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Israel as An Outlaw State and U.S. Complicity

26 Aug

[Prefatory Note: The following post, was previously published as a co-authored two-part article by Akbar Ganji and myself  in AlJazeera English on August 20-21, 2014; its basic premise is that the persistent defiance of international law by a sovereign state should carry delegitimizing consequences; the geopolitical grant of impunity to Israel evident throughout the aggressive military operation being carried out against an essentially helpless civilian population in Gaza suggests that neither the UN, nor governments in the region, nor leading governments in the world possess the political will to challenge such a frontal assault upon the authority of international law. We write from two very distinct backgrounds as members of civil society devoted to human rights and the global rule of law, and invite others to join in reflecting upon how civil society can bring law to bear more effectively on the behavior of the Israeli government, and in the process, help empower the people of Palestine in their quest for national self-determination and the fulfillment of their rights under international law so long denied. We try to make this central argument by positing the idea of 'Outlaw State' as a descriptive designation that might have some influence in civil society mobilizations of the sort associated with the global solidarity movement backing the Palestinian struggle and supporting such militant nonviolence as animating the BDS Campaign.]

 

 

 

The United State and the Outlaw State of Israel

Richard Falk and Akbar Ganji

Israel has become an outlaw state. In his book, The Law of Peoples, John Rawls defines (pp. 5 and 90) an outlaw state as one that systematically violates the universal principles of human rights, and commits aggression against other nations. Israel is guilty of repeated such violations as well as several massive acts of aggression, making it reasonable and responsible to identify it as an outlaw state. Such a pattern of behavior also contradicts the most basic principles of international law as embodied in the UN Charter pertaining to the use of international force, and obstructs the fundamental promise in the Preamble of the Charter “to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war.

It has become appropriate for the international community and global civil society to act accordingly

Israel’s military aggressions against other countries

Israel was born in 1948. Resolution 181 of the United Nations General Assembly is widely regarded as the most convincing legal basis for founding the State of Israel. We should recall that the Palestinians were awarded 45% of the historic Palestine, while 54% was allocated to Israel, and 1% was set aside as a special zone to be used for the internationalized city of Jerusalem. After the 1948 War with the neighboring Arab nations, Israel’s territorial gains reduced the Palestinian share to only 22%. In the 1967 War Israel proceeded to occupy the Palestinian territorial remnant that had been temporarily administered since 1948 by Jordan and Egypt, and since that time has encroached on Occupied Palestine in several unlawful ways—by establishing and expanding large and numerous Israeli settlements, constructing a network of settlers-only roads, building a separation wall deep in Occupied Palestine declared illegal by a 14-1 majority of the International Court of Justice in 2004, keeping the 1.8 million people of Gaza under siege since mid-2007 in ways that constitute collective punishment, and annexing and enlarging the metropolitan area of Jerusalem. These actions called ‘facts on the ground’ have been accepted as new “realities” by the U.S. Government and by several European governments, making the establishment of a viable Palestinian State virtually impossibility. Present trends in Israel make permanent the denial of fundamental Palestinian rights, above all, the right of self-determination, and accompany this with a unilateral “validation” of Israeli expansionism. Furthermore, Israel has attacked Gaza three times in the last six years (2008-09, 2012, 2014) in a manner that constitutes aggression under international law and the UN Charter and involves numerous violations of the law of war

This denial of Palestinian rights and deviation from the rules of international law and norms of global justice should not be interpreted in isolation from a wider pattern of unacceptable Israeli behavior. In this regard, it is highly relevant to take note of various acts of aggressions committed by Israel against several other sovereign states as well:

Military attacks on Iraq in June 1981 that destroyed Osirak nuclear reactor that was under construction, with the apparent purpose of disrupting an Iraqi program to develop nuclear weapons and to preserve Israel’s undeclared, yet clearly existent, regional monopoly over nuclear weaponry

Invasions of Lebanon in 1978, and 1982, coupled with the Israeli occupation of southern Lebanon until 2000. In September 1982 Israel was charged with complicity in the Sabra and Shatila massacre carried out by Maronite Phalangist militia units in which between 1500 and 3000 Palestinian civilians were murdered in cold blood. The Kahan commission, established by the government of Israel to investigate allegations involving Israeli complicity associated with the 1982 Lebanon War, found that then Defense Minister Ariel Sharon “bears personal responsibility” as the military commander on the scene who facilitated Phalangist entry into the camps and watched the massacres unfold.

Military attack on the PLO Headquarters in Hamman, Tunisia in October 1985, killing 60, which was condemned by the UN Security Council.

Invasion of southern Lebanon in 2006 that resulted in the 33 days warfare directed at Hezbollah, the destruction of residential sections in the southern Beirut associated with the formulation of the ‘Dahiya Doctrine’ rationalizing and justifying Israeli reliance on disproportionate uses of military power.

Attacks on October 2, 2007 on Syria destroyed its nuclear reactor in Deir ez-Zor region.

The attack of May 2010 in international waters on the Turkish passenger ship Mavi Marmara that was part of the Freedom Flotilla bringing humanitarian assistance to the people of Gaza in defiance of the international blockade, killing nine Turkish nonviolent peace activists.

At least three additional military attacks on Syria during 2013 and 2014 that involved bombing of targets to stop weapons from going through the country to reach Hezbollah in Lebanon, targets associated with location of Syrian Army units to lend assistance to the anti-Assad insurgent forces, and in retaliation for causing the death of an Israeli Arab in the Golan Heights.

Repeated military attacks in Sudan in 2009, 2011, and 2012, supposedly to disrupt the supply of weapons to Hamas in Gaza, causing many deaths.

In addition, Israel has occupied Syria’s Golan Heights since 1967, built unlawful settlements, and established a permanent presence. Israel has refused to withdraw from the West Bank and East Jerusalem, as called for by unanimous Security Council Resolution 242.

Add to these infringements on the sovereignty of Arab states the destabilizing fact that Israel secretly and illegitimately acquired and has continued to develop an arsenal of an estimated 300 nuclear warheads, the only state in the Middle East that has a nuclear arsenal, and the only country in the world that refuses to acknowledge its possession of nuclear weapons.

Systematic violations of human rights and the apartheid regime

Israel has always declared that it is the only democratic state in the Middle East. As pointed out by former U.S. President Jimmy Carter in his book, Palestine: Peace not Apartheid, Israel’s occupation regime in the West Bank has systematic discriminatory features of an apartheid regime. Further, the Palestinian minority resident in Israel is subject to as many fifty discriminatory laws that greatly restrict their individual and collective rights.

Recall that the South African regime also had a nominally “democratic” government, but it served only the white minority. The African black majority population was governed by a different set of laws, a cruel and exploitative apartheid regime in which the majority’s human rights were violated systematically. Palestinians in the West Bank have been living without the protection of law or the possession of rights since 1967, being subject to military administration and the oppressive practices of the Palestinian Authority, while the unlawful settler population enjoys the full protection of Israel’s rule of law.

As Gideon Levy, the progressive Israeli journalist writes Israel is “really only a democracy for its Jewish citizens who are quick to fall in line with the mainstream every time Israeli tanks roll across the border,” because even Israeli citizens that are opposed to their country’s aggression are attacked and threatened. A large number of Israelis are relatively recent immigrants, particularly from the former Soviet Union and Easter Europe, who enjoy a far more protected status than the several millions of Palestinians live under an apartheid regime in which they cannot vote in Israeli elections, do not have passports, cannot own property in many parts of Israel, and do not enjoy the social mobility that every human being is entitled to possess. The Palestinian people are also denied the right of self-determination, do not have any prospect of having an independent sovereign state of their own, or to join with the Israelis in the shared existence of a bi-national state in which the two peoples seek to live together on the basis of balanced unity, equality, with distinct spheres of autonomous administration and governance that is organized within the framework of a single sovereign state.

Israel’s war crimes against Palestinians

Not only does UN Security Council 465 speak twice of “Palestinian or Arab territories occupied since 1967,” but also declare and affirm that the Jewish settlements in the Palestinian territories represent a violation of 4th Geneva Convention. Grave violations of this Convention – as for example the defiant refusal to dismantle the settlements as unlawful under Article 49(6), or to dismantle the separation wall as mandated by the International Court of Justice – appear to be war crimes of great severity.

Israel removed its military forces and settlers from the Gaza Strip in its ‘disengagement’ initiative in 2005, but in actuality kept effective control of Gaza, and remained bound by the obligations contained in international humanitarian law as applicable to an Occupying Power. In effect, Israel transformed the conditions of life in Gaza from direct military administration to life imprisonment of the population in the largest open-air jail on earth. Israel retained its total control of Gaza’s entrances and exits, of its airspace and offshore waters, disrupting life within the prison walls by lethal periodic violent incursions Most Palestinian people living in Gaza have effectively been locked in there ever since 1967, and more unconditionally since 2007. At the same time, Israel has periodically launched massive military operations against Gaza, imposed and maintained an illegal blockade, committed frequent acts of cross-border violence, and committed numerous grave war crimes there over a period of many years:

Israel attacked Gaza in 2008-2009, killing 1417 Palestinians, injuring 5303, creating 51,000 internal refugees, destroying 4000 homes, inflicting $2 billion economic damage, and disallowing the delivery of materials needed for reconstruction efforts.

Israel’s attacks on Gaza in 2012 killed 105 and injured 971, provoked by the Israeli targeted assassination of the Hamas military leader, Ahmed Jabari, as he was delivering a signed truce document.

Israel’s 2014 aggression against Gaza launched on July 8 has so far killed 2130 Palestinians , injured nearly 11,000, with 75-80% of the casualties being civilians. This massive Israeli military operation has caused more than 660,000 Gazans to be internally displaced, highlighting the denial of any right of Palestinians to leave the combat area throughout the military onslaught that has terrorized the entire population of Gaza. 577 Palestinian children are estimated to have been killed and as many as 3300 injured. In contrast, Israel’s losses in this attack have led to 68 Israeli deaths, of whom 65 were soldiers. The casualty disparity and the ration of both sides as between military and civilian deaths are both very significant indicators of relative moral responsibility of the carnage caused.

Israel has carried out 59,000 attacks on Gaza, dropping 15,000 tons of explosives on Gaza, which amounts to about 30% of the explosive power of the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima.

The United States as Israel’s servant

The United States has supported Israel without reservations since its founding in 1948. According to an agreement between the two countries, that has become a law in the U.S., The United States has committed itself to preserve Israel’s strategic and military superiority in relation to other countries in the Middle East. From 1949-2014 the U.S. has provided Israel with nearly $122 billion in aid, calculated by reference to fixed dollars. Counting the aid to Israel in 2003 dollars, from 1949 – 2003 the U.S. has provided Israel with $140 billion worth of military assistance, which has been increasing since 2003. The basic annual commitment to Israel is $3.1 billion, which is far more than military aid that has been given to any other country in the world, and this figure is an understatement, hiding a variety of supplemental appropriations and other benefits accorded uniquely to Israel. In effect, the United States has been subsidizing Israel’s aggressions, and ignoring American military assistance legislation that seeks to withhold such aid to countries that are not acting defensively and in accordance with international law.

 

The Obama administration has even increased the aid to Israel through its reliance on various special appropriations. Most recently Congress appropriated an additional $225 million for further development of the Iron Dome defensive weapons system.

The U.S. Senate has even approved a resolution according to which if Israel attacks Iran’s nuclear sites in the future defying international law, the U.S. is obligated to help Israel. It reads in part, “If the Government of Israel is compelled to take military action in legitimate self-defense against Iran’s nuclear weapons program, the United States Government should stand with Israel and provide, in accordance with United States law and the constitutional responsibility of Congress to authorize the use of military force, diplomatic, military, and economic support to the Government of Israel in its defense of its territory, people, and existence.” Of course, the language as written of ‘legitimate self-defense’ is understood to mean any action taken by Israel that is alleged to be ‘defensive,’ whether or not in conformity to international law, which limits such claims to situations of response to prior armed attacks. (See Article 51, UN Charter).

Among the many UNSC resolutions that seek to criticize or condemn Israel for its actions against the Palestinians, almost all have been vetoed by the United States. In fact, the U.S. government opposes virtually every resolution approved by any UN organ, including UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC), if it is deemed to be critical of Israel, and this includes even initiatives to establish fact-finding commissions of inquiry to determine whether charges of war crimes are well-founded. When Israel attacks the defenseless and completely vulnerable Palestinian people, the U.S. justifies such high-intensity and disproportionate violence as ”self-defense,” obstructs the issuance of a UN call for an immediate ceasefire, and gives diplomatic and material aid and comfort to Israeli aggression from start to finish.

After a fact-finding report on Israel war crimes in Gaza in 2008-2009 was approved by UNHRC, the U.S. and Israel successfully intervened with the Secretary General to prompt him to urge the non-implementation of the report in relation to Israeli accountability for war crimes. The US Government also used its leverage to prevent even the discussion of this important report, generally known as ‘the Goldstone Report,’ in the UNSC. When recently, the UN HRC approved a resolution to investigate Israel’s possible was crimes in Gaza, the U.S. cast the only negative vote.

Amnesty International has reported that the evidence of systematic attacks by Israel’s military forces on schools and hospitals in Gaza during the current warfare is overwhelming. It includes targeting those civilians seeking to escape the worst ravages of the Israeli attack by seeking shelter in United Nations schools and other buildings marked with the UN logo.

Human Rights Watch has reported on evidence of intentional shooting of Palestinians who were fleeing their homes, even after they had been ordered to do so by Israel’s military, and has declared such behavior to be a war crime.

We can only comprehend this partisan pattern of U.S. policy toward Israel by taking account of the leverage exerted on the government by the formidable lobby working on behalf of Israel known as AIPAC. Former President Jimmy Carter and the former President of Ireland and prior head of the UN HRC Mary Robinson have condemned this one-sidedness of American policy toward Israel and Hamas, insisting that as a first step Israel immediately ends without conditions the blockade of Gaza, allowing the long suffering people of Gaza to have finally some semblance of a normal life.

Consequences

The U.S. policy toward Israel has had dire consequences:

It has completely discredited the claim of United States to act as an impartial arbitrator between Israel and the Palestinians.

Hatred and resentment toward the United States has been increasing throughout the region, not only because of the blind support of Israel by the U.S., but also due to the military onslaughts directed against Iraq, Libya, and Afghanistan, and by drone attacks in Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, and elsewhere.

According to a poll right before the current war, 85% of Egyptians and Jordanian, 73% of the Turks, and 66% of the Palestinians view the U.S. unfavorably, while 84% of Israelis have a positive view of the U.S.

What Israel has done in the region with the support of the U.S. has contributed greatly to the growth of extremism and discord throughout the Middle East. If such policies are not reversed even more chaos, extremist violence, bloodshed, and devastation are likely to emerge in the future.

The Middle East and North Africa have been unstable for decades, and the consequences of the intensifying instability are spreading to other regions and endangering world peace.

These policies of unconditional support for Israel have long been against the national interests of the United States. The Israel-Palestinian conflict is the mother of all problems in the Middle East. Israel has undermined all efforts to find a peaceful solution by way of diplomacy. It has rejected both the Arab Initiative of 2002 and ‘the roadmap proposed by the Quartet – the U.S., Russia, the European Union, and the UN – which require that Israel to withdraw to its pre-war green line borders of 1967 with the expectation that a sovereign and independent Palestinian state would emerge. This view of what is required of Israel as a precondition for peace have been consistently endorsed by the United Nations and enjoy wide support of world public opinion, already set forth in Security Council Resolution 242 that has been frequently reaffirmed since its unanimous adoption in 1967. It should be understood that ending the occupation of Palestinian territories is not by itself sufficient to achieve a sustainable peace. Of paramount relevance is also some arrangement that acknowledges the rights of several million Palestinian refugees who were forcibly expelled over the course of many years from Israel, most dramatically in 1948, as part of the catastrophe of national dispossession known to Palestinians as the nakba.

There are also serious questions at this time as to whether the two-state solution is any longer a viable and desirable goal, if it ever was. The question of Palestinian self-determination as the proper foundation for a sustained just peace is more open to debate and reflection in 2014 than ever before. Israel’s expansionism has put the international two-state consensus under a dark storm cloud, and the international community, along with representatives of the Palestinian people must now consider new ways to achieve a just peace for both peoples, which cannot be realized without upholding Palestinian rights.

