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Bush links Kosovo mission to ICC; comments?(22 posts)

Bush links Kosovo mission to ICC; comments?weiwentg
Jun 29, 2002 2:41 PM
http://www.newsday.com/news/printedition/ny-2757449jun20.story?coll=ny-news-print

United Nations - The Bush administration has threatened to withdraw from UN peacekeeping missions if American troops are not exempted from the reach of a new global criminal court.

The United States introduced a resolution in the Security Council yesterday that would make all members of UN peacekeeping missions immune from prosecution by the International Criminal Court, which will be formed on July 1. The measure has little chance of being approved by the council because most of its members - including two veto-wielding powers, Britain and France - strongly support the new court.

More than 47,000 UN peacekeepers are deployed worldwide, in trouble spots such as Bosnia, Kosovo and along the Iraq-Kuwait border. About 700 of the peacekeepers are American. The United States also contributes 27 percent of the UN peacekeeping budget.

The Bush administration and conservatives in Congress fear that American citizens would be subject to frivolous or politically motivated prosecutions by the court. They argue that foreign countries could use the court to try American soldiers for war crimes, in effect threatening U.S. sovereignty.

Supporters of the court consider it the most important development in international law since the Nazi war crimes tribunal in Nuremberg after World War II. They say safeguards are built into the court's treaty to prevent political prosecutions.

Lacking support on the issue in the 15-member Security Council, U.S. diplomats have effectively given the body an ultimatum.

"The United States will not have its citizens participate in peacekeeping operations if they are exposed to the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court," said Richard Grenell, a spokesman for the U.S. mission to the UN.

The court's supporters say it is highly unlikely American citizens would be brought before it. The UN already has agreements with nations contributing troops guaranteeing that misbehaving soldiers are sent home for trial and discipline by their governments. The international court statute also defers to a national prosecution, such as a military court-martial hearing for a soldier, before it can take up a case.

But U.S. officials say this is not adequate protection from a third nation that may want to prosecute war crimes or refer an incident to the court.

"We feel that more protection is needed," Grenell said, adding that was why the United States had introduced the resolution to grant explicit immunity to all UN peacekeepers.

Former President Bill Clinton signed the treaty creating the international court, but it was never ratified by the Senate. Last month, the Bush administration advised the UN that the United States no longer considered itself bound by Clinton's signature. U.S. Ambassador John Negroponte then tried to amend a Security Council resolution creating a new peacekeeping mission in East Timor to exempt prosecution of all UN troops by any international tribunal. But he dropped the measure in the face of strong opposition from other council members.
re: Bush links Kosovo mission to ICC; comments?Jon Billheimer
Jun 29, 2002 3:09 PM
This is typical of U.S. posturing on international law, particularly under the Bush administration. It supports international law as long as said law or its interpretations favour U.S. policies and behaviour at the time, and particularly if America's enemies are penalized. However, as soon as America's narrowly defined self-interests are threatened then laws, treaties, etc. are ignored or abrogated. This is particularly pronounced in the area of international trade.
Singapore's hands not clean either. :(weiwentg
Jun 29, 2002 5:15 PM
my country apparently sympathizes with US concerns, as I read in the local papers.
which is bullshit. we have security links to the US and Israel ... and we seem to have sold out to them. the US is, sadly, acting like a spoilt child on an international level. it is contemptible to threaten the UN mission in Kosovo. it is my guess that if the Kosovars were Christians, this would not happen, but that is another story. the linking of the ICC issue to the Kosovo mission is Machiavellian and diabolically smart. I hope that the international community will not cave in to US pressure.
it amazes me that Bush calls himself a Christian. I can perhaps understand why, when I look at 'Christian' leaders in the States, some have very negative attitudes toward my religion. rest assured we are not all like this.
Thank God for Bush!SSgt Jeremy in Germany
Jun 30, 2002 4:33 PM
Thank goodness Bush is the pres. If clinton or gore was in there they would have accepted this court. I belive said court could easily get out of control and have negative affects on the US military. Only one good thing could come out of this mess: perhaps this will expidite us leaving places like bosnia and kosovo where we don't belong.
Thank God for Bush!weiwentg
Jun 30, 2002 5:07 PM
> I belive said court could easily get out of control and have negative affects on the US military.

