rome in 1998. The
Court will enter into force once 60 countries have ratified this Rome Statute.
Fifty-two countries had ratified the treaty as of mid-February 2002.
The ICC will not be a part of the UN but will be accountable to the
countries that ratify the statute, the Assembly of State Parties. The Court
will be located in The Hague, although it can be convened in another venue
when appropriate. It will consist of 18 internationally respected judges
elected for nine-year terms by the Assembly of State Parties, who will also
elect the Court's prosecutors. Cases can be referred to the Court by the
member states or by the UN Security Council or they can be initiated by the
Q. Why can't these crimes be handled by ad hoc tribunals or domestic
A. The idea of a permanent international court of this kind was first
considered at the UN in 1948. More recently, the atrocities in Yugoslavia and
in Rwanda for which ad hoc tribunals were established by the UN Security
Council-have heightened interest in a permanent mechanism to prosecute mass
murderers and war criminals. The delays inherent in setting up an ad hoc
tribunal can mean that crucial evidence is destroyed and perpetrators escape
or disappear. Since World War II, there have been many instances of crimes
against humanity for which no individuals have been held accountable. A
permanent court will be able to act more consistently and serve as a deterrent
by making it clear that the international community will not allow such crimes
to go unpunished.
National courts will always have jurisdiction; the ICC is intended to
"complement" national judicial systems and will act only when the
national courts are unable or unwilling to do so. In times of conflict or
political or social upheaval, domestic courts may not be capable of dealing
with these types of crimes or providing a fair trial. Or the government in
power may be unwilling to prosecute its own citizens, especially if they are
of high rank.
Q. What assurances are there that the Court will not be used for political
A. The Rome Statute establishes the highest of qualifications for the Court's
judges and prosecutors, provides for their selection by the Assembly of State
Parties, and makes them subject to sanction or removal by the Assembly in
cases of serious misconduct. Checks and balances have also been built into the
system. The Prosecutor cannot initiate a case., for example, without
permission from a three-judge panel. The Prosecutor is > obliged to defer
to states that are willing and able to pursue their own investigations. And
the Security Council Call ICI 1.0 suspend a case for renewable oneyear
Q: Can the Court try Americans and will the Court's trials he fair by U.S.
A. Americans could only be tried by the ICC for a crime of the most serious
nature, one that involves widespread and systematic violations of humanitarian
law. If an American were to be accused of such a crime, the U.S. would have
jurisdiction over the case. Only if the U.S. was unwilling or unable to
conduct a genuine investigation or prosecution could the ICC intervene.
Every due process protection provided for in the U.S. Constitution is
guaranteed by the Rome Statute, with the exception of a trial by jury. Indeed,
it provides many more due process protections than are currently guaranteed to
American citizens accused of crimes abroad. Moreover, even in the U.S.,
American service personnel are not guaranteed a jury trial under the courts
Q. What is the current position of the United States towards the ICC?
A. The U.S. joined six other nations (including Iraq and China) in voting
against the creation of the ICC at the Rome conference in 1998. President
Clinton, however, did sign the treaty by the December 31, 2000 deadline,
enabling U.S. negotiators to continue to help shape the evolution of the
Court. In signing the treaty, Clinton noted its "significant flaws"
and indicated that he would not recommend that his successor submit the treaty
to the Senate for ratification until those concerns were satisfied.
The primary concern is that U.S. leaders and military personnel could be
the target of politicized prosecutions. Alternatives proposed by the U.S.
included requiring that the accused's country of nationality consent to the
prosecution and requiring that all proceedings be initiated by the Security
Council (where the U.S. has a veto). Most other countries felt such
restrictions would fatally weaken the Court, however, and rejected this
The Bush Administration is considering several options. These range from
maintaining the status quo (i.e., no treaty ratification but continued
participation in ICC negotiations) to withdrawing the U.S. signature from the
Rome Statute (which would close the door to U.S. participation in ICC talks)
to mounting a global anti-ratification campaign. Congressional critics of the
ICC have introduced the American Servicemembers Protection Act, which would
prohibit any U.S. cooperation with the ICC and authorize the U.S. to use
"all means necessary and appropriate" to free U.S. military
personnel being held by or for the ICC. An alternative proposal would
encourage active U.S. diplomatic efforts to address continuing concerns while
authorizing support and assistance to the ICC.
Q. How will the U.S. benefit by participating fin the ICC?
A. At a practical level, since the Court can assert jurisdiction over
Americans and U.S. allies, it would be advantageous to be in a position to
help nominate, select and dismiss the judges and prosecutors who will be
conducting the Court's business. As a State Party, the U. S. would also be
able to participate in defining potential new crimes to come under ICC
jurisdiction, such as the crime of aggression which is now the subject of
negotiation. More broadly, participation in the ICC is in keeping with the
country's historic commitment to international law and human rights, long seen
as important to advancing U.S. values and interests. By working to strengthen
this new institution, the U.S. can help make it an effective and impartial
instrument for international justice.