We believe that a crucial step in this direction is the widespread acknowledgement by civil society, by governmments, and by the UN that Israel has become an outlaw state, and that appropriate adjustments to this reality must be made.

 

Palestinian Open Letter to UNSG Ban Ki-moon on Gaza

7 Aug

[Prefatory Note: Below is the text of an Open Letter to the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon alleging his inappropriate responses to the carnage and massacres taking place in Gaza, and by his behavior undermining respect for and the authority of the United Nations and international law. Given such a performance, the challenge posed to the highest ranking UN official is to revise his past comments on the Israeli attack or to resign his office. The peoples of the world, and not just the Palestinians, have a paramount interest in holding morally, legally, and politically accountable the UN and those who lead and represent the organization in response to such breaches of the peace and acts of aggression in accordance with law and justice, and never more so than when such unlawful behavior is directly responsible for a grave humanitarian catastrophe of the kind that has befallen the civilian population of Gaza since July 8. Instead of supporting Israel spurious claim of acting in self-defense, Mr. Ban Ki-moon should have been using his office to insist on an immediate ceasefire accompanied by the unconditional lifting of the blockade imposed on Gaza since mid-2007 that has constituted the essence of the collective punishment of the 1.8 million people encaged in the Gaza Strip without even a sanctuary for children, women, the disabled, the elderly, non-militants to escape from the combat zone by crossing the border or finding safety within Gaza itself. The shelling of UN facilities being used to shelter those desperately seeking safety exemplifies Israeli criminal conduct during this savage military operation. Please read the text below, prepared by Badil (an NGO devoted to Palestinian refugee rights that enjoys a world reputation for the quality of its work and the dedication of its staff) and endorsed by a large number of Palestinian civil society actors; please disseminate this text as widely as possible, and call independently for a response by the Secretary General, as well as further action if a response is not forthcoming.]

 

Open letter to Mr. Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon: stand for law and Justice or resign!

 

5 August 2014

For humanity and the little remained credibility of international law:

Un Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, stand for law and Justice or resign!

  1. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon,

We, the under signed Palestinian human rights and community-based organizations are extremely disappointed by your performance, notably by your biased statements, your failure to act, and the inappropriate justification of Israel’s violations of IHL, which amount to war crimes. Until today, you have taken no explicit and tangible measures to address the recent Israeli attacks in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) since 13 June. Moreover, your statements have been either misleading, because they endorse and further Israeli false versions of facts, or contrary to the provisions established by international law and to the interests of its defenders, or because your words justify Israel’s violations and crimes.

You have undeniably assumed a biased position toward the current attack on Gaza and Israeli violations in the West Bank by failing to clearly condemn Israeli unlawful actions in the OPT, while, on the other hand, not hesitating to accuse – sometimes mistakenly – Palestinian combatant in Gaza of violations of international law. This bias can be noted in the following excerpts:

The Secretary-General strongly condemns the killing today of at least 10 Palestinian civilians in shelling outside of an UNRWA school in Rafah providing shelter to thousands of civilians.  The attack is yet another gross violation of international humanitarian law, which clearly requires protection by both parties of Palestinian civilians, UN staff and UN premises, among other civilian facilities.

Such statement, by failing to name the perpetrator (Israel), is not only biased, but also offensive to UNRWA, itself a UN agency, as well as to other UN agencies and international organizations the struggle to provide relief and protection to Palestinians in Gaza. UNRWA, which has lost nine staff in Gaza since the beginning of Israel’s Operation Protective Edge, hosts around 270,000 internally displaced (25% of Gaza’s population) in its shelters. UNRWA’s preliminary analysis on a previous attack against one of its schools has indicated that it had been hit by Israeli artillery, constituting an indiscriminate attack and likely a war crime.

Moreover, by condemning the storage of weapons in UNRWA schools without offering a complete details and a proper account on international law, your statements endorse Israeli excuses to unlawfully, indiscriminately target such civilian objects.

In addition, by condemning

the reported violation by Hamas of the mutually agreed humanitarian ceasefire which commenced this morning. He is shocked and profoundly disappointed by these developments,

the Secretary-General reveals a reckless endorsement of Israeli version of facts, blaming Hamas for violating the cease-fire, even though admitting that “[t]he Secretary-General notes that the UN has no independent means to verify exactly what happened”, and, still, demanding “the immediate and unconditional release of the [falsely allegedly] captured soldier”.

The following statement further illustrates the Secretary-General’s ignorance of facts on the ground:

The Secretary-General has learned with concern that leaflets are reportedly being dropped by the Israeli Defence Forces in the northern Gaza Strip this evening, warning tens of thousands of residents to leave their homes and evacuate to Gaza City.

If true [our emphasis], this would have a further devastating humanitarian impact on the beleaguered civilians of those areas of the Gaza strip, who have already undergone immense suffering in recent days.

The drop of leaflets had been a known practice since the beginning of the Israeli operation in Gaza, contributing to a scenario of more than 480,000 internally displaced.

In the same statement,

The Secretary-General strongly urge[d] all sides to avoid any further escalation at this time[, noting] that all sides must meet all obligations under international humanitarian law, both towards civilians ahead of impending attacks, as well as maintaining proportionality in any kind of military response,

Revealing an undue equalization of the two sides of the conflict and failing to address the greater impact of violations committed by Israel,  which has killed at least 1,814 the vast majority of whom are civilians, during its operation in Gaza.

  1. Secretary-General,

When you make no distinction between oppressors and victims, in all your statements,

When you name Palestinian combatants as perpetrators of violations and war crimes while you ignore naming Israel, as you used to do in referring to specific actions,

When you avoid codifying Israeli actions amount to war crimes, while you insist on prescribing Palestinian reactions as grave breaches of IHL,

When you always advocate unlawfully the Israel right to self-defense, while having not pointed out the Palestinians legitimate and legal right to resist occupation, colonization and institutionalized discrimination,

When you adopt and advocate Israeli false stories, while not mentioning Palestinians’ narrative,

When you disregard facts on grounds clearly resulting from Israeli attacks, while you seek the immediate and unconditional release of a falsely captured soldier who was in the battle field,

You do not maintain peace and security; nor do you ensure human rights.

By reviewing yours statements, it becomes evident you have not been fulfilling your mandate. In contrary, your statements have not only allowed the continuance of Israel’s killing our people, but also, encouraged States to continue providing Israel with impunity. As you cannot say the truth,we advise you to either drastically change your positioning – not only in words, but also in your efforts to, through the UN, effectively end the current conflict – or to resign. For us, if you continue playing this role, you prove what our people feel, that you are a partner in, or at least an enabler of, the ongoing violations of international humanitarian law committed by Israel against our, families, children, women, elders – against our people.

—————-
Signatures
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Individuals:
 • Richard Falk Former United Nations Special Rapporteur on human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967
 • Luisa Morgantini Former Vice President of the European Parliament
 • Ahmad Muhaisen – President of The association for twining French cities and Palestinian refugee camps
 • Breyten Breytenbach Poet, writer, painter and activist
 • John Pilger is a journalist, film-maker and author

Palestinian and international human rights and civil society organizations:
 • BADIL Resource Center for Palestinian Residency and Refugee Rights – Bethlehem
 • Occupied Palestine and Syrian Golan Heights Advocacy Initiative (OPGAI) – Biet Sahour
• The Alternative Information Centre (AIC) – Biet Sahour
• ADDAMEER Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association – Ramallah
• Palestinian Non-Governmental Network (Umbrella for 133 organizations)
• Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions
• General Union of Palestine Workers
• General Union for Health Services Workers
• General Union for Public Services Workers
• General Union for Petrochemical and Gas Workers
• General Union for Agricultural Workers
• Union of Women’s Work Committees
• Palestinian Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions National Committee (BNC). The Committee includes the following organizations: Council of National and Islamic Forces in Palestine, Palestinian NGO Network (PNGO), Palestinian National Institute for NGOs, Global Palestine Right of Return Coalition, Palestinian Trade Union Coalition for BDS (PTUC-BDS), Federation of Independent Trade Unions, General Union of Palestinian Workers, Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions, General Union of Palestinian Women, Union of Palestinian Farmers, General Union of Palestinian Teachers, General Union of Palestinian Writers, Palestinian Federation of Unions of University Professors and Employees (PFUUPE), Union of Professional Associations, General Union of Palestinian Peasants, Union of Public Employees in Palestine-Civil Sector, Grassroots Palestinian Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign (STW), National Committee for Grassroots Resistance, Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI), National Committee to Commemorate the Nakba, Civic Coalition for the Defense of Palestinian Rights in Jerusalem, Coalition for Jerusalem, Union of Palestinian Charitable Organizations, Palestinian Economic Monitor, Union of Youth Activity Centers-Palestine Refugee Camps, Occupied Palestine and Syrian Golan Heights Initiative.
• The Joint Advocacy Initiative of the East Jerusalem YMCA and the YWCA of Palestine (JAI) – Biet Sahour
• Baladna- association for Arab Youth – Haifa
• Hamleh – Arab center for media development – Haifa
• Al Zahra’ Society for Women Empowerment – Sakhnin
• Assiwar- The Feminist Arab Movement in Support of Victims of Sexual Assault – Haifa
• Association for the defense for the Rights of the Internally Displaced in Israel – Nazareth
• Alsebat association for heritage Preservation – Nazareth 
• The Alternative Tourism Group (ATG) – Beit Sahour
• Yabous Cultural Center – Jerusalem
• The Edward Said National Conservatory of Music – Jerusalem
• Palestinian Students’ Campaign for the Academic Boycott of Israel
• Gaza BDS Working Group
• University Teachers’ Association in Palestine
• Medical Democratic Assembly
• Pal-Cinema (Palestine Cinema Forum)
• Youth Herak Movement
• Union of Women’s Struggle Committees
• Union of Synergies—Women Unit
• Union of Palestinian Women Committees
• Women’s Studies Society
• Working Woman’s Society
• One Democratic State Group
• Youth Against Israeli Settlements – Hebron
• Health Work Committees – Biet Sahour
• Land Research Center (LCR) – Hebron
• Ramallah Center for Human Rights Studies – Ramallah
• Popular Struggling Coordination Committee (PSCC) – Ramallah
• Lajee Center, Aida Refugee Camp – Bethlehem
• The EJ-YMCA Rehabilitation Program and the Beit Sahour YMCA – Beit Sahour
• Ibrahim Al Khalil Society – Hebron
• The Palestinian Prisoners Society – Bethlehem
• The Palestinian Center of Youth Action for Community Development (LAYLAC) – Dhiesheh Refugee Camp – Bethlehem
• Palestinian Grassroots Anti-apartheid Wall Campaign (Stop the Wall) – Ramallah
• Palestinian Center for Rapprochement Between People – Biet Sahour
• Amaan Center for social health, Counseling and Development – Hebron
• Popular Committee for Refugees, Qalqeliah
• Popular Committee for Refugees, Salfit
• Social Youth Center, Aqbat Jaber Refugee Camp – Jericho
• Social Youth Center, Aida Refugee Camp – Bethlehem
• Social Youth Center, Al Arroub Refugee Camp – Hebron
• Al Arroub Popular committee – Al Arroub Refugee Camp – Hebron
• Progressive Youth Union – Al Arroub Refugee Center – Hebron
• The Phoenix Center – Al Arroub Refugee Camp – Hebron
• Al Fawwar Social Center – Al Fawwar Refugee camp – Hebron
• Social Youth Center, Far’a Refugee Camp – Nablus
• Shu’fat Child Center – Shu’fat Refugees Camp – Jerusalem
• Shoruq Association, Dhiesheh Refugee Camp – Bethlehem
• Al Awda Center for Youth and children Rehabilitation – Tulkarem
• Ansar Center, Al Walajeh – Bethlehem
• Center for Defense of Liberties and Civil Rights “Hurryyat”
• The Palestinian Agricultural Relief Committee – Bethlehem
• Bethlehem Farmers Society – Bethlehem
• Ibda’a for the Development of Children Capacity, Dhiesheh Refugee Camp – Bethlehem
• The popular committee – Dhiesheh Refugee Camp – Bethlehem
• The women Centre – Dhiesheh Refugee Camp – Bethlehem
• The popular committee – Al Azza Refugee Camp – Bethlehem
• Al Phoenix Center – Dhiesheh Refugee Camp – Bethlehem
• Al Walaja Women Center – Al Walaja – – Bethlehem
• Not to Forget – Jenin Refugees Camp – Jenin
• Environmental Education Center – Beit Jala
• The National Charitable Society – Al Khader
• The Right of Return Committees in Bethlehem – Bethlehem
• Al Walaja Popular Committee – – Bethlehem
• Al Walaja Sports Club – Al Walaja – – Bethlehem
• Al Walaja Agriculture society – Al Walaja – – Bethlehem
• The Palestinian anti-Wall and Settlements committees – Ramallah
• MA’AN Development Center – Ramallah
• The Association of Palestinian prisoners and x-prisoners – Bethlehem
• Susya Popular Committee – Hebron
• Dair Abu Misha’al Popular committee – Ramallah
• Al Tawasul Forum Society – Gaza Strip
• The International Solidarity Movement.
• The Refugees Rights Center –‘Aidoon – Lebanon
• Association Najdeh – Lebanon
• Ajyal Association – Lebanon
• The Refugees Rights Center –‘Aidoon – Syria
• Union of Arab Jurists – Jordan
• The National Institution of Social Care & Vocational Training – Jordan
• Australians for Palestine – Australia
• Women for Palestine – Australia
• Collective urgence Palestine – Switzerland
• Palestina Rossa – Italy
• Fronte Palestina – Italy
• The Association of Humanitarian Lawyers
• International Educational Development, Inc
• International Lawyers – Switzerland
• Tamkeen-Arab group – Switzerland
• The BDS campaign in France – France
• The association for twining French cities and Palestinian refugees camp – France
• The International Organization for the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (EAFORD)
• International society for Human Rights
• Czech Friends of Palestine
• Initiative for a just peace in the Middle East – Czech Republic
• Nord-Sud XXI
• International Association Against Torture
• The Palestine Solidarity Allegiance South Africa
• Palestine Legal Action Network
• Russell Tribunal on Palestine
• Campaign BDS France,
• 14 Friends of Palestine (Marin, CA)
• Canada Palestine Association
• Voice of Palestine
• People for Peace, London, CA
• United States Palestinian Community Network
• Labor for Palestine NY
• Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network
• US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel
• Palestine Human Rights Campaign Auckland
• Al-Awda NY
• Jews for Palestinian Right of Return
• Jews Against genocide
• Palestine Solidarity Alliance, South Africa
• Assopace
• Boycott! Boycott From Within
• Boycott Israeli Apartheid Campaign – Vancouver
• BDS Switzerland

 

Palestinian Refugees and IDPs: Background

Ongoing Nakba Education Center

Mobilization and Intervention

 

 

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Joint Declaration on International Law & Gaza & Final List of Endorsers

2 Aug

Final Text of Joint Declaration on International Law & List of Endorsers

 

(Prefatory Note: with only a voluntary effort the Joint Declaration on International Law in relation to the Gaza Attacks by Israel has elicited an encouraging response from legal experts from around the world, including some of our most distinguished colleagues. Others without formal legal credentials have also indicated their support, and expressed their desire to endorse the Joint Declaration. The original drafting group agreed that formal endorsers should be limited to those with a law background, although we have recorded all others in a second list that will be made public when an appropriate occasion arises. We thank all of you who have contributed to this initiative by indicating support.

 As might be expected the dissemination of this text also generated critical reactions from those who argued that we had understated Israel’s rights under international law and understated Hamas’ violations. There were other more vituperative denunciations of such an initiative and its endorsers that expressed anger and hostility toward anyone who dares criticizes Israel, and even encouraged Israel to persist in its military onslaught in Gaza, and do whatever its leaders think necessary.

