rn: on using international courts to work towards peace


Jan Slakov

Dear RN list (and others),                       July 7

You may remember a message I sent on June 2 about an action initiated by
lawyers to insist that the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former
Yugoslavia charge NATO leaders with war crimes.

Since then I have had a few interesting exchanges on the worthwhileness of
this effort and would like to share some of it with you today.

In the end, I think it is a good idea to hold the Tribunal to its supposed
mandate and to write to it to state why we feel it is important that ALL
leaders who have been implicated in war crimes be held accountable (not just
Milosovitch & co.). Even if the Tribunal does not act on the requests for
action it receives (as it is supposedly required to do) we will be able to
demonstrate, yet again, how our leaders have been acting in bad faith. And
hopefully we will be able to point to the findings of the inquiry initiated
by Ramsey Clark (for July 31, '99) as having more legitimacy.

all the best, Jan
First, here is a message sent by an activist friend to the Tribunal at the

>Date: Fri, 21 May 1999 20:57:58 -0300
>To: •••@••.•••
>From: •••@••.•••
>Subject: War Crimes
>Chère Madame Justice Arbour:
>I believe that the NATO bombing campaign of Yugoslavia is a criminal act
>under international law and that you have a duty to point out the
>criminality to those involved. 
>We are told that it is the Milosevic regime which is the intended target,
>but the dead and maimed civilians have done nothing to warrant missile
>attack. If Serbian forces were to attack a hospital, killing and wounding
>patients, attack a refugee column with explosives, or target journalists
>for lethal force, then we would seek to bring war crimes warrants against
>them. NATO may say that they do not deliberately target civilians and that
>the civilian casualties are accidents, but aiming high explosive devices at
>cities, towns and villages is a strategy that any reasonable person can see
>will inevitably harm civilians.
>It is evident that the reasonable and probable result of NATO's bombing
>strategy will be the killing and wounding of non-combatants. It is also
>clear that NATO is committing acts of war against a sovereign state within
>the state's borders in contravention of international law and international
>human rights protocols.
>Please take whatever steps are necessary to repudiate the bombing campaign
>and to bring the perpetrators to justice.

To send your own message, here are the coordinates for the Prosecutor:

>From: "Michael Mandel" <•••@••.•••> (one of the lawyers who is
working on this initiative)

>So the best way to help is to telephone, fax and e-mail the Prosecutor the
>International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia and tell her in
>your own words that you are witnessing terrible crimes being committed
>within her jurisdiction by world leaders and you want them stopped.
>The email address is •••@••.•••; the telephone number is
>+31-70-416-5360 and the fax number is +31-70-416-5356. The Prosecutor is
>Madame Justice Louise Arbour.

>I think the best way to help is to add your voices to the call to indict
>these individual leaders. The Prosecutor is
>bound by the Statute (Article 18.1) to investigate "on the basis of
>information obtained from any source". That means you, too. Please tell
>her, like you're telling me, that you want these people charged. She is
>bound by the law and her office to listen. Incredible as it may seem, she
>has the legal power, in fact the legal duty, to bring these people to
>justice and, most importantly, to stop them from continuing their criminal
>bombing campaign.

Now, comments from Bill Blum and others:

From: •••@••.•••
Date: Fri, 11 Jun 1999 13:46:39 EDT
Subject: legal complaint against Clinton, Blair, et al

Have a look at the legal complaint filed against Clinton, Blair, et al before 
the International Criminal Tribunal for Yugoslavia.
The court, which answers to NATO, will of course do nothing about the 
complaint, and its filing will likely receive no mention in the establishment 
media, but I for one am very gratified to see it being filed nonetheless.
Bill Blum
From: •••@••.•••
Date: Sun, 13 Jun 1999 16:30:57 EDT
Subject: Justice in this world?

