Global Policy Forum

General Analysis on International Justice


Timeline of International Humanitarian Law

This timeline tracks the development of international law from the Declaration Respecting Maritime Law in 1856 to the establishment of international tribunals for war crimes in the 1990's. (Crimes of War)



Budgeting for Human Rights: Progressive Realization (September 24, 2014)

The obligation of progressive realization has long been central to understanding how economic, social, and cultural (ESC) rights recognized in the present International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) should be achieved. Indeed, at the time the ICESCR was adopted, it was considered appropriate to underscore that the right to health, education and social security, among other rights, could not be fully and immediately realized everywhere in the world. In her blog, Helena Hofbauer from the International Budget Partnership explores the implications of progressive realization for government budgets. She argues that the connection between international human rights law and budget analysis has the potential to be a powerful tool for holding governments to account for their obligation of progressive realization not only at times when public resources are scarce, but equally when they are plentiful.

New Book: Peace Diplomacy, Global Justice and International Agency (May 16, 2014)

A new book about UN Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjöld, who influenced fundamental principles and practices of the United Nations, will be launched by the Dag Hammarskjöld Foundation at Uppsala University House on May 19, 2014. More than fifty years after the death of Hammarskjöld in a plane crash, GPF policy advisor Henning Melber and Carsten Stahn publish a tribute to him. In the book, they critically review his values and experiences in office as well as concepts associated with him, such as an international civil service. Investigations in the book about particular conflicts like the Congo crisis may serve as lessons for contemporary conflict resolution or developing concepts like human security. (Dag Hammarskjöld Foundation)

Inquiry: New investigation into the tragic death of Dag Hammarskjöld (March 21, 2014)

The Hammarskjöld Commission, a voluntary body of four international jurists, deals with circumstances of the tragic death of the former UN chief Dag Hammarskjöld. In September 1961 the Secretary-General died with all other passengers in a plane crash. Untill today inquiries into the crash did not find specific causes. The Hammarskjöld Commission's report, published in September 2013, selects new evidence which shows that the aircraft may have been shot down on the way to peace negotiations in what is now Zambia. According to the report the new findings now available would justify that the UN reopens its inquiry. (The Hammarskjöld Commission)

Sharp rise in environmental and land killings (April 15, 2014)

Killings of people protecting the environment and rights to land increased sharply between 2002 and 2013 as competition for natural resources intensifies, a new report from Global Witness reveals. In the most comprehensive global analysis of the problem on record, the campaign group has found that at least 908 people are known to have died in this time. Disputes over industrial logging, mining and land rights the key drivers, and Latin America and Asia-Pacific particularly hard hit. (Global Witness)

Amnesty asks for Justice – Europe’s failure to protect Roma from racist violence (April 8, 2014)

Amnesty International publishes a new report “We ask for justice: Europe’s failure to protect Roma from Racist Violence”. On International Roma Day, Amnesty blames the EU and its member states for failing to respond to discriminations and racist violence against Roma communities. The International Roma Day celebrates Romani culture and wants to raise awareness of discrimination faced by Europe’s largest ethnic minority. (Amnesty International)

14 Misconceptions about Extraterritorial Human Rights Obligations (March 29, 2014)

A new brochure by ETO Consortium reacts to the considerable urgency to strengthen Extraterritorial Obligations by States (ETOs) and implement the primacy of human rights in the middle of diverse and global crises. On the basis of its mandate, the ETO Consortium deals with economic, social and cultural rights and uses the Maastricht Principles on States’ extraterritorial obligations as its key term of reference. Just as the Maastricht Principles carry the spirit of indivisibility of human rights, so do the responses to these fourteen misconceptions. They are applicable to extraterritorial obligations related to human rights in general. (FIAN/ETO Consortium)

Solidarity with the Egyptian Center for Economic and Social Rights (January 7, 2014)

On December 19th, 2013, Egyptian police abusively raided the headquarters of the "Egyptian Center for Economic and Social Rights" (ECESR). The assaulters kidnapped a photographer and two volunteers, tampered with the contents of the center, and seized computers and documents. The kidnapped were taken to an unknown location. Up until the late hours of morning, the Egyptian center's lawyers were still searching for the kidnapped to commence the necessary legal procedures for their release. The Arab NGO Network for Development issued the following statement in solidarity with ECESR. (ANND)


American economist Joseph E. Stiglitz addressed the second UN Forum on Business and Human Rights on 3 December 2013. In his powerful speech he called on Governments to move beyond soft law  towards a binding international agreement on business and human rights. He concluded: "Economic theory has explained why we cannot rely on the pursuit of self-interest; and the experiences of recent years have reinforced that conclusion.  What is needed is stronger norms, clearer understandings of what is acceptable—and what is not—and stronger laws and regulations to ensure that those that do not behave in ways that are consistent with these norms are held accountable."

The Human Rights & Grivance Mechanisms programme (HRGM), a SOMO initiative, launches a website which provides information and advice on various non-judicial grievance mechanisms for filing complaints against companies and multinationals. More recently HRGM has included a brochure and introduction video in particular regarding the grievance mechanism of the African Development Bank (AfDB).

As the controversial use of drones for targeted killing by the US continues, the case of the German Bünyamin E., who was killed by a drone in Pakistan in 2010, opens the topic on the rights surrounding the use of drones for modern warfare to debate. The European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights has published a report analyzing the use of drones in the context of the German prosecutor's decision to discontinue investigations into the death of Bünyamin E., which according to ECCHR raises a number of serious doubts.

Read More

Transnational Monitoring against the deadly Injustice at Sea (October 15, 2013)

In 2012, the 14 members of the Boats4People campaign launched Watch The Med (Watch the Mediterranean Sea), an online mapping platform to monitor the deaths and violations of migrants’ rights at the maritime borders of the EU and "end the impunity at sea". Today the project further involves a wide network of organisations, activists and researchers. As the issue of migration across the Mediterannean has recently gained public attention with the deaths of several hundred migrants, this initiative deserves more attention. (WatchTheMed)

Three years after the people of Egypt rose up against the autocratic regime, the promise of a fairer Egypt has failed to materialize. Instead of structural reforms confonting severe poverty and inequalities in the country, unpopular and potentially retrogressive austerity measures have been proposed.
 A joint report delivered to the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights by 55 Egyptian CSOs presents details of the continuing failure of successive administrations to heed the calls of the Egyptian people for dignity, justice and social inclusion.

UN Investigator: US Drone Strikes Violate Pakistan Sovereignty (March 15, 2013)

The UN Special Rapporteur on Counter-terrorism and Human Rights, Ben Emmerson, has released a statement declaring US drone strikes in Pakistan a violation of Pakistani sovereignty, and a contravention of international law. Emmerson has also claimed that the drone strikes are radicalizing certain segments of the population and may, therefore, be causing the very problem these counter-terrorist operations purport to eliminate.  The statement is not expected to directly affect US policies regarding drone strikes. (LA Times

Kenya 2013: The ICC Elections (March 15, 2013)

The recent Kenyan elections unfolded peacefully, alleviating concerns that the country would return to the ethnic violence that followed the country’s 2007 vote. While the relatively low levels of violence in the country since 2007 have been a positive development, Mahmood Mamdani argues that the 2013 elections have demonstrated the extent to which Kenyan politics have been “re-ethnicised.”  Mamdani argues that the involvement of the International Criminal Court in Kenya has, in its pursuit of criminal justice for crimes committed in 2007, impeded reconciliation. By failing to distinguish between mass political violence and more typical criminal violence on an individual, Mamdani argues that judicial procedures can have a deleterious political effect. (Al Jazeera

UN Investigator Urges US to Pursue Bush-Era Abuses (March 4, 2013)

The US government is under increasing pressure to investigate and prosecute violations of human rights and international law during the George W Bush administration as part of the global “War on Terror.” The UN special rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights, Ben Emmerson, has released a report criticizing the Obama administrations unwillingness to pursue judicial accountability for human rights violations under the previous US government. So called black sites, in which detainees were denied basic procedural legal rights, were a particularly notable aspect of the report. Thus far, the Obama administration has proven unwilling to prosecute former administration officials or intelligence officers. It remains to be seen whether this recent report will persuade administration officials to reconsider their position on this matter. (Reuters

Can Guatemala's Long Struggle for Justice Provide Lessons for Haiti? (February 21, 2013)

The people of Guatemala and Haiti both endured lengthy dictatorships during the Cold War. These countries have only recently begun legal proceedings seeking to establish a degree of judicial accountability for their past dictators. In Guatemala, Efrain Rios Montt is standing trial against charges for genocide. Meanwhile in Haiti, Jean Claude Duvalier is set to face lesser charges of corruption. Both of these trials mark the culmination of efforts to ensure the crimes of Cold War dictators in the Americas are not met with perpetual impunity. While problems of corruption and broader social injustice remain, the establishment of a justice system that can hold past leaders to account is being welcomed as a sign of progress in both countries. (NACLA

International Law Isn't 'Real' (February 17, 2013)

Commentators often question the legitimacy of international law by citing its inconsistency, ambiguity, and selective application. Some have argued that international law does not really exist because it is little more than a reflection of the behavior and values of the most powerful states. Powerful actors exert disproportionate influence over the composition of international law and are simultaneously able to ignore it when it becomes inconvenient. Legal scholar Nanjala Nyabola recognizes the validity of these critiques, but argues against the notion that this renders international law less real than domestic law. Since domestic law is also shaped by inequalities in social power and often applied arbitrarily and inconsistently, Nyabola argues against the temptation to dismiss international law as inconsequential. (Al Jazeera)

Meet the First Head of State to Head to Trial in the Americas for Genocide (January 31, 2013)

Former Guatemalan dictator José Efraín Ríos Montt is set to stand trial for crimes allegedly committed during his presidency from 1982 to 1983. He was arrested shortly after losing his congressional seat last January, which had previously provided him with immunity from prosecution. Ríos Montt is alleged to have administered a violent - and some say genocidal - campaign, ostensibly against leftist guerillas in the country. However, many civilians - particularly Q’echi indigenous peoples - were killed under his rule. One particularly controversial aspect of his administration and legacy is the support he received from the United States, which supported right wing dictators in Guatemala as part of its anti-communist strategy during the Cold War. (Al Jazeera)

UN Inquiry Says Israel Must End Settlements (January 31, 2013)

United Nations human rights investigators have concluded that Israeli policies regarding settlers in the West Bank are failing to uphold international law. The investigators have added their voices to the long list of critics who see the spread of Israeli settlement building as both illegal and counterproductive to the peace process. Israeli-Palestinian relations have been particularly tense in recent months, following Israel’s controversial operation in Gaza and Palestine’s declaration of statehood at the UN. There is concern that, rather than curtailing its settlements, Israel plans to allow further settlement in the West Bank which may precipitate a further deterioration of the conflict. (Al Jazeera)

Former Libyan Spy Chief Could Face Execution Soon, Lawyer Fears (January 24, 2013)

Observers are concerned that the Libyan government is failing to live up to its promises to provide former members of Muammar Gaddafi’s government with a fair and transparent trial. While Libyan authorities have been eager to accommodate international concerns over the treatment of Gaddafi’s son Seif, others may not be receiving appropriate treatment.  The lawyer for Gaddaffi’s former spy chief, Abdullah al-Senussi, has written to the ICC and the British government claiming that his client has been subjected to torture and may face summary execution. In response, the ICC has reiterated its demand that Mr. Senussi be transferred to The Hague. Mr. Senussi’s case raises questions about the ICC’s complementarity principle and whether the court can take on a case when a national judicial system fails to comply with international law. (The New York Times) 

The Importance of European Court's Ruling Against Extraordinary Re
ndition  (January 7, 2013)
The recent judgment of El-Masri v The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia in the European Court for Human Rights has led to one of the only victories in human rights cases related to 9/11. The Macedonian authorities used the US extraordinary rendition program to transfer him to Afghanistan where he was tortured by CIA officials. Following the dismissal of the civil charges against the CIA in US courts, the case was taken to the European Court, as El-Masri is a German citizen. The court found that the CIA’s extraordinary rendition program constituted torture. The decision is a landmark and affirms a broad conception of state responsibility when transferring individuals to countries where they can face abuse. (Aljazeera)


HSBC, Too Big to Jail, is the New Poster Child for US Two-Tiered Justice System  (December 12, 2012)

