The Official Blog of the

Archive for the ‘Humanitarian Law’ Category

Current Searches for Appropriate Forms of Government

In Africa, Being a World Citizen, Conflict Resolution, Current Events, Human Rights, Humanitarian Law, Middle East & North Africa, NGOs, Solidarity, The Search for Peace, Track II, United Nations, War Crimes, World Law, Yemen on October 8, 2021 at 6:52 PM

By René Wadlow

The Association of World Citizens (AWC) strives to respond to situations in this turbulent and frequently violent world by making proposals for the resolution of armed conflicts through negotiations in good faith and by making proposals for developing appropriate forms of government, often based on con-federalism, decentralization, and trans-frontier cooperation. A current focus is on the situations in Yemen (1) and Somalia. (2)

In March 2015, a military coalition led by Saudi Arabia attacked Sanaa, the capital of Yemen, held by a rebel force, the Ansar Allah Movement, commonly called the Houthis. Since that date, the armed conflict has continued, destroying the fragile economy, displacing a large number of persons, creating a humanitarian tragedy. So far, all mediation efforts have failed. The situation becomes more complex each day due in part to the rivalry between Saudi Arabia and Iran.

The state of Yemen was the creation of two separate units. One was the southern part originally known as the Aden Colony and the Eastern and Western Aden Protectorates under British rule. The northern part of the country had been under Ottoman rule until the end of the Ottoman Empire in 1918. From 1918 until 1962, it was ruled by Imams. In 1962, there was a military coup organized by officers who had been trained in Egypt and were influenced by Nasser’s views on Arab nationalism. The coup was followed by an eight-year-long civil war between the military forces called “republicans” and the forces of the Imam Bader. The republicans won, but the government was weak and unstable.

The south of the country after the British left took the name of the People’s Democratic Republic of Yemen. In 1990, the two segments of Yemen were united, and the Republic of Yemen was established. However, the euphoria which had existed at the start was short-lived. The people in the south had been promised that their lives would be bettered after unification. Life did not improve, and many in the south felt marginalized. Today, there is a strong sentiment in the south for separation and independence.

When the fighting in Yemen stops, the creation of appropriate forms of government will have to be found. The return to two separate states presents real difficulties as people have moved from their original home areas due to changing economic conditions and to the armed conflict. Yet a single centralized government also seems impossible. As Martin Dent points out, where there is strong identity politics, there must be forms of government that fill the gap between unity and independence. (3) There is a need for Track II efforts to discuss possible structures of government in Yemen.

In Somalia, we have very similar conditions. The two Somali colonial areas, one under the control of Britain and the other under that of Italy were combined into one state in 1961. There had been a period of United Nations (UN) trusteeship after the end of the Second World War when the area of Italian colonial status had ended and before the two colonial territories were united. The political culture of the two territories was different. This impact of the colonial legacy was an element leading to the current situation. In January 1991, the military government of Siyad Barre was overthrown, and now different parts of the country demand independence, in particular Somaliland and Puntland, though their boundary claims overlap.

In addition to regional demands for independence, there is an armed Islamist movement, Al-Shabaab, which poses regional and international security issues which continue. Mediation efforts by the UN have not progressed. Again, Track II efforts may be helpful to find governmental structures able to provide autonomy without dividing the Somalia state into three or more independent states. (4) The Association of World Citizens stresses the need for creative thinking on the structure of a state, on the need for regional cooperation and a willingness to negotiate in good faith.

Notes

(1) Helen Lackner, Yemen in Crisis: Autocracy, Neo-Liberalism and the Disintegration of a State (London: Saqi Books, 2017, 330 pp.)

(2) Sarah G. Phillips, When There Was No Aid: War and Peace in Somaliland (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2020, 227 pp.)

(3) Martin J. Dent, Identity Politics: Filling the Gap Between Federalism and Independence (Aldershot: Ashgate Publishing, 2004, 232 pp.)

(4) Hurst Hannum, Autonomy, Sovereignty and Self-Determination: The Accommodation of Conflicting Rights (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1990, 503 pp.)

Prof. René Wadlow is President of the Association of World Citizens.

The AWC Reiterates its Appeal for Immediate Action to End the Fighting and Bring Relief to Populations at Risk in Ethiopia

In Africa, Being a World Citizen, Conflict Resolution, Current Events, Human Rights, Humanitarian Law, NGOs, Solidarity, Sudan, The Search for Peace, Track II, United Nations, World Law on September 14, 2021 at 8:46 PM

By René Wadlow

The Association of World Citizens (AWC) now reiterates its Appeal to the parties in the armed conflict in Ethiopia for negotiations in good faith to end the fighting and to deal with the deep consequences of the conflict, especially the widespread hunger. Mark Lowcock, the United Nations (UN) Undersecretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, has warned that nearly five million of the six million population of the Tigray Province needed food assistance and the number grows as fighting spreads to other regions.

