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Did Israel Commit Genocide in Gaza?

9 Oct

[Prefatory Note: the post below is a somewhat revised version of a text published by The Nation, and to be found at the following link. I should also point out that in these proceedings in Brussels under the auspices of the Russell Tribunal I served as a member of the jury]

 

 

In a special session of the Russell Tribunal held in Brussels on September 24th, Israel’s military operation Protective Edge was critically scrutinized from the perspective of international law, including the core allegation of genocide. The process featured a series of testimonies by legal and weapons experts, health workers, journalists and others most of whom had experienced the 50 days of military assault.

 

A jury composed of prominent individuals from around the world, known for their moral engagement with issues of the day that concerned their societies, and also the wellbeing of humanity, assessed the evidence with the help of an expert legal team of volunteers that helped with the preparation of the findings and analysis for consideration by the jury, which deliberated and debated all relevant issues of fact and law, above all the question of how to respond to the charge of genocide.

 

 

It should be acknowledged that this undertaking was never intended to be a neutral inquiry without any predispositions. It was brought into being because of the enormity of the devastation caused by Protective Edge and the spectacle of horror associated with deploying a high technology weaponry to attack a vulnerable civilian population of Gaza locked into the combat zone that left no place to hide. It also responded to the failures of the international community to do more to stop the carnage, and condemn Israel’s disproportionate uses of force against this essentially helpless and beleaguered civilian population. Israel’s contested military operations targeted many legally forbidden targets, including UN buildings used as shelters, residential neighborhoods, hospitals and clinics, and mosques. In defense of these tactics, Israel claimed that rockets and ammunition were stored in these buildings and that Hamas rocket launchers were deliberately placed in the structures that had been singled out for attack. The evidence presented did not confirm these Israeli claims.

 

Although the Russell Tribunal proceeded from the presumed sense that Israel was responsible for severe wrongdoing, it made every effort to be scrupulous in the presentation of evidence and the interpretation of applicable international law, and relied on testimony from individuals with established reputations as persons of integrity and conscience. Among the highlights of the testimony were a report on damage to hospitals and clinics given by Dr. Mads Gilbert, a Norwegian doctor serving in a Gaza hospital during the attacks, Mohammed Omer, a widely respected  journalist who daily reported from the combat zone, Max Blumenthal, the prize winning journalist who was in Gaza throughout Protective Edge and analyzed for the jury the overall political design that appeared to explain the civilian targeting patterns, and David Sheen, who reported in agonizing detail on the racist hatred exhibited by prominent Israelis during the period of combat, widely echoed by Israelis in the social media, and never repudiated by the leadership or public in Tel Aviv.

 

The jury had little difficulty concluding that the pattern of attack, as well as the targeting, amounted to a series of war crimes that were aggravated by the commission of crimes against humanity, most centrally the imposition of a multi-faceted regime of collective punishment upon the entire civilian population of Gaza in flagrant and sustained violation of Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention. A further notable legal finding was the rejection of the central Israel claim of acting in self-defense against rocket attacks directed at Israel.

 

There were several reasons given for reaching this conclusion: the claim of self-defense does not exist in relation to resistance mounted by an occupied people, and Gaza from the perspective of international law remains occupied due to Israeli persisting effective control despite Israel’s purported disengagement in 2005 (more properly characterized as a military redployment); the rockets fired from Gaza were partly at least in response to prior Israeli unlawful provocations, including the mass detention of several hundred persons loosely associated with Hamas in the West Bank and incitement to violence against Palestinians as revenge for the murder of the three kidnapped Israeli settler children; and finally, the minimal damage done by the rockets, seven civilian deaths over the entire period, is too small a security threat to qualify as “an armed attack” as is required by the UN Charter to uphold a claim of self-defense. At the same time, despite these mitigating factors, the jury did not doubt the unlawfulness of firing of numerous rockets into Israel that were incapable of distinguishing between military and civilian targets. This form of unlawful resistance was attributed to both Hamas and independent Palestinian militias operating within the Gaza Strip.

 

A focus of concern in the jury deliberations before and after the proceedings themselves was how to address the allegation of ‘genocide,’ which has been described as ‘the crimes of crimes.’ The jury was sensitive to the differences between the journalistic and political uses of the word ‘genocide’ to describe various forms of collective violence directed at ethnic and religious minorities, and the more demanding legal definition of genocide that requires compelling and unambiguous evidence of a specific ‘intent to destroy’.

 

The testimony made this issue complex and sensitive. It produced a consensus on the jury that the evidence of genocide was sufficient to make it appropriate and responsible to give careful consideration as to whether the crime of genocide had actually been committed by Israel in the course of carrying out Protective Edge. This was itself an acknowledgement that there was a genocidal atmosphere in Israel in which high officials made statements supporting the destruction, elimination, and subjugation of Gazans as a people, and such inflammatory assertions were at no time repudiated by the Netanyahu leadership or subject to criminal investigation, let alone any legal proceedings. Furthermore, the sustained bombardment of Gaza under circumstances where the population had no opportunity to leave or to seek sanctuary within the Gaza Strip lent further credibility to the charge of genocide. The fact that Protective Edge was the third large-scale, sustained military assault on this unlawfully blockaded, impoverished, and endangered population, also formed part of the larger genocidal context.

 

Further in the background, yet perhaps most relevant consideration of all, Israel failed to exhaust diplomatic remedies before its recourse to force, as required by international law and the UN Charter. Israel had the option of lifting the blockade and exploring the prospects for long-term arrangements for peaceful co-existence that Hamas had proposed numerous times in recent years. Such initiatives were spurned by Israel on the ground that it would not

deal with a terrorist organization.