this statement is disingenuous at best. your country's track record on prosecuting war crimes by its soldiers in Vietnam, and criminal offenses in Okinawa, is abominable. furthermore, George Bush Sr could very well be liable for prosecution - his total blockade of Iraq during the Gulf War, and the subsequent embargo, has left tens of thousands of civilians dead. I, for one, would cheer.
are your hands clean? if so you have nothing to worry about. your statement implies, though, that they are not.
Blame the Iraqi embargo on Hussein.Sintesi
Jul 1, 2002 11:35 AM
That murderous prick would rather see his people starve than turn over his weapons program. He chose war and lost. His people payed for his actions so put blame where it belongs. George Bush is no war criminal and if the world court could justifiably prosecute him for war crimes then screw the world court.
Thank God for Bush!PaulCL
Jul 1, 2002 11:35 AM
"his total blockade of Iraq during the Gulf War, and the subsequent embargo, has left tens of thousands of civilians dead"

It was war. Iraq chose not to feed their people, instead to build bombs, nerve gas facilities, and castles for Saddam. Is Bush, Sr. responsible for the execution and/or starvation of thousands of Kurds?? No. Iraq is. We (the U.S.) never blocked food into Iraq, only weapons. We blocked their ability to sell oil therefore their main source of income to build the weaponry. We offered a oil for food program. What happened to that??

In fairness, I assume JFK is guilty of murder since he and Johnson started the blockade and isolation of Cuba?? I'm sure Castro has let many citizens die of starvation while he built his military. You gonna take responsibility for that one?
embargoesweiwentg
Jul 1, 2002 5:53 PM
there is nothing wrong with limited embargoes. but stopping food and medicine from getting in is - I'll be honest here - evil. yes, I consider Bush to be blameworthy in this matter. and if Kennedy ordered a total embargo of Cuba, then yes, he too has blood on his hands. now, obviously neither of them is solely to blame, but their hands are not clean. at the very least they're guilty of disobeying the spirit of the Geneva Conventions. no doubt some of you will dismiss them as idealistic - I have done military service, and everyone in the room scoffed at the Conventions.
Personal problem on your part.Sintesi
Jul 2, 2002 5:23 AM
I really think you just hate Bush or American presidents in general. Whatever embargos you choose to example are agreed upon by the UN as I recall. So lets hang 'em all and in all countries voting in accordance. Poor Saddam Hussein couldn't feed his own people because G. Bush wouldn't let him? What a joke. Your prejudice prevents you from seeing evil even if it's glaring you right in the face.
yes, I admit I do hate Bush (both of them)weiwentg
Jul 2, 2002 9:17 PM
in my view, they claim adherence to my religion while ignoring its true teachings ... but that's something for another post. I don't hate all American presidents. at the cost of sounding like some self-righteous fundamentalist of whatever religion, I condemn all those who have blood on their hands.
everyone knows that Saddam, Stalin, Pol Pot, Hitler et al are butchers. few realize that their own leaders aren't quite the saints they claim to be. I would argue that you are the one who's blinded here.
I never said Saddam couldn't feed his own people because Bush Sr didn't let him. I said that Bush's total embargo of Iraq during the Gulf War was morally reprehensible, and should lead to him being prosecuted. for what it's worth, if Saddam, Bush, Sharon and Arafat land in the same cell, I will be quite happy.
like I said, no one needs to condemn the obvious criminals. they've already been condemned. but there is a need to speak out against wrongs that have been committed but remain unseen - your last statement applies equally to you. this is what I'm trying to do; you seem to have misunderstood me, but for what it's worth I can understand your feelings.
there was once a debate about capital punishment in my class. a friend and I were debating about whether justice should be reformative or punitive. he made the - erroneous - point that it depends on whether you're on the side of the victim or the criminal. you have, unfortunately, made a similar mistake.
facts from the UNSintesi
Jul 2, 2002 6:21 AM
SANCTIONS IMPOSED: In August 1990 the Security Council adopted resolution 661, imposing comprehensive sanctions on Iraq following that country’s short-lived invasion of Kuwait. Throughout 1991, with growing concern over the humanitarian situation in Iraq, the United Nations and others proposed measures to enable Iraq to sell limited quantities of oil to meet its people's needs. The Government of Iraq declined these offers, contained in particular, in resolutions 706 and 712, adopted in August and September 1991.