Shortly after fighting began on November 3, 2020, the AWC, knowing the fragile nature of the confederation of provinces which make up the Ethiopian state, had made a first Appeal for negotiations in good faith, although information on the fighting was very limited. Journalists were prevented from going to Tigray as were most humanitarian nongovernmental organizations (NGOs). However by February, enough information had been gathered from refugee sources for Amnesty International to present a first report on the extent of human rights violations, with multiple credible and widely corroborated reports of widespread atrocities involving mass killings, rapes and the abduction of civilians.

The fighting in Tigray becomes more complex each day as Ethiopian Defense Forces, Eritrean Defense Forces and ethnic militias face Tigrayan forces. There is a buildup of Sudanese government forces on the Ethiopian-Sudan border and refugees flee into Sudan. The whole Horn of Africa already fragile is in danger of greater destabilization.

For the moment all efforts for mediation proposed by the UN or the African Union have been refused by the Ethiopian central government. The former officials of Tigray Province have fled and it is not clear who is in a position to negotiate for the Tigray factions were negotiations to be undertaken. There may be possibilities for non-governmental initiatives. Hence the reiteration of our AWC Appeal.

Prof. René Wadlow is President of the Association of World Citizens.

Appel Urgent à Cesser la Violence dans la Région de Jérusalem et Gaza

In Being a World Citizen, Conflict Resolution, Current Events, Human Rights, Humanitarian Law, Middle East & North Africa, NGOs, Solidarity, The Search for Peace, Track II, War Crimes on May 13, 2021 at 2:01 PM

L’Association of World Citizens, qui s’emploie à mettre fin aux conflits armés par des négociations de bonne foi, adresse un Appel Urgent à toutes les parties pour mettre fin à la violence dans la région de Jérusalem et Gaza. Dans cette situation hautement inflammable, tout instant ouvre la voie à une montée du conflit. La violence peut entraîner une violence encore plus importante et s’étendre à d’autres endroits encore, une indication en étant les récentes violences dans la ville de Lod.

L’Association of World Citizens en appelle à toutes les parties afin de s’abstenir de toute action provocatrice. Comme le disait le Citoyen du Monde et psychologue Bruno Bettelheim, «La violence est le comportement de quelqu’un d’incapable d’imaginer d’autres solutions aux problèmes qui se présentent». En conséquence, l’Association of World Citizens en appelle à une pensée créatrice pour trouver de nouvelles approches en vue d’une vie en commun coopérative et harmonieuse entre Israéliens et Palestiniens.

Le Professeur René WADLOW est Président de l’Association of World Citizens.

Urgent Appeal to Halt Violence in the Jerusalem-Gaza Area

In Being a World Citizen, Conflict Resolution, Current Events, Human Rights, Humanitarian Law, Middle East & North Africa, NGOs, Solidarity, The Search for Peace, Track II, War Crimes on May 13, 2021 at 2:01 PM

The Association of World Citizens, devoted to ending armed conflicts through negotiations in good faith, addresses an Urgent Appeal to all parties to halt violence in the Jerusalem-Gaza area. In this highly inflammatory situation, there can be an escalation to the conflict at any point. Violence can lead to ever greater violence and can spread to other areas, an indication of which is the recent violence in the city of Lod.

The Association of World Citizens calls upon all parties to refrain from provocative action. As World Citizen and psychologist Bruno Bettelheim wrote, “Violence is the behavior of someone incapable of imagining other solutions to the problems at hand.” Therefore, the Association of World Citizens calls for creative thinking for new approaches to cooperative and harmonious living together of Israelis and Palestinians.

Prof. René Wadlow is President of the Association of World Citizens.