 With this posting we are formally closing the endorsing process, but we will continue to do our best to insist on the relevance of international law to the behavior of Israel and the other parties in this conflict along the lines of the analysis contained in the Joint Declaration. We discourage pro and con comments at this stage, although welcoming substantive discussion and suggestions for further dissemination)

 

 

The International Community Must End Israel’s Collective Punishment of the Civilian Population in the Gaza Strip

As international and criminal law scholars, human rights defenders, legal experts and individuals who firmly believe in the rule of law and in the necessity for its respect in times of peace and more so in times of war, we feel the intellectual and moral duty to denounce the grave violations, mystification and disrespect for the most basic principles of the laws of armed conflict and of the fundamental human rights of the entire Palestinian population committed during the ongoing Israeli offensive in the Gaza Strip. We also condemn the launch of rockets from the Gaza Strip, as every indiscriminate attack against civilians, regardless of the identity of the perpetrators, is not only illegal under international law but also morally intolerable. However, as also implicitly noted by the UN Human Rights Council in its Resolution of 23 July 2014, the two parties to the conflict cannot be considered equal, and their actions – once again – appear to be of incomparable magnitude.

Once again it is the unarmed civilian population, the ‘protected persons’ under International humanitarian law (IHL), who is in the eye of the storm. Gaza’s civilian population has been victimized in the name of a falsely construed right to self-defence, in the midst of an escalation of violence provoked in the face of the entire international community. The so-called Operation Protective Edge erupted during an ongoing armed conflict, in the context of a prolonged belligerent occupation that commenced in 1967. In the course of this ongoing conflict thousands of Palestinians have been killed and injured in the Gaza Strip during recurrent and ostensible ‘ceasefire’ periods since 2005, after Israel’s unilateral ‘disengagement’ from the Gaza Strip. The deaths caused by Israel’s provocative actions in the Gaza Strip prior to the latest escalation of hostilities must not be ignored as well.

According to UN sources, over the last three weeks, at least 1,373 Palestinians in Gaza have been killed and 8,265, including 2,502 children and 1,626 women, have been injured. Several independent sources indicate that only 15 per cent of the casualties were combatants. Entire families have been murdered. Hospitals, clinics, as well as a rehabilitation centre for disabled persons have been targeted and severely damaged. During one single day, on Sunday 20th July, more than 100 Palestinian civilians were killed in Shuga’iya, a residential neighbourhood of Gaza City. This was one of the bloodiest and most aggressive operations ever conducted by Israel in the Gaza Strip, a form of urban violence constituting a total disrespect of civilian innocence. Sadly, this was followed only a couple of days later by an equally destructive attack on Khuza’a, East of Khan Younis.

Additionally, the offensive has already caused widespread destruction of buildings and infrastructure: according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, over 3,300 houses have been targeted resulting in their destruction or severe damage.

As denounced by the UN Fact-Finding Mission (FFM) on the Gaza conflict in the aftermath of Israel’s ‘Operation Cast Lead’ in 2008-2009: “While the Israeli Government has sought to portray its operations as essentially a response to rocket attacks in the exercise of its right to self defence, the Mission considers the plan to have been directed, at least in part, at a different target: The people of Gaza as a whole” (A/HRC/12/48, par. 1883). The same can be said for the current Israeli offensive.

The civilian population in the Gaza Strip is under direct attack and many are forced to leave their homes. What was already a refugee and humanitarian crisis has worsened with a new wave of mass displacement of civilians: the number of IDPs has reached more than 457,000, many of whom have obtained shelter in overcrowded UNRWA schools, which unfortunately are no safe areas as demonstrated by the repeated attacks on the UNRWA school in Beit Hanoun. Everyone in Gaza is traumatized and living in a state of constant terror. This result is intentional, as Israel is again relying on the ‘Dahiya doctrine’, which deliberately has recourse to disproportionate force to inflict suffering on the civilian population in order to achieve political (to exert pressure on the Hamas Government) rather than military goals.

In so doing, Israel is repeatedly and flagrantly violating the law of armed conflict, which establishes that combatants and military objectives may be targeted, i.e. ‘those objects which by their nature, location, purpose or use make an effective contribution to military action and whose total or partial destruction, capture or neutralization, in the circumstances ruling at the time, offers a definite military advantage.’ Most of the recent heavy bombings in Gaza lack an acceptable military justification and, instead, appear to be designed to terrorize the civilian population. As the ICRC clarifies, deliberately causing terror is unequivocally illegal under customary international law.

 

In its Advisory Opinion in the Nuclear Weapons case, the ICJ stated that the principle of distinction, which requires belligerent States to distinguish between civilians and combatants, is one of the “cardinal principles” of international humanitarian law and one of the “intransgressible principles of international customary law”.

 

The principle of distinction is codified in Articles 48, 51(2) and 52(2) of the Additional Protocol I of 1977 to the 1949 Geneva Conventions, to which no reservations have been made. According to Additional Protocol I, “attacks” refer to “acts of violence against the adversary, whether in offence or in defence” (Article 49). Under both customary international law and treaty law, the prohibition on directing attacks against the civilian population or civilian objects is absolute. There is no discretion available to invoke military necessity as a justification.

 

Contrary to Israel’s claims, mistakes resulting in civilian casualties cannot be justified: in case of doubt as to the nature of the target, the law clearly establishes that an object which is normally dedicated to civilian purposes (such as schools, houses, places of worship and medical facilities), is presumed as not being used for military purposes. During these past weeks, UN officials and representatives have repeatedly called on Israel to strictly abide by the principle of precaution in carrying out attacks in the Gaza Strip, where risks are greatly aggravated by the very high population density, and maximum restraint must be exercised to avoid civilian casualties. HRW has noted that these rules exist to minimize mistakes and “when such mistakes are repeated, it raises the concern of whether the rules are being disregarded.”

 

Moreover, even when targeting clear military objectives, Israel consistently violates the principle of proportionality: this is particularly evident with regard to the hundreds of civilian houses destroyed by the Israeli army during the current military operation in Gaza. With the declared intention to target a single member of Hamas, Israeli forces have bombed and destroyed houses although occupied as residencies by dozens of civilians, including women, children, and entire families.

 

It is inherently illegal under customary international law to intentionally target civilian objects, and the violation of such a fundamental tenet of law can amount to a war crime. Issuing a ‘warning’ – such as Israel’s so-called roof knocking technique, or sending an SMS five minutes before the attack – does not mitigate this: it remains illegal to wilfully attack a civilian home without a demonstration of military necessity as it amounts to a violation of the principle of proportionality. Moreover, not only are these ‘warnings’ generally ineffective, and can even result in further fatalities, they appear to be a pre-fabricated excuse by Israel to portray people who remain in their homes as ‘human shields’.

 

The indiscriminate and disproportionate attacks, the targeting of objectives providing no effective military advantage, and the intentional targeting of civilians and civilian houses have been persistent features of Israel’s long-standing policy of punishing the entire population of the Gaza Strip, which, for over seven years, has been virtually imprisoned by an Israeli imposed closure. Such a regime amounts to a form of collective punishment, which violates the unconditional prohibition set forth in Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention and has been internationally condemned for its illegality. However, far from being effectively opposed by international actors, Israel’s illegal policy of absolute closure imposed on the Gaza Strip has relentlessly continued, under the complicit gaze of the international community of States.

 

***

As affirmed in 2009 by the UN Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict: “Justice and respect for the rule of law are the indispensable basis for peace. The prolonged situation has created a justice crisis in the Occupied Palestinian Territory that warrants action” (A/HRC/12/48, para. 1958) Indeed: “long-standing impunity has been a key factor in the perpetuation of violence in the region and in the reoccurrence of violations, as well as in the erosion of confidence among Palestinians and many Israelis concerning prospects for justice and a peaceful solution to the conflict”. (A/HRC/12/48, para. 1964)

Therefore,

 

  • We welcome the Resolution adopted on 23 July 2014 by the UN Human Rights Council, in which an independent, international commission of inquiry was established to investigate all violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.

 

  • We call upon the United Nations, the Arab League, the European Union, individual States, in particular the United States of America, and the international community in its entirety and with its collective power to take action in the spirit of the utmost urgency to put an end to the escalation of violence against the civilian population of the Gaza Strip, and to activate procedures to hold accountable all those responsible for violations of international law, including political leaders and military commanders. In particular:
  • All regional and international actors should support the immediate conclusion of a durable, comprehensive, and mutually agreed ceasefire agreement, which must secure the rapid facilitation and access of humanitarian aid and the opening of borders to and from Gaza;
  • All High Contracting Parties to the Geneva Conventions must be urgently and unconditionally called upon to comply with their fundamental obligations, binding at all times, and to act under common Article 1, to take all measures necessary for the suppression of grave breaches, as clearly imposed by Article 146 and Article 147 of the Fourth Geneva Convention; these rules are applicable by all interested parties as well;
  • Moreover, we denounce the shameful political pressures exerted by several UN Member States and the UN on President Mahmoud Abbas, to discourage recourse to the International Criminal Court (ICC), and we urge the Governmental leaders of Palestine to invoke the jurisdiction of the ICC, by ratifying the ICC treaty and in the interim by resubmitting the declaration under Article 12(3) of the Rome Statute, in order to investigate and prosecute the serious international crimes committed on the Palestinian territory by all parties to the conflict; and
  • The UN Security Council must finally exercise its responsibilities in relation to peace and justice by referring the situation in Palestine to the Prosecutor of the ICC.

 

 

***

 

Please note that institutional affiliations are for identification purposes only.

 

  1. John Dugard, Former UN Special Rapporteur on human rights situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory
  2. Richard Falk, Former UN Special Rapporteur on human rights situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory
  3. Alain Pellet, Professor of Public International Law, University Paris Ouest, former Member of the United Nations International Law Commission, France
  4. Georges Abi-Saab, Emeritus Professor of International Law, Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, Geneva, Former Judge on the ICTY
  5. Vera Gowlland-Debbas, Emeritus Professor of International Law, Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, Geneva, Switzerland
  6. Chantal Meloni, Adjunct Professor of International Criminal Law, University of Milan, Italy (Rapporteur)

 