AGREEMENT ON OIL-FOR-FOOD: An oil-for-food programme began at the end of 1996 after the United Nations and the Government of Iraq agreed on the details of implementing resolution 986 (1995), which permitted Iraq to sell up to two billion dollars worth of oil in a 180-day period. The ceiling on oil sales was eased during 1998 and finally lifted in 1999, enabling the programme to move from a focus on food and medicine to repairing essential infrastructure, including the oil industry.

DIVIDING THE MONEY: With the adoption of Security Council resolution 1330 (2000) on 5 December 2000, around 72 per cent of the oil revenue funds the humanitarian programme in Iraq (59 per cent for the centre and south and 13 per cent for the three northern governorates); 25 percent goes to the Compensation Commission in Geneva, while 2.2 per cent covers the United Nations costs for administering the programme and 0.8 per cent for the administration of the UN Monitoring and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC). Previously, 66 per cent was being allocated to the humanitarian programme (53 per cent for the centre and south and 13 per cent for the three northern governorates), with the Compensation Commission receiving 30 per cent of the revenue. Funds from the two humanitarian accounts finance the purchase of oil industry parts and equipment. The Government of Iraq is responsible for the purchase and distribution of supplies in the 15 governorates in the centre and south. The United Nations implements the programme in the three northern governorates of Dahuk, Sulaymaniyah and Erbil On behalf of the Government of Iraq.
wasn't talking about those sanctions; those were correctweiwentg
Jul 4, 2002 6:03 AM
I was talking about during the invasion of Iraq - the US imposed a total embargo.
incidentally, your reasoning is comically flawed. Saddam starves his people, which then makes it all right for us to impose a complete embargo. in short, because Saddam murders his people it's OK for us to do so. this could just be me, but something doesn't add up.
Those sanctions were, again, UN directed.Sintesi
Jul 5, 2002 6:22 AM
Why blame Bush? You can blame everyone. Let's throw the entire world in jail! BTW, you don't think this would have happened if Iraq hadn't invaded Kuwait do you? Embargos are a part of war, and war is so bad that even innocent people are killed and maimed and their entire lives are ruined. WHAT A SURPISE! Happens in every theatre you care to imagine so don't go pointing at Bush. Call me comically flawed? Sheesh. Go put your head back in the sand weiwentg. Bush hating is a hobby or fetish for you but not supported by facts. Bush and the international coalition are unmittigated heroes to the Kuwaiti people and that just drives you nuts doesn't it?
sigh...you don't get itweiwentg
Jul 5, 2002 8:07 PM
it is no wonder many people perceive Americans as arrogant. some of them, anyway.
so, embargoes are part of war. killing military personnel is part of war - they signed up for it, so it's sort of all right, and killing civilians is not OK - they didn't sign up for it. but it is, actually, OK when the US kills civilians, because they were performing the act in the interests of the international community and all that crap (which actually just means the rich nations).
and when people tell them it's not OK, they get all angry and self-righteous, and tell people to stick their heads in the sand and mean stuff like that.
all right. Kuwait got invaded. this was wrong. actually, I think Iraq offered to withdraw, but Bush insisted on invading ... not necessarily a bad idea, even by me. Saddam is, after all, nuts. killing as many as ten thousand people - from the Gulf War itself and the subsequent economic sanctions, IS NOT ALL RIGHT!!!!!!! and anyone who says so is as good as a murderer! don't give me that shit about not being to make an omelette without breaking a few eggs, these are people, just like you and me, but perhaps born in the wrong country. of course, to you they aren't really people, they're just 'towelheads'. they're Muslims, heathen! what do you care?
I invite you to do this: go to www.zmag.org. read the articles on Iraq. most conservatives cannot, sadly, take the information contained there; it is too contrary to their deluded worldview, and they will dismiss it as the rantings of Communist maniacs out to destroy democracy in the US. you will probably fare no different, but I hope otherwise.
One more thing. That war lasted 100 hrs.Sintesi
Jul 5, 2002 6:48 AM
How many people starved to death during that period? You got any figures on that weiwentg? Thanks.
during the war, probably not many. after that? see here:weiwentg
Jul 5, 2002 8:12 PM
http://www.zmag.org/content/Iraq/allain_criminalenforcers.cfm