 

Despite the incriminating weight of these factors, there were legal doubts as to the crime of genocide. The political and military leaders of Israel never explicitly endorsed the pursuit of genocidal goals, and purported to seek a ceasefire during the military campaign. There was absent a clear official expression of intent to commit genocide as distinct from the intensification of the regime of collective punishment that was convincingly documented. The presence of genocidal behavior and language even if used in government circles is not by itself sufficient to conclude that Protective Edge, despite its scale and fury, amounted to the commission of the crime of genocide.

 

What the jury did agree upon, however, was that Israeli citizens, including officials, appear to have been guilty in several instances of the separate crime of Incitement to Genocide that is specified in Article 3(c) of the Genocide Convention. It also agreed that the additional duty of Israel and others, especially the United States and Europe, to act to prevent genocide was definitely engaged by Israeli behavior. In this regard the Tribunal is sending an urgent message of warning to Israel and an appeal to the UN and the international community to uphold the Genocide Convention, and act to prevent any further behavior by Israel that would cross the line, and satisfy the difficult burden of proof that must be met if the conclusion is to be reached that the crime of genocide is being committed. At some point, the accumulation of genocidal acts will be reasonably understood as satisfying the high evidentiary bar that must be reached so as to conclude that Israel had committed genocide.

 

Many will react to this assessment of Protective Edge as lacking legal authority and dismiss the finding of the jury as merely recording the predictable views of a biased ‘kangaroo court.’ Such allegations have been directed at the Russell Tribunal ever since its establishment in the mid-1960s by the great English philosopher, Bertrand Russell, in the midst of the Vietnam War. These first sessions of the Russell Tribunal similarly assessed charges of war crimes associated with U.S. tactics in Vietnam, and in Russell’s words, represented a stand of citizens of conscience ‘against the crime of silence.’ This latest venture of the tribunal has a similar mission in relation to Israel’s actions in Gaza, although less against silence than the crime of indifference.

 

It is my view that such tribunals, created almost always in exceptional circumstances of defiance of the most elemental constraints of international law, make crucial contributions to public awareness in situations of moral and legal outrage where geopolitical realities preclude established institutional procedures such as recourse to the International Criminal Court and the UN Security Council and General Assembly. That is, these kind of self-constituted tribunals only come into being when two conditions exist: first, a circumstance of extreme and sustained violation of fundamental norms of morality and international law and secondly, a political setting in which governmental procedures and UN procedures are inoperative.

 

When the interests of the West are at stake, as in the Ukraine, there is no need to activate unofficial international law initiatives through the agency of civil society. However in circumstances involving Israel and Palestine, with the United States Government and most of Western Europe standing fully behind whatever Israel chooses to do, the need for a legal and moral accounting is particularly compelling even if the prospects for accountability are virtually nil. The long suffering people of Gaza have endured three criminal assaults in the past six years, and it has left virtually the whole of the population, especially young children, traumatized by the experience of such sustained military operations.

 

It should be acknowledged that the UN Human Rights Council has appointed a Commission of Inquiry to investigate allegations of war crimes associated with Protective Edge, but its report is not due for several months, Israel has indicated its unwillingness to cooperate with this official UN initiative, and it is almost certain that any findings of criminality and related recommendations will not be implemented due to the exercise of a geopolitical veto by the United States, and perhaps, other members of the Security Council. In view of these circumstances, the argument for convening the Russell Tribunal remains strong, especially if one recalls the fate of the Goldstone Report prepared in analogous conditions after the 2008-09 Israeli attacks on Gaza known as Operation Cast Lead.

 

The Russell Tribunal is filling a normative vacuum in the world. It does not pretend to be a court. In fact, among its recommendations is a call on the Palestinian Authority to join the International Criminal Court, and present Palestinian grievances to the authorities in The Hague for their investigation and possible indictments. Even then the realities of the world are such that prosecution will be impossible as Israel is not a party to the treaty establishing the ICC and would certainly refuse to honor any arrest warrants issued in The Hague, and no trial could be held without the physical presence of those accused. The value of an ICC proceeding would be symbolic and psychological, which in a legitimacy war would amount to a major ‘battlefield’ victory. It is notable that Hamas has joined in urging recourse to the ICC despite facing the distinct possibility that allegations against its launch of rockets would also be investigated and its officials indicted for its alleged war crimes.

 

As with the Nuremberg Judgment that documented the criminality of the Nazi experience, the process was flawed, especially by the exclusion of any consideration of the crimes committed by the victors in World War II, the Russell Tribunal can be criticized as one-sided in its undertaking. At the same time it seems virtually certain that on balance this assessment of Israel’s behavior toward the people of Gaza will be viewed as supportive of the long struggle to make the rule of law applicable to the strong as well as the weak. It is also reflective in the disparity of responsibility for the harm done by the two sides.

 

I recall some illuminating words of Edward Said uttered in the course of an interview with Bruce Robbins, published in Social Text (1998): “The major task of the American or the Palestinian or the Israeli intellectual of the left is to reveal the disparity between the so-called two sides, which appear to be rhetorically and ideologically to be in perfect balance, but are not in fact. To reveal that there is an oppressed and an oppressor, a victim and a victimizer, and unless we recognize that, we’re nowhere.”