Nagorno-Karabakh: Uneasy Ceasefire, Key Issues Remain

In Being a World Citizen, Conflict Resolution, Current Events, Europe, Humanitarian Law, International Justice, NGOs, Solidarity, The former Soviet Union, The Search for Peace, Track II, United Nations, War Crimes, World Law on December 24, 2020 at 4:56 PM

By René Wadlow

December 9-10, 2020 marked the one-month anniversary of the ceasefire in Nagorno-Karabakh, known as Artsakh by the Armenians. The ceasefire was negotiated by Russia between Azerbaijan and Armenia. The agreement was signed by the Russian President, Vladimir Putin, the Azerbaijan President, Ilham Aliyev, and the Armenian Prime Minister, Nikol Pachinian. However, on December 11, the Russian Novosti Press Agency reported the first ceasefire violation, an exchange of fire between Azerbaijan and Armenian soldiers. There are some 2000 Russian peacekeepers on site, but it is always difficult to control a ceasefire. Moreover, a ceasefire is only the first step on what will be a long path of confidence-building measures and ultimately forms of cooperation.

Nicol Pachanian

The ceasefire agreement structures two safe avenues of road communication from the remaining Armenian areas in Nagorno-Karabakh to Armenia. In the same way there will be a safe avenue of road communication from the Azerbaijan areas to Nakhichevan, an Azerbaijan majority area within Armenia. The avenue to Nakhichevan close to the frontier with Turkey will allow Turkish goods to cross to Azerbaijan and from there through Central Asia to the frontier with China.

Turkey considers the outcome of the ceasefire as a victory for Turkey, especially that the Turkish drones and weapons used by the Azerbaijan forces played a large role in giving Azerbaijan a military advantage. In contrast, the outcome of the ceasefire is considered by many in Armenia as a defeat, creating an instability for the current government led by Pachinian. The results of the ceasefire have led to the naming of a new Foreign Minister, Ara Aivazian, on November 18.

The conflict has led to a large number of new refugees, of displaced persons and hopes among those in Azerbaijan who had fled Nagorno-Karabakh as a result of the 1992-1994 armed conflict. The economy of the area, always marginal as Nagorno-Karabakh, a mountainous, largely rural area is largely destroyed. However, the area had highly symbolic meaning for both Armenia and Azerbaijan.

Ilham Aliyev

The Group of Minsk, created by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe after the 1992-1994 conflict has 11 States as members including Azerbaijan and Armenia. The Minsk Group has three co-chairs: Russia, France, the USA. The Group as a whole rarely meets. Rather it is diplomats from Russia and France who have met in bilateral meetings with representatives from Azerbaijan or Armenia. There has been little progress in finding confidence-building measures and virtually none on forms of cooperation.

Today, this armed conflict in an area that is troubled in a number of places may be a warning sign that negotiations in good faith should be a priority. The Association of World Citizens has been concerned with the tensions in Nagorno-Karabakh since the eve of the breakup of the USSR in 1991. We need to remain alert at possible efforts at Track II diplomacy or other forms of nongovernmental mediation.

Prof. René Wadlow is the President of the Association of World Citizens.

Mali: More Instability in an Unstable Region

In Africa, Being a World Citizen, Conflict Resolution, Current Events, Democracy, Human Rights, Humanitarian Law, International Justice, NGOs, Solidarity, Spirituality, The Search for Peace, Track II, United Nations, War Crimes, World Law on September 4, 2020 at 8:35 PM

By René Wadlow

The August 18, 2020 coup by Malian military leaders brought an end to the unstable government of Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, widely known by his initials IBK. He had come to power on March 22, 2012 in another military coup which had ended the administration of President Amadou Trouré. This 2012 coup highlighted the weakness of the government structures and the narrow geographic base of the administration’s power. This realization led to a revolt in the north of the country led by two rival Tuareg groups as well as Islamist militias of non-Tuareg fighters coming from other Sahel countries and northern Nigeria. Mali was effectively divided into two roughly equal half, each half about the size of France.

French troops were sent from France in January 2013 to prevent an expansion of the territory held by the Tuareg and the Islamists, but were not able to develop a stable administration.

Ibrahim Boubacar Keita

Mali had been poorly administered since its independence in 1960. Economic development had been guided by political and ethnic considerations. During the French colonial period, from the 1890s to 1960, the French administration was based in Dakar, Senegal, a port on the Atlantic with secondary schools, a university, and an educated middle class. Mali was considered an “outpost” (called French Sudan at the time) and largely governed by the French military more interested in keeping order than in development.

IBK’s administration was widely criticized by much of the population for its incompetence, favoritism, and corruption especially by family members such as his son Karim Keita. Islamist groups remained powerful in parts of the north and central Mali. The whole Sahel area, in particular the frontier area of Mali, Niger, and Burkina Faso still has powerful and violent Islamist militias. This instability is an increasing menace to the coastal countries of Togo, Benin, and Cote d’Ivoire.

