European states press to make chemical, bioweapons use war crimes

The Netherlands is expected on Nov. 9 to request that the International Criminal Court expand its definition of what actions constitute war crimes to include the use of chemical and biological weapons, Deutsche Presse-Agentur reported Nov. 6.

Dutch Foreign Minister Maxime Verhagen and Dutch Justice Minister Ernst Ballin told lawmakers by letter that they back a Belgian measure that would change the Rome Statute to address biological and chemical weapons. The Rome Statute is the undergirding document on which rests the court established in 1998 to prosecute war crimes and crimes against humanity.

The Rome Statute is due to be revisited later this month by its 110 signatory states during a meeting in The Hague.

The ministers told the Dutch parliament that they did not intend to back a Mexican proposal that would classify the use of nuclear weapons as a war crime. Designating the use of such weapons as a war crime might dissuade nonsignatory nations from recognizing the authority of the court in the future, the ministers advised (Deutsche Presse-Agentur/Earth Times, Nov. 6)