 

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RUSSELL TRIBUNAL SESSION ON PALESTINE

5 Sep

[Prefatory Note: On September 24 a special session of the Russell Tribunal will examine war crimes allegations against Israel arising from the 50-day military operation that commence on July 8th. The RT has developed a record of examining the criminality of state actors that enjoy impunity internationally because they are insulated from accountability by what I have called a ‘geopolitical veto’ in this case exercised by the United States and several major European countries. Where governments and the UN fail to implement international law, there exists a right of peoples to play a residual lawmaking function. It is somewhat analogous to the residual role that the General Assembly is empowered to play when the Security Council is unable or unwilling to perform its primary role in relation to international peace and security. To fill this normative vacuum the RT has long played made an honorable contribution to what might be called ‘the empowerment of legal populism.’ I encourage attentiveness to this event, including publicizing its occurrence and disseminating the results of its deliberations. As the announcement below indicates, I am proud to be a member of the jury for the session along with a series of truly distinguished and qualified high profile international personalities known both for their professional achievement and for their principled stands as ‘citizen pilgrims’ dedicated to a humane future shaped by global justice.]

Israel’s Crimes in Gaza during Operation Protective Edge – Extraordinary session of the Russell Tribunal

RT Israel’s Crimes in Gaza during Operation Protective Edge – Extraordinary session of the Russell Tribunal th

 

 

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24-25 September – Brussels – Albert Hall, Brussel

 

A few weeks ago, members of the Russell Tribunal on Palestine, outraged by Israel’s terrible assault on Gaza and its population, decided to start working on an extraordinary session of the Tribunal that will look into Israel’s Crimes (including War Crimes, Crimes against Humanity and the Crime of Genocide) during the still ongoing “Operation Protective Edge” as well as third States complicity.

During this session, that will take place on one day in Brussels on 24th September, our jury, so far composed of Michael Mansfield QC, John Dugard, Vandana Shiva, Christiane Hessel, Richard Falk, Ahdaf Soueif, Ken Loach, Paul Laverty, Roger Waters, Radhia Nasraoui, Miguel Angel Estrella and Ronnie Kasrils will listen to testimonies from Paul Behrens, Desmond Travers, Pierre Barbancey (TBC), Max Blumenthal, Eran Efrati, Mads Gilbert, Mohammed Abou-Arab, Mads Gilbert, Paul Mason, Martin Lejeune, Mohammed Omer, Raji Sourani, Ashraf Mashharawi, Agnes Bertrand, Michael Deas and Ivan Karakashian.

The jury will give its findings on 25th September in the morning during an international press conference at the International Press Center (IPC, Brussels). In the afternoon, the Jury will be received at the European parliament and address a message to the UN General Assembly for its reopening.

To register for the session (free), email us your name and organisation at : rtpgaza@gmail.com

Do mention if you are coming as a journalist and would like to record parts of the session.

To stay in touch with our work, “like” our facebook page! Thanks. (https://www.facebook.com/russelltribunal)

Looking forward to seeing you all in Brussels.

 

Israel’s Crimes in Gaza during Operation Protective Edge – Extraordinary session of the Russell Tribunal

24-25 September – Brussels – Albert Hall, Brussel
A few weeks ago, members of the Russell Tribunal on Palestine, outraged by Israel’s terrible assault on Gaza and its population, decided to start working on an extraordinary session of the Tribunal that will look into Israel’s Crimes (including War Crimes, Crimes against Humanity and the Crime of Genocide) during the still ongoing “Operation Protective Edge” as well as third States complicity.

During this session, that will take place on one day in Brussels on 24th September, our jury, so far composed of Michael Mansfield QC, John Dugard, Vandana Shiva, Christiane Hessel, Richard Falk, Ahdaf Soueif, Ken Loach, Paul Laverty, Roger Waters, Radhia Nasraoui, Miguel Angel Estrella and Ronnie Kasrils will listen to testimonies from Paul Behrens, Desmond Travers, Pierre Barbancey (TBC), Max Blumenthal, Eran Efrati, Mads Gilbert, Mohammed Abou-Arab, Mads Gilbert, Paul Mason, Martin Lejeune, Mohammed Omer, Raji Sourani, Ashraf Mashharawi, Agnes Bertrand, Michael Deas and Ivan Karakashian.

The jury will give its findings on 25th September in the morning during an international press conference at the International Press Center (IPC, Brussels). In the afternoon, the Jury will be received at the European parliament and address a message to the UN General Assembly for its reopening.

To register for the session (free), email us your name and organisation at : rtpgaza@gmail.com

Do mention if you are coming as a journalist and would like to record parts of the session.

To stay in touch with our work, “like” our facebook page! Thanks. (https://www.facebook.com/russelltribunal)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Three Questions for Hamas

24 Aug

 

 

There is no doubt that Hamas has exhibited extraordinary resilience under the most difficult of conditions that have bedeviled its period of political leadership in the Gaza Strip that started in 2007. It also seems clear as persuasively argued by Sandy Tolan in a valuable Common Dreams article [Tolan, “Blown Chances in Gaza: Israel & U.S. Miss Many Chances to Avoid War, Aug. 13, 2014] that Hamas pursued multiple initiatives starting in 2006 designed to achieve calm and quiet in its relations with Israel, and that these initiatives, including back channel reassurance about peaceful intentions, were rebuffed without even being acknowledged by either Israel or the United States. It also seems the case that Israel acted to provoke the three most sustained military onslaughts directed at Gaza since 2008, and in each has relied on disproportionate force, inflicted numerous civilian casualties, and acted in a manner defiant of international humanitarian law. For these reasons Israel deserves to be treated as an ‘outlaw state’ for reasons set forth by Akbar Ganji and I argued in a two-part article appearing in the online pages of AlJazeera English [“The Outlaw State of Israel,” Aug. 20,21, 2014].