I put out this press release immediately after the meeting. As
you'll see, it went surprisingly well, as our arguments seemed to be
taken seriously and a good dialogue was established. Unfortunately,
Arbour's resignation two days later has placed a small spanner in the
works, but all's not lost by a long way.  Glen Rangwala
Contact: Glen Rangwala (UK): -- •••@••.•••

Evidence of Nato Crimes Presented to Prosecutor

(The Hague, 9 June) Legal representatives from the United Kingdom, Canada,
Greece, and Norway met today for two and a half hours with the Chief
Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former
Yugoslavia, Louise Arbour and three senior members of her legal staff in
The Hague. The lawyers presented what they believe to be compelling
evidence of war crimes committed by Nato in its bombing campaign against
Yugoslavia. Arbour welcomed the submissions and characterized the
discussion as useful. The lawyers said they were "extremely encouraged" by
the meeting.

The lawyers charged Nato leaders with grave violations of international
criminal law in causing civilian death, injury and destruction. They
underlined that ample evidence was available to justify prosecution of
individual Nato leaders and promised to continue providing the Prosecutor
with evidence to further substantiate the charges.

Appearing before the tribunal were Alexander Lykouzeros of Greece, André
Savik of Norway, Glen Rangwala of the United Kingdom, Alejandro Teitelbaum
of the American Association of Jurists and Professor Michael Mandel of
Canada. 'We told the Prosecutor that the tribunal's credibility was on the
line,' said Rangwala, who is an international lawyer from Trinity College,
Cambridge University. 'This is a historic opportunity to demonstrate the
even-handedness of international justice. A failure to indict Nato leaders
would be a severe blow to international law.'

Justice Arbour reaffirmed that Nato leaders were not immune from
prosecution, but added that the tribunal has a firm rule not to disclose
the existence or nature of its ongoing investigations.

Details of the United Kingdom submission to the tribunal can be found on
the internet at: http://ban.joh.cam.ac.uk/~maicl/
Date: Thu, 24 Jun 1999 23:58:08 +0200
From: •••@••.••• (Christoph Reuss)
Subject: Re: war crimes

Dear Left Bios,

Jan Slakov wrote today:
> We also discussed the Kosovo war and he mentioned that he had written to the
> International War Crimes Commission to urge them to charge Clinton, Blair &
> Chrétien with war crimes. I had sent out information to one of my lists on
> how to do that but had not yet done so myself (but am inspired to do so now).

If you're talking about the "International Criminal Tribunal for the Former
Yugoslavia" (ICTY) at The Hague (http://www.un.org/icty/glance/fact.htm):

Pretty elaborate complaints and lawsuits against NATO leaders have already
been filed by lawyers and citizens in/from several countries (Canada, Norway,
Greece, UK, USA) -- see http://jurist.law.pitt.edu/kosovo.htm#Cases

NATO's war against Yugoslavia violated
- the Hague War Convention,
- the Geneva Conventions,
- the NATO charter,
- other international treaties (e.g. German Reunification Treaty)  and
- the constitutions of various NATO member countries (e.g. Germany, Italy).

So... why does the ICTY indict Milosevic but not the NATO leaders ??  Well,
virtually all ICTY judges happen to be from leading NATO countries (or from
G7-dependent developing countries), and ICTY Chief Prosecutor Louise Arbour
-- also from a NATO country -- in a press interview  has dismissed the
charges against NATO as "pure political polemic".  So much for impartiality!
War Tribunals of imperialists have always been a mockery of justice...


P.S.:  Links to 64 articles on eco-&health-effects of NATO's Ecocide:
Date: Fri, 25 Jun 1999 10:30:24 -0700
From: Bernard Schulmann <•••@••.•••>
To: Christoph Reuss <•••@••.•••>
Subject: Re: war crimes

Also, the whole 'war' was a gross violation of the Vienna Convention of
Treaties -
no Treaty can be valid if a nation is coerced into signing it.  The 'war'
now gives
the Yugoslav government the international legal right to take whatever
action they
wish in Kosovo as they were coreced into any agreement.   'War' is in quotes
because by international law standards there was no war and therefore no
rights of
victors to impose a settlement.