Alternatives to an International Criminal Court

by Lisa Hajjar
published in MER207

A scene toward the end of the documentary film Calling the Ghosts shows two Muslim women from Bosnia, survivors of the Serbian concentration camp of Omarska, looking through a rack of postcards. They have come to The Hague to testify about their experiences at the war crimes tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. The voiceover is one of the women reading what they wrote to their former Serbian colleagues in the now Muslim-free city of Prijedor: “Greetings from The Hague. Hope to see you here soon.” Those two short sentences speak volumes about modern ethnic hatred, genocidal violence and war crimes such as rape and torture, as well as the survivor spirit and demands for justice.

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Constructing an International Criminal Court

by Joe Stork
published in MER207

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Of Principle and Peril

by The Editors | published March 22, 2011

Reasonable, principled people can disagree about whether, in an ideal world, Western military intervention in Libya’s internal war would be a moral imperative. With Saddam Hussein dead and gone, there is arguably no more capricious and overbearing dictator in the Arab world than Col. Muammar al-Qaddafi. The uprising of the Libyan people against him, beginning on February 17, was courageous beyond measure. It seems certain that, absent outside help, the subsequent armed insurrection would have been doomed to sputter amidst the colonel’s bloody reprisals. 

Lebanon Against Itself (Again)

by Marc J. Sirois | published February 4, 2011

The year 2011 has brought Lebanon’s political tug of war into the streets again, with thousands of protesters burning tires and blocking roads over the apparent failure of their candidate to secure the office of prime minister. But months of hype to the contrary, this time the raucous demonstrations were not staged by Hizballah and its allies in the March 8 coalition so named after a day of protests in 2005 designed to “thank” Syria before its withdrawal of forces from Lebanon. Instead, the protests were mounted by the rival March 14 alliance, so named for the day of “Syria out!” rallies that followed less than a week later.

The Long, Steep Fall of the Lebanon Tribunal

by Heiko Wimmen | published December 1, 2010

After five long years, the Special Tribunal for Lebanon is expected to hand down its indictments at long last. By the end of 2010, or perhaps the beginning of 2011, the Tribunal will accuse a number of individuals of direct involvement in the murders of former Prime Minister Rafiq al-Hariri and several other prominent Lebanese political figures between 2005 and 2008. Officially, the investigators keep mum about the identity of their targets. Unofficially, a steady stream of “insider information” has converged into a kind of received wisdom: High-ranking members of the Shi‘i Islamist party Hizballah will be indicted for association with the engineering of the assassinations. The various actors in Lebanon now treat the “leaks” that formed this received wisdom as a set of established facts.

Interventions

Interventions is a feature in Middle East Report Online offering critical reviews of important Middle East-related books, films and other cultural production. Click here for past Interventions articles.

The UN Rises Above Its Origins

by Ian Williams | published August 2010

Mark Mazower, No Enchanted Palace: The End Of Empire and the Ideological Origins of the United Nations (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2010)

Stephen Schlesinger, Act of Creation: The Founding of the United Nations (Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 2003)

Travesty in Progress

Omar Khadr and the US Military Commissions

by Lisa Hajjar | published July 26, 2010

At 23, Omar Khadr is the youngest of the 176 people still imprisoned at the US military’s detention facility in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. He has been there for eight years, one third of his life.

Support for Wall Mocks International law

by Richard Falk | published July 20, 2004

What is most remarkable about the International Court of Justice decision on Israel’s “security barrier” in the West Bank is the strength of the consensus behind it. By a vote of 14-1, the 15 distinguished jurists who make up the highest judicial body on the planet found that the barrier is illegal under international law and that Israel must dismantle it, as well as compensate Palestinians for damage to their property resulting from the barrier’s construction.

The International Court of Justice has very rarely reached this degree of unanimity in big cases. The July 9 decision was even supported by the generally conservative British judge Rosalyn Higgins, whose intellectual force is widely admired in the United States.

Israeli Settlements Illegal and Getting Worse

by Stephanie Koury | published September 24, 2005

On his way to the UN summit in New York, Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon said to reporters, “Building is continuing there [West Bank settlements]; we will build as much as we need.” Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz proclaimed the day before, “We have to make every effort to direct resources to the development of the settlement blocs.” While the media portrays dismantling Gaza settlements as an Israeli concession to the Palestinians, scant attention has been focused on the real problem—that the whole settlement enterprise pursued by successive Israeli governments since 1967 is illegal. Israeli withdrawal of settlements from Gaza is partial compliance with international law, not a concession.

Interventions

Interventions is a feature in Middle East Report Online offering critical reviews of important Middle East-related books, films and other cultural production. Click here for past Interventions articles.

Rachel Corrie in Palestine…and in San Francisco

by Joel Beinin | published August 2009

The San Francisco Jewish Film Festival, the oldest such festival in the United States, was founded in rebellion against received wisdom. Since 1980, the festival has promoted independent Jewish films that contest the conventional Hollywood depiction of Jewish life, particularly its lachrymose over-concentration on Jewish victimhood, and regularly presented “alternatives to the often uncritical view of life and politics in Israel available in the established American Jewish community.” The festival’s audience, mostly Jewish, has reacted positively to this policy, even in 2005, when the organizers decided to show Palestinian filmmaker Hany Abu-Assad’s Paradise Now, the theme of which is suicide bombing.