 

And yet Hamas also has some explaining to do if it wishes to be more widely accepted throughout the world as entitled to full respect as a legitimate political actor. This respect is crucial in the ongoing politics of enabling Hamas to play a major role in representing the national movement of the Palestinian people in all diplomatic settings. The announcement of a unity government between Fatah and Hamas was an important legitimating step in this direction. The following hard questions deserve convincing responses from those advocating the further legitimation of Hamas:

 

  • Why provide Israel with an argument for its massive military assaults by firing thousands of rockets that do minimal damage and give Israel a credible argument for recourse to defensive force applied disproportionately and causing intolerable levels of suffering for the people of Gaza? Are there not alternatives and better ways to sustain the spirit and substance of Palestinian resistance?

 

  • Is it not overdue to modify the language, tone, and substance of the Hamas Charter or Covenant of 1988 so as to reconcile such a foundational document with the more moderate diplomatic postures articulated by Hamas leaders in recent years? Why leave this gap that Israel can exploit to justify its refusal to deal with Hamas or respond to its frequently articulated political proposal of long-term peaceful co-existence? Either Hamas stands by this exterminist language or it must supersede it by a new formulation of goals and vision.

 

 

  • Can Hamas expect to be viewed favorably by public opinion and in diplomatic circles when it engages in grisly forms of revolutionary justice when dealing with Palestinians suspected of collaborating with Israel? As many as 21 Palestinians were reported to have been hung in prominent public places in Gaza on August 22nd on charges of collaborating with the enemy. Similar issues of summary execution arose in the context of the earlier Israeli aggressions in 2008-09 and 2012, and such behavior was then widely condemned by Palestinian human rights groups and many others in Gaza. Admittedly, the problems posed by collaborators is a great security threat given the realities of the blockade and vulnerability of Gaza, but Hamas jeopardizes its reputation and claim to be a legitimate political actor by so behaving, and to some extent nullifies the strong effort of its leaders in recent years to project a moderate ethically responsible image by word and deed. Putting the question differently, ‘why is it necessary?’ Many of us are aware that Israel uses all manner of ‘dirty tricks’ to induce collaboration when it recruits informers in Gaza, which should be the basis of empathy on the part of Hamas for compromised individuals or at the very least cause the wheels of justice to await the outcome of an evidence-based trial before imposing death sentences, and then not doing so in such dehumanizing and degrading manner?

 

I do not raise here the accusations associated with charges and counter-charges relating to the use of ‘human shields’ in the course of the fighting. The evidence is cloudy as to such behavior, and as to whether it occurrence reflects policy, or is a deviation therefrom. There are difficult issues of applying international criminal law in circumstances of asymmetric urban warfare, and an overall caveat about striking a self-righteous position with respect to the tactics used by either side is that military expediency has consistently prevailed over the constraints of law and morality throughout the history of warfare. A reading of Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five (1969) or a consideration of strategic bombing of German and Japanese cities during World War II, including the use of atomic bombs to incinerate Hiroshima and Nagasaki despite their irrelevance to the outcome of the war and the horrendous impact on the large civilian populations.

 

In the last several years I have received much criticism, and worse, for urging the adoption of a positive attitude toward the Hamas effort to be treated as a political actor with legitimate grievances, and by observing that the behavior of Hamas in relation to Israel has been of a generally defensive nature in the face of constant harassment, unacceptable abuse, and an extreme campaign of delegitimation, even criminalization. It remains my judgment on the basis of evidence available to me that Hamas has sought a quiet border with Israel, and that Israel has been principally responsible for the violence, and beyond this, for virtually all of the death and destruction on the Gaza side of the border that has occurred in this period. It is also encouraging to take note of Hamas agreement to seek recourse to the International Criminal Court in pressing Palestinian grievances against Israel even though if an investigation of allegations goes forward it will include looking into contested aspects of Hamas’ behavior from the perspective of international criminal law.

 

The efforts of the international community and the UN to impose solutions, up through the failed Kerry initiative that collapsed last April, have not contributed to peace and justice either between Israel and Palestine, or in the wider region. Whether wittingly or not, the international diplomacy of the West has produced dispossession, violence, and seemingly irreconcilable conflict with disastrous and tragic consequences for the indigenous population of Palestine ever since the end of World War I.

 

Gaza Interview

20 Aug

(Prefatory Note: I have had several requests to post an interview published in CounterPunch on the Gaza crisis; it covers a wide range of issues, but is not up to date in relation to a rapidly changing situation in which adversaries are engaged in a misleading blame game while the bodies and rubble continue to pile up on the Gaza side of the border)

 

An Interview with Richard Falk on the Crisis in Gaza

by KEN KLIPPENSTEIN

 

Richard Falk is an American professor Emeritus of International Law at Princeton University. He just completed a six-year term as United Nations Special Rapporteur on Palestinian human rights. He was appointed to this role by the UN Human Rights Council, in 2008.

Ken Klippenstein: Could you describe Sisi’s [Egypt’s new leader] relationship with Hamas?

Richard Falk: The [Sisi] government is determined to destroy the Muslim Brotherhood and they view Hamas as an extension of the Brotherhood. So they’re, in a certain way, on the same side as Israel on this particular confrontation.

KK: Has the aerial bombardment campaign adopted by Israel done anything to decrease the rocket fire coming from Gaza?