synopsis: UNICEF found in 1996 that 4500 children died every month. between 1991 and 1998, AT LEAST 100000 CHILDREN DIED, 3/4 of that figure as a result of the sanctions. the figure is more like 227000, they say, but even the low figure is unacceptable.
so, perhaps you can see why I am so angry at your government. what you did in Vietnam was likely worse. the casualty figures from starvation due to the fighting in Afghanistan are not yet known.
again, don't give me that shit about not being able to make an omelette without breaking a few eggs. I have heard it enough.

The sanctions imposed on Iraq, though established properly within the framework of the Untied Nations system have, by their cumulative effect, become illegal. What flows from this realisation is that all countries have a legal obligation to no longer recognise the Iraqi sanctions and to bring them to an end.

The leading analysts have described the sanction regime imposed on Iraq as a result of its invasion of Kuwait in August 1990 as being "in a class by itself." In The Sanctions Decade, David Cortright and George Lopez state that Iraq is the recipient of "the longest, most comprehensive, and most severe multilateral sanctions regime ever imposed." The cumulative effect of these sanctions, imposed by the United Nations Security Council four days after the invasion, is such that it transgresses one of the most fundamental principles of international relations -- the prohibition against committing crimes against humanity -- and thus has moved the sanctions from being permissible to being illegal under international law.

THE UN SANCTION REGIME AND ITS EFFECT:
As a sanction imposed on Iraq for its 1990 invasion of the Kuwaiti Emirate, the UN Security Council adopted, by way of Resolution 661, a comprehensive embargo on all Iraqi imports and exports and froze its assets abroad. In so doing, the Security Council was well within its powers as, at its core, the United Nations is a collective security arrangement which is meant to act on behalf of the international community if it deems that international peace is threatened or breached, or an act of aggression has taken place. Under the powers provided to it by Chapter VII of the UN Charter, the Security Council may use force -- or delegate it, as it did in allowing the Coalition Forces to physically rid Kuwait of Iraqi forces -- or may use any other means in a bid to restore the peace. In the case of Iraq, the original option was non- military and was manifest in a sanction regime which sought to have Iraq comply with the Council's demand to unconditionally withdraw from Kuwait.

Resolution 661 provides for a near total embargo allowing only an exception for "supplies intended strictly for medical purposes." Within a week of the end of the fighting of the Second Gulf War, in February 1991, the United Nations dispatched a team to consider the humanitarian needs in both Iraq and Kuwait. In the often- quoted report of a UN under- secretary-general, Mr Martti Ahtisaari, he wrote that "nothing that we had seen or read had quite prepared us for the particular form of devastation which has now befallen" Iraq; "the recent conflict," he wrote, "has wrought near-apocalyptic results." Ahtisaari went on to say that "Iraq has, for some time to come, been relegated to a pre-industrial age." Yet what Mr Ahtisaari could not know at the time, was that more than a decade later, sanctions would remain in place, and that Iraq would remain locked into this pre-industrial age.

While the UN Security Council has modified the sanctions regime a number of times over the last 12 years, it has failed to reverse a humanitarian catastrophe in Iraq which has been in free fall for many years. For example, as a result of the Ahtisaari report, the Security Council removed the embargo on foodstuffs and allowed agricultural equipment and items related to wa
cont'dweiwentg
Jul 5, 2002 8:13 PM
While the UN Security Council has modified the sanctions regime a number of times over the last 12 years, it has failed to reverse a humanitarian catastrophe in Iraq which has been in free fall for many years. For example, as a result of the Ahtisaari report, the Security Council removed the embargo on foodstuffs and allowed agricultural equipment and items related to water purification and sanitation. Although the Council made provisions for the selling of oil by the Iraqi government as early as 1991, it was not until late 1996 that the so-called "oil- for-food" programme could be agreed upon. Under a tightly regulated regime, Iraq was allowed to sell oil so as to buy only "foodstuffs, medicines, and materials and supplies for essential civilian needs ... in particular, health related items." This programme was modified in 1998 to allow the selling of more than six billion dollars worth of oil and, one year later, by virtue of Resolution 1284, the Council lifted the cap on the amount of oil that could be sold.