Over the past year, discontent with IBK has led to a loose coalition of opposition groups known by the title M5 – RFP, of which the conservative Islamic imam Mahmoud Dicko is a leading figure.

French soldiers deployed in Mali

For the moment, the Mali military leaders have formed the Comité national pour le salut du peuple (The National Committee for the Salvation of the People). It is led by Col. Assimi Gaita, a special forces leader. The Committee has said that it is forming a military-civil transitional government that will lead to elections in nine months.

The challenges facing Mali and the wider Sahel area are great, in large measure linked to the lack of socio-economic development, economic stagnation, and poor administration. The situation is made worse by the consequences of global warming and persistent drought. The military are not trained to be development workers. A broad cooperative effort of all sectors of the population is needed. Will the military be able to develop such a broadly-based cooperative effort? Mali and the Sahel merit close attention.

Prof. René Wadlow is President of the Association of World Citizens.

Enforced Disappearances: NGO Efforts to Continue

In Being a World Citizen, Current Events, Democracy, Human Rights, Humanitarian Law, International Justice, Latin America, Middle East & North Africa, NGOs, Solidarity, Syria, The Search for Peace, Track II, United Nations, War Crimes, World Law on August 30, 2020 at 10:14 AM

By René Wadlow

August 30 is the International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances. The Day highlights the United Nations (UN) General Assembly Declaration on the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearances, Resolution 47/133 of December 18, 1992.

In a good number of countries, there are State-sponsored “death squads” – persons affiliated to the police or to the intelligence agencies who kill “in the dark of the night” – unofficially. These deaths avoid a trial which might attract attention. A shot in the back of the head is faster. In many cases, the bodies of those killed are destroyed. Death is suspected but not proved. Many family members hope for a return. In addition to governments, nongovernmental armed groups and criminal gangs have the same practices.

Also to be considered among the “disappeared” are the secret imprisonment of persons at places unknown to their relatives or to legal representatives. The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has a Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances, created in 1980, which has registered some 46,000 cases of people who disappeared under unknown circumstances.

Disappearances was one of the first issues to be raised, largely by nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) when the UN Secretariat’s Center for Human Rights with a new director, Theo van Boven, moved from New York to Geneva in 1977. After seizing power in 1976, Argentina’s military rulers set out to kill opposition figures and at the same time to weaken the UN’s human rights machinery in case the UN objected. The Argentinean ambassadors to the UN used delaying tactics in order to give the military time to kill as many suspected “subversives” as possible.

In 1980, a group of Argentinian mothers of the disappeared came to Geneva and some entered the public gallery and silently put on their symbolic white head scarves. (1)

Theo van Boven, March 22, 1983 – (C) Rob C. Croes / Anefo – Nationaal Archief, CC BY-SA 3.0 nl

Today, the issue of the disappeared and of the secretly imprisoned continues, sometimes on a large scale such as in Syria. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is the only non-governmental organization with the recognized mandate to deal with specific prisoners, enabling a minimum level of contact and inspection of their treatment. However, the mandate functions only when the prisoners are known, not kept in “black holes” or killed.

The Association of World Citizens stresses that much more needs to be done in terms of prevention, protection, and search for disappeared persons. On August 30, we will reaffirm our dedication to this effort.

Note:
1) See Iain Guest, Behind the Disappearances: Argentina’s Dirty War Against Human Rights and the United Nations (Philadelphia; University of Pennsylvania Press, 1990) Iain Guest was the Geneva UN correspondent for The Guardian and the International Herald Tribune. He had access to Argentinian confidential documents once the military left power. He interviewed many diplomats and NGO representatives active in Geneva-based human rights work. This book is probably the most detailed look at how human rights efforts are carried out at the UN Geneva-based human rights bodies.

Prof. René Wadlow is President of the Association of World Citizens.

World Refugee Day

In Africa, Being a World Citizen, Current Events, Europe, Fighting Racism, Human Rights, Humanitarian Law, Middle East & North Africa, Migration, NGOs, Refugees, Solidarity, The Search for Peace, Track II, United Nations, World Law on June 20, 2020 at 4:01 PM

By René Wadlow

 

June 20 is the United Nations (UN)-designated World Refugee Day marking the signing in 1951 of the Convention on Refugees. The condition of refugees and migrants has become a “hot” political issue in many countries, and the policies of many governments have been very inadequate to meet the challenges. The UN-led World Humanitarian Summit held in Istanbul, Turkey on May, 23-24, 2016 called for efforts to prevent and resolve conflicts by “courageous leadership, acting early, investing in stability, and ensuring broad participation by affected people and other stakeholders.”