RF: There’s no evidence that it has. It certainly has caused some damage and some deaths to those involved in either making or deploying and firing the rockets. But there’s no discernable effect in stopping Hamas’ and other militias’—it’s not only Hamas, there are other militias, some of which Hamas doesn’t control—that have engaged in this kind of rocket fire. The only alternative to using these rockets for defenseless people like those living in Gaza is to absolutely do nothing—to be completely passive. They have no military capability to resist Israel on the ground or in the air or from the sea. So it’s a very one-sided war; and one-sided wars are, in my view, by their very nature unlawful and constitute crimes against humanity.

KK: Since Palestine lacks statehood, does that deny them recourse to the protections afforded by international law?

RF: The UN General Assembly on Nov. 29, 2012 passed a resolution recognizing the statehood of Palestine as a non-member observer state of the UN. That has been interpreted as giving Palestine the status of being a state in international society for most purposes. They have joined UNESCO, for instance, as a member state, and they’ve adhered to more than 15 international treaties open only to states. They’re recognized by, I think, 130 governments as a state. They could at this point seek redress at the International Criminal Court, a step that Israel and the United States have declared would be very provocative from their point of view and would lead to adverse consequences.

In effect, the United States and Israel are saying it’s not acceptable to use international criminal law to uphold your legal rights.

KK: What is the US role in the aerial bombardment campaign?

RF: The US is definitely complicit and legally accountable, at least in theory, in that this weaponry is not supposed to be used except in accordance with international law; and if the whole undertaking is a violation of international law, then the United States is responsible, and should diplomatically have been seeking to restrain and censure Israel, rather than to lend its support.

Beyond that, there is the sense that Congress itself—again at least theoretically—restricts military assistance to foreign countries in a way that is supposed to be compatible with international law and the UN Charter. So by the guidelines that are embedded in American law itself, this is an unlawful and unacceptable policy that the US government has been pursuing.

KK: Could you talk about the legality of the siege of Gaza?

RF: The siege of Gaza is clearly a form of collective punishment that is prohibited by Article 33 of the 4th Geneva Convention, which unconditionally prohibits any recourse to collective punishment. A blockade that has been maintained since the middle of 2007 is directed at the entire civilian population of Gaza. It includes many items that are needed for health, subsistence, and minimum requirements of a decent life. So in my view, Israel—as the occupying power (under international law) of Gaza—is supposed to protect the civilian population, rather than subject it to a punitive blockade of the sort that’s been in existence these past 7 years.

KK: Israel sometimes phones warnings ahead of time before bombing buildings. Do you believe that this constitutes a serious effort to minimize civilian deaths?

RF: One would have to look carefully at each context. My impression is that Gaza is a place where there’s no real opportunity to escape from impending attacks. There may have been some lives saved as a result of these warnings. My impression is they’re not given consistently and comprehensively; and furthermore, that in the wider context of Gaza, there’s no opportunity for people to become refugees or to even move from points of danger to points of relative safety. It’s unusual in a wartime situation where almost always there is an option of crossing borders during a period of combat and finding some sort of sanctuary. Israel again, as the occupying power, has an obligation to see to it that the civilian population [of Gaza] is protected. They deny any kind of exit right to Palestinians living in Gaza, except those holding foreign passports (there are about 800 Palestinians with dual passports who have been allowed to cross the border into Israel). 150 of those have American citizenship and the US consulate has been facilitating their departure if those people want to.

But in general, for the 1,700,000 Gazans, they are denied the option of becoming refugees or even of becoming internally displaced persons. And therefore they cannot escape from the fire zone that Israel has created. And even if they’re not direct casualties being killed or injured, they are living under the cloud of state terrorism maintained day and night over this period, in a way that psychiatrists and psychologists and mental health experts say is inducing mass trauma on the part of the Palestinian people, particularly among the children.

Even before this attack there exists a highly anxious atmosphere because there are Israeli planes flying over all the time; and it’s never clear when they will do something that is hostile. People of Gaza, as I’ve been saying, are completely vulnerable. They have no way of fighting back. They are at the mercy of the Israelis. And the Israelis show very little mercy.

KK: What is Israel’s legal rationale for denying Gazans the displaced persons status that you mentioned before?

RF: As far as I know, they haven’t articulated any justification for this policy. They just close the borders and the international community has by and large been scandalously silent; and has remained so up to this time.

KK: What is the US role in blocking a UN resolution condemning Israeli violence in Gaza?

RF: As I understand it, the US did indicate its readiness to veto any resolution that blamed Israel, and there was support for such a resolution on the part of the majority of the members of the Security Council. What the UN ended up doing was issuing a statement that called for a ceasefire but it is a statement that has no binding legal effect and did not in any way censure Israel for its role.

KK: Do you believe the Security Council should be reformed in any way, given the US’ propensity for vetoing otherwise unanimous Security Council resolutions?

RF: I think it would be a helpful move from the perspective of global justice and the implementation of international law; but as matters now stand, it’s a very impractical step because no amendment to the UN charter can be made without the consensus of the 5 permanent members of the Security Council, each of whom has a veto. The United States and probably Russia and maybe China would veto any effort to deprive them of their veto rights. So it’s more or less gridlocked with respect to reform.

KK: Would you support a call for an arms embargo on Israel?

RF: Yes I would. I think it would be an appropriate move at this point. Israel has consistently defied international law in many different ways. It shows no sign of respecting the wishes of the international community, at this time, for an immediate ceasefire. So I think that the only way the world can show that it’s at all serious about protecting vulnerable peoples—in this case the Palestinians—would be to impose an arms embargo.

Of course Israel has a very robust arms industry itself. It’s one of the ten leading exporters of arms. And it’s of course inconceivable that, at this stage, the US and several of the West European countries would respect such an embargo. Nevertheless, it would be an important symbolic step in the direction of delegitimizing the kind of behavior that Israel has been engaged in.