  1. Roy Abbott, Consultant in International Humanitarian Law and International Human Rights Law, Australia
  2. Lama Abu-Odeh, Law Professor, Georgetown University Law Center, USA
  3. Taris Ahmad, Solicitor at Jones Day, London, UK
  4. Kasim Akbaş, Professor of Law, Anadolu Üniversitesi, Eskişehir,Turkey
  5. Susan M. Akram, Clinical Professor and supervising attorney, International Human rights Program, Boston University School of Law, USA
  6. Maria Anagnostaki, PhD candidate, Law School University of Athens, Greece
  7. Antony Anghie, Professor of Law, University of Utah, USA
  8. Javier Ansuátegui-Roig, Director, Human Rights Institute Bartolomé de las Casas, Charles III University of Madrid, Spain
  9. Ayman Atef, LLM Ain Shams University, Egypt
  10. Ufuk Aydin, Dean, Professor of Law, Anadolu Üniversitesi, Eskişehir,Turkey
  11. Nizar Ayoub, Director, Al-Marsad, Arab Human Rights Centre in Golan Heights
  12. Valentina Azarov, Lecturer in Human Rights and International Law, Al Quds Bard College, Palestine
  13. Ammar Bajboj, Lecturer in Law, University of Damascus, Syria
  14. Samia Bano, SOAS School of Law, London, UK
  15. Asli Ü Bali, Professor of Law, UCLA School of Law, USA
  16. Jakub Micha³ Baranowski, Phd Candidate, Universita’ degli Studi Roma Tre, Italy
  17. Frank Barat, Russell Tribunal on Palestine
  18. Marzia Barbera, Professor of Law, University of Brescia, Italy
  19. Emma Bell, Coordinator of the European Group for the Study of Deviance and Social Control, Université de Savoie, France
  20. Barbara Giovanna Bello, Post-doc Fellow, University of Milan, Italy
  21. Brenna Bhandar, Senior lecturer in Law, SOAS School of Law, London, UK
  22. George Bisharat, Professor of Law, UC Hastings College of Law, USA
  23. Marta Bitorsoli, LLM, Irish Centre for Human Rights, Trial Clerk ICTY, The Hague, The Netherlands
  24. Barbara Blok, LLM Candidate, University of Essex, UK
  25. John Braithwaite, Professor of Criminology, Australian National University, Australia
  26. Michelle Burgis-Kasthala, lecturer in international law, University of Edinburgh, UK
  27. Eddie Bruce-Jones, Lecturer in Law, University of London, Birkbeck College, UK
  28. Sandy Camlann, LLM Candidate, Université Paris Ouest Nanterre La Défense, France
  29. Grazia Careccia, Human Rights Advocate, London, UK
  30. Baris Cayli, Impact Fellow, University of Stirling, UK
  31. Antonio Cavaliere, Professor of Criminal Law, University Federico II, Naples, Italy
  32. Kathleen Cavanaugh, Senior Lecturer, Irish Center for Human Rights, National University of Ireland, Galway, Ireland
  33. Elizabeth Chadwick, Reader in International Law, Nottingham, UK
  34. Donna R. Cline, Attorney at Law, USA
  35. Karen Corteen, Senior Lecturer in Criminology, University of Chester, UK
  36. Andrew Dahdal, Lecturer, Faculty of Business and Economics, Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia
  37. Teresa Dagenhardt, Reader in Criminology, Queen’s University Belfast, Northern Ireland
  38. Luigi Daniele, PhD candidate in Law, Italy
  39. Alessandro De Giorgi, Professor of Justice Studies, San Josè State University, USA
  40. Cristina de la Serna-Sandoval, lawyer and human rights consultant, Spain
  41. Javier De Lucas, Professor of Law, Human Rights Institute, University of Valencia, Spain
  42. Paul de Waart, Professor Emeritus of International Law, VU University, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
  43. Gabriele della Morte, Senior Lecturer in International Law, University Cattolica, Milan, Italy
  44. Max du Plessis, Professor of Law, University of Kwazulu-Natal, and Barrister, South Africa and London, UK
  45. Isabel Düsterhöft, LL.M., Utrecht, M.A. Hamburg, Germany
  46. Noura Erakat, Georgetown University, USA
  47. Mohammad Fadel, Associate Professor of Law, University of Toronto Faculty of Law, Canada
  48. Mireille Fanon-Mendés France, Independent Expert UNO, Frantz Fanon Foundation, France
  49. Michelle Farrell, lecturer in law, School of Law and Social Justice, University of Liverpool, UK
  50. Daniel Feierstein, Professor and President International Association of Genocide Scholars (IAGS), Argentina
  51. Eleonor Fernández Muñoz, Costa Rica
  52. Tenny Fernando, Attorney at Law, Sri Lanka
  53. Amelia Festa, LLM Candidate, University of Naples Federico II, Italy
  54. Katherine Franke, Professor of Law, Columbia Law School, USA
  55. Jacques Gaillot, Bishop in partibus of Partenia
  56. Katherine Gallagher, Vice President FIDH, senior attorney, Centre for Constitutional Rights (CCR), New York, USA
  57. Avo Sevag Garabet, LLM, University of Groningen, the Netherlands
  58. Jose Garcia Anon, Professor of Law, Human Rights Institute, University of Valencia, Valencia, Spain
  59. Cristina Garcia-Pascual, Professor of Law, Human Rights Institute, University of Valencia, Spain
  60. Jose Antonio García-Saez, International Law Researcher, Human Rights Institute, University of Valencia, Spain
  61. Andrés Gascón-Cuenca, PhD candidate, Human Rights Institute, University of Valencia, Spain
  62. Irene Gasparini, PhD candidate, Universitá Cattolica, Milan, Italy
  63. Stratos Georgoulas, Assistant Professor, University of the Aegean, Greece
  64. Haluk Gerger, Professor, Turkey
  65. Hedda Giersten, Professor, Universitet I Oslo, Norway
  66. Javier Giraldo, Director Banco de Datos CINEP, Colombia
  67. Carmen G. Gonzales, Professor of Law, Seattle University School of Law, USA
  68. Penny Green, Professor of Law and Criminology, Director of the State Crime Initiative, King’s College London, UK
  69. Katy Hayward, Senior Lecturer in Sociology, Queen’s University Belfast, Northern Ireland
  70. Andrew Henley, PhD candidate, Keele University, UK
  71. Christiane Hessel, Paris, France
  72. Paddy Hillyard, Professor Emeritus, Queen’s University Belfast, Northern Ireland
  73. Ata Hindi, Institute of Law, Birzeit University, Palestine
  74. Francois Houtart, Professor, National Institute of Higher Studies, Quito, Ecuador
  75. Deena R. Hurwitz, Professor, General Faculty, Director International Human Rights Law Clinic, University of Virginia School of Law, USA
  76. Perfecto Andrés Ibánes, Magistrado Tribunal Supremo de Espagna, Spain
  77. Franco Ippolito, President of the Permanent People’s Tribunal, Italy
  78. Ruth Jamieson, Honorary Lecturer, School of Law, Queen’s University, Belfast, Northern Ireland
  79. Helen Jarvis, former member Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC), member of IAGS, Cambodia
  80. Ioannis Kalpouzos, Lecturer in Law, City Law School, London, UK
  81. Victor Kattan, post-doctoral fellow, Law Faculty, National University of Singapore
  82. Michael Kearney, PhD, Lecturer in Law, University of Sussex, UK
  83. Yousuf Syed Khan, USA
  84. Tarik Kochi, Senior Lecturer in Law, School of Law, Politics and Sociology, University of Sussex, UK
  85. Anna Koppel, MSt Candidate in International Human Rights Law, University of Oxford, UK
  86. Azra Kuci, legal advisor TRIAL (track impunity always), Bosnia and Herzegovina
  87. Karim Lahidji, President of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and lawyer
  88. Giulia Lanza, PhD Candidate, Università degli Studi di Verona, Italy
  89. Massimo La Torre, Professor of Law, University of Hull (UK), Catanzaro University (Italy)
  90. Daniel Machover, solicitor, Hickman & Rose, London, UK
  91. Tayyab Mahmud, Professor of Law, Director of the Centre for Global Justice, Seattle University School of Law, USA
  92. Maria C. LaHood, Senior Staff Attorney, CCR, New York, USA
  93. Louise Mallinder, Reader in Human Rights and International Law, University of Ulster, UK
  94. Triestino Mariniello, Lecturer in International Criminal Law, Edge Hill University, UK
  95. Mazen Masri, Lecturer in Law, The City Law School, City University, London, UK
  96. Siobhan McAlister, School of Sociology, Queen’s University Belfast, Northern Ireland
  97. Liam McCann, Principal Lecturer in Criminology, University of Lincoln, UK
  98. Jude McCulloch, Professor of Criminology, Monash University, Melbourne, Australia
  99. David McQuoid-Mason, Director, Centre for Socio-Legal Studies, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa
  100. Yvonne McDermott Rees, Lecturer in Law, University of Bangor, UK
  101. Cahal McLaughlin, Professor, School of Creative Arts, Queen’s University Belfast, Northern Ireland
  102. Araks Melkonyan, LLM Candidate, University of Essex, UK
  103. Antonio Menna, PhD Candidate, Second University of Naples, Caserta, Italy
  104. Naomi Mezey, Professor of Law, Georgetown University Law Center, USA
  105. Michele Miravalle, PhD candidate, University of Torino, Italy
  106. Sergio Moccia, Professor of Criminal Law, University Federico II, Naples, Italy
  107. Kerry Moore, Lecturer, Cardiff University
  108. Giuseppe Mosconi, Professor of Sociology, University of Padova, Italy
  109. Usha Natarajan, Assistant Professor, Department of Law & Centre for Migration and Refugee Studies, The American University in Cairo, Egypt
  110. Miren Odriozola Gurrutxaga, PhD Candidate, University of the Basque Country, Donostia – San Sebastián, Spain
  111. Georgios Papanicolaou, Reader in Criminology, Teesside University, UK
  112. Marco Pertile, Senior Lecturer in International Law,
    Faculty of Law, University of Trento, Italy
  113. Andreas Philippopoulos-Mihalopoulos, Professor of Law and Theory, LLM, The Westminster Law and Theory Centre, UK
  114. Carli Pierson, Attorney at Law, USA
  115. Antoni Pigrau Solé, Universitat Rovira i Virgili de Tarragona, Spain
  116. Joseph Powderly, Assistant Professor of Public International Law, Leiden University, The Netherlands
  117. Tony Platt, Visiting Professor of Justice Studies, San Jose State University, USA
  118. Scott Poynting, Professor in Criminology, University of Auckland, New Zeeland
  119. Chris Powell, Professor of Criminology, University S.Maine, USA
  120. Bill Quigley, Professor, Loyola University, New Orleans College of Law, USA
  121. John Quigley, Professor of Law, Ohio State University
  122. Zouhair Racheha, PhD Candidate, University Jean Moulin Lyon 3, France
  123. Laura Raymond, International Human Rights Advocacy Program Manager, CCR, New York, USA
  124. Véronique Rocheleau-Brosseau, LLM candidate, Laval University, Canada
  125. David Rodríguez Goyes, Lecturer, Antonio Nariño and Santo Tomás Universities, Colombia
  126. Alessandro Rosanò, PhD Candidate, Università degli Studi di Padova, Italy
  127. Jamil Salem, Director Institute of Law, Birzeit University, Palestine
  128. Mahmood Salimi, LLM Candidate, Moofid University, Iran
  129. Nahed Samour, doctoral fellow, Humboldt University, Faculty of Law, Berlin, Germany
  130. Iain GM Scobbie, Professor of Public International Law, University of Manchester, UK
  131. David Scott, Senior Lecturer in Criminology, Liverpool John Moores University, UK
  132. Phil Scraton, Professor of Criminology, Belfast, Ireland
  133. Rachel Seoighe, PhD Candidate, Legal Consultant, King’s College London, UK
  134. Tanya Serisier, School of Sociology, Queen’s University Belfast, Northern Ireland
  135. Mohammad Shahabuddin, PdD, Visiting researcher, Graduate School of International Social Sciences, Yokohama National University, Japan
  136. Angeles Solanes-Corella, Professor of Law, Human Rights Institute, University of Valencia, Spain
  137. Dean Spade, Seattle University School of Law, USA
  138. Per Stadig, lawyer, Sweden
  139. Chantal Thomas, Professor of Law, Cornell University, USA
  140. Kendall Thomas, Nash Professor of Law, Columbia University, USA
  141. Gianni Tognoni, Lelio Basso Foundation, Rome, Italy
  142. Steve Tombs, Professor of Criminology, The Open University, UK
  143. Paul Troop, Barrister, Garden Court Chambers, UK
  144. Valeria Verdolini, Reader in Sociology, University of Milan, Italy
  145. Francesca Vianello, University of Padova, Italy
  146. Lydia Vicente-Márquez, Executive Director, Rights International Spain
  147. Aimilia Voulvouli, Assistant Professor of Sociology, Fatih University, Turkey
  148. Namita Wahi, Fellow, Centre for Policy Research, Dharma Marg, Chanakyapuri, New Delhi, India
  149. Sharon Weill, PhD, Science Po, Paris/ CERAH, Geneva, Switzerland
  150. Peter Weiss, Vice President of Centre for Constitutional Rights (CCR), New York, USA
  151. David Whyte, Reader in Sociology, University of Liverpool, UK
  152. Jeanne M. Woods, Henry F. Bonura, Jr. Distinguished Professor of Law, Loyola University College of Law, New Orleans, USA
  153. William Thomas Worster, Lecturer, International Law, The Hague University of Applied Sciences, The Netherlands
  154. Maung Zarni, Judge, PPT on Sri Lanka and Visiting Fellow, London School of Economics and Political Science

 

After July 28th

 

  1. Lindsay Adams, Barrister, London, U.K
  2. Kasim Akbaş, Professor of Law, Anadolu Üniversitesi, Eskişehir,Turkey
  3. Nidal al-Azza, lecturer in Refugee Law, Al-Quds University, Director of Badil Resource Center for Residency and Refugee Rights, Palestine
  4. Reem Al-Botmeh, Institute of Law, Birzeit University, Palestine
  5. Rouba Al-Salem, PhD candidate, faculty of Law, Montreal University, Canada
  6. Koorosh Ameli, Former Judge, Iran-United States Claims Tribunal, The Hague, Netherlands
  7. Rinad Abdulla, Lecturer in Human Rights Law and International Humanitarian Law, Birzeit University, Palestin Claims Tribunal
  8. Mojgan Amrollahi Biuki, Human Rights Lawyer in Tehran, PhD candidate, Freiburg University, Freiburg i.Br., Germany
  9. Alessandra Annoni, Senior Lecturer in International Law, University of Catanzaro, Italy
  10. Javier Ansuátegui-Roig, Director, Human Rights Institute Bartolomé de las Casas, Charles III University of Madrid, Spain
  11. Alicia Araujo Mendonca, Lawyer, London, UK
  12. Maria Aristodemou, School of Law, Birkbeck College, USA
  13. Huwaida Arraf, Attorney and Human Rights Advocate, New York, USA
  14. Ayman Atef, LLM Ain Shams University, Egypt
  15. Ufuk Aydin, Dean, Professor of Law, Anadolu Üniversitesi, Eskişehir,Turkey
  16. Irene Baghoomians, Lecturer, Faculty of Law, University of Sydney, Australia
  17. Ajamu Baraka, human rights activist and former director of the U.S. Human
  18. Marzia Barbera, Professor of Law, University of Brescia, Italy, Rights Network (USHRN), USA
  19. Faisal Bhabha, Assistant Professor, Osgoode Hall Law School of York University Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  20. Onder Bakircioglu, Lecturer in Law, Queen’s University Belfast, Northern Ireland
  21. Alonso Barros, PhD, Attorney at Law, Indigenous Peoples’ Human Rights Advocate, Chile
  22. Asmaa Bassouri, PhD Candidate, Cadi Ayyad University, Marrakech, Morocco
  23. Jinan Bastaki, Law PhD candidate, School of Oriental and African Studies, London, UK
  24. Paolo Bertoli, Professor of International Law, University of Insubria, Como-Varese, Italy
  25. Marta Bitorsoli, LLM, Irish Centre for Human Rights, Trial Clerk ICTY, The Hague, The Netherlands
  26. Tessa Boeykens, Legal Researcher in Transitional Justice, Ghent University, Belgium
  27. Audrey Bomse, Co-Chair, National Lawyers Guild Palestine Subcommittee, USA
  28. Giorgio Bonamassa,  Lawyer, Legal Team Italia, Lawyer
  29. Marco Borraccetti, senior Lecturer in European Union Law, Alma Mater Studiorum-University of Bologna, Italy
  30. Fatma Bouraoui, Lawyer, Tunisia
  31. Bill Bowring, Barrister, Professor, Director of the LLM/MA in Human Rights, School of Law, Birkbeck, University of London, London, UK
  32. John Burroughs, Executive Director, Lawyers Committee on Nuclear Policy, New York City, USA
  33. Valentina Cadelo, Researcher, Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights, Geneva, Switzerland
  34. Andrea Caligiuri, Senior Lecturer in International Law, University of Macerata, Italy
  35. Alejandra Castillo Ara, Lawyer, PhD Candidate, Max Planck Institute for Foreign and International Criminal Law, Freiburg i.Br., Germany
  36. Giovanni Cellamare, Professore of International Law, Faculty of Political Science, University of Bari, Italy
  37. Emanuele Cimiotta, Assistant Professor of International Law, Law Faculty, University La Sapienza, Rome, Italy
  38. Maivan Clech Lam, Professor Emerita, City University of New York Graduate Center, USA
  39. Ziyad Clot, Lawyer, University of Paris II Assas and Sciences Po Paris, France
  40. Marjorie Cohn, Professor of Law, Thomas Jefferson School of Law and former president, National Lawyers Guild, USA
  41. Nicola Colacino, Associate Professor of International Law, University Niccolò Cusano, Rome, Italy
  42. Judith Cole, Adjunct Professor of International Law, International University in Geneva (IUG), Geneva, Switzerland
  43. Luigi Condorelli, Professor of International Law, University of Florence, Honorary Professor, University of Geneva, Switzerland/Italy
  44. Aoife Corcoran, Human Rights Researcher, (UCL Human Rights graduate), London, United Kingdom
  45. Francesco Costamagna, Assistant Professor of EU Law, University of Turin, Italy
  46. Jamil Dakwar, International Human Rights Lawyer, New York, USA
  47. Fredrik Danelius, LLM, former lecturer in international law, Lund University, Sweden, Oslo University, Norway, former editor-in-chief of Nordic Journal of International Law
  48. Shane Darcy, lecturer, Irish Centre for Human Rights, National University of Ireland, Galway, Northern Ireland
  49. Nasrin Dashty, Barrister, Associate Special Assistant, ICC, The Hague, The Netherlands
  50. Birju M. Dattani, Barrister and PhD Student in International Law, SOAS University of London, UK
  51. Gail Davidson, Director, Lawyers against the War, USA
  52. Mark de Barros, Lecturer in Law, Université Paris II Panthéon, Assas/Attorney at Law, New York Bar, France/USA
  53. Emanuele De Franco, Lecturer in Criminal Law, University Federico II, Solicitor, Naples, Italy
  54. Javier De Lucas, Professor of Law, Human Rights Institute, University of Valencia, Spain
  55. Fanny Declercq, LLM, Leiden University, The Hague, The Netherlands
  56. Géraud de La Pradelle, Emeritus Professor International Law, France
  57. Adele Del Guercio, Researcher in International Law, University L’Orientale, Naples, Italy
  58. Cristina de la Serna-Sandoval, lawyer and human rights consultant, Spain
  59. Francesca De Vittor, Researcher in International Law, Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Milan, Italy
  60. Saverio Di Benedetto, Senior Lecturer of International Law, Università del Salento, Italy
  61. Mahmoud Dodeen, Lawyer and Professor of Law, Birzeit University, Palestine
  62. Linn Döring, Lawyer, PhD Candidate, Max Planck Institute for Foreign and International Criminal Law, Freiburg, Germany
  63. Pierre-Emmanuel Dupont, Member of the Hague Center for Law and Arbitration, Senior Lecturer at the Free Faculty of Law, Economics and Management, Paris, France
  64. Isabel Düsterhöft, LL.M., Utrecht, M.A. Hamburg, Germany
  65. Penelope Ehrhardt, MSt in International Human Rights Law Candidate, University of Oxford, UK
  66. Lena El-Malak, PhD in Public International Law SOAS, Legal Counsel, UAE
  67. Ali Ercan, Researcher and Intern at the OIC Mission to the United Nations, New York, USA
  68. Siavash Eshghi, PhD candidate, SOAS University, London, UK
  69. Marco Fasciglione, Researcher in International Law, International Institute for Legal Studies, Naples, Italian National Research Council, Italy
  70. Matteo Fornari, Researcher in International Law, Faculty of Law, University of Milan-Bicocca, Italy
  71. Francisco Forrest Martin, Former Ariel F. Sallows Professor of Human Rights, University of Saskatchewan, College of Law, Canada
  72. Fabrizio Forte, PhD Candidate, University Federico II, Solicitor, Naples, Italy
  73. Micaela Frulli, Associate Professor of International Law, University of Florence, Italy
  74. Domenico Gallo, Judge, Italian Supreme Court, Rome, Italy
  75. Cristina Garcia-Pascual, Professor of Law, Human Rights Institute, University of Valencia, Spain
  76. Jose Antonio García-Saez, International Law Researcher, Human Rights Institute, University of Valencia, Spain
  77. Andrés Gascón-Cuenca, PhD candidate, Human Rights Institute, University of Valencia, Spain.
  78. Francesco M. Genovesi, Attorney at Law, Milan, Italy
  79. Andrea Giardina, Emeritus Professor of International Law, University La Sapienza, Rome, Italy
  80. Jérémie Gilbert, Reader in Law, University of East London, School of Law and Social Sciences, London, UK
  81. Andrés Felipe Gómez Ariza, Colombia, Public International Law LLM candidate, University of Leicester, UK
  82. Henning Grosse Ruse, PhD, Khan, King’s College, Faculty of Law, University of Cambridge, UK
  83. Kelly L. Grotke, PhD, Affiliate Research Fellow, Erik Castrén Institute of International Law and Human Rights, University of Helsinki, Faculty of Law, Iceland
  84. Kumaravadivel Guruparan, Lecturer, Department of Law, University of Jaffna, Sri Lanka
  85. Mateenah Hunter, LLB (Wits), LLM Public Interest Law and Policy (UCLA), Attorney, South Africa
  86. Ivan Ingravallo, Associate Professor of International Law, University of Bari, Italy
  87. Issaaf Ben Khalifa, Lawyer, University of Carthage, Tunisia
  88. Urfan Khaliq, Professor of International Law, Cardiff University, UK
  89. Ahmed Amine Khamlichi, Investigator at the CNRS, France
  90. Adilur Rahman Khan, Senior Advocate at Supreme Court of Bangladesh
  91. Shoaib M. Khan, Solicitor, Human Rights activist, London, UK
  92. Daniela Kravetz, International Criminal Justice and Gender Expert, The Hague, The Netherlands
  93. Azra Kuci, Human Rights Lawyer, LLM Graduate, Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights, Bosnia and Herzegovina
  94. Massimo La Torre, Professor of Law, University of Hull (UK), Catanzaro University, Italy
  95. Roberto Lamacchia, Lawyer, President, Association Democratic Jurists, Turin, Italy
  96. Michelle Landy, Solicitor, London, UK
  97. Federico Lenzerini, Assistant Professor of International Law, University of Siena, Italy
  98. Afsaneh Lotfizadeh, Human Rights Researcher (UCL LLM graduate), London, United Kingdom
  99. Michael Lynk, Professor, Faculty of Law, Western University, London, Ontario, Canada
  100. Osama Malik, Advocate, Islamabad High Court Bar Association, Pakistan
  101. Marina Mancini, Senior Lecturer in International Law, Mediterranean University of Reggio Calabria, Italy
  102. Ana Manero Salvador, Associate Professor of Public International Law, University Carlos III, Madrid, Spain
  103. Fabio Marcelli, Research Director, Institute for International Legal Studies of the National Research Council, Rome, Bureau Member of IADL, Italy
  104. GIlberto Pagani, Avvocato, Legal Team Italia,
  105. Antonio Martínez Puñal, Professor of Public International Law, Universidade de Santiago de Compostela, Spain
  106. Mari Matsuda Professor, William S. Richardson School of Law, USA
  107. David McQuoid-Mason, Director, Centre for Socio-Legal Studies, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa.
  108. Maeve McMahon, Associate Professor, Law and Legal Studies, Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada
  109. Ladan Mehranvar, PhD candidate in International Law, Faculty of Law, University of Toronto, Canada
  110. Ezio Menzione,  Lawyer, Legal Team Italia, Italy
  111. Ruth Mestre, Professor of Law, Human Rights Institute, University of Valencia, Spain
  112. Lies Michielsen, Lawyer Antwerp, Belgium
  113. Jeanne Mirer, President, International Association of Democratic Lawyers
  114. Bela Mongia, Human Rights Researcher, (UCL Human Rights student), London, United Kingdom
  115. Lavinia Monti, PhD candidate in International Law and Human Rights, University La Sapienza, Rome, Italy
  116. Gloria M. Moran, Professor of Law, Religion and Public Policy, UDC, Spain/USA
  117. Giuseppe Morgese, Senior Lecturer in European Uninion Law, University of Bari, Italy
  118. Raffaella Multedo,  Lawyer, Legal Team Italia, Italy
  119. Raymond Murphy, Professor of Law and Human Rights, Irish Centre for Human Rights, Galway, Northern Ireland
  120. Francesca Mussi, PhD candidate in International Law, University of Milan- Bicocca, Italy
  121. Egeria Nalin, Senior Lecturer in International Law, Faculty of Political Science, University of Bari Aldo Moro, Italy
  122. Nina Navid, Human Rights Researcher, (UCL MA Human Rights graduate), London, U.K.
  123. Mary Nazzal-Batayneh, Barrister, Palestine Legal Aid Fund, Amman, Jordan
  124. Dorothy-Jean O’Donnell, Lawyer, Hope, British Columbia, Canada
  125. Maria Irene Papa, Senior Lecturer in International Law, Faculty of Law, University La Sapienza, Rome, Italy
    Facoltà di Giurisprudenza
  126. Brad Parker, Attorney, Defence for Children International Palestine, USA
  127. Gilberto Pagani, Lawyer, Milan, Italy
  128. Brunilda Pali, Researcher, KU Leuven Institute of Criminology, Leuven, Belgium
  129. Paolo Picone, Emeritus Professor of International Law, University La Sapienza, Rome, Member of Institut de Droit International, Member of Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei, Italy
  130. Enrique Pochat, profesor de Derechos Humanos en la Universidad Nacional de Quilmes, Argentina
  131. Giuseppe Puma – PhD, International Law, University La Sapienza, Rome, Italy
  132. Antonio Martínez Puñal, Professor of Public International Law, University of Santiago de Compostela, Spain
  133. Micòl Savia, human rights lawyer, permanent representative of the International Association of Democratic Lawyers (IADL) at the UN, Italy
  134. Chiara Ragni, Senior Researcher and Assistant Professor of International Law, University of Milan, Italy
  135. Michael Ratner, President Emeritus, Center for Constitutional Rights, New York, USA
  136. Edel Reagan, LLM, Irish Center for Human Rights, Galway, Northern Ireland
  137. Clara Rigoni, PhD Candidate, Max Planck Institute for Foreign and International Criminal Law, Freiburg, Germany
  138. Sunčana Roksandić Vidlička, assistent lecturer Faculty of Law, University of Zagreb, PhD Candidate Max Planck Institute for Foreign and International Criminal Law, Freiburg, Germany
  139. Yashvir Roopun, Barrister at Law, UK
  140. Itziar Ruiz-Gimenez Arrieta, Lecturer of International Relations, University Autónoma of Madrid, Spain
  141. Simeon A. Sahaydachny, LL.M in International Law, New Jersey, USA
  142. Francesco Saluzzo, PhD candidate in International Law, University of Palermo, Italy
  143. Laura Salvadego, research Fellow in International Law, University of Ferrara, Italy
  144. Stephanie Schlickewei, Research Associate in Public International Law, University of Kiel, Germany
  145. Smita Shah, Barrister, Garden Court Chambers, London, UK
  146. Rasha Sharkia, Media Advisor, Israel/Palestine,UCL MA Human Rights graduate, London, UK.
  147. Francesco Sindico, Reader in International Environmental Law, University of Strathclyde Law School, Glasgow, UK
  148. Francisco Soberon, Director Fundador, Asociacion Pro Derechos Humanos (APRODEH), Lima, Peru
  149. Angeles Solanes-Corella, Professor of Law, Human Rights Institute, University of Valencia, Spain
  150. Mihira Sood, Human Rights Lawyer, Supreme Court of India, India
  151. Marta Sosa Navarro, Lawyer and International Criminal Law researcher, PhD in International Criminal Law, Universidad Carlos III de Madrid, Spain
  152. Pamela Spees, Senior Staff Attorney, Centre for Constitutional Rights, New York, USA
  153. Euan Sutherland, CB, Barrister and Parliamentary Draftsman, London, UK
  154. Patrice Tacita, Lawyer, Member of LKP, Guadeloupe
  155. Dennis Töllborg, Professor in Legal Science, STIAS Fellow, University of Gothenburg, Sweden
  156. Seline Trevisanut, Assistant Professor in International Law, University of Utrecht, The Netherlands.
  157. Maïa Trujillo, Senior Programme Officer for International Law and Human Rights, The Hague, The Netherlands
  158. Lydia Vicente-Márquez, Executive Director, Rights International Spain
  159. Luisa Vierucci, Lecturer in International Law, university of Florence, Italy
  160. Gianluca Vitale,  Lawyer, Legal Team Italia, Italy
  161. Daniela Vitiello, PhD, International Law and EU Law, University La Sapienza, Rome, Italy
  162. Benjamin Vogel, Senior Researcher, Max Planck Institute for Foreign and International Criminal Law, Freiburg i. Br., Germany
  163. B.J. Walker, Professor, University of Victoria, Canada, and PUC-Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
  164. Burns H Weston, Bessie Dutton Murray Distinguished Professor of Law Emeritus and Senior Scholar, UI Center for Human Rights, The University of Iowa, USA
  165. Laura Westra, PhD, University of Windsor, Canada – International Law
    University Bicocca, Milan, Italy
  166. John Whitbeck, Expert on International Law, former legal advisor, Palestinian Negotiation Team
  167. Richard Wild, Lecturer, School of Law, University of Greenwich, UK
  168. Pål Wrange, Professor of International Law, Stockholm University, Sweden

