Letter to President Clinton
November 11, 2000
President William Jefferson Clinton
The White House
Washington, DC 20500
Dear Mr. President:
Over 53 years ago, I was the Chief Prosecutor in a trial brought by the United States in Nuremberg against 22 SS leaders who were convicted of murdering over a million people in cold blood. I fought in every campaign in Europe in World War II and gathered evidence in Nazi death camps. Since then, my life has been dedicated to making this a more humane and peaceful world. On this, "Veteran's Day" I appeal to you as President and Commander-in-Chief, to exercise your constitutional authority by signing the Rome Treaty for the creation of an International Criminal Court (ICC).
I recall how thousands cheered at the Dodd Center in Connecticut in 1995, when you said: "Nuremberg was a crucial first step... Now it falls to our generation to make good on its promise..we have to do it,... we must do it...We have an obligation to carry forward the lessons of Nuremberg. " When you addressed the General Assembly of the United Nations on Sept.22, 1997, you told the world:...: "before the century ends, we should establish a permanent international court to prosecute the most serious violations of humanitarian law."
After you sign the treaty, it will be up to your successor to determine whether further measures may be warranted before submission of the treaty to the Senate for its consent before it can be ratified. There will be ample time to debate the details. Your signing now will be an important affirmation that you have not abandoned principles you have so eloquently enunciated. It will help allay fears of small States that feel threatened by misguided Congressional proposals to impose sanctions against any nation that dares to support the ICC. It will uphold the integrity and reputation of our government as a leading champion of the rule of law.
I am mindful and respectful of objections raised by some members of Congress and the Pentagon. As a 1943 Harvard law graduate and author of countless books and articles on this subject (See my web-site,) it is my considered judgment that such fears are exaggerated and misplaced. The treaty has been found acceptable by many of our staunchest allies. A comprehensive American Academy of Arts and Sciences study, including leading U.S. military and academic experts, concluded that failure to sign now "will miss an opportunity of serious dimensions. And the loss will have an impact on U.S. national interests far beyond the work of prosecuting war crimes."
With every good wish,