KK: In the case of Israeli kidnappings and murder of Palestinians in Palestinian territory, can the perpetrators be brought before a Palestinian court or must Palestinians simply accept an Israeli court? 

RF: At this point they would have to accept the formal authority of the Israeli courts because the crime was committed in an area under Israeli legal administration. And the accused are in the possession of the Israelis and therefore they have the authority under international law to prosecute.

If there’s not a serious assessment of the crime, it could be questioned as an evasion of the obligation to prosecute; and if found guilty, punish those that engage in this kind of behavior. Remembering that, as far as we know, this was purely private criminal activity. It was not something that the government can be shown to have authorized—although the background of incitement after the kidnapping of the 3 Israeli teenagers on Jun 12th is part of the broader context in which this crime occurred.

KK: Are allegations of Hamas using human shields credible?

RF: There hasn’t been, as far as I know, serious evidence that this has taken place. In fact there is evidence that the Israelis used Palestinians as human shields when they mounted the ground offensive back in 2008-2009. And even if the Palestinians did do this, it would still not vindicate Israelis shooting directly at civilians, unless there was some kind of argument of absolute military necessity, which is pretty remote from this situation.

KK: Do you believe that Israel has been committing war crimes in Gaza?

RF: Yeah. I think certainly there’s the basis for alleging war crimes. It requires a formal legal judgment to reach the conclusion that there have been war crimes committed. There is a presumption of innocence until proven guilty—that’s important to maintain. But certainly the evidence that I’m aware of suggests the commission of serious crimes against humanity and war crimes in the course of this operation.

KK: Could you discuss the background of the crisis? Western media’s accounts usually begin with the kidnapping and murder of the three Israeli boys, omitting important contexts: the siege of Gaza, for instance.

RF: The timeline for these justifications that are made by Israel is very self-serving and not very convincing. Of course, you have a complex pattern of interaction. On the other hand, Israel is the occupying power, and has the international responsibility to protect the civilian population [of Gaza]. And in the case of the kidnapping on Jun 12, they had the opportunity to limit the response to an enforcement action that was done in a reasonable way. Instead they used it as a pretext for seeking to destroy Hamas as a political actor present in the West Bank; and then extending that anti-Hamas policy to the attack on Gaza. So it was clearly a way of using this initial criminal act as a means to pursue a much wider political agenda that focuses on Israel’s national ambition to control the West Bank—at least most of the West Bank, where the settlements are—and to eliminate from that reality the only viable Palestinian opposition force (because the Palestinian Authority that is nominally in control on behalf of the Palestinians of the West Bank, is in a semi-collaborationist relationship with Israel). So the attempt to get rid of Hamas as a political influence on the West Bank particularly, and to punish it severely in Gaza where it’s in control of the governing process, is a crime.

KK: Why did Netanyahu not take Abbas up on his offer to cooperate with the investigation into the kidnapping and killing of the three Israeli boys?

RF: I think it’s part of Netanyahu’s political escalation of the Israeli approach at this point. They repudiated the direct negotiations—which didn’t make much sense in the first place—but they repudiated them as a way of stating that they would no longer seriously engage in diplomacy but would impose their own solution on the conflict. And that solution involves consolidating control over the whole of Jerusalem and taking all or the most valuable parts of the West Bank and in effect annexing them to Israel.

KK: Under the Arms Control Act of 1976, governments that receive weapons from the US are required to use them for legitimate self-defense. Does the US’ arms aid to Israel violate that law?

RF: Yes, definitely. From everything I’ve been saying, there’s no legal, political or moral argument that would uphold the claim that Israel is acting in legitimate self-defense. There’s been no armed attack by Hamas or Gaza; in any event, Gaza from an international law point of view, is not a foreign state but an occupied territory. It’s not clear that you can exercise self-defense in relation to a territory that you are responsible for administering in accordance with international humanitarian law.

Ken Klippenstein is a journalist based in Madison, Wisconsin, USA. He can be reached via twitter @kenklippenstein or email: kenneth.klippenstein@gmail.com

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Strange Regional Alignments in the Gaza Massacre

11 Aug

Neighborly Crimes of Complicity in Gaza

 

[Prefatory Note: my post below, an earlier version of which was published in AlJazeera English as an opinion piece. It was written before I had the opportunity to read an illuminating assessment of the regional and global turmoil that culminated for now in the massacre carried out by Israeli armed forces in Gaza. I highly recommend “The Tragedy of Great Power: The Massacre of Gaza and the Inevitable Failure of the Arab Spring” written by the learned Islamic jurist and scholar, Khaled Abou El Fadl, a distinguished professor at UCLA School of Law, with the link to the article below:

http://www.abc.net.au/religion/articles/2014/08/08/4064106.htm

 What makes Professor El Fadl profound essay particularly valuable is his ability to fit the regional pieces together in a convincing manner, showing how and why governments that rule in Saudi Arabia and the UAE, encouraged the overthrow of Egypt’s elected government headed by Mohamed Morsi in mid-2013 and more recently encouraged Israel to destroy Hamas. He also shows that Hamas is not accurately perceived as a byproduct of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, but has its own “very distinct pedagogies, objectives and methodologies.” In depicting the forces of resistance and transformation as opposed to the geopolitics of counterrevolution as constituting the core struggle taking place throughout the region it becomes clear why the alignments in the Middle East are assuming their current configurations.