 

 

 

  1. Selma Abdel Qader, LLM, SciencesPo, PSIA, Paris, France
  2. Jacqueline Alsaid, LLM, freelance writer and Human Rights Activist, UK
  3. Soumaya Ben Dhaou, PhD, Assistant Professor Nipissing University, ON, Canada
  4. Francisco Bernete, Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Spain
  5. Carla Biavati, Members of the IPRI – Institute for Peace Research, Italian branch
  6. Linda Bimbi, International Section of the Lelio and Lisli Basso Foundation, Rome
  7. Robert Bourque, Professor of Philosophy and Political Science, College de Thetford and UMCE University, Canada
  8. Elpidio Capasso, Member of Naples City Council and lawyer, Italy
  9. Joseph Chiume, Barrister, Malawi
  10. Elena Coccia, Member of Naples City Council and lawyer, Italy
  11. Esmeralda Colombo, Legal Practitioner, (LLM, College d’Europe), Milan, Italy
  12. Antonio Crocetta, Member of Naples City Council and lawyer, Italy
  13. Maurizio Cucci, Member of the IPRI – Institute for Peace Research, Italian branch
  14. Simon Dalby, professor, Wilfrid Laurier University, USA
  15. Luigi De Magistris, Mayor of Naples and former Judge, Italy
  16. Silvia De Michelis, PhD candidate, University of Bradford, Department of Peace Studies, Bradford, UK
  17. Gennaro Esposito, Member of Naples City Council and lawyer, Italy
  18. Roja Fazaeli, Lecturer in Islamic Studies, Department of Near and Middle Eastern Studies, Trinity College Dublin, Ireland
  19. Andrea Florence, Master in International Law (IHEID), Brazil
  20. Alejandro Forero, Researcher, Observatory on Penal System and Human Rights University of Barcelona, Spain
  21. César Alejandro González Carrillo, Master in law
    Universidad de Guadalajara, Guadalajara, Jalisco, México
  22. Héctor Grad, Associate Professor, Social Anthropology, University Autónoma, Madrid, Spain
  23. Cristina Greco, PhD in Semiotics, Department of Communication and Social Research, Rome University Sapienza, Italy
  24. Sondra Hale, Research Professor and Professor Emerita, Anthropology and Gender Studies, UCLA; and Coordinator, California Scholars for Academic Freedom, USA
  25. Remzi Halil, LLB, UK
  26. Naomi Head, Lecturer in Politics, University of Glasgow, UK
  27. Carlo Iannello, Member of Naples City Council and lawyer, Italy
  28. Mahmood M. Jaludi, Rutgers University, Newark, New Jersey, USA
  29. Rabania Khan, LLB, UK
  30. Ronald C. Kramer, Professor of Sociology and Criminology, Western Michigan University, USA
  31. Charles H. Manekin, Professor of Philosophy, University of Maryland, USA
  32. Sarah Maranlou, Independent Legal Researcher, UK
  33. Lloyd K. Marbet, Executive Director, Oregon Conservancy Foundation, USA
  34. Miriam McColgan, Solicitor (Lawyer), Dublin, Ireland
  35. Giuseppe Nesi, Dean of the Law School, University of Trento, Italy
  36. Alba Nogueira López, Associate Professor of Administrative Law, University of Santiago de Compostela, Spain
  37. Francis Oeser, Poet, London, UK
  38. Sarah Pallesen, MA Social Anthropology of Development, School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London, UK
  39. Daniele Perissi, LL.M Graduate, Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights, Italy
  40. Raffaele Porta, Professor, Chemical Sciences, University Federico II, Naples Italy
  41. Nicola Quatrano, Judge, OSSIN – International Observatory on Human Rights, Italy
  42. Minhaj Quazi, B.Com(Hons) M.Com, LL.B.
  43. Rezaur Rahman Lenin, Executive Director, Law Life Culture, Bangladesh
  44. Jale Reshat, Solicitor, UK
  45. Dario Rossi, Lawyer, Italy
  46. Marco Russo, Member of Naples City Council and lawyer, Italy
  47. Ghassan Shahrour, MD
  48. Lloyd Schneider, Retired Minister, United Church of Christ, Delegate to General Synod 2015, Tuolumne, California, USA
  49. Gene, Schulman, Former senior editor, Overseas American Academy, Geneva, Switzerland
  50. Salvatore Talia, graduate in law, Università degli Sudi di Milano, Italy
  51. Carlo Tagliacozzo, Human Rights Activist, Turin, Italy
  52. Jeanne Theoharis, Distinguished Professor of Political Science, Co-Founder of Educators for Civil Liberties , Brooklyn College of CUNY, New York, USA
  53. Ismail Waheed, Lecturer, Institute of Islamic Studies, Maldives
  54. Paul Wapner, Professor, School of International Service, American University, USA
  55. Saïd Zulficar, Network for Colonial Freedom

Joint Declaration by International Law Experts on Israel’s Gaza Offensive

28 Jul

(Prefatory Note: Posted here is a Joint Declaration of international law experts from around the world who are listed below as endorsers. I am among the endorsers, and the text was initially drafted by several international law scholars. We welcome additional signatures that can be sent to me in the comments section, with affiliation noted for identification, and names will be periodically added to the text. I view this as an important expression of professional judgment and individual conscience relating to Israeli behavior in Gaza commencing on 8 July that has already taken so many innocent lives and caused such widespread devastation. Please join us and spread the word!)  

The International Community Must End Israel’s Collective Punishment of the Civilian Population in the Gaza Strip

As international and criminal law scholars, human rights defenders, legal experts and individuals who firmly believe in the rule of law and in the necessity for its respect in times of peace and more so in times of war, we feel the intellectual and moral duty to denounce the grave violations, mystification and disrespect of the most basic principles of the laws of armed conflict and of the fundamental human rights of the entire Palestinian population committed during the ongoing Israeli offensive on the Gaza Strip. We also condemn the launch of rockets from the Gaza Strip, as every indiscriminate attack against civilians, regardless of the identity of the perpetrators, is not only illegal under international law but also morally intolerable. However, as also implicitly noted by the UN Human Rights Council in its Resolution of the 23th July 2014, the two parties to the conflict cannot be considered equal, and their actions – once again – appear to be of incomparable magnitude.

Once again it is the unarmed civilian population, the ‘protected persons’ under International humanitarian law (IHL), who is in the eye of the storm. Gaza’s civilian population has been victimized in the name of a falsely construed right to self-defence, in the midst of an escalation of violence provoked in the face of the entire international community. The so-called Operation Protective Edge erupted during an ongoing armed conflict, in the context of a prolonged belligerent occupation that commenced in 1967. In the course of this ongoing conflict thousands of Palestinians have been killed and injured in the Gaza Strip during recurrent and ostensible ‘ceasefire’ periods since 2005, after Israel’s unilateral ‘disengagement’ from the Gaza Strip. The deaths caused by Israel’s provocative actions in the Gaza Strip prior to the latest escalation of hostilities must not be ignored as well.

According to UN sources, over the last two weeks, nearly 800 Palestinians in Gaza have been killed and more than 4,000 injured, of whom the vast majority were civilians. Several independent sources indicate that only 15 per cent of the casualties were combatants. Entire families have been murdered. Hospitals, clinics, as well as a rehabilitation centre for disabled persons have been targeted and severely damaged. During one single day, on Sunday 20th July, more than 100 Palestinian civilians were killed in Shuga’iya, a residential neighbourhood of Gaza City. This was one of the bloodiest and most aggressive operations ever conducted by Israel in the Gaza Strip, a form of urban violence constituting a total disrespect of civilian innocence. Sadly, this was followed only a couple of days later by an equally destructive attack on Khuza’a, East of Khan Younis.

Additionally, the offensive has already caused widespread destruction of buildings and infrastructure: according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, over 3,300 houses have been targeted resulting in their destruction or severe damage.

As denounced by the UN Fact-Finding Mission (FFM) on the Gaza conflict in the aftermath of Israel’s ‘Operation Cast Lead’ in 2008-2009: “While the Israeli Government has sought to portray its operations as essentially a response to rocket attacks in the exercise of its right to self defence, the Mission considers the plan to have been directed, at least in part, at a different target: The people of Gaza as a whole” (A/HRC/12/48, par. 1680). The same can be said for the current Israeli offensive.