Despite the modification to the UN sanctions, the UN secretary-general, Kofi Annan, noted, in very diplomatic terms, in a March 2000 report, that even if the oil-for-food programme was "implemented perfectly, it is possible that the efforts will prove insufficient to satisfy the population's needs." This, it may be said, is a gross understatement. In a study considering the health of Iraqis during the 1990s, Richard Garfield, a professor of nursing at Columbia University, found no improvement in nutritional conditions among children under five, despite the "oil-for-food" programme. "Essentially," Garfield writes, "the nutritional conditions for children in Iraq plateaued [in 1996], and remained at that level a year after the influx of considerably improved rations from the Oil-for-Food programme. And it's only in 1999 that nutritional improvements are starting to be recognised." In other words, the oil-for-food programme stabilised the free fall of Iraqi children's health conditions at their 1996 levels, and merely started to reverse the trend -- hardly an indication of satisfying the population's needs.

What has transpired in Iraq amounts to a children's holocaust. According to a Harvard study conduced in 1991, in the first eight months of that year 47,000 excess children deaths took place. In 1996, UNICEF put a number on the children dying as a result of the United Nations sanctions regime; it found that 4,500 children were dying every month from preventable hunger and disease. Garfield, in a study of mortality among Iraqi children, found that between 1991 and 1998 at least 100,000 -- but more likely 227,000 excess deaths -- took place, of which three quarters resulted from the consequences of United Nations sanctions. In a 1999 report, requested by the UN Security Council, it was found that in "marked contrast to the prevailing situation prior to the events of 1990-1991, infant mortality rates in Iraq today are among the highest in the world, low infant birth weight [of less than 2.5kg] affects at least 23 per cent of all births." The arrested growth of children has become widespread; with the UN secretary general noting, in 1997, that chronic malnutrition has resulted in 31 per cent of children having had their growth stunted, and 26 per cent being underweight. Kofi Annan concluded his report by stating: "one- third of children under five years of age ... are malnourished."

The overall effect of sanctions has been, according to Richard Garfield: "the only instance of a sustained, large increase in mortality in a stable population of more than 2 million in the last 200 years." This should come as little surprise as a UN Development Programme field report stated that "the country has experienced a shift from relative affluence to massive poverty." The International Committee of the Red Cross, which has had people on the ground throughout the 1990s, reported in 2000 that "daily life for ordinary Iraqi
cont'dweiwentg
Jul 5, 2002 8:13 PM
The International Committee of the Red Cross, which has had people on the ground throughout the 1990s, reported in 2000 that "daily life for ordinary Iraqis was a struggle for survival. The tragic effects of the embargo were seen in the steady deterioration of the health system and the breakdown of public infrastructure. Despite the increase in availability of food, medicines and medical equipment, following a rise in oil prices and the extension of the 'oil-for-food' programme, suffering remains widespread."

The "oil-for-food" programme, in many ways, is a failure because sanctions are an outgrowth of a strategy conceived by the United States to simply inflict the most economic hardship on Iraq as possible. The programme mandates that 25 per cent of oil sale revenues be handed over to the UN Compensation Committee which administers reparations payments related to war damages, while 5 per cent of revenues are shared equally between Turkey, for the transportation costs of oil, and the United Nations, for its administration and operational costs related to Iraq. A further 13 per cent of revenues pay for the administration of the Kurdish territories which act autonomously under cover of the US-UK imposed "no-fly zone." Thus, the Iraqi Government receives only 58 per cent of the revenues from the "oil-for-food" programme, which are to be distributed among 87 per cent of the Iraqi population.

Further, the UN Security Council established a Sanctions Committee in 1991 to ensure respect for Resolution 661. The United States, along with the United Kingdom and to some extent France, have imposed their will on the Committee and have sought to interpret the exceptions to the embargo in the narrowest of terms, thus holding up many items destined for Iraq on the basis of being dual (civilian/military) use, or rejecting other items such as ball-point pens or watches, as not being of an "essential" humanitarian need.