In this opinion piece, Glenn Greenwald explores the double standards of the US justice system. Federal investigators recently found the banking giant HSBC spent years committing serious crimes, such as facilitating money laundering by Mexican drug cartels and moving tainted money for Saudi banks tied to Al Qaeda and other groups. Despite the gravity of these charges, the US Department of Justice announced that HSBC will not be prosecuted as they are “too important, too instrumental to subject them to such disruptions.”  Greenwald contrasts the leniency granted to the powerful with the harsh sentences imposed on regular citizens in the US – the country with the world’s largest prison population. (Guardian)

Damn right, George Bush Should Face Criminal Proceedings for Waterboarding (November 17, 2012)

A complaint filed with the UN committee against torture renews calls for an investigation into authorized torture by the Bush administration. In view of George Bush’s visit to Canada, the Center for Constitutional Rights and the Canadian Centre for International Justice filed the complaint on behalf of four men that underwent systematic torture. The draft indictment presented overwhelming evidence to support such an investigation, but the Attorney General turned it down with little regard for Canada’s international obligations under the UN Convention against Torture. Although it is unlikely that anything will come out of these recent events, they pose a challenge to the “worldview in which the powerful are exempt from rules, treaties and prohibitions against senseless acts of barbarity.” (Guardian)

We're One Crucial Step Closer to Seeing Tony Blair at the Hague (September 4, 2012)

South African Nobel peace prize winner Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s refusal to attend a Global leadership summit due to Tony Blair’s attendance has revived the debate on Blair’s role in the war in Iraq. Many see the decision by the former British Prime Minister to join forces with the US to wage war against Iraq as an “illegal war.” Although the US has not signed up to the Rome Statute and is therefore not a member of the International Criminal Court (ICC), the same cannot be said of the UK. Since 2010, the ICC has jurisdiction over the crime of aggression; however the court cannot prosecute under the crime until 2018 at the earliest. Crime of aggression is one of the main reasons why the US may never be a part of the ICC. The Africa focus of the ICC (with all of the 29 individuals who have been indicted being African) has led critics to question the legitimacy of the court. In this regard, Blair’s accountability for launching an illegal war on Iraq could potentially be the biggest turning point for international justice. (Guardian)

Obama's Justice Department Grants Final Immunity to Bush's CIA Torturers (August 31, 2012)

The Obama administration has closed down investigations into criminal accountability of officials involved in torture under the Bush administration, which Glenn Greenwald condemns as a clear violation of the rule of law. During President Obama’s 2008 campaign for presidency, he pledged that he would instruct the Attorney General to “immediately review” these cases of torture as “nobody is above the law.” However, since his election, his administration has made every effort to shut down investigations and formalize full-scale immunity, arguing that “it would be unfair to prosecute dedicated men and women working to protect America for conduct that was sanctioned in advance by the justice department.” This obscures the fact that there were hundreds of cases of torture that went beyond the methods and limits provided in the department of justice memos. In two instances, the level of extreme torture undergone by the detainees resulted in their deaths in custody, but these cases were brought to a close without any charges in August, 2012. (Guardian)

The US and the ICC: Why a Closer Relationship Isn’t Necessarily a Good Thing (August 28, 2012)

Ironically, the most talked-about relationship in the realm of international justice is that of the US and the ICC. Their relationship has always been rocky- from rejecting the ICC at its onset, the United States is now actively engaging with it. “The US has become a de-facto member of the ICC”, said David Scheffer. But the US, a non-state party of the ICC, is unlikely to sign onto the Rome Statute even in the future; and this newfound cooperation may not be good for the ICC. The US’ selective support of ICC cases based on its own interests is evident, as seen with Uganda, Sudan and Libya. The author of this article, Mark Kersten, highlights the dangers of allowing this political selectivity to become entrenched in the structure of the ICC.(Justice in Conflict)

Libya vs. The ICC: Stalemate Over Saif and Senussi(August 15, 2012)

The ICC and Libya are locked in a stalemate over the trials of Saif al -Islam Gaddafi and Abdullah al-Senussi. The ICC’s “complimentarity regime” allows it to investigate and prosecute an individual only when their state is unable or unwilling to do so. The National Transitional Council (NTC) of Libya has issued an “inadmissibility challenge” to the ICC, on the grounds that Libya is investigating both cases. However, with Gaddafi held captive by the Zintan militia who refuse to give him up to the NTC, and Senussi under arrest by Mauritanian officials in Nuakchott, Libya does not have custody over either of the men. The ICC is reluctant to hand over control to Libya, and Libya adamant to try Gaddafi and Senussi within their own country.(Think Africa Press)

Is International Justice Finally Finding its Footing? (August 7, 2012)

The ICC’s first sentence coincided with the court’s ten year anniversary. Meanwhile, the International Court of Justice has ordered Senegal to prosecute former Chad dictator Hissène Habré. Despite its recent successes, the ICC continues to remain a political creature, closely tied to the United Nations Security Council. Russia, China and the United States, three of the Permanent Five members that have still refused to join the ICC. But the Security Council continues to have a say in the selection of ICC cases. While political expediency remains the order of the day, it is heartening to see forward strides in international justice - the conviction of Charles Taylor and the ongoing trial of Ratko Mladic reaffirm the notion of universal justice. (Christian Science Monitor)

Mali poses a risky and unique case to the ICC. The ICC has been previously criticized for its bias against Africa, but Mali’s self-referral could have a positive effect on the relationship between the ICC and the AU. However, the seemingly one-sided investigation of the rebel groups might hint at an internal bias. Is the ICC in Mali just another intervention in Africa? (Justice in Conflict)

The ICC: Three Remarkable Achievements(July 9, 2012)

The ICC celebrated its ten year anniversary recently. The very existence of the ICC today is commendable; given the hostility it faced from the United States and other powers. The ICC has contributed a space that supports global justice and human rights. Protesters often call for dictators to be referred to the ICC- a testimony to the powerful appeal of the court. While the ICC some distance to go to achieve impartiality, the author of this article lauds the ICC for its accomplishments in a complex world.(Justice in Conflict)

Africa: How Close Is an African Criminal Court? (June 13, 2012)

The ICC has been accused of ‘bullying’ Africa by AU commission chairperson, Jean Ping. The AU-ICC rift has prompted the AU to push ahead with plans to form an Africa-wide criminal court, which is envisaged to comprise three sections: general affairs, human rights and international criminal law. Skeptics raise questions about the duplication between the ICC and this regional court. Additionally, there are concerns about adequate funding, the high cost of individual trials and the possibility of delayed prosecutions. But Africans seem keen to move ahead with the plan. (all Africa)

How Could Charles Taylor’s Crimes have been Prevented? (May 30, 2012)

The trading of unregulated weapons has fueled some of the world’s worst crimes. Post-Cold War Soviet stockpiles in Slovakia and Ukraine, for example, have made their way to war criminals in Africa and Europe. Profits from exploitative mining industries often fund those purchases. A UN hearing in July will consider establishing a Global Arms Trade Treaty with common rules to regulate the movement of weapons. In order for the treaty to be successful, drastic measures must be taken, including strict licensing, public reporting, and punitive measures for abusers. (Huffington Post

Guatemalan Communities Have No Say in Exploitation of Resources (May 21, 2012)

Guatemala’s mining boom caused the countries mineral earnings to rise from $9 million in 2004 to $522 million in 2010. But poor communities don’t see those benefits, while foreign mining companies destroy the poor’s local environments. According to Guatemala’s national census, 54 percent of the population lives in poverty. In Santa Cruz Barillas, local residents held protests to oppose the construction of a hydroelectric complex by the Spanish firm Hidralia, only to be met with military repression. According to residents, the government uses force to show foreign companies and investors that it is willing to support them regardless of the opinions of the affected populations. (IPS Terraviva)

Should NATO be Handling World Security? (May 21, 2012)

NATO was launched in April 1949 as the Western military opponent of the Soviet Union in the Cold War. Instead of disintegrating afterwards, NATO expanded its military endeavors into Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, and elsewhere. It is now the world’s most powerful military pact, accounting for 70 percent of the world’s budget in military spending. But the majority of the world does not belong to NATO and has no influence over its actions. In this article, the author argues that if NATO nations were serious about stabilizing the world’s conflicts, they would work to strengthen the United Nations, rather than wasting resources on questionable wars. (Huffington Post)

A Vital (and Unlearned) Lesson from Julius Caesar (May 8, 2012)

In 63 BC, Julius Caeser captured a group of conspirators planning to overthrow the Roman government. Common citizens demanded the conspirators’ death, but Caeser noted that Roman law forbids execution of any Roman citizens, even for heinous crimes. Executing conspirators requires creation of a dangerous precedent, which vests power in the state to kill its own citizens. Incompetent leaders in future times may abuse that power. Glenn Greenwald relates Caeser’s situation to contemporary times, and warns against the Obama administration’s use of torture, indefinite detention, and extra-judicial assassinations. (Salon)

Imitation Outrage: Faking Concern for the Chinese Masses (May 3, 2012)

The US finds itself preoccupied with how best to exploit China’s labor market, while pretending to care for the well-being of its people. Chen Guangcheng, a blind Chinese activist, has received international media attention for his escape from house arrest, and his sanctioning in the US embassy. While Chen’s work to promote women’s rights is certainly admirable, his situation has complicated diplomatic relations between China and the US. Politicians in the US, like Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, support Chen’s rights with great rhetoric in acts of political theater. Meanwhile, US corporations abuse Chinese factory workers, who work in inhumane conditions to keep the US consumer industry afloat. (The Nation)

Corporations Win Big in Battle against Investment Regulation (May 6, 2012)

Multinational corporations (MNCs) are allowed to sue national governments for enforcing regulations which allegedly violate the bilateral investment treaties (BITs) that the two actors initially agreed upon. These national regulations often aim to protect the environment, promote public health, and regulate the economy. However, regulations may also lower profits for MNCs. According to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), there have been 450 known lawsuits brought by companies against governments. Chevron, for example, sued Ecuador for $78 million for the country’s efforts to protect that Amazon, an act that has negatively affected Chevron’s business. In this article, the author notes that BITs allow companies to sue governments, but not vise-versa. (IPS Terraviva)

The Fraud of “Humanitarian Wars” (May 2, 2012)

In this talk, Glenn Greenwald argues that “humanitarian intervention” has been used historically to justify war, and that proponents are naïve to think military intervention could control and resolve complex conflicts. Humanitarianism has justified the US invasion of Iraq to “free” oppressed Iraqis, Gaddafi’s support of violent militias, and Hitler’s campaigns to “liberate” Germans from oppressive rule in Lithuania and Ukraine. While people under oppressive regimes may benefit from outside intervention, the ripple effects of a “humanitarian” war, such as in Libya and Iraq, show that no foreign military intervention is authentically humanitarian. (Salon)

Imperialism didn’t End. These Days it’s Known as International Law (April 30, 2012)

George Bush and Tony Blair committed crimes of aggression in waging an illegal war in Iraq, and went unpunished under international law, while Charles Taylor was found guilty of less serious crimes. In this article, George Monbiot argues that the US uses international courts as foreign policy tools. “If you run a small weak nation,” writes Monbiot, “you may be subject to the full force of international law; if you run a powerful nation, you have nothing to fear.” (Guardian)

US Government Admits to Drone Attacks (April 30, 2012)

On April 30, 2012, John Brennan, the US official in charge of counterterrorism, formally admitted that the US was using armed drones to target insurgents. It was the first time the US spoke publically about its secretive drones program, which is overseen by the CIA.  On April 28, the Pakistani government demanded a formal apology for a US drone strike that killed two dozen Pakistani soldiers, and also demanded an immediate halt to these strikes within Pakistani territory. The US has not complied, and   US-Pakistan relations are strained as a result. Pakistan has cut off critical NATO resupply routes through the territory. Another US drone strike on April 29 did not improve matters. (IPS)

What the Laws of War Allow (April 15, 2012)

This TomDispatch article argues that international humanitarian law (IHL) often justifies military violence rather than restraining it. IHL allows civilians in a battle zone to be killed without accountability, classifying the acts as “collateral damage.” Supporters of humanitarian intervention under IHL dream of “clean warfare” regulated by laws that spare civilians from the violence. But this type of warfare does not exist. International law is not always on the side of civilians; the Pentagon employs 10,000 lawyers to sort out “legal” ways for the US to accommodate its military affairs. (TomDispatch)

Viktor Bout - Lord of War - Sentenced to 25 Years (April 10, 2012) 

Viktor Bout, the most notorious arms dealer of the last two decades, was sentenced this week to 25 years in prison by a US court for supplying arms to Colombian revolutionary army FARC. Bout had, however, a diverse set of customers during his career - including the US Military, Federal Express, and subsidiaries of Haliburton during the Iraq Conflict (not to mention Charles Taylor, most of Angola, and the Taliban). On Bout’s arrest, arms trade expert Andrew Feinstein attests to the hypocrisy of governments prosecuting arms dealers they’ve previously employed and protected, and calls for the passing of the Arms Trade Treaty to be debated at the UN in July 2012. (African Arguments)