The civilian population in the Gaza Strip is under direct attack and many are forced to leave their homes. What was already a refugee and humanitarian crisis has worsened with a new wave of mass displacement of civilians: the number of IDPs has reached nearly 150,000, many of whom have obtained shelter in overcrowded UNRWA schools, which unfortunately are no safe areas as demonstrated by the repeated attacks on the UNRWA school in Beit Hanoun. Everyone in Gaza is traumatized and living in a state of constant terror. This result is intentional, as Israel is again relying on the ‘Dahiya doctrine’, which deliberately has recourse to disproportionate force to inflict suffering on the civilian population in order to achieve political (to exert pressure on the Hamas Government) rather than military goals.

In so doing, Israel is repeatedly and flagrantly violating the law of armed conflict, which establishes that combatants and military objectives may be targeted, i.e. ‘those objects which by their nature, location, purpose or use make an effective contribution to military action and whose total or partial destruction, capture or neutralization, in the circumstances ruling at the time, offers a definite military advantage.’ Most of the recent heavy bombings in Gaza lack an acceptable military justification and, instead, appear to be designed to terrorize the civilian population. As the ICRC clarifies, deliberately causing terror is unequivocally illegal under customary international law.

 

In its Advisory Opinion in the Nuclear Weapons case, the ICJ stated that the principle of distinction, which requires belligerent States to distinguish between civilian and combatants, is one of the “cardinal principles” of international humanitarian law and one of the “intransgressible principles of international customary law”.

 

The principle of distinction is codified in Articles 48, 51(2) and 52(2) of the Additional Protocol I of 1977 to the 1949 Geneva Conventions, to which no reservations have been made. According to Additional Protocol I, “attacks” refer to “acts of violence against the adversary, whether in offence or in defence” (Article 49). Under both customary international law and treaty law, the prohibition on directing attacks against the civilian population or civilian objects is absolute. There is no discretion available to invoke military necessity as a justification.

 

Contrary to Israel’s claims, mistakes resulting in civilian casualties cannot be justified: in case of doubt as to the nature of the target, the law clearly establishes that an object which is normally dedicated to civilian purposes (such as schools, houses, places of worship and medical facilities), are presumed as not being used for military purposes. During these past weeks, UN officials and representatives have repeatedly called on Israel to strictly abide by the principle of precaution in carrying out attacks in the Gaza Strip, where risks are greatly aggravated by the very high population density, and maximum restraint must be exercised to avoid civilian casualties. HRW has noted that these rules exist to minimize mistakes “when such mistakes are repeated, it raises the concern of whether the rules are being disregarded.”

 

Moreover, even when targeting clear military objectives, Israel consistently violates the principle of proportionality: this is particularly evident with regard to the hundreds of civilian houses destroyed by the Israeli army during the current military operation in Gaza. With the declared intention to target a single member of Hamas, Israeli forces have bombed and destroyed houses although occupied as residencies by dozens of civilians, including women, children, and entire families.

 

It is inherently illegal under customary international law to intentionally target civilian objects, and the violation of such a fundamental tenet of law can amount to a war crime. Issuing a ‘warning’ – such as Israel’s so-called roof knocking technique, or sending an SMS five minutes before the attack – does not mitigate this: it remains illegal to wilfully attack a civilian home without a demonstration of military necessity as it amounts to a violation of the principle of proportionality. Moreover, not only are these ‘warnings’ generally ineffective, and can even result in further fatalities, they appear to be a pre-fabricated excuse by Israel to portray people who remain in their homes as ‘human shields’.

 

The indiscriminate and disproportionate attacks, the targeting of objectives providing no effective military advantage, and the intentional targeting of civilians and civilian houses have been persistent features of Israel’s long-standing policy of punishing the entire population of the Gaza Strip, which, for over seven years, has been virtually imprisoned by Israeli imposed closure. Such a regime amounts to a form of collective punishment, which violates the unconditional prohibition set forth in Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention and has been internationally condemned for its illegality. However, far from being effectively opposed international actors, Israel’s illegal policy of absolute closure imposed on the Gaza Strip has relentlessly continued, under the complicit gaze of the international community of States.

 

***

As affirmed in 2009 by the UN Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict: “Justice and respect for the rule of law are the indispensable basis for peace. The prolonged situation has created a justice crisis in the Occupied Palestinian Territory that warrants action” (A/HRC/12/48, para. 1958) Indeed: “long-standing impunity has been a key factor in the perpetuation of violence in the region and in the reoccurrence of violations, as well as in the erosion of confidence among Palestinians and many Israelis concerning prospects for justice and a peaceful solution to the conflict”. (A/HRC/12/48, para. 1964)

Therefore,

 

  • We welcome the Resolution adopted on 23 July 2014 by the UN Human Rights Council, in which an independent, international commission of inquiry was established to investigate all violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.

 

  • We call upon the United Nations, the Arab League, the European Union, individual States, in particular the United States of America, and the international community in its entirety and with its collective power to take action in the spirit of the utmost urgency to put an end to the escalation of violence against the civilian population of the Gaza Strip, and to activate procedures to hold accountable all those responsible for violations of international law, including political leaders and military commanders. In particular:
  • All regional and international actors should support the immediate conclusion of a durable, comprehensive, and mutually agreed ceasefire agreement, which must secure the rapid facilitation and access of humanitarian aid and the opening of borders to and from Gaza;
  • All High Contracting Parties to the Geneva Conventions must be urgently and unconditionally called upon to comply with their fundamental obligations, binding at all times, and to act under common Article 1, to take all measures necessary for the suppression of grave breaches, as clearly imposed by Article 146 and Article 147 of the Fourth Geneva Convention; these rules are applicable by all interested parties as well;
  • Moreover, we denounce the shameful political pressures exerted by several UN Member States and the UN on President Mahmoud Abbas, to discourage recourse to the International Criminal Court (ICC), and we urge the Governmental leaders of Palestine to invoke the jurisdiction of the ICC, by ratifying the ICC treaty and in the interim by resubmitting the declaration under Article 12(3) of the Rome Statute, in order to investigate and prosecute the serious international crimes committed on the Palestinian territory by all parties to the conflict; and
  • The UN Security Council must finally exercise its responsibilities in relation to peace and justice by referring the situation in Palestine to the Prosecutor of the ICC.

 

 

***

 

Please note that institutional affiliations are for identification purposes only.

 

 

  1. John Dugard, Former UN Special Rapporteur on human rights situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory
  2. Richard Falk, Former UN Special Rapporteur on human rights situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory
  3. Alain Pellet, Professor of Public International Law, University Paris Ouest, former Member of the United Nations International Law Commission, France
  4. Georges Abi-Saab, Emeritus Professor of International Law, Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, Geneva, Former Judge on the ICTY
  5. Vera Gowlland-Debbas, Emeritus Professor of International Law, Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, Geneva, Switzerland
  6. Chantal Meloni, Adjunct Professor of International Criminal Law, University of Milan, Italy (Rapporteur, Joint Declaration)

 

 

  1. Roy Abbott, Consultant in International Humanitarian Law and International Human Rights Law, Australia
  2. Lama Abu-Odeh, Law Professor, Georgetown University Law Center, USA
  3. Susan M. Akram, Clinical Professor and supervising attorney, International Human rights Program, Boston University School of Law, USA
  4. Taris Ahmad, Solicitor at Jones Day, London, UK
  5. Maria Anagnostaki, PhD candidate, Law School University of Athens, Greece
  6. Antony Anghie, Professor of Law, University of Utah, USA
  7. Nizar Ayoub, Director, Al-Marsad, Arab Human Rights Centre in Golan Heights
  8. Valentina Azarov, Lecturer in Human Rights and International Law, Al Quds Bard College, Palestine
  9. Ammar Bajboj, Lecturer in Law, University of Damascus, Syria
  10. Samia Bano, SOAS School of Law, London, UK
  11. Asli Ü Bali, Professor of Law, UCLA School of Law, USA
  12. Jakub Michał Baranowski, Phd Candidate, Universita’ degli Studi Roma Tre, Italy
  13. Frank Barat, Russell Tribunal on Palestine
  14. Emma Bell, Coordinator of the European Group for the Study of Deviance and Social Control, Université de Savoie, France
  15. Barbara Giovanna Bello, Post-doc Fellow, University of Milan, Italy
  16. Brenna Bhandar, Senior lecturer in Law, SOAS School of Law, London, UK
  17. George Bisharat, Professor of Law, UC Hastings College of Law, USA
  18. Barbara Blok, LLM Candidate, University of Essex, UK
  19. John Braithwaite, Professor of Criminology, Australian National University, Australia
  20. Michelle Burgis-Kasthala, lecturer in international law, University of Edinburgh, UK
  21. Eddie Bruce-Jones, Lecturer in Law, University of London, Birkbeck College, UK
  22. Sandy Camlann, LLM Candidate, Université Paris Ouest Nanterre La Défense, France
  23. Grazia Careccia, Human Rights Advocate, London, UK
  24. Baris Cayli, Impact Fellow, University of Stirling, UK
  25. Antonio Cavaliere, Professor of Criminal Law, University Federico II, Naples, Italy
  26. Kathleen Cavanaugh, Senior Lecturer, Irish Center for Human Rights, National University of Ireland, Galway, Ireland
  27. Elizabeth Chadwick, Reader in International Law, Nottingham, UK
  28. Donna R. Cline, Attorney at Law, USA
  29. Karen Corteen, Senior Lecturer in Criminology, University of Chester, UK
  30. Andrew Dahdal, Lecturer, Faculty of Business and Economics, Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia
  31. Teresa Dagenhardt, Reader in Criminology, Queen’s University Belfast, Northern Ireland
  32. Luigi Daniele, PhD candidate in Law, Italy
  33. Alessandro De Giorgi, Professor of Justice Studies, San Josè State University, USA
  34. Paul de Waart, Professor Emeritus of International Law, VU University, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
  35. Gabriele della Morte, Senior Lecturer in International Law, University Cattolica, Milan, Italy
  36. Max du Plessis, Professor of Law, University of Kwazulu-Natal, and Barrister, South Africa and London, UK
  37. Noura Erakat, Georgetown University, USA
  38. Mohammad Fadel, Associate Professor of Law, University of Toronto Faculty of Law, Canada
  39. Mireille Fanon-Mendés France, Independent Expert UNO, Frantz Fanon Foundation, France
  40. Michelle Farrell, lecturer in law, School of Law and Social Justice, University of Liverpool, UK
  41. Daniel Feierstein, Professor and President International Association of Genocide Scholars (IAGS), Argentina
  42. Eleonor Fernández Muñoz, Costa Rica
  43. Tenny Fernando, Attorney at Law, Sri Lanka
  44. Amelia Festa, LLM Candidate, University of Naples Federico II, Italy
  45. Katherine Franke, Professor of Law, Columbia Law School, USA
  46. Jacques Gaillot, Bishop in partibus of Patenia
  47. Katherine Gallagher, Vice President FIDH, senior attorney, Centre for Constitutional Rights (CCR), New York, USA
  48. Avo Sevag Garabet, LLM, University of Groningen, the Netherlands
  49. Jose Garcia Anon, Professor of Law, Human Rights Institute, University of Valencia, Valencia, Spain
  50. Irene Gasparini, PhD candidate, Universitá Cattolica, Milan, Italy
  51. Stratos Georgoulas, Assistant Professor, University of the Aegean, Greece
  52. Haluk Gerger, Professor, Turkey
  53. Hedda Giersten, Professor, Universitet I Oslo, Norway
  54. Javier Giraldo, Director Banco de Datos CINEP, Colombia
  55. Carmen G. Gonzales, Professor of Law, Seattle University School of Law, USA
  56. Penny Green, Professor of Law and Criminology, Director of the State Crime Initiative, King’s College London, UK
  57. Katy Hayward, Senior Lecturer in Sociology, Queen’s University Belfast, Northern Ireland
  58. Andrew Henley, PhD candidate, Keele University, UK
  59. Christiane Hessel, Paris, France
  60. Paddy Hillyard, Professor Emeritus, Queen’s University Belfast, Northern Ireland
  61. Ata Hindi, Institute of Law, Birzeit University, Palestine
  62. Francois Houtart, Professor, National Institute of Higher Studies, Quito, Ecuador
  63. Deena R. Hurwitz, Professor, General Faculty, Director International Human Rights Law Clinic, University of Virginia School of Law, USA
  64. Perfecto Andrés Ibánes, Magistrado Tribunal Supremo de Espagna, Spain
  65. Franco Ippolito, President of the Permanent People’s Tribunal, Italy
  66. Ruth Jamieson, Honorary Lecturer, School of Law, Queen’s University, Belfast, Northern Ireland
  67. Helen Jarvis, former member Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC), member of IAGS, Cambodia
  68. Ioannis Kalpouzos, Lecturer in Law, City Law School, London, UK
  69. Victor Kattan, post-doctoral fellow, Law Faculty, National University of Singapore
  70. Michael Kearney, PhD, Lecturer in Law, University of Sussex, UK
  71. Yousuf Syed Khan, USA
  72. Tarik Kochi, Senior Lecturer in Law, School of Law, Politics and Sociology, University of Sussex, UK
  73. Anna Koppel, MSt Candidate in International Human Rights Law, University of Oxford, UK
  74. Karim Lahidji, President of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and lawyer
  75. Giulia Lanza, PhD Candidate, Università degli Studi di Verona, Italy
  76. Daniel Machover, solicitor, Hickman & Rose, London, UK
  77. Tayyab Mahmud, Professor of Law, Director of the Centre for Global Justice, Seattle University School of Law, USA
  78. Maria C. LaHood, Senior Staff Attorney, CCR, New York, USA
  79. Louise Mallinder, Reader in Human Rights and International Law, University of Ulster, UK
  80. Triestino Mariniello, Lecturer in International Criminal Law, Edge Hill University, UK
  81. Mazen Masri, Lecturer in Law, The City Law School, City University, London, UK
  82. Siobhan McAlister, School of Sociology, Queen’s University Belfast, Northern Ireland
  83. Liam McCann, Principal Lecturer in Criminology, University of Lincoln, UK
  84. Jude McCulloch, Professor of Criminology, Monash University, Melbourne, Australia
  85. Yvonne McDermott Rees, Lecturer in Law, University of Bangor, UK
  86. Cahal McLaughlin, Professor, School of Creative Arts, Queen’s University Belfast, Northern Ireland
  87. Araks Melkonyan, LLM Candidate, University of Essex, UK
  88. Antonio Menna, PhD Candidate, Second University of Naples, Caserta, Italy
  89. Naomi Mezey, Professor of Law, Georgetown University Law Center, USA
  90. Michele Miravalle, PhD candidate, University of Torino, Italy
  91. Sergio Moccia, Professor of Criminal Law, University Federico II, Naples, Italy
  92. Kerry Moore, Lecturer, Cardiff University
  93. Giuseppe Mosconi, Professor of Sociology, University of Padova, Italy
  94. Usha Natarajan, Assistant Professor, Department of Law & Centre for Migration and Refugee Studies, The American University in Cairo, Egypt
  95. Miren Odriozola Gurrutxaga, PhD Candidate, University of the Basque Country, Donostia – San Sebastián, Spain
  96. Georgios Papanicolaou, Reader in Criminology, Teesside University, UK
  97. Marco Pertile, Senior Lecturer in International Law,
    Faculty of Law, University of Trento, Italy
  98. Andreas Philippopoulos-Mihalopoulos, Professor of Law and Theory, LLM, The Westminster Law and Theory Centre, UK
  99. Antoni Pigrau Solé, Universitat Rovira i Virgili de Tarragona, Spain
  100. Joseph Powderly, Assistant Professor of Public International Law, Leiden University, The Netherlands
  101. Tony Platt, Visiting Professor of Justice Studies, San Jose State University, USA
  102. Scott Poynting, Professor in Criminology, University of Auckland, New Zeeland
  103. Chris Powell, Professor of Criminology, University S.Maine, USA
  104. Bill Quigley, Professor, Loyola University, New Orleans College of Law, USA
  105. John Quigley, Professor of Law, Ohio State University
  106. Zouhair Racheha, PhD Candidate, University Jean Moulin Lyon 3, France
  107. Laura Raymond, International Human Rights Advocacy Program Manager, CCR, New York, USA
  108. Véronique Rocheleau-Brosseau, LLM candidate, Laval University, Canada
  109. David Rodríguez Goyes, Lecturer, Antonio Nariño and Santo Tomás Universities, Colombia
  110. Alessandro Rosanò, PhD Candidate, Università degli Studi di Padova, Italy
  111. Jamil Salem, Director Institute of Law, Birzeit University, Palestine
  112. Mahmood Salimi, LLM Candidate, Moofid University, Iran
  113. Nahed Samour, doctoral fellow, Humboldt University, Faculty of Law, Berlin, Germany
  114. Iain GM Scobbie, Professor of Public International Law, University of Manchester, UK
  115. David Scott, Senior Lecturer in Criminology, Liverpool John Moores University, UK
  116. Phil Scraton, Professor of Criminology, Belfast, Ireland
  117. Rachel Seoighe, PhD Candidate, Legal Consultant, King’s College London, UK
  118. Tanya Serisier, School of Sociology, Queen’s University Belfast, Northern Ireland
  119. Mohammad Shahabuddin, PdD, Visiting researcher, Graduate School of International Social Sciences, Yokohama National University, Japan
  120. Dean Spade, Seattle University School of Law, USA
  121. Per Stadig, lawyer, Sweden
  122. Chantal Thomas, Professor of Law, Cornell University, USA
  123. Kendall Thomas, Nash Professor of Law, Columbia University, USA
  124. Gianni Tognoni, Lelio Basso Foundation, Rome, Italy
  125. Steve Tombs, Professor of Criminology, The Open University, UK
  126. Paul Troop, Barrister, Garden Court Chambers, UK
  127. Valeria Verdolini, Reader in Sociology, University of Milan, Italy
  128. Francesca Vianello, University of Padova, Italy
  129. Aimilia Voulvouli, Assistant Professor of Sociology, Fatih University, Turkey
  130. Namita Wahi, Fellow, Centre for Policy Research, Dharma Marg, Chanakyapuri, New Delhi, India
  131. Sharon Weill, PhD, Science Po, Paris/ CERAH, Geneva, Switzerland
  132. Peter Weiss, Vice President of Centre for Constitutional Rights (CCR), New York, USA
  133. David Whyte, Reader in Sociology, University of Liverpool, UK
  134. Jeanne M. Woods, Henry F. Bonura, Jr. Distinguished Professor of Law, Loyola University College of Law, New Orleans, USA
  135. William Thomas Worster, Lecturer, International Law, The Hague University of Applied Sciences, The Netherlands
  136. Maung Zarni, Judge, PPT on Sri Lanka and Visiting Fellow, London School of Economics and Political Science