Of the items which had been given the green light, less than 50 per cent have made it to Iraq. As Abbas Alnasrawi, an economy professor at the University of Vermont, has noted, of "the $20.8 billion appropriated to all of Iraq, only $8.4 billion-worth of goods for all sectors of the economy had arrived in Iraq by the end of July 2000." Compounding the misery is the fact that once items make their way to Iraq, it is not guaranteed that they will be distributed in a timely fashion. A 1999 UN Report noted that nearly half of medical supplies which had been imported to Iraq "remained in warehouses and had not been distributed to local clinics and hospitals," in part, because Iraq has not been able to rebuild the infrastructures required to distribute these items.

The effects of the UN sanctions on Iraq have been of such a magnitude that they have prompted -- not once, but twice -- the resignation of the highest-ranking UN official dealing with Iraq. The first of those two individuals, Denis Halliday, who was the United Nations assistant secretary-general and humanitarian coordinator in Iraq, would characterise, in 1999, the sanctions as "genocide." Although Halliday noted that "with or without original intent, the impact of economic sanctions constituted genocide. Whether it is de jure or de facto genocide, the semantics are irrelevant." Yet, if we scratch the surface a bit, we see that semantics are relevant; for if it can be demonstrated that sanctions constitute an act such as "genocide" or, as will be demonstrated, a "crime against humanity," then there is a legal obligation on all countries to desist from maintaining the Iraqi sanctions.

THE ILLEGALITY OF UN SANCTIONS:
There exists in international law a hierarchy of norms whereby certain fundamental laws trump all others. These legal norms (known as jus cogens norms) are meant to supersede any other provision of international law, be it found in treaties or conventional law. Thus, despite the fact that the United Nations Charter is the highest la
cont'dweiwentg
Jul 5, 2002 8:14 PM
THE ILLEGALITY OF UN SANCTIONS:
There exists in international law a hierarchy of norms whereby certain fundamental laws trump all others. These legal norms (known as jus cogens norms) are meant to supersede any other provision of international law, be it found in treaties or conventional law. Thus, despite the fact that the United Nations Charter is the highest law of the international system, and that the Charter mandates that all countries carry out the decisions of the Security Council, such obligation must come second to norms of jus cogens. This is so because countries have agreed that without respecting such fundamental norms the whole international order might well break down.

There is a large gap between what is to be understood by "genocide" in its everyday incarnation and in the manner in which it is understood as a term of international law. Genocide has been considered by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda as being the "crime of crimes" and, thus, to be found in violation of the provisions of the 1948 Convention regarding genocide, it must be demonstrated that individuals committed acts "with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group" by, for instance, "deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part."

Because genocide is meant to be at the summit of international crimes, the threshold for determining a violation is raised high by the need to demonstrate the special intent (or dolus specialis) to commit genocide. As William Schabas has written in his treaties on Genocide in International Law, the crime of genocide has to be conducted with the "intent to destroy, in whole or in part;" however, where that "specified intent is not established, the act remains punishable, but not as genocide." Although the Rwanda Tribunal has noted that special "intent is a mental factor which is difficult, even impossible, to determine," it remains the standard to ensure that true cases of genocide are dealt with as such. In the case of Iraqi sanctions, without being able to demonstrate that the intent of the UN Security Council is to destroy, in whole or in part, the Iraqi people; "genocide" -- as defined by international law -- cannot be imputed.

That being said, the threshold for what constitutes a "crime against humanity" in international law is lower than genocide. Again, recalling that there is a difference between the everyday use of a term and the definition of that term under international law, it appears that the continued sanctions against Iraq most resemble the crime against humanity known as "extermination." The most recent manifestation of the international understanding of what are "crimes against humanity" are found in the Statute of the soon to be established International Criminal Court. Under the provisions of the Statute, crimes against humanity are a number of acts which are "committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack directed against any civilian population." Among those acts is that of "extermination," which includes the "intentional infliction of conditions of life ... calculated to bring about the destruction of part of a population." The noted Egyptian jurist Sherif Bassiouni, the leading expert on the issue of crimes against humanity, writes that the "plain language and ordinary meaning of the word "extermination" implies both intentional and unintentional killing." Also, negligence -- that is, knowing, or should have known, and not done anything -- carries with it responsibility for the crime of extermination.