Kony Part II: Accountability, not Awareness (April 7, 2012)

There is a fine line between raising awareness and promoting propaganda, especially if “awareness” is not paired with critical reflection. Invisible Children’s Kony 2012 campaign preaches that the best way to solve conflicts in Sub-Saharan Africa is through US military force. Part II of their viral video argues that "awareness" among young children in US suburbia will translate into an effective military regime in Central Africa. The Kony 2012 campaign enlists an army of their own child “activists” to “cover the night” on April 20 with Joseph Kony posters. Maybe Earth Day on April 22 will clean up Invisible Children’s trash. (al Jazeera)

The Doctrine of Intervention (April 4, 2012)

The Vatican established the doctrine of discovery in 1452, which allowed claims to be made on “empty” lands. The policy was meant to save the “barbarians” from themselves by spreading Christian ideologies. US Chief Justice John Marshall used this doctrine in 1823 to assert authority over Native American territories. The “War on Terror” is justified based on similar reasoning, replacing “Christianity” with “democracy.” This al Jazeera article argues that powerful nations have historically used this doctrine to impose “ideals” that exploit native populations. (al Jazeera)

Israeli Settlements in Vise between Court and Council (March 26, 2012)

Israel’s supreme court ordered Israeli settlers in Migron, in the West Bank, to dismantle their illegal outpost. The court’s decision rejected Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s appeal for a “compromise” that would avoid withdrawal. The decision also came shortly after Netanyahu severed contact between Israel and the United Nations Human Rights Council, which questioned the implications of Israel’s illegal occupation on the human rights of Palestinians. Some Israelis fear that their government may defy their court, and many see the situation as a test of Israel’s commitment to democracy and the rule of law. (Huffington Post)

Genocide on Trial in Guatemala (March 19, 2012)

On January 26, 2012, a Guatemala court charged former Guetemalan dictator General Efraín Ríos Montt with genocide and crimes against humanity. Ríos Montt ruled during a violent two-year period of Guatemala’s 36 year old civil war. He commanded soldiers, many who were trained and equipped by the US, to destroy indigenous villages in the Mayan highlands. According to WikiLeaks, the US government under Ronald Reagan supported Ríos Montt’s regime despite knowledge of their abuses. The legal definition of genocide and questions of knowledge and intent are at the center of the trial. (The Nation)

Why is President Obama Keeping a Journalist in Prison in Yemen? (March 13, 2012)

Yemeni journalist Abdulelah Haider Shaye discovered remnants of Tomahawk cruise missiles in the village of al Majala bearing the label “Made in the USA.” The missiles were said to be part of Yemeni strikes targeting “al Qaeda insurgents.” But many civilians were killed from those strikes, including 21 children. Shaye determined that the strikes were from the US, and WikiLeaks corroborated his assessment. Shaye was reporting facts that both Yemeni and US governments wanted to suppress. He continues to be confined in a Yemeni prison under the request of President Obama. (The Nation)

Israeli Court Rules Against Illegal Settlement (March 26, 2012)

Migron is an unauthorized Israeli outpost located on privately held Palestinian land in the West Bank. Israeli “ultranationalists” settled Migron illegally in 2001. The Israeli supreme court has now ruled that its government must evacuate Migron by August 1, 2012. But Palestinians are still skeptical that the ruling will be carried out. According to the Palestinian authority, Migron is one of many illegal Israeli-outpost settlements that are supposed to be evacuated. (Guardian)

Why Not Get Law and Politics Right in Iran? (March 27, 2012)

After World War II, states agreed in the UN Charter to give up their military option except in clear instances of self-defense. Article 2(4) of the UN Charter prohibits not only the use of force, but also threats to use force.  No international law argument is available to justify attacking a sovereign state like Iran for pursuing nuclear weapons, let alone a nuclear program. Israel, India, and Pakistan, for example, have all obtained nuclear weapons without opposition from the US and the “international community.” This al-Jazeera article criticizes the US’ public debate and media attention on policy toward Iran as overtly belligerent. (al-Jazeera)

Discussing the Motives of the Afghan Shooter (March 19, 2012)

US Staff Sargent Robert Bales allegedly killed 16 Afghans, including nine children. Mainstream US media attributed Bales’ rampage to reasons such as financial stress, traumatic brain injury, and marital problems. But when Muslims are blamed for violence, the same media describes the actors as primitive, fanatically religious, and hateful terrorists. This article by Glenn Greenwald points out the hypocrisy and prejudice of the US media’s coverage on international violence. (Salon)

Kony 2012: A Humanitarian Illusion (March 14, 2012)

In 2011, President Obama announced deployment of 100 military advisers to go after Joseph Kony of “Kony 2012.” But to find him, advisers may have to cross the Democratic of Congo or South Sudan, completely disregarding international law. Obama’s intentions were unclear to the public: did the US want to kill Kony, or capture him for trial in the ICC court whose mandate the US does not recognize? Invisible Children, a US nonprofit, has spearheaded an online army of 100 million spectators “at war” with Kony. But most have not questioned the human, legal, and geopolitical consequences of sending military troops into sovereign states. (al Jazeera)

What are Iran’s Intentions? (March 2, 2012)

To justify the 2003 invasion of Iraq, the US cited UN Security Council Resolution 687, which declares a WMD Free Zone in the Middle East. Ironically, the only nation in the region with WMDs, as well as a long record of aggression and a superpower patron, is Israel. Israel developed nuclear weapons with US aid. Europeans, as well as the majority of the Arab population, see Israel, not Iran, as the biggest threat to world peace. The US media portrays a dangerous Iran, but the reality is that 120 nonaligned nations believe that Iran has a right to enrich its uranium program. (In These Times)

Of Deserts and Promised Lands: The Dream of Global Justice (February 29, 2012)

International courts were first created by Great Britain during its war with France to try slave-carrying vessels, while vessels flying Great Britain flags were allowed to continue with the slave trade. These international agreements were meant to strengthen Great Britain's naval force rather than promote human rights. In 2002, the International Criminal Court was created to enforce an idea of global accountability with similar double standards. The US has not ratified the Rome Statute, but promotes interventions for human rights violations committed by non-US citizens. This article from The Nation examines a history of underlying schemes that have accompanied visions of “global justice.” (The Nation)

US v. Pakistan on Transparency and Accountability (February 13, 2012)

CIA officials have committed human rights violations during the “War on Terror,” and the US government protects them from their victims’ lawsuits. Glenn Greenwald highlights different instances when the CIA’s human rights abusers were given impunity by the US judiciary. At the same time, the US criticizes Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) of Pakistan for being “shadowy” and “undemocratic.” But on February 13, 2012, the Pakistan’s Supreme Court agreed to put ISI on trial for abusing the rights of seven of their detainees. Pakistan’s step towards holding its premier intelligence agency accountable has not yet been taken by the US. (Salon)

Healing Wounds: Seeking Closure for the 1915 Massacres (January 19, 2012)

The UN’s International Law Commission upholds the Roman dictum, nulla crimen sine lege, or, “no crime without law.” What this means is that no behavior, however detestable, is a crime unless a law exists in advance of the act. Recently, France’s national assembly voted to criminalize denial of the 1915 Armenian genocide at the hands of Ottoman Empire, even though a law defining genocide was not created until the Genocide Convention in 1951 . The Turkish government reacted by withdrawing their ambassador and freezing inter-governmental economic relations with France. This Al Jazeera article criticizes the French National Assembly’s vote for being a political maneuver for upcoming elections rather than a genuine act to promote reconciliation between Turks and Armenians.  (Al Jazeera)


Justice Delayed 30 Years in Guatemala (January 4, 2012)

In 1982, the western-backed military in Guatemala killed 440 civilians and displaced 32 communities along Rio Negro to make way for the Chixoy Hydroelectric Dam, a World Bank funded project. The World Bank continued to support the project despite knowledge of human rights abuses. It argued that its Articles of Agreement did not require consideration of human rights in its funding decisions. This Al Jazeera article examines what the World Bank must change during its safeguard review process in order to meet international law standards. (Al Jazeera)

Israeli Companies Can Profit from West Bank Resources, Court Rules (January 3, 2012)

Yesh Din, an Israeli human rights organization, made a petition to the Israeli Supreme Court to stop Israeli exploitation of the West Bank’s natural resources. International humanitarian law prohibits an occupying power from exploiting the resources of the occupied territory. Israel has been profiting from the West Bank’s occupation since 1967, making as much as $900m a year from quarrying stone. The Israeli Supreme Court rejected Yesh Din’s petition, arguing that long-term occupiers may adapt international law. This guardian article examines how the court’s decision enables Israeli companies to continue making indiscriminate use of Palestinian water resources, minerals and land.  (Guardian)

EU: Extra-national Justice for Africa? (November 23, 2011)

EU’s most recent diplomatic arm, European External Action Service (EEAS), has started off progressively to undertake various international challenges. Nicholas Westcott, Managing Director responsible for Africa, states that there is a lack of global commitment to international justice and there is a need to increase the coherence between EU member states in order to protect EU interests. So far, EEAS has focused on establishing a partnership with African countries. On the question of why Latin American countries are not given attention, Nicholas Westcott stresses that those in power are often those who suffered during the authoritarian regimes and hence are better suited to judge rights issues. (Radio netherlands Worldwide)

UN Should Establish a Global Fund for Justice (November 14, 2011)

In recent years, governments have increasingly hindered international courts and institutions in their job mandate to deliver justice for victims of the most serious crimes. The courts are not only hampered by political challenges but also by a constant lack of financial resources. The international courts are supposed to serve as safeguard measures when domestic court cannot or will not function as the primary responsible for serious rights violations. Supranational judges play a critical role in ensuring international justice, but governments are reluctant to allow them to stand up for the rule of law. (Open Society Justice Initiative)

US/UN: Don’t Back off Cluster Bomb Ban (November 11, 2011)

The majority of the world’s countries have signed or ratified the Convention on Cluster Munitions which prohibits all use, production and trade of the weapon. However, during a two-week conference in Vienna, 100 countries will meet and discuss a protocol to the Convention on Conventional Weapons which would weaken and create loopholes on the ban on cluster bombs. According to Human Rights Watch, this is a clear effort by states, such as the US, that have not banned cluster munitions to shield themselves legally and politically for any future use. (Human Rights Watch)

Closed Courts and Secret Evidence: Britain’s Own Guantanamo (November 2, 2011)

A decade ago, the UK formed a new legal system to handle secret evidence, dubbed “Britain’s own Guantanamo.” Now the government is attempting to further limit disclosure of sensitive intelligence information though a new consultation proposal green paper on justice and security. This is a response to the increasing amount of court cases that attempt to obtain sensitive information. With this new proposal, the government is trying to shield itself further, and threatens to the UK system of open justice and the right to a fair trial. (Open Democracy)

Outside the Law (October 25, 2011)

The NATO intervention in Libya was doubtful from the beginning. The legal justifications for intervening were uncertain, and the second problem concerned the procedural rules of authorization by the Security Council. The basis for intervening under international law was to protect the Libyan civilians from their government. Some saw this as a victory for the “Responsibility to Protect” doctrine, which permit interventions if a government does not protect its own citizens. However, critics claim that the doctrine is being used for political and not purely humanitarian purposes. (Foreign Policy)

Killing the Killers Makes a Mockery of International Justice(October 26, 2011)

The killing of Gaddafi is the latest in a series of extrajudicial killings against “enemies,” who should rather be captured and tried for their crimes in a court of law. The recent targeted killings of Osama bin Laden and Anwar al Awlaki by the US also suggest that commitment to international justice is waning, and primal vengeance is replacing complex and expensive processes in court. This article urges leaders to condemn unlawful and unsanctioned murders, and push for a judicial response to these crimes. (Sydney Morning Herald)

Death Row: America's Torture Chamber (October 11, 2011)

Prisoners on death row in the US spend on average 14 years in solitary confinement awaiting execution. The vast majority of these prisoners are kept isolated for 23 hours a day, only allowed out to exercise in a metal cage for one hour each day. This article argues that the dehumanizing conditions experienced by the US death row inmates meet the definition of torture, a crime that is under an absolute prohibition in international law. (Common Dreams)

Should Child Soldiers be Punished for Their Crimes? (October 6, 2011)