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cruelties of Ceasefire Diplomacy

27 Jul

[Prefatory Note: the post below is a revised text of an article published in AlJazeera America on July 26, 2014. Devastation and violence has continued in Gaza, with Palestinians deaths now numbering over 1000 (overwhelmingly civilians) and Israeli deaths latest reported at being 43 (almost all military personnel). Such casualty figures and disparities raise questions of state terrorism in a stark manner. Also, it should be appreciated that if Israel were to do what it is required by international law to do there would be no rockets directed at its population centers--lift the blockade, negotiate peace on the basis of the 2002 Arab proposals and Security Council 242. Yet this would require Israel to give up once and for all its expansionist vision embedded in the settlement phenomenon and the version of Zionism embraced by its leaders and reigning political parties. The best that the UN has been able to do is to call for an "immediate and unconditional ceasefire" to allow the delivery of humanitarian aid at an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council; such an unseemly balancing act is not what the UN Charter had in mind by aligning the international community in opposition to states that break the peace and act aggressively in disregard of international law; a victimized people deserves protection, not some sort of display of deforming geopolitical symmetry.]

 

So far, the diplomatic effort to end the violence in Gaza has failed miserably, most recently with Israel’s cabinet rejecting a ceasefire proposal from U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry. This attempt by Washington is representative of the overall failure of American policy toward the Israel-Palestine conflict, only on this occasion the consequences can be measured in the growing pile of dead bodies and the widespread devastation that includes numerous homes, public buildings and even artillery damage to several United Nations schools sheltering Palestinian civilians.

 

The U.S. approach fails because it exhibits extreme partisanship in a setting where trust, credibility and reciprocity are crucial if the proclaimed aim of ending the violence is the true objective of this exhibition of statecraft. Kerry is undoubtedly dedicated to achieving a cease-fire, just as he demonstrated for most of the past year a sincerity of commitment in pushing so hard for a negotiated peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. Yet throughout the failed peace process the United States exhibited all along this discrediting extreme partisanship, never more blatantly than when it designated Martin Indyk, a former staff member of the America Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) and former ambassador to Israel, to serve as the U.S. special envoy throughout the peace talks.

 

The U.S. approach up to this point to achieving a ceasefire in Gaza has been undertaken in a manner that is either woefully ignorant of the real constraints or callously cynical about their relevance. This is especially clear from the initial attempt to bring about a cease-fire by consulting only one side, Israel — the party bearing the major responsibility for causing massive casualties and damage — and leaving Hamas out in the cold. Even if this is a unavoidable consequence of Hamas being treated as “a terrorist entity,” it still makes no sense in the midst of such carnage to handle diplomacy in such a reckless manner when lives were daily at stake. When Israel itself has wanted to deal with Hamas in the past, it had no trouble doing so — for instance, when it arranged the prisoner exchange that led to the release of the single captured Israeli soldier Gilad Schalit back in 2011.

 

The basic facts seem so calculated to end in diplomatic failure that it is difficult to explain how they could have happened: The U.S. relied on Egypt as the broker of a proposal it vetted, supposedly with the approved text delivered personally by Tony Blair to President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi in Cairo, secreted endorsed by the Netanyahu government, and then publicly announced on July 15 via the media as a ceasefire proposal accepted by Israel, without Hamas having been consulted, or even previously informed. It’s a diplomatic analogue to the theater of the absurd. Last July, then-General Sisi was the Egyptian mastermind of a coup that brutally cracked down on the Muslim Brotherhood and criminalized the entire organization. The Sisi government has made no secret of its unrelenting hostility to Hamas, which it views as an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood and alleged responsibility for insurgent violence in the Sinai. Egypt destroyed the extensive tunnel network connecting Gaza with the outside world created to circumvent the punitive Israeli blockade that has been maintained since 2007. Was there ever any reason for Hamas to accept such a humiliating ceasefire arrangement? As some respected Israeli commentators have suggested, most prominently Amira Hass, the “normalization” of the occupation is what the Israeli military operation Protective Edge is all about. What Hass suggests is that Israel is seeking a compliant Palestinian response to an occupation that has for all intents and purposes become permanent, and seems to believe that such periodic shows of force will finally break once and for all the will to resist, symbolized by Hamas and its rockets, and now its tunnels. In this respect, the recent move to establish a unity government reconciling the Palestinian Authority with Hamas was a setback for the normalization policy, especially suggesting that even the PA could no longer be taken for granted as an acceptably compliant ‘partner,’ not for peace, but for occupation.

 

Whatever ambiguity might surround the Kerry diplomacy, the fact that the cease-fire’s terms were communicated to Hamas via the media, made the proposal a “take it or leave it” clearly designed to show the world that Hamas would never be treated as a political actor with grievances of its own. Such a way of proceeding also ignored the reasonable conditions Hamas had posited as the basis of a cease-fire it could accept. These conditions included an unwavering insistence on ending the unlawful seven-year siege of Gaza, releasing prisoners arrested in the anti-Hamas campaign in the West Bank prior to launching the military operation on July 8, and stopping interference with the unity government that brought Hamas and the Palestinian Authority together on June 3. Kerry, by contrast, was urging both sides to restore the cease-fire text that had been accepted in November 2012 after the previous major Israeli military attack upon Gaza, but relevantly, had never been fully implemented producing continuous tensions.

 

Hamas’ chief leader, Khaled Meshaal, has been called “defiant” by Kerry because he would not go along with this tilted diplomacy. “Everyone wanted us to accept a ceasefire and then negotiate for our rights,” Meshaal said. This was tried by Hamas in 2012 and didn’t work. As soon as the violence ceased, Israel refused to follow through on the cease-fire agreement that had promised negotiations seeking an end of the blockade and an immediate expansion of Gazan fishing rights.

 

In the aftermath of Protective Edge is it not reasonable, even mandatory, for Hamas to demand a firm commitment to end the siege of Gaza, which has been flagrantly unlawful since it was first imposed in mid-2007? Israel as the occupying power has an obligation under the Geneva Conventions to protect the civilian population of an occupied people. Israel claims that its “disengagement” in 2005, involving the withdrawal of security forces and the dismantling of settlements, ended such obligations. Such a position is legally (and morally) unacceptable, a view almost universally shared in the international community, since the persistence of effective Israeli control of entry and exit, as well as air and sea, and violent incursions amounts to a shift in the form of occupation — not its end. Israel is certainly justified in complaining about the rockets, but the maintenance of an oppressive regime of collective punishment on the civilians of Gaza is an ongoing crime. And it should be appreciated that more often than not, Israel provokes the rockets by recourse to aggressive policies of one sort or another or that most primitive rockets are fired by breakaway militia groups that Hamas struggles to control. A full and unbiased account of the interaction of violence across the Gaza border would not find that Israel was innocent and only Hamas was at fault. The story is far more complicated, and not an occasion for judging which side is entitled to be seen as acting in self-defense.

 

In “Turkey Can Teach Israel How to End Terror,” an insightful July 23 article in The New York Times, the influential Turkish journalist Mustafa Akyol drew from the experience of his country in ending decades of violent struggle between the insurgent Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and the Turkish state. Akyol “congratulated” Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan (while taking critical note of his “growing authoritarianism”) for ending the violence in Turkey two years ago by agreeing with the imprisoned PKK leader, Abdullah Ocalan, to initiate conflict-resolving negotiations in good faith and abandon the “terrorist” label. Some years ago I heard former British Prime Minister John Major say that he made progress toward peace in Northern Ireland only when he stopped treating the Irish Republican Army as a terrorist organization and began dealing with it as a political actor with genuine grievances. If a secure peace were ever to become Israel’s true objective, this is a lesson to be learned and imitated.

 

Just as with the peace process itself, the time has surely come for a credible ceasefire to take account of the views and interests of both sides, and bring this sustained surge of barbaric violence to an end. International law and balanced diplomacy are available to do this if the political will were to emerge on the Israeli side, which seems all but impossible without the combination of continuing Palestinian resistance and mounting pressure from outside by way of the BDS campaign and the tactics of a militant, nonviolent global solidarity movement.

 

 

Israel’s Politics of Deflection

30 Sep

 

Israel’s Politics of Deflection: Theory and Practice

 

General Observations

 

During my period as the UN Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in Palestine on behalf of the Human Rights Council I have been struck by the persistent efforts of Israel and its strong civil society adjuncts to divert attention from the substance of Palestinian grievances or the consideration of the respective rights of Israel and Palestine under international law. I have also observed that many, but by not means all of those who represent the Palestinians seem strangely reluctant to focus on substance or to take full advantage of opportunities to use UN mechanisms to challenge Israel on the terrain of international law and morality.

 

            This Palestinian reluctance is more baffling than are the Israeli diversionary tactics. It seems clear that international law supports Palestinian claims on the major issues in contention: borders, refugees, Jerusalem, settlements, resources (water, land), statehood, and human rights. Then why not insist on resolving the conflict by reference to international law with such modifications as seem mutually beneficial? Of course, those representing the Palestinians in international venues are aware of these opportunities, and are acting on the basis of considerations that in their view deserve priority.  It is disturbing that this passivity on the Palestinian side persists year after year, decade after decade. There are partial exceptions: support for recourse to the International Court of Justice to contest the construction of the separation wall, encouragement of the establishment of the Goldstone Fact-finding Inquiry investigating Israeli crimes after the 2008-09 attacks on Gaza, and the Human Rights Council’ Independent International Fact-finding Mission on  Isreali settlement expansion (report 22 March 2012). But even here, Palestinian officialdom will not push hard to have these symbolic victories implemented in ways that alter the behavioral realities on the ground, and maybe even if they did do their best, nothing would change.

 

             On the Israeli side, diversion and the muting of legal and legitimacy claims, is fully understandable as a way to blunt challenges from adversary sources: seeking to have the normative weakness of the Israeli side offset by an insistence that if there is to be a solution it must be based on the facts on the ground, whether these are lawful or not, and upon comparative diplomatic leverage and negotiating skill in a framework that is structurally biased in favor of Israel. The recently exhumed direct negotiations between the Palestinian Authority and the Government of Israel exemplify this approach: proceeding despite the absence of preconditions as to compliance with international law even during the negotiations, reliance on the United States as the convening intermediary, and the appointment by President Obama of an AIPAC anointed Special Envoy (Martin Indyk), the latter underscoring the absurd one-sidedness of the diplomatic framework. It would seem that the Palestinians are too weak and infirm to cry ‘foul,’ but merely play along as if good natured, obedient, and frightened schoolchildren while the bullies rule the schoolyard.

 

           Such a pattern is discouraging for many reasons: it weights the diplomatic process hopelessly in favor of the materially stronger side that has taken full advantage of the failure to resolve the conflict by grabbing more and more land and resources; it makes it virtually impossible to imagine a just and sustainable peace emerging out of such a process at this stage; it plays a cruel game in which the weaker side is almost certain to be made to seem unreasonable because it will not accept what the stronger side is prepared to offer, which is insultingly little; and it allows the stronger side to use the process and time interval of the negotiations as an opportunity to consolidate its unlawful claims,  benefitting from the diversion of attention.

 

          There are two interwoven concerns present: the pernicious impacts of the politics of deflection as an aspect of conflictual behavior in many settings, especially where there are gross disparities in hard power and material position; the specific politics of deflection as a set of strategies devised and deployed with great effectiveness by Israel in its effort to attain goals with respect to historic Palestine that far exceed what the UN and the international community had conferred. The section that follows deals with the politics of deflection only in the Israel/Palestine context

 

 

The Specific Dynamics of the Politics of Deflection

 

            –anti-Semitism: undoubtedly the most disturbing behavior by Israel and its supporters is to deflect attention from substance in the conflict and the abuses of the occupation is to dismiss criticism of Israel as anti-Semitism or to defame the critic as an anti-Semite. This is pernicious for two reasons: first, because it exerts a huge influence because anti-Semitism has been so totally discredited, even criminalized, in the aftermath of World War II that featured the exposure and repudiation of the Holocaust; secondly, because by extending the reach of anti-Semitism to address hostile commentary on Israel a shift of attention occurs—away from the core evil of ethnic and racial hatred to encompass the quite reasonable highly critical appraisal of Israeli behavior toward the Palestinian people by reference to overarching norms of law and morality.

 

              This misuse of language to attack Jewish critics of Israel by  irresponsible characterizations of critics as  ‘self-hating Jews.’ Such persons might exist, but to infer their existence because of their criticisms of Israel or opposition to the Zionist Project functions as a means to move inhibit open discussion and debate, and to avoid substantive issues. It tends to be effective as a tactic as few people are prepared to take the time and trouble to investigate the fairness and accuracy of such allegations, and so once the shadow is cast, many stay clear of the conflict or come to believe that  criticism of Israel is of less interest than are the pros and cons of the personal accusations.  Strong Zionist credentials will not insulate a Jew from such allegations as Richard Goldstone discovered when he was vilified by the top  tier of Israeli leadership after chairing a fact-finding inquiry that confirmed allegations of Israeli war crimes in the course of Operation Cast Lead. Even the much publicized subsequent Goldstone ‘retraction’ did little to rehabilitate the reputation of the man in Israeli eyes, although his change of heart as to the main allegation of his own report (a change rejected by the other three members of the inquiry group), was successfully used by Israeli apologists to discredit and bury the report, again illustrating a preference for deflection as opposed to substance.

 

            Even such global moral authority figures as Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Jimmy Carter have been called anti-Semites because they dared to raise their voices about the wrongs that Israel has inflicted on the Palestinian people, specifically identifying the discriminatory legal structures of the occupation as an incipient form of apartheid.