If there were more courageous political leadership, we might not have the scope and intensity of the problems that we now face. Care for refugees is the area in which there is the closest cooperation between nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and the UN system. As one historian of the work of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has written “No element has been more vital to the successful conduct of the programs of the UNHCR than the close partnership between UNHCR and the non-governmental organizations.”

The 1956 flow of refugees from Hungary was the first emergency operation of the UNHCR. The UNHCR turned to the International Committee of the Red Cross and the League of Red Cross Societies which had experience and the finances to deal with such a large and unexpected refugee departures and re-settlements. Since 1956, the UNHCR has increased the number of NGOs, both international and national, with which it works given the growing needs of refugees and the increasing work with internally displaced persons who were not originally part of the UNHCR mandate.

181221-F-XX999-0002

Hungarian refugees outside a building at Charleston Air Force Base in 1956.

Along with emergency responses − tents, water, medical facilities − there are longer-range refugee needs, especially facilitating integration into host societies. It is the integration of refugees and migrants which has become a contentious political issue. Less attention has been given to the concept of “investing in stability”. One example:

The European Union (EU), despite having pursued in words the design of a Euro-Mediterranean Community, in fact did not create the conditions to approach its achievement. The Euro-Mediterranean partnership, launched in 1995 in order to create a free trade zone and promote cooperation in various fields, has failed in its purpose. The EU did not promote a plan for the development of the countries of North Africa and the Middle East and did nothing to support the democratic currents of the Arab Spring. Today, the immigration crisis from the Middle East and North Africa has been dealt with almost exclusively as a security problem.

The difficulties encountered in the reception of refugees do not lie primarily in the number of refugees but in the speed with which they have arrived in Western Europe. These difficulties are the result of the lack of serious reception planning and weak migration policies. The war in Syria has gone on for five years. Turkey, Lebanon, and Jordan, not countries known for their planning skills, have given shelter to nearly four million persons, mostly from the Syrian armed conflicts. That refugees would want to move further is hardly a surprise. That the refugees from war would be joined by “economic” and “climate” refugees is also not a surprise. The lack of adequate planning has led to short-term “conflict management” approaches. Fortunately, NGOs and often spontaneous help have facilitated integration, but the number of refugees and the lack of planning also impacts NGOs.

Women_and_children_among_Syrian_refugees_striking_at_the_platform_of_Budapest_Keleti_railway_station._Refugee_crisis._Budapest,_Hungary,_Cent

Women and children among Syrian refugees striking at the platform of Budapest Keleti railway station in 2015.

Thus, there is a need on the part of both governments and NGOs to look at short-term emergency humanitarian measures and at longer-range migration patterns, especially at potential climate modification impact. World Refugee Day can be a time to consider how best to create a humanist, cosmopolitan society.

Prof. René Wadlow is President of the Association of World Citizens.

U. S. Measures Weaken the Slow but Sure Growth of World Law

In Being a World Citizen, Current Events, Human Rights, Humanitarian Law, International Justice, NGOs, Solidarity, The Search for Peace, Track II on June 15, 2020 at 8:19 PM

International_Criminal_Court_building_(2016)_in_The_Hague

For nearly half a century — almost as long as the United Nations has been in existence — the General Assembly has recognized the need to establish such a court to prosecute and punish persons responsible for crimes such as genocide. Many thought that the horrors of the Second World War — the camps, the cruelty, the exterminations, the Holocaust — could never happen again. And yet they have. In Cambodia, in Bosnia and Herzegovina, in Rwanda. Our time — this decade even— has shown us that man’s capacity for evil knows no limits. Genocide is now a word of our time too, a heinous reality that calls for a historic response.

Kofi Annan, then UN Secretary-General.

By René Wadlow

 

President Donald Trump’s executive order of June 11, 2020 proposing sanctions against staff and family members of the International Criminal Court (ICC) weakens the slow but sure growth of world law. The ICC and its 123 Member States recognize that individuals and not just States are the subject of world law. The ICC is structured by the Rome Statute named after the city where the governments agreed to the creation of the Court. The Rome Statute system recognizes the primary jurisdiction of the State to investigate and prosecute atrocity crimes – namely genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity. The ICC is a court of last resort when national courts are unable or unwilling to act.

Although United States (U. S). nongovernmental organizations and legal scholars played an important role in the creation of the ICC, the U. S. Government refused to join. The government defended a concept of sovereignty that maintained that U. S. citizens could be tried only by U. S. courts. Legislation was passed by the U. S. Congress, the American Service-Members Protection Act, to prevent ICC jurisdiction over U. S. personnel.

