"The draft treaty is unacceptable to the U.S., but it has the support of the requisite two thirds of delegates, including most of Washington's traditional allies," says TIME correspondent Brigid Forster. Although the effectiveness of a court not recognized by the world's leading superpower may be questionable, delegates believe the U.S. will eventually come around: "There is the expectation that, as in the case of the Law of the Sea agreement, the U.S. will initially recoil and refuse to sign but will later learn to live with it and come on board."
The world's first permanent international war crimes court may be born over U.S. objections, but advocates are betting that Washington will eventually be persuaded to sign on. Delegates from 160 countries will vote by midnight Friday on a draft proposal that includes a provision strenuously opposed by the U.S. -- giving the court's prosecutor the right to initiate prosecutions. It also overrules Washington's demand for the right to opt out of recognizing the court's jurisdiction over U.S. citizens. These concerns are based on the fear that U.S. involvement in international peacekeeping leaves its personnel vulnerable to politically motivated charges.