 

            In the unpleasant course of being myself a frequent target of such vilifying techniques, I have discovered that it is difficult to make reasoned responses that do not have the effect of accentuating my plight. To fail to respond leaves an impression among some bystanders that there must be something to the accusations or else there would be forthcoming a reasoned and well-evidenced response. To answer such charges is to encourage continuing attention to the allegations, provides the accusing side with another occasion to repeat the charges by again cherry picking the evidence. NGOs such as UN Watch and UN Monitor specialize in managing such hatchet jobs.

 

            What is more disturbing than the attacks themselves than their resonance among those holding responsible positions in government and international institutions, as well as widely respected liberal organizations. In my case, the UN Secretary General, the U.S. ambassadors at the UN in New York and Geneva, the British Prime Minister, and the Canadian Foreign Minister. Not one of these individuals bothered to check with me as to my response to the defamatory allegations or apparently took the trouble to check on whether there was a credible basis for such damaging personal attacks. Even the liberal mainstream human rights powerhouse, Human Rights Watch, buckled under when pressured by UN Watch, invoking a long neglected technical rule to obtain my immediate removal from a committee, and then lacked the decency to explain that my removal was not ‘a dismissal’ when

UN Watch claimed ‘victory,’ and proceeded to tell the UN and other bodies that if Human Rights Watch had expelled me, surely I should be expelled elsewhere. I learned, somewhat bitterly, that HRW has feet of clay when it came to standing on principle in relation to someone like myself who has

been the victim of repeated calumnies because of an effort to report honestly and accurately on Israeli violations of Palestinian rights.

 

            –Auspices/Messenger: A favorite tactic of those practicing the politics of deflection is to contend that the auspices are biased, and thus whatever substantive criticisms might issue from such an organization should be disregarded. Israel and the United States frequently use this tactic to deflect criticism of Israel that is made in the UN System, especially if it emanates from the Human Rights Council in Geneva or the General Assembly. The argument is reinforced by the similarly diversionary claim that Israeli violations are given a disproportionately large share of attention compared to worse abuses in other countries, especially those in sub-Saharan Africa. Also, there is the complementary complaint that some of the members of the Human Rights Council themselves have appalling human rights records that disqualify them from passing judgment, thereby exhibiting the hypocrisy of criticisms directed at Israel.

 

            It is tiresome to respond to such lines of attack, but important to do so.

First of all, in my experience, the UN has always made fact-based criticisms of Israeli policies and practices, appointed individuals with strong professional credentials and personal integrity, and painstakingly reviewed written material prior to publication to avoid inflammatory or inaccurate criticisms. Beyond this, Israel is almost always given an opportunity to review material critical of its behavior before it is released, and almost never avails itself of this chance to object substantively. In my experience, the UN, including the Human Rights Council, leans over backwards to be fair to Israel, and to take account of Israeli arguments even when Israel declines to make a case on its own behalf.

 

            Further, the heightened attention given to Palestinian grievances is a justified result of the background of the conflict. It needs to be remembered that it was the UN that took over historic Palestine from the United Kingdom after World War II, decreeing a partition solution in GA Resolution 181 without ever consulting the indigenous population, much less obtaining their consent. The UN approach in 1947 failed to solve the problem, consigning Palestinians to decades of misery due to the deprivation of their fundamental rights as of 1948, the year of the nakba, a national experience of catastrophic dispossession. Through the years the UN has provided guidelines for behavior and a peaceful solution of the conflict, most notably Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338, which have not been implemented. The UN has for more than a decade participated in The Quartet tasked with implementing ‘the roadmap’ designed to achieve peace, but not followed, allowing Israel to encroach more and more on the remnant of Palestinian rights via settlement expansions, wall construction, residence manipulations, apartheid administrative structures, land confiscations, house demolitions. The UN has been consistently frustrated in relation to Palestine in a manner that is unique in UN experience, making the issue a litmus test of UN credibility to promote global justice and overcome the suffering of a dispossessed and occupied people.

 

            Usually, the attack on the sponsorship of a critical initiative is reinforced by scathing screed directed at anyone prominently associated with the undertaking. The attacks on the legendary Edward Said, the one Palestinian voice in America that could not be ignored, were rather vicious, often characterizing this most humanist among public intellectuals, as the ‘Professor of Terror.’ The most dogmatic defenders of Israel never tired of trying to make this label stick by showing a misleadingly presented picture of Said harmlessly throwing a stone at an abandoned guard house during a visit to southern Lebanon not long before his death as if a heinous act of violence against a vulnerable Israeli soldier. This effort to find something, however dubious, that could be used to discredit an influential critic disregard the ethics of fairness and decency. In my case, an accidentally posted cartoon, with

an anti-Semitic angle has been endlessly relied upon by my most mean-spirited detractors, although any fair reading of my past and present scholarship, together with the blog psot in which it appeared in which Israel is not even mentioned, would conclude that its sole purpose of highlighting the cartoon was to defame, and by so doing, deflect.

 

            In like manner, the use of the label ‘terrorist’ has been successfully manipulated by Israel in relation to Hamas to avoid dealing with its presence as the elected governing authority in Gaza or in responding to its offers of long-term coexistence provided the blockade of Gaza is ended and Israeli forces withdraw to 1967 borders. The Hamas demands are really nothing more than a call for the implementation of international law and UNSC resolutions, and thus highly reasonable from the perspective of fairness to both sides, but Israel is not interested in such fairness, and hence avoids responding to the substance of the Hamas proposals by insisting that it is unwilling to respond to a terrorist organization. Such a stubborn position is maintained, and supported by the United States and EU, despite Hamas’ successful participation in an electoral process, its virtual abandonment of violent resistance, and its declared readiness for diplomatic accommodations with Israel and the United States.

 

            If the messenger delivering the unwelcome message lacks prominence or the campaign of vilification does not altogether succeed, then at governmental levels, Israel, and the United States as well, will do its best to show contempt for criticism for the whole process by boycotting proceedings at which the material  is presented. This has been my

experience at recent meetings of the Human Rights Council and the Third Committee of the General Assembly where my reports are presented on a semi-annual basis and Israel and the United States make it a point to be absent. There is an allocation of the work of deflection: at the governmental end substance is often evaded by pretending not to notice, while pro-Israeli NGOs pound away, shamelessly repeating over and over the same quarter truths, which often are not even related to their main contention of biased reporting. In my case, UN Watch harps on my supposed membership in the ranks of 9/11 conspiracy theorists, an allegation that I have constantly explained to be contrary to my frequently articulated views on the 9/11 attacks. It makes no difference what I say or what are the facts of my position

once the defamatory attack has been launched.

 

            Diplomatic Deflection: The entire Oslo peace process, with its periodically revived negotiations, has served as an essential instrument of deflection for the past twenty years. It diverts the media from any consideration of Israel’s expansionist practices during the period that the parties are futilely negotiating, and succeeds in making critics and criticism of Israel’s occupation policies seem obstructive of the overarching goal of ending the conflict and bringing peace to the two peoples.

 

            Geopolitical Deflection: Although not solely motivated by the goals of deflection, the bellicose focus by Israel on Iran’s nuclear program, has seemed so dangerous for the region and the world that it has made Palestinian grievances appear trivial by comparison. It has also led outside political actors to believe that it would be provocative to antagonize Israeli leadership in relation to Palestine at a time when there were such strong worries that Israel might attack Iran or push the United States in such a direction. To a lesser extent the preoccupations with the effects of the Arab upheavals, especially in Syria and Egypt, have had the incidental benefit for Israel of diminishing still further regional and global pressures relating to Palestinian grievances and rights. This distraction, a kind of spontaneous deflection, has given Israel more time to consolidate their annexationist plans in the West Bank and Jerusalem, which makes the still lingering peace image of a two-state solution a convenient mirage, no more, no less.

 

 

A Concluding Comment: Overall, the politics of deflection is a repertoire of techniques used to shift the gaze away from the merits of a dispute. Israel has relied on these techniques with devastating effects for the Palestinians. The purpose of my analysis is to encourage Palestinians in all settings to do their best to keep the focus on substance and respective rights. Perhaps, it is time for all of us to learn from the brave Palestinian hunger strikers whose nonviolent defiance of Israeli detention abuse operated with laser like intensity to call attention to prison and administrative injustice. Unfortunately, the media of the world was silent, including those self-righteous liberal pundits who had for years urged the Palestinians to confront Israel nonviolently, and then sit back, and find satisfaction in the response from Tel Aviv. Waiting for Godot is not a matter of patience, but of ignorance!

 

 

  

Resolving the Syrian Chemical Weapons Crisis: Sunlight and Shadows

15 Sep

 

            The Putin Moment: Not only did Vladimir Putin exhibit a new constructive role for Russia in 21st statecraft, spare Syria and the Middle East from another cycleof escalating violence, but he articulated this Kremlin initiative in the form of a direct appeal to the American people. There were reasons to be particularly surprised by this display of Russian diplomacy: not since Nikita Khrushchev helped save the world from experiencing the catastrophe of nuclear war in the Cuban missile crisis of 1962 by backing down and agreeing to a face-saving formula for both superpowers, had Moscow distinguished itself in any positive way with respect to the conduct of international relations; for Putin to be so forthcoming, without being belligerent, was particularly impressive in view of Obama’s rather ill-considered cancellation only a few weeks ago of a bilateral meeting with the Russian leader because of Washington’s supposed anger at the refusal of the Russian government to turn the NSA whistleblower, Edward Snowden, over to the United States for criminal prosecution under American espionage laws; and finally, considering that Putin has much blood on his hands given past policies pursued in relation to Chechnya and in the autocratic treatment of domestic political opposition, it was hard to expect anything benevolent during his watch. And so Putin is emerging as a virtual ‘geopolitical black swan,’ making unanticipated moves of such a major character as to have the potential to transform the character of conflict management and resolution in the 21st century.  It should be understood that Putin could have stayed on the sidelines, and benefitted from seeing Obama sink deeper and deeper into the Syrian quagmire, and instead he stepped in with a momentous move that seems to have served the regional and global interest.

Putin has explained in a coherent manner in his opinion piece that was published in the NY Times on September 11th (without invoking the symbolism of  the twelfth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks) that his approach to Russian foreign policy relies on two instruments: soft power and economic diplomacy. He acknowledged American leadership, but only if exercised within a framework of respect for international law and the UN Charter. And he appropriately took issue with Obama’s sentiments expressed a night earlier to the effect that America in its leadership role had a unique entitlement to use force to overcome injustice in situations other than self-defense and even without authorization by the UN Security Council. It was Putin, perhaps disingenuously, who claimed (quite correctly) that such a prerogative was “extremely dangerous.” He rejected Obama’s pretension that a unilateral discretion with respect to the use of force could be inferred from American exceptionalism. Whether disingenuous or not, the requirement of a Security Council authorization for non-defensive uses of force, while sometimes preventing a peacekeeping response by the UN to certain tragic situations of civil strife and humanitarian crisis overall contributed to finding diplomatically agreed upon solutions for conflict and enabled the UN (unlike the League of Nations) to persist despite severe tensions among its dominant members. Let hope that this Putin vituoso exhibition of creative diplomacy prompts his counterpart in the White House to explore more diligently soft power opportunities that will better protect American national interests, while simultaneously serving the global interest in war prevention and the rejection of militarism, and might also have the added benefit of reversing the steady decline of American credibility as a benevolent global leader ever since the end of the Cold War.

Constitutional Balance: Perhaps what might be of even greater importance than averting an ill-considered punitive attack on Syria, is the grounding of recourse to war on the major republican premise of Congressional authorization. There is little doubt that here the efficient cause and anti-hero was David Cameron, who turned to Parliament to support his wish to join with Obama in the attack coalition despite the anti-war mood in British public opinion. Cameron was politically spared by the vote of the House of Commons to withhold authorization. It is hard to believe that Obama’s decision to seek authorization from the U.S. Congress was not a belated realization that if Britain deferred to its Parliament as an expression of constitutional democracy, it would be unseemly for the United States to go to war without the formal backing of Congress. Of course, the Putin initiative saved Obama from the near certain embarrassment of being turned down by Congress, which would mean that either he would follow in Cameron’s and face savage criticism from his hawkish boosters or insist upon his authority as Commander in Chief to act on his own, a prerogative that seems constitutional dubious to support a bill of impeachment. Beyond this, the War Powers Act that would seem to require some emergency justification for the presidential bypassing of Congress in the context of a proposed military action. Hopefully, we are witnessing, without an accompanying acknowledgement, the downfall of the ‘imperial presidency’ that got its start during the Vietnam War. The governmental pendulum in the United States may have started to swing back toward the separation of powers and checks and balances, and thus be more in keeping with the original republican hopes of limited executive authority, especially in relation to war making. This renewal of republican constitutionalism, combined with growing populist skepticism about military adventures abroad, might make this Syrian crisis of decision a welcome tipping point, reversing the unhealthy subordination of Congress in war/peace situations during the last half century and anti-democratic disregard of the views of the citizenry.

But it is also possible that the imprudence of the proposed punitive strike against Syria will turn out to be a one-off experience, and that when and if Iran clearly crosses the weapons threshold in its nuclear program, the presidency will retrieve its lost claims to be the unilateral guardian of national, regional, and global interests without feeling that it must await authorization from the Congress and the UN. Note that Congressional approval, even if in concert with the President, cannot sanitize a use of force that is illegal under international law. It is the state as a whole that is bound by the constraints of international law, and not just the head of state. There are two distinct issues present: the domestic constitutional requirement of collective authorization for recourse to war by the United States; and the complementary international requirement of acting in compliance with international law and the UN Charter (which is itself acknowledged in supremacy clause of the Constitution with respect to validly ratified treaties).

Coercive Diplomacy: Obama/Kerry contend that Syria’s chemical weapons would never have been put under international controls and in an atmosphere of unprecedented international cooperation, but for the credible threats mounted by the U.S. Government. In this regard, the poker style bluff can be said to have worked without any sure proof that the threat would have been carried out in the face of a refusal by Congress to authorize and the public failure to show support for an attack. As matters now seem to be unfolding, assuming that the plans for abolishing the chemical weapons of Syria proceed as agreed, threat diplomacy will be applauded by the Obama administration without any widespread sensitivity to the fact that the international law as embodied in Article 2(4) of the UN Charter prohibits ‘threats’ as well as ‘uses’ of force, although such a prohibition has not been taken seriously as part of the ‘living law’ despite its status as a prime instance of ‘positive law.’ The categorical language of Article 2(4) is unmistakeable: “All Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity and political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the Purposes of the United Nations.”

Syria and its People: In the background of the diplomatic controversy about what to do in response to the large-scale lethal use of sarin gas against the people of Syria on August 21st, was the awareness that such an attack did not even pretend to end the violence in Syria or to produce regime change in Damascus or to change the balance of force in the civil war. From this perspective, it seemed mainly a punitive strike that upheld Obama’s red line credibility, although there was an additional argument set forth that a military strike would have a deterrent impact on any contemplated future recourse to chemical weaponry by the Assad regime and other political actors, assuming that the allegations that the Syrian government order the attack are confirmed and reinforced by the reports of the UN inspection team and other respected sources.

What tends to be given only a secondary glance is the effects of an attack on the Syrian people who have been subject to a harrowing ordeal these past two years that has resulted in over 100,000 deaths, countless wounded, and an estimated 7,000,000, almost one-third of the population, as either internally displaced or forced into overcrowded and under-resourced refugee camps in neighboring countries. Beyond this, the always vulnerable Palestinians have endured Syrian attacks on their refugee camps forcing them to flee once more, to become, quite incredibly, refugees from their refugee arrangements, a largely untold Palestinian tragedy hidden within the larger Syrian tragedy. There is almost no political will on the outside to do anything to stop either the proxy war being waged by states external to Syria or the internal struggle being waged by a fragmented opposition against a discredited government that has been incredibly cruel to its own citizens and strangely indifferent to the great cultural and religious heritage of their own country. There are even grotesque murmurings in the background of strategic chatter in Western circles, suggesting that the best outcome is not an end to the violence, but its indefinite continuation with an effort to calibrate future arms supplies and humanitarian aid with the principal aim of making sure that neither side can achieve victory. If this is not an exposure of the raw immorality of strategic discourse at its immoral nadir, I am not sure what would be.

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