The role of the ICC has come to a crisis point in the U. S. political system as the Court has started investigations of war crimes in Afghanistan by U. S. military and Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) officials. There are also ICC investigations concerning ICC investigations concerning war crimes by Israeli military in the West Bank and Gaza. The U. S. Government has often played a protective role for Israel in the United Nations (UN) Security Council and other UN bodies.

Many nongovernmental organizations, including the Association of World Citizens (AWC), have expressed regret at this shortsighted and ill-timed U. S. policy. They have pledged themselves to uphold the principle of world law applicable to individuals.

Citizens of the world have usually made a distinction between international law as commonly understood and world law. International law has come to mean laws that regulate relations between States, with the International Court of Justice — the World Court in The Hague — as the supreme body of the international law system. The International Court of Justice is the successor to the Permanent Court of International Justice that was established at the time of the League of Nations following the First World War. When the UN was formed in 1945, the World Court was re-established as the principal judicial organ of the UN. It is composed of 15 judges who are elected by the UN General Assembly and the Security Council.

Only States may be parties in cases before the World Court. An individual cannot bring a case before the Court, nor can a company although many transnational companies are active at the world level. International agencies that are part of the UN system may request advisory opinions from the Court on legal questions arising from their activities but advisory opinions are advisory rather than binding.

 

4578298185_a843466ded_o

The Italian Foreign Minister, Lamberto Dini, signs the Rome Statute at the Rome Conference in July 1998.

 

Citizens of the world have tended to use the term “world law” in the sense that Wilfred Jenks, for many years the legal spirit of the International Labor Organization, used the term the common law of mankind: “By the common law of mankind is meant the law of an organized world community, contributed on the basis of States but discharging its community functions increasingly through a complex of international and regional institutions, guaranteeing rights to, and placing obligations upon, the individual citizen, and confronted with a wide range of economic, social and technological problems calling for uniform regulation on an international basis which represents a growing proportion of the subject-matter of the law.” It is especially the ‘rights and obligations’ of the individual person which is the common theme of world citizens.

The growth of world law has been closely related to the development of humanitarian law and to the violations of humanitarian law. It was Gustave Moynier, one of the founders of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and a longtime president of the ICRC who presented in 1872 the first draft convention for the establishment of an international criminal court to punish violations of the first Red Cross standards on the humane treatment of the sick and injured in periods of war, the 1864 Geneva Convention. The Red Cross conventions are basically self-enforcing. “If you treat my prisoners of war well, I will treat yours the same way.” Governments were not willing to act on Moynier’s proposition, but Red Cross standards were often written into national laws.

The Red Cross Geneva conventions deal with the way individuals should be treated in time of war. They have been expanded to cover civil wars and prisoners of civil unrest. The second tradition of humanitarian law arises from the Hague Conventions of 1899 and 1907 and deals with the weapons of war and the way war is carried on. Most of the Hague rules, such as the prohibition against bombarding undefended towns or villages, have fallen by the side, but the Hague spirit of banning certain weapons continues in the ban on chemical weapons, landmines and cluster weapons. However, although The Hague meetings made a codification of war crimes, no monitoring mechanisms or court for violations was set up.

Gustave_Moynier

Gustave Moynier

After the First World War, Great Britain, France and Belgium accused the Central Powers, in particular Germany and Turkey of war atrocities such as the deportation of Belgian civilians to Germany for forced labor, executing civilians, the sinking of the Lusitania and the killing of Armenians by the Ottoman forces. The Treaty of Versailles, signed in June 1919 provided in articles 227-229 the legal right for the Allies to establish an international criminal court. The jurisdiction of the court would extend from common soldiers to military and government leaders. Article 227 deals specifically with Kaiser Wilhelm II, underlining the principle that all individuals to the highest level can be held accountable for their wartime actions. However, the USA opposed the creation of an international criminal court both on the basis of State sovereignty and on the basis that the German government had changed and that one must look to the future rather than the past.

The same issues arose after the World War II with the creation of two military courts — the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg and the International Military Tribunal for the Far East. Some have said that these tribunals were imposing ‘victors’ justice on their defeated enemies, Germany and Japan. There was no international trial for Italians as Italy had changed sides at an opportune time, and there were no prosecutions of Allied soldiers or commanders.

In the first years of the UN, there was a discussion of the creation of an international court. A Special Committee was set up to look into the issue. The Special Committee mad a report in 1950 just as the Korean War had broken out, marking a Cold War that would continue until 1990, basically preventing any modifications in the structure of the UN.