 It is telling and provocative for Professor El Fadl to situate the Palestinian Liberation Organization (and by implication, the Palestinian Authority) as de facto allies of Sisi’s Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE as well as being existential partners of the United States and Israel in subjugating the region to Western goals. What has developed further since the end of the Cold War rivalry that long dominated the region should be considered a geopolitical protection racket that gained political salience in the aftermath of the Arab Spring. The upheavals of 2011 shook the foundations of the old order, and led to renewals throughout the region of Faustian Bargains by which various authoritarian regimes receive protection, including help with the destruction of any political actor, whether Islamic or not, that dares to challenge this established order composed of ultra-rich native elites claiming dynastic privileges conferred by colonial powers then seeking native collaborators to manage exploited and oppressed populations. While these elites appease Israel, the masses in the same political space remain passionately and symbolically dedicated to the Palestinian struggle as became evident in the September 9, 2011 attack by several thousand Egyptians on the Israeli Embassy shortly while the heroic memories of the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak were still fresh.]

 

Of all the complexities surrounding the reaction of the world to the horrifying spectacle of Israel’s severe criminality in Gaza none is more perplexing than the complicity of most governments throughout the Arab world. What makes their political posture particularly bewildering is the degree of ethnic, religious, cultural, and historical commonality that creates such close ties of identity among the peoples of the region. And no single issue has been as unifying over the decades for these people than has their long intensely felt opposition to the injustice, suffering, and exploitation that the Palestinian people have endured for the past century as a result of the encroachments of the Zionist movement on their lands. It should be recalled that at earlier stages of the Palestinian ordeal, the governments of the neighboring Arab countries did exhibit strong, if ineffectual, solidarity with the Palestinian struggle. Several Arab states jointly attacked Israel, initially in 1948 to prevent the establishment of Israel, and later in the failed wars of 1967 and 1973 that challenged Israel’s existence. These defeats together with Egypt’s accommodation via the peace treaty of 1979 was a defining moment at which the Arab neighbors of Israel abandoned the Palestinians politically, but not yet diplomatically or economically. At this time any tangible form solidarity at the level of Arab governments is now a distant and ironic memory, and has been supplanted in the main by active hostility to Palestinian aspirations and implicit sympathy with, or at least acquiescence in Israel’s regional ambitions in conjunction with U.S. grand strategy in the region .

 

Some official formal hostility to Israel and sympathy for the Palestinian struggle persists at rhetorical levels, but rings hollow. It is true that many Arab countries to this day refuse entry to anyone with an Israeli entry or exit stamp in their passport. Anwar Sadat’s assassination in 1981 was widely interpreted at the time as a populist response in Egypt to his willingness to sign a peace treaty with Israel without simultaneously securing justice for the Palestinians, thereby crossing what was then a red line of betrayal. It was observed by the Western media that few Egyptians bothered to leave their apartments as a show of respect as Sadat’s funeral procession as it passed through the streets of Cairo because the slain leader was so reviled for shamelessly appeasing the enemy of the Palestinian people.

 

Above all, the ongoing struggle for Palestinian self-determination is understood by the peoples of the Middle East, and indeed the world over, as a struggle for the empowerment and liberation of the Palestinian people in the face of severe injustices done unto them over a long period of time, and involving such crimes against humanity as apartheid and massacre, verging on genocide. Increasingly, and never more than in reaction to this recent Gaza horror show, the Palestinian struggle will have to be waged not only against Israel, and its American and European allies, but also against the Arab collaborationist governments in the region that have betrayed their own larger religious and cultural identities, and more revealingly, the most fundamental ideas of justice and compassion associated with ideals of humanity and the ethical underpinnings of Islamic unity.

 

It is notable that only non-Arab Turkey and Qatar have acted responsibly in response to the Israeli attacks that commenced on July under the IDF code name of Protective Edge. The Turkish Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, has spoken movingly, without hiding his condemnation of Israeli behavior behind the euphemisms of diplomacy, in characterizing Israel’s behavior in Gaza as criminal. Even a group of distant Latin American countries, including Brazil and Chile, have at least shown the depth of their disapproval of Israel’s conduct by withdrawing their ambassadors from Israel. This symbolic expression of disapproval is something that not one government in Europe or North America, the self-proclaimed centers of world civilization, has yet done. The countries of the South have by and large also turned their backs to the Palestinians and the confrontation in Gaza, with the exception of South Africa.

 

Taken together these considerations make it morally distressing and politically mystifying to observe that almost every Arab governments has seemed either to be flashing a green light in Israel’s direction or pointedly looking away. Given the criminality of the Israeli attack and the tragic suffering inflicted on the Palestinian people, complicity by way of such diplomatic endorsements, or even stony silent acquiescence, is at the very least a breach in Arab and Islamic identity, and worse, seems to be an unimaginable case of aiding and abetting genocidal political violence directed at the Palestinian people. Such a diplomacy of indifference is especially notable as expressed toward Gaza, which is governed by a Moslem-oriented leadership. Israel’s persistence in a massacre mode despite the near universal calls for a responsibly negotiated ceasefire was widely attributed to the fact that the Netanyahu government was being encouraged behind the scenes by Egypt and Saudi Arabia ‘to finish the job,’ not of the tunnels and rockets that served as the security pretext, but of Hamas itself as ‘the head of the snake,’ the one Palestinian actor that continued to believe in a politics of resistance. For these Arab governments to act so opportunistically, particularly given the frequency and magnitude of Israeli atrocities is shocking to all but the most numbed of political imaginations.