While the attribution to UN sanctions as having the effect of "extermination" appears, at first glance, shocking, it should be understood that the legal notion of "extermination" needs to be disassociated from the every-day notion of term. The United Nations Security Council has been aware, for more than a decade, of the effects
cont'dweiwentg
Jul 5, 2002 8:14 PM
The United Nations Security Council has been aware, for more than a decade, of the effects of its sanctions regime on Iraq. And though it has attempted to mitigate the suffering of Iraqis through its "oil-for-food" programme, it has been made clear by studies carried out by the UN itself that these modifications have not reversed the humanitarian catastrophe which has beset Iraq. When the definition of extermination is considered, that is: "intentional infliction of conditions of life ... calculated to bring about the destruction of part of a population" it is clear that after more than ten years of sanctions, which have killed anywhere from hundreds of thousands to nearly two million people, that the United Nations is involved in a campaign of, what can be considered, in legal terms, as "extermination;" which in turn constitutes a crime against humanity. If this characterisation of the effects of the United Nations Security Council sanctions imposed on Iraq is correct, then legal obligations follow towards all countries because crimes against humanity are considered as norms of jus cogens.

The international legal system is fundamentally different from its domestic counterparts precisely in the area of enforcement -- you cannot "lock up" a state. Hence, what countries have agreed to, internationally, is a system that mandates that when a country violates international law, it should be held "responsible" for this action and be made to "repair" the legal breach. Typically, this is achieved by making "reparation" payments or by trying, as far as possible, to erase the effects of the violation.

During August 2001, the International Law Commission, the UN body mandated to draft international law, adopted, after more than four decades of deliberation, the Draft Articles on State Responsibility. In those Draft Articles, which are considered as reflecting customary international law, states have an obligation to "cooperate to bring to an end through lawful means" a violation to a norm of jus cogens such as, in the case at hand, a violation of a crime against humanity. Further, as the Iraqi sanctions constitute a crime against humanity, then states also have an obligation not to "recognise [this situation] as lawful" and to no longer "render aid or assistance in maintaining that situation." As such, there is an obligation in international law, which every state must respect, to end the United Nations sanctions regime imposed on Iraq as transgressing the legal definition of the term "extermination" -- as understood within the legal parameters of a crime against humanity.

If the fact that Iraq sanctions constitute a crime against humanity is not incentive enough to bring them to an end, statesmen within the UN should be weary of the impeding establishment of International Criminal Court. As of 1 July 2002, not only will the United Nations and countries be held "responsible" for violations of the law, but the Court is specifically established to hold persons "individually, criminally responsible" for a number of crimes including that of crimes against humanity.

* The writer is assistant professor of international law at the American University in Cairo. He is editor of the recently published Unlocking the Middle East: the Writings of Richard Falk, Olive Branch Press.
Let Me See Your War Face!jose_Tex_mex
Jul 1, 2002 1:57 PM
Staff Sargeant,
Good thing you won't have that court thing in the way for your encore performance in the Gulf - hooo rahhhhh.
some specific instances where US forces would be liableweiwentg
Jul 2, 2002 9:09 PM
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,3-344101,00.html

Fog of war leaves America vulnerable



American opposition to the court is driven by fears that its forces could be prosecuted. Were its jurisdiction retrospective, a number of controversial incidents over the past 50 years might have left the US military open to prosecution.
Kosovo air campaign

The US-led Nato air campaign against Serbian infrastructure led to the deaths of about 500 civilians. Targets included a passenger train destroyed while crossing a railway bridge south of the capital, Belgrade. UN war crimes prosecutors investigated the allegations, but found that Nato had no case to answer.

My Lai massacre

More than 500 Vietnamese villagers, including women and children were killed by 150 soldiers of the US Eleventh Light Infantry Brigade led by Lieutenant William Calley in the village of My Lai in March 1968. Calley was tried by a court martial, found guilty and sentenced to life imprisonment. He served three years under house arrest.

No Gun Ri

US Seventh Cavalry troops, fearing infiltration by North Korean rebels during the Korean War, opened fire on massed refugees taking cover under a bridge at No Gun Ri in July 1950, killing between 200 and 400 people. The United States has expressed regret over the incident, but refused to acknowledge that orders were given to open fire.