Thus, during the Cold War, while there were any number of candidates for a war crime tribunal, none was created. For the most part national courts rarely acted even after changes in government. From Stalin to Uganda’s Idi Amin to Cambodia’s Pol Pot, war criminals have lived out their lives in relative calm..

It was only at the end of the Cold War that advances were made. Ad hoc international criminal courts have been set up to try war crimes from former Yugoslavia, Rwanda, and Sierra Leone. Just as the Cold War was coming to an end, certain countries became concerned with international drug trafficking. Thus in 1989, Trinidad and Tobago proposed the establishment of an international court to deal with the drug trade. The proposal was passed on by the UN General Assembly to the International Law Commission, the UN’s expert body on international law. By 1993, the International Law Commission made a comprehensive report calling for a court able to deal with a wider range of issues than just drugs — basically what was called the three ‘core crimes’ of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.

The_defendants_at_Nuremberg_Trials

The defendants at the Nuremberg Trials in 1945.

By the mid-1990s, a good number of governments started to worry about world trends and the breakdown of the international legal order. The break up of the federations of the USSR and Yugoslavia, the genocide in Rwanda, the breakdown of all government functions in Somalia, the continuing north-south civil war in Sudan — all pointed to the need for legal restraints on individuals. This was particularly true with the rise of non-State insurgencies. International law as law for relations among States was no longer adequate to deal with the large number on non-State actors.

By the mid-1990s, the door was open to the new concept of world law dealing with individuals, and the drafting of the statues of the ICC went quickly. There is still much to be done to develop the intellectual basis of world law and to create the institutions to structure it, but the ICC is an important milestone.

Prof. René Wadlow is President of the Association of World Citizens.

Plus que jamais, créer un Etat en paix pour tous en Libye

In Africa, Being a World Citizen, Conflict Resolution, Current Events, Democracy, Human Rights, Humanitarian Law, Libya, Middle East & North Africa, Modern slavery, NGOs, Refugees, Solidarity, The Search for Peace, Track II, United Nations, War Crimes, World Law on June 11, 2020 at 8:10 AM

Par Bernard J. Henry

 

Dans la Libye où rien ne semble pouvoir éteindre les braises de la guerre civile, l’appel à un cessez-le-feu et à la poursuite des négociations lancé le 6 juin par le Président égyptien Abdel Fattah al-Sissi en présence du Général Khalifa Haftar a vécu.

k-haftar

Le Général Khalifa Haftar

Le 4, les troupes du Gouvernement d’accord national (GAN) du Premier Ministre Fayez al-Sarraj, reconnu par l’ONU, reprenaient la ville. Une défaite majeure pour Haftar, longtemps vu comme l’homme fort du pays mais dont les revirements sur les accords conclus et le refus d’en adopter de nouveaux ont mené à sa remise en question, y compris par l’Egypte et la Russie qui lui préféreraient, pour représenter la Cyrénaïque qui recouvre le tiers oriental de la Libye, Aguila Saleh, le Président du Parlement hostile au GAN.

Le 9, les chefs de la diplomatie français, italien et allemand, accompagnés du Haut Représentant de l’Union européenne, appelaient ensemble à reprendre les pourparlers et la recherche d’un cessez-le-feu, prenant en compte les discussions du Caire et demandant dans un communiqué conjoint «instamment, toutes les parties libyennes et internationales à faire cesser de manière effective et immédiate toutes les opérations militaires et à s’engager de façon constructive dans les négociations en format 5+5, sur la base du projet d’accord du 23 février».

Néanmoins, la course à l’influence menée par les diplomaties russe et turque menace d’emblée toute recherche de la paix sur ce seul fondement. Comment, dès lors, envisager une paix prochaine et durable dans la Libye qui, depuis 2011 et la fin du régime Kadhafi, n’a plus d’État que le nom ?

Un Etat qui n’a jamais su s’inventer

Avec le retournement de la situation militaire, les espoirs sont ouverts pour des négociations plus fructueuses et, plus encore, afin d’envisager des formes nouvelles et stables de gouvernement.

f-al-sarraj

Le Premier Ministre Fayez al-Sarraj

De longue date, l’Association of World Citizens (AWC) appelle à la création en Libye de structures gouvernementales nouvelles qui prennent en compte la nature géographique du pays, particulièrement en ce qui concerne la nature tribale de la population.

