The long-awaited decision by the Assembly of States Parties to enable the International Criminal Court’s exercise of jurisdiction over the crime of aggression is urgently needed and cannot happen soon enough. As spelled out with more detail by article 8 of the Rome Statute, the crime is committed by a person in a position effectively to control or to direct the political or military action of a State and requires the planning, preparation, initiation or execution of a State act of aggression which, by its gravity, character and scale, amounts to a manifest violation of the Charter of the United Nations: The armed force of a State is unleashed upon another State with no justification in sight. Not at all in the defense of a country, not at all in the defense of a people, but in the service of a crime that cries to heaven, soldiers are ordered to shoot and bomb a made-up ‘enemy’. Without good cause under the law of nations, they are misused as tools of the crime and turned into its cannon fodder.
Heroism and comradeship are exploited for hypocrisy and the expansion of power. The victim State is trampled, its territorial integrity, sovereignty and political independence smashed into conceptual smithereens. Lives are ruined and families decimated. The human right to peace must not be recognized! Freedom is the freedom of the aggressor. Nightmares keep morphing into relentless reality, – See Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (last amended 2010), art. 15 bis (3), 15 ter (3); see also Resolution RC/Res.6 of the Review Conference of the Rome Statute, pp 6. “Nightmares keep morphing into relentless reality, – combatants returning in wheel chairs or body bags, sailors sunk in the oceans, pilots ripped from the skies, and civilians sacrificed and euphemized as ‘collateral damage’ ”. Instead of laughter from fields and gardens, last prayers from ditches and rubble. All ‘normal’ war, – no war crimes necessary!
The degradation and slaughter of body and soul violate human dignity to its very core. The urgency for activating the Court’s authority over the crime can scarcely be exaggerated. Everything possible must be done, and must be done now, to prevent crimes of aggression. First, the world is faced with catastrophic threats to its environmental, social and economic sustainability, requiring global cooperation to address them. Each armed conflict disrupts such cooperation. Second, we are sitting on the most horrific powder keg of all times. Since the dawn of the age of nuclear weapons, the numbers of civilian deaths argued to be proportionate to military objectives and thus acceptable ‘collateral damage’ has crept up into the unfathomable. We are talking crimes against humanity that make the devil blush.
“Not one statesman in a position of responsibility has dared to pursue the only course that hold out any promise of peace, the courage of supra-national security, since for a statesman to follow such a course would be tantamount to political suicide.”
– ALBERT EINSTEIN (1879-1955) Last written words, April 1955; quoted by Otto Nathan and Heinz Norden in “Einstein on Peace.”
iven the massive shift of world collective consciousness emergent after, among other astonishing developments, U.S. President Donald Trump’s arguably intended-to-provoke and dangerous Jerusalem announcement – and especially considering the dramatic response by member states at the United Nations (UN), now would seem the perfect storm, confluence-of-events time for the world’s genuine peacemakers to conduct an energetic push towards long-overdue reform of the UN, and making wars of aggression punishable. Or, in plain-speak, now is the opportune time to end forever in all its dimensions impunity for war criminals.
In the United States, as an example, the Constitution allows for adjustments by the people as time goes by and societal conditions evolve, and the supreme U.S. law-of-the-land document has endured the amendment process several times when deemed necessary. Similarly and invariably, the world and humanity evolves and conditions change to the point of requiring necessary actions correspondent to newly developed circumstances.
Let us call the proposed United Nations reform to the UN Charter a similar legally binding amendment, or treaty, or instrument, but – no matter the name and/or process necessary for bringing about truly effective legal enforcement on a global level – the vital point of such an initiative is making wars of aggression an action individuals (historically, in most instances the wealthiest and most powerful) will certainly think long, hard and twice about, because they are (now) subject to prosecution and punishment. This describes the basic foundation of deterrence, the legal term fully understood by any man or woman with a reasoning, functioning brain.
The reform we propose is as simple as simple gets, yet at the same time tremendously consequential in its potential:
Make it mandatory for each United Nations member state to sign the Rome Statute and agree to come under the legal jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court, or face their nation’s expulsion from the United Nations – period. Perhaps it is beneficial at this point to look at the history-changing example of what the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) and its hundreds of global support groups accomplished:
An unprecedented, binding United Nations treaty passed in July 2017 making nuclear weapons illegal
The Norwegian Nobel Prize Committee’s deciding upon and rightly honoring ICAN as the recipients of the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize
May we suggest that a similar effort to end impunity for war criminals, embodied in and anchored on the simple United Nations reform just described, led by a new globally supported organization with the name “International Campaign to Abolish War”, would become the next recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize for year 2018? It’s safe to say every human being on Earth would gladly welcome elimination of both nuclear weapons and wars of aggression from the Earth.
Most men and women who pass this way and read these words feel the extraordinary nature of current events in aspects equally historical, international, and spiritual, and especially in the sense of intensifying inevitableness. Both ICAN’s Executive Director Beatrice Fihn and 85-year old survivor of the Hiroshima atomic bomb attack, Setsuko Thurlow, spoke passionately to the world after accepting the organization’s richly-deserved 2017 Nobel Peace Prize.