International human rights and humanitarian law is vague when it comes to criminal responsibility and punishments of child soldiers guilty of war crimes. The Geneva Conventions do not set a minimum age for criminal responsibility for international crimes, and do oblige all state parties to act on serious breaches of human rights. However, a recently released report of the Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict affirms that: “if a child under 15 is considered too young to fight, he must as well be considered too young to be held criminally responsible for serious violations of international humanitarian law while associated with armed forces.” (IRIN)

 An Arab Fling: The West and International Justice in Libya (September 25, 2011)

The previous enthusiasm for pursuing international justice by investigating crimes of the Gaddafi regime has waned. Western states were keen to bring the Libyan leader to the International Criminal Court, and they all seemed to be in favor. Nevertheless, when the intervention gathered momentum, the initial support for the idea was replaced by statements proclaiming that, “it is up to the Libyan people to decide where to achieve justice.” Was the intervention in Libya another case of the selective and political nature of international justice? (Opinio Juris)

New Truth Commission in Brazil; Just a Name and Blame act? (September 26, 2011)

Grave crimes committed during the military dictatorships in South American countries like Argentina and Chile, are known to many. Not much is known of horrors committed during the military dictatorship in Brazil. The Brazilian congress has approved a new Truth Commission to investigate crimes against humanity that took place from 1946 to 1988. The decision to create the Truth Commission has been controversial; some critics say it is merely formed to avoid embarrassment in front of other states. Another problem is the apparent clash between the Commission and Brazil’s amnesty law.  (Radio Netherlands Worldwide)

Unfair Military Trials of Civilians in Egypt (September 10, 2011)

According to Human Rights Watch (HRW) nearly 12,000 Egyptian civilians have been arrested and brought to military trials since the end of January this year. Military tribunals were previously reserved for high-status cases of political nature, but the number of trials this year exceeds the total number of individuals who faced military trials during the 30-year rule of President Mubarak. In addition, the conviction rate has been 93 percent. Joe Stork, deputy Middle East and North Africa director at HRW, calls the number of prosecutions “astounding,” and stresses that these figures demonstrate how the military rulers are undermining Egypt’s shift to democracy. HRW states that military court proceedings are not in line with international law requirements, that individuals be tried by a competent, independent and impartial tribunal. (Human Rights Watch)

What Should Justice for Ghaddafi Look Like? (September 2, 2011)

After the fall of Tripoli several jurisdictions are laying claim on Gaddafi. The Obama administration has stated that the Libyans should be able to try Gaddafi themselves as long this would meet the highest standards of international justice. However, Libya currently has no functioning legal system. The International Criminal Court (ICC) would offer a more stable legal setting, but an ICC trial involves years of investigations and depositions. Eventually, where Gaddafi will face justice will probably be determined by political factors rather than legal factors. (Reuters)

Withdrawing Criminal Cases in Nepal Would Violate International Obligations (September 2, 2011)

Several human rights organizations including Human Rights Watch and the International Commission of Jurists have called upon the Nepali government to refuse amnesties for those suspected of serious human rights violations. International legal obligations strictly prohibit Nepal to withdraw or terminate criminal investigations of violations occurred during and after the armed conflict between Maoist rebels and government forces in the country between 1996 until 2006. The organizations also urged the Nepali government to set up an independent legal framework to ensure that perpetrators will be held accountable and to protect the rights of Nepal’s people under international law. (Human Rights Watch) 

Might Dick Cheney Really be Tried for War Crimes? (August 31, 2011)

In July, Human Rights Watch (HRW) released a report urging the Obama administration to investigate former President George W. Bush, former Vice President Dick Cheney and other administration officials for ordering detainee abuse amounting to torture. Human rights organizations are now demanding for Cheney to be tried for war crimes. But the Obama administration has not initiated an investigation into the interrogation policies conducted by the Bush administration. If the US does not act, other countries could. The chance of Cheney being tried by the International Criminal Court is though extremely small, as the US is not a member state of the court. (Christian Science Monitor) 

Brazil Urged to Scrap Amnesty Law that Protects Rights Abusers (August 26, 2011)

Last week Amnesty International urged the Brazilian government to revoke the 1979 Amnesty Law that prevents military officials from prosecution of crimes of torture, enforced disappearances and rape committed during the military dictatorship 1964-1985. In the case of Gomes Lund v. Brazil, the Inter American Court of Human Rights ruled that all measures must be taken to declare the law void, since it is not in line with the obligations of Brazil under international law. Other international human rights bodies, including the European court of Human Rights and the UN Human Rights Committee have ruled that amnesty laws for torture are incompatible with international human rights law. (Amnesty International)

At Large in Canada: Alleged War Criminals (August 25, 2011)

The Canadian federal government recently published a list of 30 people hiding in Canada and believed to have committed war crimes or crimes against humanity in their home countries. The Canadian government is taking active steps to locate the alleged criminals and have them deported. However, there is little evidence available as to whether these individuals are indeed responsible for such crimes. Refugee lawyers and Amnesty International have called on the government to prosecute alleged war criminals in Canada because there is no guarantee that they will face justice in their home countries. (Global Post)

No One, in the US or Sri Lanka, Should Be Above the Law (August 9, 2011)

In July the Human Rights Watch (HRW) released the report “Getting away with Torture” which detailed allegations of detainee abuse authorized by Bush administration officials. The report called on the US government to open criminal investigations into these allegations. HRW also prompted for the Sri Lankan government to launch investigations concerning serious abuses by government officials. In this piece, the Asia director of HRW reaffirms HRW’s commitment to end impunity for serious human rights violations whether committed in the US, Sri Lanka or elsewhere. Regardless of the perpetrator, victims deserve justice and a failure to open investigations is a failure to uphold the law. (Human Rights Watch)

How an Ecocide Law Could Prevent Another Nigerian Oil Disaster (August 22, 2011)

Shell has accepted liability for two oil spills that occurred in 2008 in the Niger Delta that leaked approximately 10 million gallons of oil and may take 20 years to clean up. Shell’s decision to take responsibility, following a class action lawsuit, has prompted an international discussion on environmental crimes. International environmental rights lawyer Polly Higgins is therefore proposing that environmental action of this magnitude be labeled ‘ecocide’ and be criminalized as a Crime Against Peace by the United Nations. Ecocide would in that case be punishable by the International Criminal Court alongside crimes such as genocide and war crimes. (Guardian)

Why it is so Important that the United States Give UN Rights Investigators Access to Bradley Manning (July 13, 2011)

The Obama Administration has granted Juan Mendez, UN Rapporteur on Torture, access to alleged Wikileaker Bradley Manning under the condition that prison authorities are able to monitor their conversation. This condition violates the longstanding UN rules allowing “unfettered access” to prisoners” by UN Human Rights officials, which were put in place to ensure that detainees have the opportunity to candidly discuss the conditions of their imprisonment. This UN Dispatch article argues that this case represents a larger contradiction since the US presents itself as the “leading advocate for human rights” yet, often ignores or bends international protocol for its own interests/when it suits the state, undermining the larger human rights system. (UN Dispatch)

George W Bush Should be Prosecuted over Torture, says Human Rights Group (July 12, 2011)

Human Rights Watch (HRW) issued a report stating that the Obama Administration is “legally obligated” to investigate top members of the Bush Administration, including President Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and George Tenet, over allegations of “torture, abduction, and other mistreatment of prisoners.” While these assertions are not new, HRW argues that this issue deserves “fresh attention” because of the increased amount of documented evidence from previously classified papers, official statements and leaked reports. Moreover, HRW argues that these allegations need to be addressed because the Obama Administration has “all but abandoned its obligations” to various international treaties including the UN Convention on Torture, and various domestic laws, such as the 1996 War Crimes Act and taking action on this issue would signify their renewed commitment to international justice. (Guardian)

Dutch State Responsible for Three Srebrenica Deaths, Says Court (July 5, 2011)

In a historic verdict, the Dutch Appeals court ruled that the Netherlands is responsible for the deaths of three Bosnian Muslims in the 1995 Srebrenica massacre. This is the first time that a state has been held responsible for the actions of the UN peacekeeping troops they contributed to a UN mission. The court rejected the Dutch government’s claim that countries are not responsible for troops stationed under UN authority. This ruling, if upheld in the higher courts and applied in other UN member countries, has the potential to ensure that peacekeeping troops are accountable for their actions under their domestic laws and “cannot enjoy immunity behind a UN cloak.” (Guardian)

Uganda: Civil Society Seeks Independent Inquiry into April Killings (June 15, 2011)
A group of 105 NGOs, media, and development groups are calling for an 'independent and transparent investigation" into the killings that took place during Uganda's "Walk to Work" protests. The group has issued a joint letter urging Uganda, as a member of the UN Human Rights Council, to invite the UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary, or arbitrary executions to visit demonstrating that Uganda is committed to upholding the rule of law. (Human Rights Watch)

Colombia: Victims Law a Historic Opportunity (June 10, 2011)

Colombia’s new Victims and Land Restitution Law aims to return stolen land and provide reparations to the 3.7 million Colombians that were forcibly displaced over the past twenty years. This Human Rights Watch statement warns that the Colombian government must take active steps to ensure that the law is effectively enforced so that victims are not subjected to violence, threats, or intimidation by paramilitary groups that oppose the land restitution.

Uruguay: Prosecute Dictatorship Era Abuses (June 10, 2011)

In May 2011, the Uruguayan Supreme Court ruled that two military officials could not be prosecuted for “enforced disappearances” during the 1970s because the act was not recognized as a crime under Uruguayan domestic law until 2006. According to Human Rights Watch, this ruling directly violates the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons for Enforced Disappearances, which states that a country has an obligation to investigate and prosecute a crime regardless of when the crime was committed. Uruguay ratified this treaty in 2009 and has consequently violated international law. Since “enforced disappearances” amount to a crime against humanity, this ruling has broad global implications on the incorporation of international law on domestic cases.

Bangladesh: Unique Opportunity for Justice for 1971 Atrocities (May 19, 2011)

After four decades, Bangladesh is beginning to hold trials for those accused of committing war crimes during the 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War. This statement by Human Rights Watch cautions that the Bangladeshi Government must revise its existing laws to ensure that the trials are conducted fairly, legitimately and in accordance with international law in order to bring justice for the victims. (Human Rights Watch)

Responsibility to Protect – The Cases of Libya and the Ivory Coast (May 15, 2011)

Marjorie Cohn, professor of International Human Rights Law at Thomas Jefferson School of Law, critically questions the “Responsibility to Protect” doctrine. In Libya the US, UK and France quickly resorted to military action - rejecting Libya’s offer to accept international monitors and Qadaffi’s offer to step down and leave Libya. Double standards in the implementation of the “Responsibility to Protect” doctrine are also apparent.  The US have not attacked Bahrain, where lethal force is being used to quell anti-government protests, nor have they responded to the Arab League’s request for the Security Council to consider imposing a no-fly-zone over the Gaza Strip in order to protect civilians from Israeli air strikes. Such double standards suggest that the “Responsibility to Protect” doctrine will be used only against countries with leaders who do not favor US or European Union interests. (

After Portillo's Acquittal, a Challenge for Judicial Reform in Guatemala (May 13, 2011)

Former president of Guatemala, Alfonso Portillo, has been acquitted of charges stemming from alleged embezzlement of millions of dollars during his four year term. This article argues that Portillo’s acquittal demonstrates the weakness of domestic courts, despite significant judicial reform.  Following this high profile setback, it is likely that the UN backed International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG) will continue to play a significant role in Guatemala’s justice system. (In Sight Crime)

Using Frozen Assets to Aid Libyans (May 11, 2011)

The US will act unilaterally to seize and redistribute a portion of the $34 billon of frozen Libyan assets.  This article considers the legal framework for such action under US domestic law, arguing that it is authorized by the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA).  While the seizure of assets may be legal under US domestic law, it is also important that the right to property and due process are observed.  Particularly, there must be a right of review for individuals and entities subject to sanctions. (Council on Foreign Relations)

The Targeted Assassination of Osama Bin Laden (May 10, 2011)

The targeted assassination of Osama Bin Laden violated well-established principles of international law, constituting an extrajudicial execution. In spite of its illegality, the Obama administration frequently uses targeted assassinations to accomplish its goals, for example, in Yemen the US targeted Anwar al-Awlaki, who has not been charged with any crime in the US. The unmanned drone attack in Yemen missed al-Awlaki and killed two people.  Recent US drones in Pakistan have killed more than 59 people.  Osama bin Laden and the “suspected militants” targeted in drone attacks should have been arrested and tried in US courts or an international tribunal. After the Holocaust, the US government opposed the extrajudicial executions of Nazi officials, favoring independent trials. The US president cannot act as judge, jury and executioner. These assassinations are not only illegal; they create a dangerous precedent, which could be used to justify the targeted killings of US leaders. (Common Dreams)

