The Global Citizen: international criminal justice
Today is a great day for international justice. Ratko Mladic, the Bosnian Serb general charged with ordering the infamous genocide at Srebrenica, has been arrested in Serbia after sixteen years as a fugitive and will be extradited to the U.N. war crimes tribunal at The Hague.
Mladic is accused of being responsible for the deaths of up to 8,000 Muslim men and boys in the attack on Srebrenica, Bosnia in 1995. Peacekeepers who were supposed to protect the town were unable to prevent the massacre by Mladic's forces.
Serbia's government was quick to trumpet the news of Mladic's capture. "We have ended a difficult period of our history and removed the stain from the face of Serbia and the members of our nation wherever they live," said President Boris Tadic.
The arrest of Mladic sends a clear message to other tyrants around the globe who have committed similar crimes: there is no impunity for international lawbreakers and those responsible for genocide and mass atrocities. Whether it is President al-Bashir in Sudan or Muammar Gaddafi in Libya, those leaders and officials responsible for crimes against civilians will not be able to escape justice forever.
Resolution 1973 adopted last week by the United Nations Security Council authorizing a multinational intervention into Libya has created a new precedent for the enforcement of international law. Resolution 1973 incorporates principles that the international community has been hopeful to see come to life. These include the “responsibility to protect,” jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court, the loss of sovereignty for governments that commit mass atrocities, and the principle of “human security.” These principles were expressed when the Resolution provided that the international community was “to take all necessary measures ... to protect civilians and civilian populated areas under threat of attack….” This is a momentous statement, especially with regard to traditional U.S. military action. The driving force of the strategy enunciated by the Security Council is civilian protection, not regime change. Civilian causalities represent a failure in mission objective, rather than merely collateral damage. The world is finally recognizing, and with haste I might add, the responsibility to protect world citizens from imminent danger.
Good news: the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) announced this week that he will launch an investigation into recent attacks on civilians in Libya.
The situation in Libya was referred days ago to the ICC by the U.N. Security Council when that body passed Resolution 1970, which condemned Libya’s attacks on its citizens during recent violence in that country. Because Libya is not a state party to the ICC, the Court needed the UNSC’s referral in order to look into launching an investigation. Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo announced on Thursday, March 3 that he would do so, after concluding that the preliminary evidence indicates that a Court investigation is warranted. To read the ICC’s press release on the launch of the investigation, click here.
As the United Nations Security Council and Human Rights council meet today, Mommar Gaddafi continues to defy calls for him to step down. Innocent civilians are being fired upon by Gaddafi's security forces and there is no end in sight. It is the responsibility of Gaddafi and the Libyan government to protect its civilians. When this does not happen swift action must be taken. The UN Human Right Council and Security Council must do more than just condemn Gaddafi, it must take active steps. Libyan officials abroad have already taken action. In today's UN Human Rights Council meeting, the Libyan delegation announced it would resign and side with the people. I'm shocked! This almost never happens on the global stage. Libyan's have already taken the difficult actions that are necessary, now it is our turn address this heinous dictator. Of course it would help if the international community could decide how to spell the guys name. Is it Gadhafi, Gaddafi or Qaddafi? More on that later.
On Wednesday GlobalSolutions.org, Resolve, The Enough Project, and Invisible Children released a report card assessing President Obama's strategy to stop the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) violence. In a press release the groups called for President Obama to move on his recently-released strategy committing the U.S. to help civilians in central Africa threatened by the LRA.
The Lord's Resistance Army was founded more than two decades ago in Uganda by Joseph Kony. Since September 2008 attacks orchestrated by LRA commanders have killed at least 2,300 people and abducted more than 3,000, including many children who were forced into being soldiers or sexual slaves. In 2010 alone, LRA rebels committed more than 240 deadly attacks.
The report card assesses five elements of President Obama's LRA strategy. These elements include: expand U.S. involvement to end the crisis; protection of civilians; stop senior LRA commanders; facilitate escape from the LRA; and, help affected communities survive and rebuild.
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
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