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THE UN AND YOU: A Report of the General
Meeting Held on March 15, 2002
The League of Women Voters of the District of Columbia (LWVDC) hosted a
meeting about the United Nations (UN) on March 15 from noon until 2:00 pm at
the Sumner School. Over 50 people listened to three distinguished panelists
provide information for members to use in discussing the proposed new League
position on the UN. Panelists were: Dr. Andy Rice, President of the United
Nations Association-National Capital Area; Ms. Susan Myers, Legislative
Director of the Better World Campaign; and Mr. Steve Dimoff, Vice President of
the UNA-USA. Highlights of the meeting follow:
Overview (Dr. Rice)
The UN system has a global role. It deals with every human problem in the
world (e.g., health, education, development, and environment) and works to
maintains a peaceful world. The UN system provides a forum for negotiation,
sets international standards (e.g., mail service, air routes), and, through
its operational agencies, handles everything from malaria to refugees.
Where is the UN heading? It is moving gradually toward greater influence in
the world and its Secretary General, Kofi Annan, is increasingly playing a
credible advisory role to nations of the world. In addition, the UN is
developing working relationships with the business community and with many
non-governmental organizations (more than 2,000 NGOs are affiliated with the
UN and over 4,000 have been involved in international conferences sponsored by
The UN Secretariat and Peacekeeping (Ms. Myers)
The U.S. is bound by treaty obligations to the UN. The UN regular budget is
roughly $1.25 billion per year, about 50% of the South Dakota State budget.1
The regular budget pays for the Secretariat and UN offices around the world.
Under the Helms-Biden agreement permitting payment of U.S. arrears under
certain conditions, the US portion of the regular budget is now about 22%,
down from 25% a few years ago and 40% in 1945.2
For the peacekeeping budget (the UN is currently involved in 15 Peacekeeping
Missions), the US is paying 25% even though the current UN assessment is 27%.
The U.S. is "officially" phasing down to 26%.
The UN and American Policymakers (Mr. Dimoff)
A primary focus of the UNA-USA and the League of Women Voters is to bring
into alignment the views of American policymakers and the American public on
the U.S. role in the UN. According to recent polls on terrorism, a majority of
Americans support the UN as follows:
- Program on International Policy Attitudes, University of Maryland - a
near unanimous majority believes the U.S. should work multilaterally with
other nation states.
- Harris Poll (9/19-24/2001) - 84% believe a supportive vote by UN
Security Counsel should occur before the U.S. executes anti-terrorist
action even if this means exercising more restraint than we would like.
- Foreign Policy Council in Chicago Survey (1998) -- 84% believe a trial
of suspected terrorists should be held in an international criminal court.
Other polls indicate that a majority of Americans would like to see greater
U.S. involvement with other countries by working through the UN since the the
Cold War has ended.
Recent debate in Congress has focused on management and budget issues.
Improvement in these areas has occurred, but policy issues remain. Education
of American policymakers is critical.
The question is whether or not the U.S. will become a leader at the UN.
Prior to 9-11, the U.S. was being considered unilateral in its decision-making
on such issues as the International Criminal Court (ICC), global warming and
nuclear treaties. The U.S. has lost credibility within the UN community
because of its cautious approach. American policymakers have many concerns,
primarily potential loss of sovereignty, increasing financial contributions,
involvement in activities with which it does not agree - the majority rules in
UN General Assembly - and the UN is not receptive to U.S. values. The U.S.
needs to put greater emphasis on sending talented people to work with the UN
and to strengthen the role of those within federal agencies who work with the
Participation in the UN is in the U.S. national interest. It provides an
opportunity to work with other nations on drug trafficking, health, nuclear
proliferation, terrorism, sustainable development and more. It is an
association of member states that come together to solve problems of the
1. From the State Department website on the UN: "The
UN system is financed in two ways: assessed and voluntary contributions from
member states. The regular two-year budgets of the UN and its specialized
agencies are funded by assessments. In the case of the UN, the General
Assembly approves the regular budget and determines the assessment for each
member .... Special UN programs not included in the regular budget - such as
UNICEF, UNDP, UNHCR, and WFP - are financed by voluntary contributions from
member governments." UN peacekeeping operations are assessed from member
2. From the Better World Campaign fact sheet: "The
bi-partisan Helms-Biden agreement, which set the U.S. on a course to pay
nearly $1 billion in debt to the UN in three years, providing the UN met
certain benchmarks or conditions, was signed into law in 1999. "Year
1" conditions were met in late 1999, and the U.S. paid $100 million
toward its UN arrears. In December 2000, the UN agreed to new assessment rates
for member-states for the UN regular and peacekeeping budgets, a key
requirement of the "Year 2" conditions. As a result, the US released
the "Year 2" payment, $582 million, in September 2001. In addition,
the Administration is currently working to ensure the UN and its specialized
agencies meet the "Year 3" conditions to win release of the final
payment, $244 million."
Anne Porowski, Co-Chair, IR Committee, DC Voter, April 2002