R2P is Misused (May 5, 2011)

This article considers the legal parameters of “humanitarian intervention” and “responsibility to protect” (R2P) in light of UN resolutions on international interventions in Libya and Cote d’Ivoire.  UN resolutions relating to Libya and Cote d’Ivoire were issued under Chapter 7 and the guise of customary international laws relating to humanitarian intervention and the international community’s responsibility to protect vulnerable civilians.  In reality, however, the focus in both Libya and Cote d’Ivoire is on strategic warfare rather than on protecting the basic needs of people living in insecure areas.  The author of the article suggests that ensuring people have access to shelter or bringing civilians to safe security zones, which may be cities or temporary refugee camps, should be the priorities of any force acting under the precept of humanitarian intervention or R2P. (Open Democracy)

Osama Dead and Alive: Osama bin Laden’s American Legacy (May 5, 2011)

Tom Engelhardt, author of The American Way of War: How Bush’s Wars Became Obama’s, suggests US actions following 9/11 did not reflect those of a nation seeking to bring bin Laden to justice but were instead driven by imperialistic aims (including protecting US oil interests).  Following bin Laden’s death, the US will continue to portray al-Qaeda members as global orchestrators of mass terror and violence in order to conceal otherwise imperialistic intents.  This is in spite of the fact that al-Qaeda now hardly impacts Middle Eastern and North African policy.  The memory of Osama bin Laden will continue to justify a global ‘w

Bin Laden - a License to Kill? (May 2, 2011)

The news that Osama Bin Laden has been killed by US forces has been widely welcomed.  Yet there was one glaring omission from US President Barack Obama’s announcement - despite repeated references to “justice,” there was no mention of law.  The legality of the targeted killing of Bin Laden is doubtful, both under international law and US domestic law.  This article, published shortly after the announcement, gives a preliminary analysis of the legality of the action. (Radio Netherlands Worldwide)

CCR and ECCHR Response to the US Submission to Spain’s National Court Regarding the Prosecution of US Officials for Torture (April 2011)

In March 2009 the Spanish high court received a complaint against six US government officials alleging torture of Guantanamo Bay detainees.  The court issued Letters Rogatory to the US, asking whether the claims were being investigated or prosecuted.  The US submission, which was not received until March 1, 2011, claims the treatment of detainees has been investigated and federal prosecutions have already been completed.  The Center for Constitutional Rights and European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights jointly responded to the US submission by arguing the US has not, and will not, complete substantive investigations or prosecutions, and as such, Spain should not defer jurisdiction to the US.  The court later announced it will not investigate the torture claims. (Center for Constitutional Rights and European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights)

The Rise and Fall of International Human Rights (April 27, 2011)

Louise Arbour, former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, argues in this address that the uprisings in North Africa and the Middle East have demonstrated a failing in international human rights laws.  While these laws place duties on states and grant rights to individuals, there is no adequate forum for enforcement.  States are effectively left to adjudicate their own behavior.  Arbour argues that the Human Rights Council, a body made up of member states, is inherently political, and as such, interests rather than principles determine when states are held accountable. (Sir Joseph Hotung International Human Rights Lecture 2011)

Appeals Court Revives Blackwater Shooting Case (April 22, 2011)

A Washington federal appeals court has reversed a 2009 ruling that dismissed the case against five Blackwater security guards.  The US contractors are accused of opening fire in busy Nisoor Square, Baghdad, on September 16, 2007.  Seventeen Iraqi civilians were killed and twenty others were injured.  The dismissal of the case, and the refusal by the US to allow the contractors to be tried in an Iraqi court, were highly controversial.  The reversal of the 2009 dismissal is a positive step to ensuring the accountability of private security firms, such as Blackwater – which has since been renamed Xe. (Associated Press)

Iraq Seeks International Treaty Protecting Antique Artifacts (April 20, 2011)

The cultural heritage of a country is one of the many casualties of war.  International treaties have played an important role in prohibiting the theft of cultural artifacts and facilitating repatriation.  However, despite the international laws in place, following the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, tens of thousands of artifacts were looted from Iraqi museums.  Many of these artifacts have now been returned, but Iraqi officials claim that archaeological sites are still in danger of theft and international laws must be strengthened to ensure their protection. (Radio Free Europe)

Sri Lanka War-Crimes Claims 'Credible' (April 18, 2011)

A leaked UN report has found compelling evidence that both the Sri Lankan government and the Tamil Tigers committed war crimes during the more than 20 year conflict waged over Tamil independence.  Sri Lanka did not cooperate with the UN panel, and instead set up its own investigation, which has been criticized by the UN for lack of impartiality.  President Rajapaksa has called for protests against the report – indicating the government is unlikely to submit to an international war crimes inquiry. (Reuters)

Kucinich Describes “Kafkaesque” Experience with DoD Over Manning (April 13, 2011)

The US Department of Defense is restricting access to alleged Wikileaks source Bradley Manning by parties investigating torture claims. Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D) says that the Department of Defense “has consistently sought to frustrate any attempts to communicate with Pfc. Manning regarding his well-being.”  It has also been reported that the Department denied United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture, Juan E. Mendez, an unmonitored meeting with Manning. (Congressional Office of Dennis J. Kucinich)

War-Torn Ivory Coast Faces Hard Road Back to Peace (April 12, 2011)

Cote d’Ivoire’s incumbent President, Laurent Gbagbo, has been captured after an almost five month long stand-off, and more than one thousand deaths.  However, the crisis is not yet over.  Cote d’Ivoire must now confront the important question of what to do with Gbagbo.  Ouattara has promised that Gbagbo will be given a fair trial, to be accompanied by a Truth and Reconciliation Commission.  It is unclear whether the trial will be handled by domestic courts, the International Criminal Court, or possibly a special tribunal – with some observers suggesting a domestic trial could reignite unrest.  Both sides committed atrocities, and it is important that whatever mechanism is ultimately chosen also investigates Ouattara’s forces, to avoid a victor’s justice. (Spiegel)

Goldstone: An Act of Negligence (April 4, 2011)

Since its release in September 2009, the Goldstone Report – a UN fact finding mission on the Gaza conflict – has been highly controversial.  The Report alleges that both Israel and Hamas committed war crimes, and possibly crimes against humanity.  In an op-ed piece published in the Washington Post on April 1, Justice Richard Goldstone retracted a finding that Israel had intentionally targeted Palestinian citizens.  Goldstone’s motivations are unclear, with some observers speculating the retraction is an attempt to mitigate Israeli opposition to the report, in the interests of reconciliation.   However, this article argues that Goldstone’s statement has only served to strengthen Israeli opposition to the Report, and undermine the laws of armed conflict. (Al Jazeera)

A New York Prosecutor with Worldwide Reach (March 27, 2011)

This article argues that some federal prosecutors in the US – especially the United States attorney for the Southern District of New York – are increasingly willing to pursue international cases. Most recently, alleged arms trafficker Viktor Bout was extradited to the US to face trial. While this suggests US support for international justice, such support is usually one-sided and self-serving. Not only does the US resent the application of the principle of universal jurisdiction to its citizens, such as Henry Kissinger and Donald Rumsfeld, it has also still not signed the Rome Statute, keeping Americans outside the authority of the International Criminal Court. (New York Times)

The United States and its Allies Explore Legal Case for Arming the Libyan Rebels (March 24, 2011)

The legality of international intervention in Libya is already uncertain. Now another controversial legal question has arisen; the legality of arming the rebels. The possibility of such action was initially rejected by British Prime Minister David Cameron. Since then, however, Cameron has back flipped and US President Barack Obama has said he will not rule out giving military aid to the rebels. This article examines the legal debate, which stems from competing clauses in Security Council Resolution 1970 – which implemented an arms embargo against Libya – and Resolution 1973, which authorizes coalition forces to “take all necessary measures” to protect civilians. However, legality may be a moot point; with politics, and not law, once again likely to be the deciding factor. (Turtle Bay, Foreign Policy)

Attacking Libya and International Law (March 11, 2011)

Much of the debate regarding international intervention in Libya has focused on politics, ignoring the legality of the action under international law. Curtis Doebbler, a US human rights lawyer, argues that the use of force against Libya is illegal. Doebbler argues that Security Council resolution 1973, which authorizes the use of force, contravenes the UN Charter requirement that force must be a measure of last resort. The Security Council had not determined that non-forceful measures had been exhausted at the time the resolution was adopted. Further, after the resolution was adopted, the Libyan government indicated it would comply with its terms – yet Western forces still launched their offensive, disregarding the government’s assertion. (Al-Ahram)

Bradley Manning Being Mistreated, Says Hillary Clinton Spokesman (March 11, 2011)

A US State Department official, PJ Crowley, has gone on record condemning the treatment of Bradley Manning. Crowley said that "[w]hat is being done to Bradley Manning is ridiculous and counterproductive and stupid on the part of the department of defence." Supporters of Manning allege that the Pentagon's treatment of the US intelligence officer amounts to torture and a UN investigation was launched in December 2010. The Obama administration has, however, consistently maintained that Manning's treatment is justified. Crowley's comments signal the first cracks in the administration's united front on this issue. Later, Crowley was forced to resign. (Guardian)

War Crimes Good, Exposing them Bad (March 10, 2011)

Bradley Manning, a US army intelligence officer, was arrested in May 2010 after allegedly leaking classified information to WikiLeaks.  The leaks exposed potential war crimes committed by US soldiers in Iraq. Notably, the 'Collateral Murder' video shows the killing of two Reuters journalists and the wounding of two Iraqi children by US pilots.  Manning is being held in inhumane conditions - possibly amounting to torture - and could face the death penalty as punishment for blowing the whistle on potential US war crimes. (Al Jazeera)

Obama's New Executive Order on Guantanamo (March 8, 2011)

In the 2008 presidential campaign, one of Barack Obama's key election promises was the closure of Guantanamo Bay prison. As the President's term has progressed, it has become increasingly apparent that this promise will not be honored. This view was reinforced by an Executive Order signed on March 7, which made some minor improvements in relation to periodic review of detainees held without charge, but left the essential Guantanamo regime intact. The administration has placed blame with Congress. However, while Congress has been an obstacle, this article argues that the President has, from the outset, lacked the political will to close Guantanamo; seemingly legitimizing "controversial right-wing Bush policies." (Salon)

No Redress on Gaddafi Asset Seizure (March 1, 2011)

The Security Council has imposed a travel ban and assets freeze on Libyan leader Muammar Muhammad al-Gaddafi.  While few would disagree that the increasingly dire situation in Libya justifies this move, the Security Council's general practice on sanctions practice has proven highly controversial. A long line of cases in the European Union court, and other jurisdictions, have exposed that innocent individuals are often included on the 'terrorist list'. There is also no way to challenge listings, except for those imposed by the Al-Qaida and Taliban Sanctions Committee. (Guardian)

African Commission Asked to Take Case Challenging CIA Rendition Program (March 1, 2011)

The Washington Post reveals that human rights lawyers filed a confidential application in December 2009 with the African Commission on Human and People's Rights.  The application alleges the CIA oversaw a US rendition program to transport terrorism suspects to Djibouti, where they were tortured and held without charge.  If accepted, the case will investigate the involvement of the Djibouti government in these alleged human rights abuses.  Importantly, an investigation may also implicate US officials, adding to mounting pressure on the US to finally investigate and prosecute torture crimes committed under the leadership of George W. Bush. (Washington Post)

Spain Court Allows Guantanamo Torture Investigation to Continue (February 26, 2011)

The Spanish National Court has handed down a decision allowing an investigation of US officials for alleged torture of Guantanamo detainees. This will be the first investigation of torture and abuse of prisoners in US detention facilities and could implicate high ranking officials in the George W. Bush administration. In December 2010, WikiLeaks cables revealed the Obama administration had put pressure on Spain to drop the case. The willingness of signatories to the Convention Against Torture, such as Spain, to pursue perpetrators of torture is essential to bring perpetrators to justice. (Jurist)

Japan Confronts Truth About its Germ Warfare Tests on Prisoners of War (February 22, 2011)

During World War II, Japan allegedly conducted bio-warfare experiments on tens of thousands of prisoners of war, mostly Chinese and Korean.  It is claimed prisoners were infected with the plague, and other germs, and subjected to live vivisection with no anesthesia.   Following revelations by a former nurse, the government has authorized the excavation of a site where dozens of bodies are believed to be buried.  Relatives of alleged victims made a claim for compensation in 2002, which was unsuccessful after the government refused to admit to these war crimes.  If remains are located, Japan may be forced to officially acknowledge that war crimes were committed. (The Independent)

Somali Pirate Sentenced to More than 33 Years in Prison for 2009 Attack on US-Flagged Ship (February 16, 2011)

Somali man, Abdiwali Abdiqadir Muse, has been sentenced by a New York court in what is thought to be the first pirate case in the US since 1861. This case may indicate a new willingness by the US to prosecute pirates on its soil. Kenya had previously taken on a majority of piracy cases, but withdrew in early 2010 leaving a vacuum. Subsequently, the US agreed to take on 12 piracy cases. Less than a week after Muse was sentenced, four US citizens on the hijacked yacht Quest were killed by pirates. This incident highlighted the escalating problem of piracy in East African waters. Recent events may prompt the US to take a greater role in prosecutions. (The Canadian Press)

Guantanamo Detainee Pleads Guilty to Conspiracy with al Qaeda (February 16, 2011)

Noor Uthman Mohammed, a Guantánamo prisoner, has made a secret plea bargain with the Pentagon's war crimes prosecutor.  Noor admitted to being an instructor at an al Qaeda training camp, although the level of his involvement has been in issue.  He is charged with providing material support and conspiracy to provide material support to terrorist networks.  The US purports to charge Noor with "war crimes," despite the fact these charges are not recognized as such at international law.  Terrorism charges could have been prosecuted in a US federal court, rather than the Guantánamo military court, giving Noor access to due process which he has been denied for almost a decade. (Miami Herald)

Chevron Fined $9.5 Billion in Ecuador (February 15, 2011)

For over 17 years, Ecuadorian farmers and indigenous peoples have been pursuing Chevron in a landmark environmental case.  The plaintiffs allege that Chevron deliberately discharged billions of gallons of toxic wastewater into the Amazon River, causing devastating environmental damage and seriously affecting the health of locals.  An Ecuadorian court has ordered Chevron to pay $9.5 billion - one of the largest awards in an environmental damage case.  Whether the judgment will stand remains to be seen; Chevron has previously avoided liability in the US and an international arbitration tribunal. (Associated Press)
Somalia: Stop War Crimes in Mogadishu (February 14, 2011)
Human Rights Watch has called on the UN to establish an international commission of inquiry to investigate suspected war crimes in Mogadishu, Somalia.  It is alleged that all parties to the conflict - the Islamist armed group al-Shabaab, the Somali Transitional Federal Government (TFG) and African Union peacekeepers - have violated the laws of war by launching indiscriminate attacks on civilians.  These attacks have led to mass displacement of residents from Mogadishu, although the most poor have had no choice but to remain.  Human Rights Watch has also received reports that al-Shabaab forcibly recruited child soldiers.  If true, that too is a violation of the laws of war. (Human Rights Watch)

George Bush: No Escaping Torture Charges (February 8, 2011)

George W. Bush has admitted on numerous occasions that he authorized waterboarding while President.  Despite these admissions, the US has not opened an investigation into apparent contraventions of the Convention Against Torture.  Two torture victims had planned to file complaints against Bush in Switzerland - a signatory to the Convention.  However, the former President cancelled his trip to Geneva, avoiding Swiss jurisdiction.  While Bush continues his impunity for now, the walls are closing in; the US is unwilling to prosecute, but other nations will honor their obligations to investigate torture under the Convention. (The Guardian)

Pakistan Court Bars Release of U.S. Official Accused of Double Murder (February 2, 2011)

The arrest of a US embassy official in Pakistan, Raymond Davis, puts into question one of the oldest principles of international law, diplomatic immunity.  Davis is accused of murdering two Pakistani men in Lahore; he claims he shot the men in self-defense.  The US embassy has indicated Davis is a member of its diplomatic staff and as such not liable for arrest; however, some reports claim Davis is an employee of a private security company.  If the latter is true, the US risks undermining reciprocity and mutual trust by making a false claim to diplomatic immunity.  (Los Angeles Times)

Arms Treaty Campaigners Seize on "Merchant of Death" Case (January 28, 2011)

Viktor Bout, allegedly one of the world's biggest arms dealers, was arrested in Thailand in 2008 at the behest of the US and Russia.  Bout was extradited to the US in 2010 to face terrorism charges.  He is charged under US domestic law, although this jurisdiction is questionable, considering none of his alleged crimes were committed in the US.  Domestic charges were necessary as there is no international law regulating trade in conventional weapons.  An Arms Trade Treaty, proposed in 2003, would create express international obligations and potentially avoid jurisdictional abnormalities such as those seen in the Bout case. (IPS)

Somali Piracy Threat Requires New Courts, Jails, Laws, UN Says (January 25, 2011)

Domestic and international laws alike have proven incapable of containing a huge upsurge in piracy off the coast of Somalia. The special adviser on piracy to the UN Secretary-General, Jack Lang, recommended to the Security Council that special courts be established to prosecute pirates.  This would include a court located in Tanzania, but with Somali jurisdiction.  Lang also recommended that all nations include the crime of piracy in their legal codes - the Security Council made the same recommendation in 2010.  Such international cooperation may increase states' capacity to prosecute Somali pirates. (Bloomberg)

Haiti Urged to Arrest "Baby Doc" Amid Unrest Fears (January 17, 2011)

Jean-Claude Duvalier, former dictator of Haiti, has returned after 25 years in exile.  Human rights groups have called on Haiti to arrest him for crimes against humanity.  Duvalier is accused of commanding members of the Tonton Macoutes, a secret police force, which killed and tortured thousands of political opponents during his rule.  News reports say he has been arrested, but will he eventually face his accusers in a court of law? (Reuters)


Guilty Plea for Child Fighter Averts "Publicity Nightmare" (October 26, 2010)

Omar Khadr, a Canadian citizen and Guantanamo prisoner, was just 15 at the time of his alleged offence - throwing a grenade that killed a US soldier in 2002 in Afghanistan. Previously, Khadr had pleaded not-guilty but recently the US government negotiated a plea deal. While the US is now saved from the publicity nightmare of a trial, it still violated international human rights law by prosecuting a child soldier as a war criminal. Khadr will spend one year in prison in the US, and then be transferred to Canada where the rest of his sentence will likely be scrapped since he was a minor when he committed the offence and Canadian courts view the Guantánamo military commissions as illegitimate. (IPS)

Human Rights Groups Snub Sri Lanka War Crime Inquiry (October 14, 2010)

The International Crisis Group, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have refused to appear before a Sri Lankan inquiry into the end of the country's civil war, arguing the commission is flawed and does not meet international standards. The Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC), appointed by President Mahinda Rajapaksa, is an attempt to deflect calls for a credible international investigation into allegations of war crimes, say the NGOs. (BBC)

US Medical Tests in Guatemala 'Crime Against Humanity' (October 1, 2010)

From 1946 to 1948 in Guatemala, US government medical researchers conducted an experiment in which they purposefully infected over 700 people with gonorrhea and syphilis, without consent. Evidence of this program surfaced recently and President Barack Obama apologized and promised an investigation. However, Guatemalan President Alvaro Colom responded by calling it a "crime against humanity." (BBC)
One year ago, 157 people were massacred and hundreds raped by junta troops in Conakry during a peaceful democratic rally. A UN-appointed international commission of enquiry said acts committed that day constituted crimes against humanity. Three judges were appointed to a national commission in February to investigate the crimes, yet those who gave the orders and the top military and political authorities remain free from accountability to the Guinean justice system. With Guinea's first democratic elections held recently, justice for the mass murders a year ago may be needed for Guinea to truly move away from military dictatorship. (AFP)

Extending the Law of War to Cyberspace (September 22, 2010)

The possibility of cyber attacks against states, either by rogue hackers or governments, has become a very real threat.  It is now commonplace that essential services - such as water, electricity and mass transit - are reliant on computer systems, and therefore vulnerable.  This raises the question of whether such attacks could be considered acts of aggression - and if so, are they regulated by the laws of war?  Efforts to implement an international agreement regulating 'cyberwar' are undermined by government agenda focused on controlling information, rather than protecting civilians. (NPR)

In Somali Civil War, Both Sides Embrace Pirates (September 1, 2010)

Somalia's heavily-armed pirate crews are being drawn from the high seas into the messy civil war on the mainland. Local government officials in Hobyo have commissioned pirates to ring off coastal villages and block out the Shabab, an insurgent group that has pledged allegiance to al-Qaeda. Down the coast, another pirate group has agreed to split their ransoms with the Shabab. With pirates increasingly joining militias on the mainland, and thus incorporating acts of piracy into the civil war, in which jurisdictional sphere do these activities belong? (New York Times)

Bombshell UN report leaked: 'Crimes of genocide' against Hutus in Congo (August 26, 2010)

The UN mapping report that led an investigation of war crimes and crimes against humanity in the Congo between 1993 and 2003 has been leaked to the press. The article features excerpts that conclude that the violence perpetrated by the forces of Rwandan President Paul Kagame and Congolese President Laurent Kabila against Hutus could constitute "crimes of genocide." The report looks into war crimes committed by security forces of various countries including Angola, Zaire, Uganda, Chad, and Zimbabwe and the many rebel groups, though it states that an international court should be the final arbiter on this issue. (The Christian Science Monitor )

Legacy of Torture (August 26, 2010)

The Washington's war of "enhanced interrogation techniques", i.e. torture, to extract information from prisoners produced little intelligence and made it difficult to convict accused terrorists. As the confessions of prisoners obtained by intense coercion cannot be trusted, U.S federal judges regularly throw out government's cases against Guantánamo Bay prisoners. The Supreme Court ruled in 2008 that Guantánamo prisoners could challenge their detention as enemy combatants in federal court. ProPublica and the National Law Journal prepared a report that showed the government has lost more than half the cases where Guantánamo prisoners have challenged their detention due to being forcibly interrogated both by foreign and United States agents. (The New York Times)

Doubts Rise in Rwanda as Elections are Held (August 9, 2010)

As Rwandan elections approach, there have been many reports of government harassment and intimidation. Citizens have learned to keep their reservations about President Paul Kagame's government to themselves. Since the 1994 genocide, Western leaders such as Bill Clinton and Tony Blair have lionized the Rwandan President, praising his achievements in bringing order and development to the East African country. But Kagame's record is far from his benevolent image. (New York Times)

Sri Lankan War Inquiry Commission Opens Amid Criticism (August 11, 2010)

Sri Lanka's commission to examine the last years of civil war held its first sitting amid international allegations that it lacks credibility. The panel will examine the reason a truce between the government and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) broke down, but it is unlikely to address the issue of war crimes. Human rights groups say government troops and defeated Tamil Tiger rebels may have committed war crimes before the war ended.  Sri Lankan officials however have delayed criminal investigations and have dismissed foreign suggestions for an international inquiry. In response, The UN Secretary General has appointed a special panel to advise on the need for a separate UN inquiry. (BBC)

Foreign Office Officials "Backed Guantanamo Detentions" (July 14, 2010)

According to documents disclosed in the High Court, Foreign Office officials supported sending British terrorism suspects to the Guantanamo detention facility. The UK government, including M15 and M16, failed to stop the detention from taking place. A few days after a document stating that Guantanamo was "the best way to meet our counter-terrorism objectives" was written, US forces delivered the first al-Qaeda suspects to the detention center. Within a few weeks, at least three British suspects were imprisoned there. Over 60 lawyers and officials are working on the case from a secure location, working through approximately 500,000 documents handed over by the government.. (BBC)

Srebrenica Victims File Complaint Against Dutch Peacekeepers (June 07, 2010)

Fifteen years after the horrific "Srebrenica massacre," relatives of two murdered men filed a complaint with the Dutch prosecutor's office charging three Dutch peacekeeping commanders with complicity in genocide and war crimes. After hundreds of civilians were killed in the Bosnian Muslim (Bosniak) enclave, the UN declared the region a "safe area."  A small unit operating under the mandate of UNPROFOR was responsible for guarding this area, but in July 1995 Serbian forces captured the region and massacred over eight thousand Bosniaks.  If deemed guilty by the Public Prosecutor, these peacekeepers could be sentenced to life imprisonment. (Jurist)

A Hopeful Future for Kenya (June 07, 2010)

Less than three years ago, Kenya was consumed by violence after the 2007 presidential election. Today, the country is showing signs of improvement.  Officials recently unveiled a proposed new constitution that would limit the power of the president and provide for an independent judiciary.  The International Criminal Court also announced its intent to indict up to six officials responsible for the 2007 events.  While these developments may send a signal that positive change is underway, significant hurdles remain. (LA Times)

Sri Lanka Furious as UN's Ban Names War Crimes Panel (June 21, 2010)