Après la fin de la colonisation italienne en 1952, la Libye fortement marquée par les combats de la Seconde Guerre Mondiale n’a jamais su se trouver en tant qu’entité étatique, ni la monarchie du roi Idriss Ier, ni la République arabe libyenne proclamée en 1969 par Mouammar Kadhafi et encore moins la Jamahiriya, néologisme signifiant «l’État des masses» et désignant une forme d’Etat minimaliste mise en place en 1977 n’étant parvenues à cimenter le pays.

Depuis la fin du régime Kadhafi en 2011, deux provinces de Libye démontrent cet échec par deux exemples extrêmes.

Un conte de deux Libye – sans grandes espérances

A la frontière sud derrière le Sahara, le Fezzan et ses oasis abritent plus de deux cent mille personnes. La terre de l’ordre soufiste du roi Idriss n’inquiétait guère Tripoli du temps de Kadhafi, qui n’y voyait guère un foyer de contestation. Mais après 2011, le Fezzan s’est trouvé livré au trafic de drogue, d’armes et même d’êtres humains. Il a fallu que ce soit l’ancienne puissance coloniale, l’Italie, qui attire l’attention sur l’anarchie gangrénant le Fezzan – et pour cause, nombre de migrants africains qui gagnent le pays passaient par cet enfer.

Capture d'écran 2020-06-11 00.04.13

Ibrahim Jadran

A l’est, le Cyrénaïque adossé à l’Egypte a vu se développer dans l’ère post-Kadhafi le règne d’un chef de milice, Ibrahim Jadran. Emprisonné en 2005 avec ses quatre frères pour avoir tenté de fomenter une rébellion armée contre le «guide de la révolution» Kadhafi, il sort avec eux de prison à la faveur de la révolution de 2011. Accédant l’année suivante à la hiérarchie des Gardes de Défense du Pétrole protégeant les infrastructures pétrolières du pays, il se prononce pour un fédéralisme aussi décentralisateur que possible en Libye. L’année suivante, il instaure le Bureau politique de Cyrénaïque et proclame l’autonomie de la province, défiant Tripoli et tentant sans succès de vendre à son seul profit du pétrole à l’étranger. En juin 2018, il fuit la débâcle de sa Force d’autodéfense de la Cyrénaïque, un temps forte de 17 500 hommes devant les troupes de Haftar. Le 12 septembre, le Conseil de Sécurité de l’ONU adopte des sanctions individuelles contre Jadran pour ses attaques armées contre les forces du général.

Si les deux provinces offrent ce que Charles Dickens, auteur d’Un conte de deux cités, aurait pu appeler un «conte de deux Libye», il n’existe dans l’une et l’autre aucune place pour Les grandes espérances, autre roman de Dickens, tant le chaos qui mène au banditisme généralisé et l’aventure personnelle d’un seigneur de la guerre se voulant magnat du pétrole sont deux exemples de ce que l’avenir de la Libye ne doit pas être.

La Libye comme l’Europe, «Unie dans la diversité»

L’histoire l’a quelque peu oublié, mais l’Etat libyen de 1952 se nommait le Royaume-Uni de Libye, à l’image de la Grande-Bretagne. Pour autant, tenter d’unir autour d’une figure monarchique un pays aux identités locales, voire «micro-locales» selon l’expression du chercheur français Patrick Haimzadeh, à ce point enracinées et prononcées relevait de l’utopie, sans une forme de gouvernement à l’image, par exemple, du Royaume-Uni contemporain avec un Parlement en Ecosse, une Assemblée du Pays de Galles et une autre en Irlande du Nord en plus du Gouvernement britannique à Londres.

1200px-Map_of_traditionnal_provinces_of_Libye_fr.svg

L’histoire n’était pas prête, sans doute. Elle ne le sera pas davantage si, au cas où le Brexit tournerait mal, les nations composant le Royaume-Uni venaient à se découvrir plus diverses qu’elles ne sont unies et l’une ou plusieurs d’entre elles plébiscitaient leur indépendance.

Aujourd’hui, le seul salut de la Libye réside dans une structure gouvernementale faisant d’elle un pays qui soit à l’image de la devise de l’Union européenne, «Unie dans la diversité». Désunis, les Britanniques ne se tueraient pas. Les Libyens, oui, depuis près de dix ans. Ce qui leur manque, ce n’est pas un homme pour les diriger. C’est de pouvoir se diriger eux-mêmes, être eux-mêmes et apprendre à se ressembler dans la différence.

Bernard J. Henry est Officier des Relations Extérieures de l’Association of World Citizens.

%d bloggers like this: