NEWSLETTER JANUARY 2004
We hereby present our bi-lingual newsletter for January 2004. We ask you to send this newsletter on to others who might be interested both home and abroad. You'll also find a Dutch version of this newsletter at the bottom of this message.
Amsterdam, March 20, 2004: Following the anti-war marches in Amsterdam and other cities around the world in February and March 2003, it is time to express that the world still says NO to war. For this purpose, the largest American peace movement United for Peace and Justice has called on movements world wide to join in one global day of protest on March 20, 2004. This call was put before the 'General Assembly of the Global Anti-war Movement', gathered in Mumbai at the World Social Forum, which endorsed the initiative.
The 2003 marches in Amsterdam were the largest in the Netherlands since the 1980's, when marches against the use and proliferation of cruse missiles earned this country a reputation for its 'hollanditis'. Like then, the marches of 2003 brought ordinary people to the streets, many of who had never joined a march before. Even though the marches did not prevent or stop the war, it's very likely that they had a major impact on the position taken by governments worldwide. The Dutch compromise to back the US politically but not militarily can be seen as an example of how this influence. Also, the emergence of global public opinion on this issue has made it virtually impossible for any country to participate in any other invasion. The chance of another 'coalition of the willing' for any other invasion is remarkably slimmer.
JUST ACT invites you to join the upcoming march in Amsterdam on March 20, 2004 and to bring along as many people as you can, since strength is not only in arguments but in numbers too. Further details will be made available later through our website WWW.JUSTACT.INFO.
The ad hoc Tribunals for Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia have shown the usefulness and the need for international criminal justice. In so doing, they have paved the way for the creation of a permanent Court. In 1989, Trinidad and Tobago proposed to the United Nations the creation of a permanent International Criminal Court (ICC) to bring prosecutions for drug trafficking.
The Rome Statute was adopted by the United Nations in 1998. By July 2002, enough countries had ratified the treaty for the ICC to come into existence. Usually, a country's government can sign the treaty, but ratification requires parliamentary approval. Presently, 139 countries have signed of which 92 have ratified the treaty (overview signatories and ratifications).
The Coalition for the International Criminal Court (CICC), a platform of over 2000 NGO's has launched the Universal Ratification Campaign together with Amnesty and FIDH, targeting one particular country per month. Through this campaign, you can do your bit in persuading a country to sign and/or ratify the treaty, to not enter into a BIA or to redouble its efforts in strengthening the ICC. The campaign for January 2004 is aimed at Japan.
Since the emergency of the ICC, to which the U.S. is no signatory, the U.S. has developed a policy of exceptionalism in an attempt to avoid the universal jurisdiction of the ICC. The US concerns that the ICC will be used to bring politically motivated prosecutions against US nationals are wholly unfounded. The substantial safeguards and fair trial guarantees in the Rome Statute will ensure that such a situation would never arise.
Shortly before the entry into force of the Rome Statute in July 2002, the United States launched a full-scale multi-pronged campaign against the International Criminal Court, claiming that the ICC may initiate politically motivated prosecutions against US nationals. As part of its efforts, the Bush administration has been approaching countries around the world seeking to conclude Bilateral Immunity Agreements (BIA’s), purportedly based on Article 98 of the Rome Statute, excluding its citizens and military personnel from the jurisdiction of the Court. These agreements prohibit the surrender to the ICC of a broad scope of persons including current or former government officials, military personnel, and US employees (including contractors) and nationals. These agreements, which in some cases are reciprocal, do not include an obligation by the US to subject those persons to investigation and/or prosecution.
Many governmental, legal and non-governmental experts have concluded that the bilateral agreements being sought by the U.S. government are contrary to international law and the Rome Statute.
The remarkable in this is the fact that former president Clinton signed the Rome Statute on behalf of the U.S., but that the current administration, shortly after taking office, informed the ICC not to stand by that signature and/or to withdraw it, which is not possible and without precedent in international treaty law.
Another facet of this crusade against the Court is the adoption of US legislation known as the American Servicemembers' Protection Act (ASPA). This law, passed by Congress in August 2002, contains provisions restricting US cooperation with the ICC; making US support of peacekeeping missions largely contingent on achieving impunity for all US personnel; and even granting the President permission to use "any means necessary" to free US citizens and allies from ICC custody (prompting the nickname "The Hague Invasion Act"). The legislation also contains waivers that make all of these provisions non-binding, however, the Bush administration has been using these waivers as bargaining chips to pressure countries around the world into concluding bilateral immunity agreements - or otherwise lose essential US military assistance.
For further information on the USA and the ICC, please see the AI USA website, the AMICC website, the CICC website, or the Washington Working Group on the ICC website.
The 'World Tribunal on Iraq' project is a large network supported by many organisation world wide who are organizing tribunals to hold the US and the UK accountable for the perpetrated war crimes and aggression. Tribunals are being organized in New York, Istanbul, Berlin, Brussels, Tokyo, France, Italy and Denmark. These tribunals aim to fill the void left by the international institutions in place who've failed to or are unable to start proceedings to examine the possible war crimes by the occupying countries in Iraq. Although they have no legal status, they can be seen as a continuation of the Russell Tribunals and an essential example of people speaking out where institutions fall or act deaf.
One of the integral parts of this series of tribunals is the Brussels Tribunal, scheduled to take place in Brussels, Belgium on April 14-17, 2004. This tribunal will call the 'Project for a New American Century' and its signatories to the stand for developing and advocating the preventive war doctrine. The tribunal will be in the form of a commission of inquiry, adapting the form of a parliamentary hearing or commission of investigation like the Hutton commission. The commission, the witnesses and the prosecutors are as followed:
Commission: prof. François Houtart (chairman), Nawal El Saadawi (Egyptian writer and feminist activist), Samin Amin (Egyptian theorist of neocolonialism) and Denis Halliday.
Witnesses: Tom Barry (Policy Director of the Interhemispheric Resource Center: IRC), Neil MacKay (Editor Sunday Herald), Saul Landau (scholar, author), Michael Parenti (author and lecturer), Immanuel Wallertein (historian of capitalism), Geoffrey Geuens (University of Liège, Belgium), Jacques Pauwels (history and Political Science analyst), Hans von Sponeck (UN assistant secretary general for Iraq till 2000), Denis Halliday (UN assistant secretary general for Iraq till 1998), Scott Ritter (former UN weapon's inspector in Iraq) and Eman Khammas (director of Occupationwatch in Iraq).
Prosecutors: Felicity Arbuthnot, Jean Bricmont (professor of theoretical physics of the Université Libre de Bruxelles), and William Rivers Pitt¨(political analyst, author).
Defense: The 'Project of the New American Century' has been invited to face the charges. In case PNAC decides to declines their right of defence, Jim Lobe, specialist on PNAC, will act in their absence as 'amicus curiae'.
The platform calls on WAP's (Wealthy Angry People) all around the world to support the Brussels Tribunal through a financial contribution of 100 Euro. For details on how to contribute see Brussels Tribunal.
The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, a Washington based think tank recently published its report 'WMD IN IRAQ: Evidence and Implications'. The report details what the U.S. and international intelligence communities understood about Iraq's weapons programs before the war and outlines policy reforms to improve threat assessments, deter transfer of WMD to terrorists, strengthen the UN weapons inspection process, and avoid politication of the intelligence process. The report distils a massive amount of data into side-by-side comparisons of pre-war intelligence, the official presentation of that intelligence, and what is now known about Iraq's programs. The full report (PDF file) is available at www.ceip.org/WMD. You can also request for the full report to be sent to your home address free of charge.
The report's key findings were that (1) Iraq WMD Was Not An Immediate Threat , (2) UN Inspections were working, (3) Intelligence Failed and Was Misrepresented, (4) Terrorist Connection Missing, (5) Post-War WMD Search Ignored Key Resources, (6) War Was Not the Best-Or Only-Option.
Its recommendations on changes to U.S. policy, International Action and changes to Threat Assessments are:
Changes to U.S. Policy (1) revise the National Security Strategy to eliminate a U.S. policy of unilateral preventive war, i.e., pre-emptive war in absence of imminent threat, (2) create a non-partisan, independent commission to establish a clearer picture of what the intelligence community knew and believed it knew about Iraq's weapons program, (3) consider changing the post of Director of Central Intelligence (DCI) from a political appointment to a career appointment, based on the outcomes of the independent commission and (4) make the security of poorly protected nuclear weapons and stockpiles of plutonium and highly enriched uranium a much higher priority for national security policy.
International Action (1) The United States and United Nations should together produce a complete history and inventory of Iraq's WMD and missile programs, (2) the UN Secretary General should commission a high-level analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of the WMD inspection processes in Iraq, and how inspections could be strengthened in the future, (3) the UN Security Council should consider creating a permanent, international, non-proliferation inspection capability, and (4) make the transfer of WMD a violation of international law.
Changes to Threat Assessments (1) Recognize distinctions in the degree of threat posed by the different forms of "weapons of mass destruction" - chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons pose vastly different risks and cost-benefit calculations of actions to combat them, (2) recognize red flags indicating that sound intelligence practices are not being followed, (3) examine and debate the assertion that the combined threat of evil states and terrorism calls for acting on the basis of worst-case reasoning and (4) examine assumption that states will likely transfer WMD to terrorists.
George Soros, investor and philanthropist, recently launched his new book 'The Bubble of American Supremacy: Correcting the Misuse of American Power'. In the book, Soros writes that the Bush administration's foreign policy plans come from the same sort of "bubble" psychology afflicting U.S. markets in the late 1990s. He says they have used a real fact, overwhelming military supremacy of the United States, to create a deluded worldview that might makes right and "you're either with us or against us," in the same way the recent boom used a real fact, the growth in technology, to lead to a delusion, the "new economy."
The text of his speech is available and also an audio recording of the event (Real | Windows Media) or browse to the original url.
Mumbai (India), January 16 to 21, 2004
The annual World Social Forum, emerged out of the Porto Allegre meetings in 2001 and 2002, has roared its head in Mumbai, India, where 100.000 people joined for a week of 1200 seminars, workshops. For a full overview of the 1200 workshops and seminars, and of live registration of the event, see www.wsfindia.org. JUST ACT was present at the WSF and attended and participated in workshops and seminars dealing with global governance, peace and security. An overview of our experiences there will published in our upcoming WSF special.
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