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon is due to name a three-member panel of experts to look into alleged war crimes committed by the Sri Lankan military against the separatist Tamil Tiger rebels during the final months of the country's civil war. The move follows a visit to the island by the under Secretary General for Political Affairs, Lynn Pascoe. The Sri Lankan government is deeply unhappy with the Secretary General's decision, as the creation of the panel could lead to a full-blown war crimes investigation. (AFP)

Report Blames Swedish Oil Firm for Sudan War Crimes (June 8, 2010)

The European Coalition on Oil in Sudan (ECOS) has accused Swedish oil company Lundin Petroleum of being a complicit in the commission of war crimes and crimes against humanity in Sudan between 1997 and 2003. ECOS claims in a 100-page report that a contract for oil exploitation between a Lundin-led consortium and Khartoum set the wheels in motion for a vicious war in the south of Sudan. The report also charges that the companies' respective governments failed in their international obligations to prevent human rights violations and international crimes. (AFP)

Habré Trial Would Be a Blow to Impunity (June 2, 2010)

The former Chadian leader, Hisséne Habré, was indicted in 2000 by a Senegalese court on charges of crimes against humanity during his eight years in power. Habré has yet not been tried and still lives in Senegal. Civil society representatives and people who survived Chadian prisons have reiterated a call for Senegal to prosecute him. The Senegalese government argues that the lack of funds has prevented the trial from proceeding. (IRIN)

What Do You Do With a Captured Pirate? (May 6, 2010)

In April 2010, the UN Security Council adopted a Russian proposal to consider the creation of an international tribunal to deal with the "piracy" problem. The Council also urged all member states to criminalize piracy under their domestic law and to prosecute pirates apprehended off the coast of Somalia. Many countries have so far been reluctant to prosecute apprehended pirates as such trials carry many legal implications. This article provides several answers to the legal challenges posed by 21st Century piracy. (BBC News)

Brazilian Supreme Court Upholds Amnesty Law (April 30, 2010)

The Brazilian Supreme Court has rejected a motion to exclude civilians and military personnel accused of torture under Brazil's military dictatorship (1964-1985) from the 1979 Amnesty Law. The Brazilian process is comparable to efforts taken in Spain to reconsider the 1977 Amnesty Law. The governments of both countries fear that criminal trials might reopen old wounds and create political instabilities. According to Andreea Nicutar, both countries should use the ongoing criminal trials in Argentina as an example in dealing with the legacies of past military regimes. (Civitas Politics Blog)

Commissioning Justice: Truth Commissions and Criminal Justice (April 26, 2010)

This paper by Amnesty International's looks at the work of truth commissions in many countries around the world over the past decades, and contributes to the debate about "Truth and reconciliation processes as a complement to criminal justice" at the Review Conference of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court which will take place in Kampala, Uganda, from May 31 to June 11, 2010. (Amnesty International)

Dutch Supreme Court Quashes Court of Appeal Decision in Guus K. Case (April 20, 2010)

The Dutch Supreme Court of the Netherlands has overturned the ruling of the Court of Appeal that acquitted a Dutch businessman on charges related to supplying arms to Liberia. Guus K. was sentenced to eight years in prison in 2006 by the District Court of The Hague for violating the UN weapons embargo with respect to Liberia and for his involvement in war crimes committed by the Charles Taylor regime. The Court of Appeal overturned this conviction in 2008 for lack of evidence. The Supreme Court held that the Court of Appeal's decision was insufficiently motivated. (The Hague Justice Portal)

25 Years for Leader of Argentine Dictatorship (April 20, 2010)

An Argentinean special tribunal has sentenced former military president, Renaldo Benito Bignone, to 25 years in prison for human rights abuses during the country's bloody dictatorship. This ruling is a result of the Argentinean Supreme Court's decision in 2005 to revoke the country's amnesty laws. These laws shielded state officials responsible for the crimes committed during the country's dictatorship from 1976 to 1983. Bignone received one of the longest sentences handed down to an official from the era known as the "Dirty War." (New York Times)

First Trial of Somali Pirates Poses Headache for Germany (April 20, 2010)

On April 5 2010, Dutch Special Forces carried out an anti-pirate operation in the Gulf of Aden by storming a German cargo ship and capturing the 10 Somalis who had seized the vessel. It is expected that the 10 Somalis will be brought before a German court to stand trial. The German government, however, is deeply concerned that this could be the beginning of more "pirate trials" on German soil and more asylum applications from detained Somalis. Until last month, captured Somalis stood trial in Kenya in exchange of millions of dollars for Kenya from the EU and US. Kenya, however, has refused to take on more cases. (Der Spiegel)

International Criminal Justice and Non-Western Cultures (April 16, 2010)

The discussion on international criminal justice in relation to Africa has focused mostly on the trade-offs between peace and justice, and the distinction between restorative and retributive justice. Tim Kellsall provides a different angle on this debate by looking at the appropriateness of international criminal justice in African and other non-Western contexts. He draws his analysis on research conducted at the Special Court for Sierra Leone, which raised a number of questions about the jurisprudence, procedures and norms applied by international courts. (African Arguments)

Dutch Court Upholds UN Immunity over Srebrenica (March 30, 2010)

A Dutch court has upheld the immunity of the United Nations in a civil suit filed by the relatives of the Srebrenica victims against the UN and the Netherlands. These relatives hold the UN and Dutch state responsible for the death of nearly 8,000 Muslim men and boys during the Bosnian war, as Dutch UN troops failed to protect the Srebrenica enclave. The appeals court confirmed a lower court's previous decision that the UN enjoys absolute immunity from prosecution. This ruling touches upon a fundamental problem with UN immunity, as it denies victims of UN decisions access to an effective remedy for their complaints. (Reuters)

Spains's 'Superjudge' Garzón Faces Rightwing Backlash (March 12, 2010)

The Spanish judge Baltazar Garzón, known for his international arrest warrant for Chilean dictator General Pinochet twelve years ago, is currently facing an investigation by Spain's Supreme Court for alleged bias and abuse of authority. His supporters claim that the rightwing opposition People's Party is behind the court's investigations to prevent Garzón from investigating corruption scandals in the party and crimes committed during the regime of former Spanish dictator Francisco Franco. They also challenge the Supreme Court's impartiality as Garzón has many personal and political enemies within the Spanish judiciary. (Guardian)

Arrested in Paris, the Widow dubbed 'Lady Genocide' (March 3, 2010)

On March 1 2010, French authorities arrested the widow of the assassinated Rwandan President Juvenal Habyarimana. Agathe Habyarimana, an ethnic Hutu, fled to France in 1994 after her husband's death which triggered the Rwandan genocide killing nearly 800,000 people. Rwanda has requested Mrs. Habyarimana's extradition to stand trial before Rwandan courts for crimes against the Rwandan people. The arrest came less than a week after President Nicola Sarkozy's visit to Kigali and the restoration of diplomatic relations between France and Rwanda. The French and Rwandan government have repeatedly accused each other in the past of responsibility for the mass killings. (The Independent)


In Pursuing Human Rights, Argentina Displays a Broken Justice System (October 18, 2009)

From 1976 to 1983 a military regime in Argentina was responsible for numerous human rights violations. The Argentine Supreme Court has accused officials in the military school, ESMA, of multiple cases of kidnapping, disappearances, torture and murder. Though more than twenty years have passed since allegations were first made, few of those responsible have been prosecuted. (Truthout)

Explosive Gaza report is back before UN Security Council (October 14, 2009)

The UN's Goldstone report on human rights violations in Gaza is due to reappear in the Security Council at the request of Libya. Libya claims that the report's allegations against Israel are not being properly followed-up and requests that the Security Council refer the report to the International Criminal Court. The US, however, argues that the Security Council is the wrong place for a debate about the validity of the Gaza report, and maintains it should be referred to the Human Rights Council. (Christian Science Monitor.)

After 16 years, Ecuador Oil Pollution Case Only grows Murkier (October 13, 2009)

A 1993 lawsuit against Chevron claims that Texaco ( now merged into Chevron) dumped more than 19 billion gallons of toxic wastewaters into the Ecuadorian rivers and was responsible for  spilling 16.8 million gallons of crude oil into the forest. An independent environmental expert told the court Chevron should pay Ecuador between $7 and $16 in damages.  Chevron fought the litigation and the case was sent to Ecuador to be re- filed. Sixteen years later the case continues.The court struggles to sort through claims of espionage, bribery, and manipulation of evidence. Nonetheless one fact is clear: the pollution and degradation of the Ecuadorian landscape. (The New York Times.)

Justice in Gaza (September 17, 2009)

Richard Goldstone, author of the Goldstone report, explains his mandate and his motivation behind accepting it. His investigation seeks to promote the laws of war and the fundamental principle of armed conflict: that civilians are not harmed. Goldstone identifies the role of foreign governments as a key means of justice. The world, he says, must call to accountability those who violate the laws of war equally and consistently. Failure to pursue an unwavering standard will have "a deeply corrosive effect on international justice, and reveal an unacceptable hypocrisy." (The New York Times)

Geneva Conventions turn 60 (August 12, 2009)

Conflicts have changed dramatically since the Geneva Conventions were drafted in 1949.  Their 60th anniversary has brought to the forefront the question of their relevance in modern warfare characterized by a vanishing distinction between soldier and civilian. Human rights groups argue that the Conventions have proved able to adapt to changing circumstances. Any attempt to "update" the conventions could weaken rather than improve the protection granted to individuals. (Al Jazeera)


Gacaca Courts: Giving Rwandans More Than Justice? (December 12, 2008)

In 2002, the Rwandan government launched multiple Gacaca courts to prosecute perpetrators of the 1994 genocide in a traditional way. Contrary to the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, that has only tried 13 cases in 14 years, Gacaca courts have cleared approximately 200,000 cases. In spite of the caseload they handle, Gacaca courts are subject to criticism because they mainly focus on reconciliation and because the judges do not have a legal education. (Radio Netherlands Worldwide)

Transnational Justice – Does It Help or Does It Harm? (July 1, 2008)

This report analyzes the benefits and disadvantages of transnational justice. The author highlights the successful instances when international courts replaced local courts to deliver justice in post-war countries where the judiciary was unable to function effectively. But, the report notes that transnational courts tend to generate "winner's justice" and limit interaction between the courts and the affected countries The author underscores the need for the local and international community to jointly analyze root causes of conflicts in order to utilize the courts fully. (Norwegian Institute of International Affairs)

When International Justice Is Feared as Colonisation by Law (May 25, 2008)

Rwandan government officials claim foreign courts seek to recolonize Africa in a "judicial coup d'etat" by means of "universal jurisdiction." Several African nations have expressed fears of losing their sovereignty in the face of an increasing trend towards allowing national and international courts to enforce international law. The author calls the comments "specious" and "opportunistic," given Rwanda's request for an International Criminal Tribunal to prosecute those responsible for the 1994 genocide. However she advises nations to negotiate on matters of sovereignty in order to avoid future conflict.(The Times - South Africa)


America's Own Unlawful Combatants? (October 15, 2007)

In the aftermath of the September 2007 Blackwater shootings, lawyers for the US State, Justice and Defense departments debate whether private security contractors fall under the same broad definition of "unlawful combatants" which the Bush administration uses to justify detentions in Guantanamo Bay. Legal commentators criticize the Bush administration for failing to clarify the legal status of contractors before putting them into military roles. (Los Angeles Times)

Portable Halls of Justice Are Rising in Guantanamo (October 14, 2007)

A judicial complex is under construction in Guantanamo Bay and will house a portable court room and a tent city for 550 court officials, lawyers, security guards and journalists. Some commentators argue the construction of the complex is not consistent with supposed efforts by the Bush administration to close the detention camp. Others argue that it shows the US commitment to try alleged "terror suspects." (New York Times)

Chileans Order Peru's Ex-Chief Home for Trial (September 22, 2007)

Alberto K Fujimori, Peru's former president, faces extradition from Chile for human rights abuses and corruption charges. Legal commentators suggest the ruling by Chile's Supreme Court signals a victory against corruption and impunity. Lawyers see the decision as a "breaking point in international law" as it demonstrates the workings of domestic courts to hold former heads of state accountable rather than leaving it to political deals between governments. Lawyers also note the significance for Chile given its reluctance to preside over its own human rights abusers. (New York Times)

The Challenge of Justice in Negotiating Peace (June 2007)

This paper, written for the conference "Building a Future on Peace and Justice," studies the peace process in Liberia and Sierra Leone and makes recommendations for other post-conflict situations. In Sierra Leone, the initial granting of amnesty to war crimes suspects did not prevent the Special Court for Sierra Leone from prosecuting indicted suspects later on. In Liberia, the arrest of Charles Taylor actually simplified the peace process. These examples show that peace and justice are not necessarily mutually exclusive.

