The Global Citizen: International Criminal Justice
The United Nation's International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruled on July 22nd that the 2008 declaration of independence by Kosovo from Serbia does not violate international law.
The ICJ's decision, by a vote of 10-4, does not officially assert that Kosovo is a legal state. Rather, the Court more narrowly says that no international laws were broken when Kosovo declared its independence.
Kosovo's leaders praised the Court's decision, with foreign minister Skender Hyseni saying "This is a great day for Kosovo." Serbia, however, still refuses to recognize Kosovo as an independent state. Both Serbia and its ally Russia, as well as some legal experts and analysts, have warned that the ICJ decision on Kosovo may make declarations of independence by other separatist enclaves in countries around the world more likely.
Kosovo declared itself an independent state in February 2008, following the 1999 NATO military campaign to end hostilities between Serbia and Kosovo rebels and a subsequent eight year period of administration by the United Nations. Serbia strongly opposed the independence of Kosovo, which many Serbs see as a central and historic part of their nation.
On Thursday, June 10th, the U.N.'s war crime tribunal on the Balkan wars handed down sentences of life in prison for two former high-ranking officers in the Bosnian Serb army, Vujadin Popovic and Ljubisa Beara. Popovic and Beara were convicted of genocide, a charge stemming from the massacre of 8,000 Muslims in Srebrenica in 1995. The Srebrenica massacre was the largest mass killing in Europe since World War Two.
Additionally, another Bosnian Serb, former brigade security commander Drago Nikolic, was convicted and sentenced to a 35-year prison term for the crime of aiding and abetting genocide. Others on trial were acquitted of genocide but convicted for extermination, murder, and persecution.
Meanwhile, former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic is also on trial for genocide due to the Srebrenica massacre, following his arrest in 2008. Former Bosnian Serb commander Ratko Mladic, under whom the convicted officers served, remains at large as a fugitive 15 years after his own indictment.
"We may allow ourselves a brief period of rejoicing..." These words were spoken by British Prime Minister Winston Churchill on May 8th, 1945, immediately after he announced the German surrender that marked the end of the Second World War in Europe. Sixty-five years later, the legacy of World War Two still exerts a powerful impact, particularly on issues such as genocide prevention and the International Criminal Court (ICC) which are fundamental to the mission of GlobalSolutions.org.
On March 1, 2010 the trial of Radovan Karadzic, former Bosnian Serb politician, resumed at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in The Hague. Karadzic was arrested in Belgrade in 2008 after being on the run for over a decade. He is accused of eleven counts of genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and other crimes committed during the 1992-95 Bosnian war. Karadzic refused to enter a plea to charges and so the tribunal judge entered a plea of not guilty to all charges on his behalf, in line with the rules of the court.
Karadzic described the Bosnian conflict as "just and holy." Sarajevo, where some 12,000 people died in 44 months, has been described as the longest siege of a capital city in the history of modern warfare. Karadzic told the court that Sarajevo, was "not a city under siege" by Bosnian Serb forces. He also stated that claims of the 1995 Srebrenica massacre of more than 7,000 Muslim men and boys were based on "false myths and false victims". Karadzic laid the blame for the outbreak of the Bosnian war on the Bosnian Muslims. He added: "It is going to be easy for me to prove that I had nothing to do with it."
World Peace Through Law: Rethinking an Old Theory and a Call for a UN Peace Force
by: James T. Ranney1 of the Philadelphia CGS Chapter
On June 24, 2009, the Senate voted to advance Harold Koh's nomination for the position of Legal Adviser of the Department of State and move towards a final confirmation of his position. The Dean of Yale Law School and former Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor was nominated to be the primary legal counselor to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on March 23, 2009 by President Obama..
As the Gerard C. and Bernice Latrobe Smith Professor of International Law and former director of Yale Law School's Center for International Human Rights, Koh is a prominent advocate of human rights and authority on international law. He served as a delegate to the United Nations Human Rights Commission under the Clinton administration and has promoted a theory of "transnational jurisdiction," which looks to tenets of international law to inform and improve the domestic judicial process. He argues that "concepts like liberty, equality, and privacy are not exclusively American constitutional ideas but, rather, part and parcel of the global human rights movement."
Much excitement was generated earlier this year when Radovan Karadzic, former Bosnian Serb leader was arrested in Belgrade and charged by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia with war crimes and genocide. Since his arrest in July, Karadzic has pleaded Not Guilty to these charges, and is now claiming that genocide never occurred in Srebrenica .
Trial Begins in Miami for Torture Committed in Liberia
September 23, 2008 - The upcoming trial for the ex-Liberian president's son, Charles 'Chuckie' Taylor, Jr., marks the first remarkable step towards prosecuting human rights offenders who commit their abuses abroad.
Chuckie Taylor is accused of ordering torture during his father's presidency in Liberia between 1997 and 2003 as head of the nation's Anti-Terrorist Unit (ATU). Mr. Taylor is an American citizen, and was born in Massachusetts.
According to a 14-year-old federal law never before exercised, American citizens or persons on U.S. soil accused of committing torture abroad are to be prosecuted in the United States. The case is the first of its kind and should trigger the beginning of an aggressive campaign to bring human rights violators to justice, whether they commit their transgressions on U.S. soil or abroad.
According to Human Rights Watch's senior counsel Elise Keppler , the "trial is a vital, long-awaited step by the U.S. government to ensure human rights abusers do not escape justice."
From the Guardian Unlimited:
The new leadership of the United Nations is facing a defiant challenge from within one of its few recent successes - the war crimes tribunal in The Hague - over who will steer the epic trials towards their close.
September 19, 2007
The Honorable Ban Ki-Moon
New York, New York 10017
Dear Mr. Secretary General:
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