In her acceptance speech on behalf of ICAN, Ms. Fihn clearly and powerfully articulated that widespread, growing sense of inevitableness, when she said:
“Will it be the end of nuclear weapons, or will it be the end of us? One of these things will happen.”
ICAN’s name suggests the sole goal of the organization is abolition of nuclear weapons from the face of this Earth. But it could reasonably be asserted: given the likelihood any escalation of violence today approaching the destructive levels of World War I and World War II would involve the use of nuclear weapons – so in the ultimate, classic logic sense ICAN’s vision is all about total abolition of both nuclear weapons and war.
Many are comparing the international situation today as more dangerous than that which existed during the time of the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962, and it’s likely somewhere in the 90-99% range that men and women who come to read these words will agree. One senses that humanity is closing in fast on the time of its greatest moral decision, or has even already arrived at its most crucial collective rendezvous with destiny in recorded history. The decision upon which civilization now will depend for their very lives to continue, and begin again for those to come in future generations, is whether to take right action or not.
Creating a workable plan to effectively abolish war forever is clearly taking right action.
There is only one human family. Arguably, an overwhelming majority of people the world over wish to carry out their lives in human-created conditions guaranteeing their opportunities for experiencing some significant level of love, peace and harmony. War is undeniably in the way, and represents the absolute obstacle to achieving humanity’s highest vision. There is only one simple, yet immeasurably profound and unavoidable question. Why not take right action toward ending war; taking into account the current dangerous, worrying state of world affairs and international relations, shouldn’t such necessary action be starting now?
Student at National Law University in Dehli Rakesh Roshan’s insightful article discussing the International Criminal Court raises the question of what means are available to convince non-ICC nations United States, Russia, China, India and others to sign the Rome Statute and agree to come under the jurisdiction of the ICC.
Imagine you as a citizen of your town or city are deterred by laws against committing brutal crimes, but that citizens in the town or city next to yours have no similar laws, no deterrence against the same brutal crimes, and that citizens in the town or city next to yours commit brutal (war) crimes – with impunity.
That simple analogy makes clear why universal ICC membership as a goal is possibly the most important challenge facing this generation of humanity on Earth.
On 1st July 2017, the International Criminal Court completed 15 years. While there are 24 cases that have been brought before the Court, it has only managed to convict 4 individuals in all these years, but it is hoped that it carries to deliver universal justice in an unprecedented manner.
Saudi-led war crimes, destruction of Yemen and its people reaches two years
ne can’t help but wonder about the nature of U.S. President Donald Trump and his administration’s response to images of hundreds of thousands of Yemeni people in Yemen’s capitol city of Sana’a, gathered in protest against continued Saudi war crimes, and calling for peace.
Perhaps Mr. Trump will go to his Twitter account and comment on the massive gathering, which looks from video recordings to surpass one million in attendance, with something along the lines of: “Fantastic rally in Yemen! The size of the crowd must have broken the record… Super organizers! Just fantastic and beautiful..”
People will remember Mr. Trump leading the way in what he described as a “record” length of applause during a presidential address to Congress, and that the applause record related with recent U.S. military events in Yemen. One might not become surprised or disappointed if Mr. Trump has very different perceptions of the one record (set inside Congress), and the other – an absolutely massive gathering of Yemeni people demanding an end to the war.
Similarly, one has to wonder how British Prime Minister Theresa May and her people responded to images of the overflowing Sana’a crowd. Perhaps, like Mr. Trump and his administration, Ms. May’s group will remain silent for fear of people raising their voices to end weapons sales to Saudi Arabia’s royal family (you know, the owners of the country).
It is highly unlikely Donald Trump or Theresa May offers any approving, encouraging commentary – or responds at all – on the massive number of people gathered to demand peace after enduring two years of war. Unfortunately for the people of Yemen, both Ms. May and Mr. Trump perceive their historic peace rally event as bad news and negatively.
Unfortunately for Ms. May and Mr. Trump, those who are following developments in Yemen perceive such an enormous display of human unity – focused on peace – as a positive development having the potential to inspire millions of others around the world.
“The Donald”: (Record applause…)… “Make Yemen great again!…”
But this is so much more serious…
War crimes, up to and including genocide
Saudi Arabia – with the full knowledge, criminal assistance, and weapons from the United States, Britain and others under Donald Trump, Theresa May, etc. – is guilty of the crime of genocide against the Yemeni people. Help bring peace soon to the suffering men, women and children of Yemen.
Palestinians are at the heart of the conflict in the M.E Palestinians uprooted by force of arms.. Yet faced immense difficulties have survived, kept alive their history and culture, passed keys of family homes in occupied Palestine from one generation to the next.
This is a human rights blog in which I address issues of general concern freely and spontaneously. It is not an official blog nor is it issued in my function as United Nations Independent Expert on the Promotion of a Democratic and Equitable International Order. It is a private blog intended to further an informal exchange of views in the democratic spirit of freedom of opinion and respect for the opinions of others.