World Court Asked to Look into Afghan Detainee Controversy (April 26, 2007)

Legal scholars Michael Byers and William Schabas seek to draw the International Criminal Court's attention to "possible war crimes" by top Canadian military officials. The officials reportedly allowed the transfer of prisoners from Canadian to Afghan authority "despite an apparent risk of torture and other forms of abuse." Although the ICC is unlikely to investigate these claims, the case raises important questions about what offences constitute war crimes. (CBC News)

South Africa: Country to Host Permanent Court of Arbitration for Continent (April 18, 2007)

Aiming to "help African states settle their own disputes," the Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) plans to set up a regional facility in South Africa. 106 countries – including South Africa – have signed the Convention for the Pacific Settlement of International Disputes, which established the PCA in 1899. Unlike the International Court of Justice, which only deals with intergovernmental disputes, the PCA arbitrates between countries and non-state actors, including private individuals. (BuaNews)

EU Given War Crime Warning over Somalia Aid (April 7, 2007)

Some legal experts charge that the European Union – a major financial supporter of the Somali government – could potentially face charges of complicity in "war crimes" committed by Somali and Ethiopian troops. This article from the Guardian addresses European culpability in the Somali crisis but not in other catastrophes, such as Iraq and Afghanistan, hinting at a biased approach to looking into international law violations. Further, this double standard means that the global community, often led by the West, tends to scrutinize some countries more closely than others for their roles in such abuses.

Timid Justice (February 28, 2007)

"International law [has] yet to come to grips with the notion of a criminal state," declares this Slate piece. The article suggests that by absolving Serbia of complicity in the Bosnian genocide, the International Court of Justice shied away from making a bold and authoritative ruling, for fear of "offending" Serbian sovereignty. But the author concedes that the complex legal definition of genocide constrained the ICJ to some extent to choose "the least invasive remedy."


How Should Nations Respond to Atrocities? (November 27, 2006)

Considering developments in international criminal law since the Nuremberg trials, this Inter Press Service article debates the ideal conditions for prosecuting perpetrators of grave crimes against humanity. The author insists that funding for courts, location of trials, impartiality of judges and lawyers, and the involvement of victims are crucial factors that determine the effectiveness of the judicial process. While analysts often disagree about the best technical approach to delivering justice – criminal tribunals or truth and reconciliation commissions – most agree that whatever the process, "it should have independent resources and no political interference."

Justice for a Lawless World (August 10, 2006)

Those in power can no longer escape basic human rights standards, whether traditional customs or universal values. While some national courts have granted amnesties to human rights abusers, international tribunals have not accepted such a "culture of impunity." Looking at domestic legal systems and international tribunals and courts, Integrated Regional Information Networks provides an in-depth analysis of the historical evolution of the concept of universal jurisdiction.

International Justice: Developments in the Last 15 Years (July 21, 2006)

Integrated Regional Information Networks tracks the changes in the international community's stance against human rights abuses since the end of the Cold War in 1991. This report outlines the flaws and benefits of different forms of judicial process such as hybrid tribunals and ad hoc international courts. The report also stresses the need to bring accountability without causing "resentment among the people in whose name justice is being sought."

AU Launches People's Court (July 3, 2006)

Leaders at the African Union (AU) Summit in the Gambia witnessed the swearing-in ceremony of eleven legal counselors who will serve on the African Court on Human and People's Rights. The Tanzania-based court will allow individuals, NGOs and states to present cases against governments accused of violating human rights. Following developments in the trials of former Presidents Charles Taylor of Liberia and Hissene Habre of Chad, the establishment of the court reflects the continent's progress in promoting human rights and justice over impunity. (Integrated Regional Information Networks)

Justice Unfettered? Internationalizing Justice in the Human Rights Era (July 2006)

The global community's growing interest in fighting impunity for crimes against humanity has contributed significantly to the internationalization of law. This Integrated Regional Information Networks report examines the historically complex relationship between international criminal law and state sovereignty. The report further analyzes the controversial concept of "humanitarian" intervention, which some defend as a means to justice, but critics often deride as a tool used by powerful nations to meddle in smaller states' affairs.

Command Responsibility (January 10, 2006)

In late 2005 a jury in the US found former Vice Minister of Defense of El Salvador responsible of overseeing the torture and killings in his former country 25 years ago. The authors state that US officials, including Vice President Dick Cheney and Secretary of Defence Donald Rumsfeld, could face the same legal action under the "command responsibility" doctrine for authorizing torture in US prisons, such as Abu Ghraib. (Foreign Policy in Focus)


Saddam Trial a Signal to Dictators (September 29, 2005)

In Zimbabwe, dictator Robert Mugabe rules with an iron fist. Numerous human rights organizations and governments have accused Mugabe of crimes against humanity. Mugabe's rule has also been notoriously marked by its censorship of Zimbabwe's free press. In this Zimbabwean Financial Gazette article, however, author Mavis Makuni appears to circumvent these restrictions and sends a concealed warning to Mugabe that the Saddam trial "should be a signal to other dictators and abusers of power worldwide that their day of reckoning will come too sooner or later."

War Crimes – Have We Learned Anything? (April 18, 2005)

This BBC editorial looks at past and present war crimes and asks "are we no further forward than we were 60 years ago?" The author concedes that although there has been progress in prosecuting perpetrators of human rights abuses, he believes that "governments will never take enthusiastic action" against war crimes unless there is consensus as to what constitutes a crime against humanity.

Afghans Seek Redress for Past Wrongs (March 10, 2005)

Afghans regard the appointment of General Abdul Rashid Dostum as chief of staff to Afghanistan's armed forces as further evidence that the country's war criminals will remain unpunished. Dostum is yet another individual accused of human rights abuses to enter government, making it increasingly unlikely that the state will ever try its war criminals. Some high level perpetrators cite participation in jihad as a reason why they should have impunity. Nevertheless, human rights groups call for complete reform of the Afghani judicial system. (Institute for War and Peace Reporting)

ACLU and Human Rights First Sue Defense Secretary Rumsfeld Over US Torture Policies (March 1, 2005)

Human Rights First (HRF) and the American Civil Liberties Union are suing US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld on behalf of eight men who were incarcerated in US detention facilities in Iraq and Afghanistan. The suit claims the men were subject to torture and inhuman treatment. In this press release HRF states that Rumsfeld is directly responsible for this abuse, and thus in violation of the US Constitution and international law. The statement alleges that Rumsfeld personally authorized unlawful interrogation techniques, which included severe beatings.

UN Report on Sudan Draws Mixed Reaction (February 2, 2005)

The rebel Sudan Liberation Army has spoken out against a UN commission's finding that the atrocities committed by the government in Darfur do not constitute genocide. A Sudanese official responded that the government felt "relieved" and "vindicated" by this conclusion. Human Rights Watch states that the legal classification of the violence "does not matter," and warns that such crimes against humanity warrant immediate justice, no matter what they are labeled. (Washington Post)

Command Responsibility: The Mens Rea Requirement (February 2005)

"Command responsibility" is a legal doctrine under which a military officer may be held responsible for war crimes committed by subordinates. The paper traces the evolution of the doctrine from post-World War II jurisprudence to codification in modern international criminal courts and tribunals. The debate surrounding the doctrine focuses on the level of knowledge a commander must possess before a court will consider him or her responsible for crimes committed by a subordinate. This essay argues that a commander is liable when he or she "should have known" about subordinates' criminal actions. (Global Policy Forum)

UN Official Urges Afghan War Crimes Justice (January 30, 2005)

A survey of 2,000 Afghanis revealed that 69 percent of the population had been victims of war crimes, prompting an appeal for justice by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. Afghanistan has suffered over two decades of human rights abuses, from the Soviet invasion to Taliban autocracy and the subsequent war on terrorism, and many citizens claim that the government continues to protect war criminals. Following the survey report, President Ahmid Karzai "pledged to improve the situation." (Reuters)

US Terror War 'Over-Reaction,' Top Judge Says (January 17, 2005)

Richard Goldstone, first chief prosecutor at the International Criminal Tribunals for former Yugoslavia and Rwanda, says the global "war on terror" threatens international justice. He points to Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo prisoner abuse as reasons for more judicial oversight, and suggests UN Security Council reform as a way of "protecting the rule of law." (Toronto Star)

Dictators Beware! (January 13, 2005)

This International Herald Tribune article provides a succinct overview of international justice and gives specific examples of its administration, such as the use of ad hoc tribunals, the Alien Tort Claims Act and the International Criminal Court. The author is optimistic about the success of such mechanisms and raises an interesting hypothetical: Should international justice take precedence over "sanctions and war?"


How Did Rape Become a Weapon of War? (December 8, 2004)

Amnesty International's Lives Blown Apart report addresses rape and sexual abuse as "deliberate military strategy" rather than simply part of the "spoils of war." The international humanitarian organization mentions current conflicts in Columbia, Iraq, Sudan, Chechnya, Nepal and Afghanistan as locations of such crimes, but BBC says "the use of rape as a weapon of war goes back much further." This article and the original report address the fact that perpetrators often live with impunity because rule of law falls apart, women are ashamed and states lack political will to prosecute.

UN Expert Speaks Out on Rape in Darfur (October 20, 2004)

After a visit to northern Darfur, UNICEF advisor on violence and sexual exploitation Pamela Shifman says rape and sexual violence constitute war crimes. Shifman hopes the perpetrators will face justice, and warns that sexual health problems will follow the outburst of violence. The various claims about Sudan—from "one of the world's worst humanitarian crises" to "genocide" to sexual violence as a "war crime"—highlight the arbitrary nature of defining international justice. (Integrated Regional Information Networks)

UK Alarm over Guantanamo Trials (June 25, 2004)

Voicing concern over planned US military tribunals for terror suspects held at Guantanamo Bay, UK Attorney General Lord Goldsmith argued the tribunals would not offer a fair trial in accordance with international standards. Critics fear that the Pentagon will control the process and that defendants may not see secret evidence against them. (BBC)

France Slammed for Checking Rwanda Genocide Trial (June 10, 2004)

The European Court of Human Rights ruled that the French judiciary took an unreasonably long time to process cases related to the 1994 Rwandan genocide. Human rights groups, claiming that French courts have been unwilling to try suspected genocide perpetrators, welcomed the court's rare move against a state. (afrol News)

Brutal Logic (May 11, 2004)

When the US ratified the UN Torture Convention in 1994, the Senate noted that its "consent" was "subject" to acceptance of its own definition of "torture." For over a decade the US army has conducted interrogations with a lose definition of torture, keeping a "lawyer on hand during interrogations, for quick decisions on the degree of physical or mental pressure allowed." (Village Voice)

Privatized Wars 'Need New Laws' (May 10, 2004)

An increasing number of private security personnel, contracted by coalition forces in Iraq, are employed by different companies and operate under different rules in an unclear legal framework. If these private soldiers breach international conventions, who should be held accountable? (BBC)

Africa Won't Have a Second Chance (January 27, 2004)

The protocol for the establishment of the African Court on Human and Peoples' Rights came into force in January 2004. This International Herald Tribune article acknowledges the importance of a regional court for Africa but urges the African Union to take due care and not rush the establishment of the court.

Beyond The Hague: The Challenges of International Justice (January 2004)

This Human Rights Watch essay examines the development of a "system" of international justice in the 1990's, consisting of ad hoc tribunals, the International Criminal Court and other international mechanisms. It further assesses the challenges facing international justice and gives recommendations to strengthen the existing institutions.


Justice Undone: Many Afghans Want War Criminals to Go on Trial (June 13, 2003)

As Afghanistan attempts to establish the rule of law throughout the country, its people debate how best to prosecute the war criminals of almost 25 years of conflict. (Institute for War and Peace Reporting)


Iraq Seeks International Treaty Protecting Antique Artifacts (April 20, 2011)

The cultural heritage of a country is one of the many casualties of war.  International treaties have played an important role in prohibiting the theft of cultural artifacts and facilitating repatriation.  However, despite the international laws in place, following the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, tens of thousands of artifacts were looted from Iraqi museums.  Many of these artifacts have now been returned, but Iraqi officials claim that archaeological sites are still in danger of theft and international laws must be strengthened to ensure their protection. (Radio Free Europe)

FAIR USE NOTICE: This page contains copyrighted material the use of which has not been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. Global Policy Forum distributes this material without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. We believe this constitutes a fair use of any such copyrighted material as provided for in 17 U.S.C § 107. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.