 

To be sure, the behavior of these Arab governments as mystifying, legally and morally unacceptable, and politically self-destructive warrants condemnation, but it also needs to be understood and explained as clearly as possible. What quirks of political realism led these Arab regimes to so calculate their future?

           

The Enemy of my Enemy

 

The core explanation of Arab complicity (excepting Qatar) has to do with the Arab governments hating and fearing the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) far more than they resent Israel. This logic is then extended to Hamas, which is misleadingly treated as nothing other than a branch of this supposedly poisonous tree. This hostility to an Islamic movement authenticated from below overshadows Israel’s encroachment on their region, and even its appropriation and control of Muslim sacred places in Jerusalem. In effect what is going on in these top heavy monarchies is a passionate search for protection from possible uprisings by their own populations, which are feared as potential adversaries. Such an initial assessment pushes the question one step further but it does not give us any insight into why this should be so.

 

What are the sources of this hatred of the MB? The MB is perceived as the essential expression in the Arab world of bottom up political Islam that is viewed as toxic by the established order because of its grassroots legitimacy. This reality has induced panic among these Arab regimes that goes back at least as far as the explosive regional reverberations unleashed by the revolution that overthrew the Shah’s supposedly secure imperial rule in Iran (1979). This revolutionary process caused high intensity tremors, especially throughout the Arab world, and especially among the monarchies nurturing privileged and unscrupulous elites that have long kept their populations cruelly repressed and in backward conditions of mass misery. These regimes, generally aligned with the United States, remain obsessed with the maintaining stability of their own rule, and seem to feel that stifling all voices calling for change is a vital ingredient of their own survival.

 

Hamas as an active resistance movement is in this sense perceived as an acute threat to the kind of future that these Arab governments are intent of achieving no matter what the costs in lives and societal wellbeing. First of all, Has has historical ties to the Egyptian MB, the older organization of Muslim activists that has kept the flame of political Islam burning despite enduring harsh suppression dating back to decades before Israel came into existence. Secondly, Hamas demonstrated its legitimacy, and credibility as a voice of the Palestinians living in Gaza by its electoral victory in 2006, and more recently by its resilience (sumud) and resistance to Israeli tactics of aggression and massacre. Thirdly, Sunni Hamas crossed sectarian boundaries by having its closest political ties with Shiite Iran and Hezbollah, and the Alawite regime in Syria, and although these relationships have grown weaker as a result of recent regional developments, their very existence further alarms the Sunni supremacists in Riyadh whose second source of anxiety is associated with a sectarian/nationalist struggle that pits Saudi Arabia and its allies against Iran and its allies. The terrible carnage in Syria is one expression of this sectarian dimension of the regional struggle that complements efforts to crush any expression of political Islam with a strong societal base of support.

 

Egypt’s Betrayal

 

Of course, in the foreground is the experience of the Arab anti-authoritarian upheavals in 2011, especially the dislodging of Hosni Mubarak in Egypt, followed by expressions of far greater popular electoral support for the Muslim Brotherhood and Salafi candidates throughout Egypt than had been expected by the anti-Mubarak liberals and progressive youth who had earlier dominated the crowds in Tahrir Square. The Gulf countries made no secret of their disappointment with Washington’s refusal to do more to beat back this populist tide that swept over the Mubarak regime, who like the Shah in Iran 30 years earlier, had seemed to offer leaders of these Arab monarchies a model of invulnerability in relation to popular upheavals.

 

And so two years later in 2013 when the chance came, as it did during the faltering presidential term of Mohamed Morsi, it is no secret that the counterrevolutionary coup led by General Ahmed Fattah el-Sisi was most warmly welcomed by Israel and Saudi Arabia. The Sisi coup won immediate aid bestowed in huge quantities (at least $8 billion) from Saudi Arabia and the UAE, hoping that such a large infusion of cash would create a soft economic landing for the new regime, and set up a contrast with the economic failures of the Morsi government. It was hoped that a rapid economic recovery would reassure the majority of Egyptians that they were experiencing a change for the better even if there was little effort by the new leaders to hide the return to the methods and style of the previously despised Mubarak rule that had prompted the earlier upheaval. What is startling is that these Arab supporters never blinked in the face of the crimes of Sisi’s military leadership in Cairo, which featured a bloody crackdowns of anti-government demonstrations in Cario, including even the killing of many MB members while they were at prayer. Sisi proceeded to move against the MB as an organization, having it criminalized and defined legally as ‘a terrorist organization,’ encouraging judicial action that included imposing mass death sentences on many of its members, and generally engaging in state crime on a scale that far exceeded the abuses of the Mubarak period. Even Washington was embarrassed by these excesses, although it maintained a pragmatic silence that overlooked the tensions between its calls for democracy and its actual strategic goal of restoring the regionalstability of the pre-Arab Spring status quo.

 

 

 

Iran Explodes the Myth of Regional Stability

 

Until this pattern became evident I didn’t appreciate the relevance of some remarks made to me by Ayatollah Khomeini while in Paris just as he was about to return to Iran from exile to lead the new Islamic Republic in January 1979. This austere religious leader was very clear about rejecting the then prevailing idea that a national revolution was taking place in Iran. He said again and again during the meeting, “This is an Islamic revolution, not an Iranian revolution.” He went on to observe that the dynastic regime in Saudi Arabia was decadent and oriented toward the West. In his view it was as illegitimate a source of governance as was the Shah’s regime that had just been overthrown in Iran, and a justifiable target for further political initiatives by those societal forces that were infused with Islamic values.

 

The revolution in Iran, whether understood as a national or ideological phenomenon, was deeply threatening to political stability of the region. It was a political movement from below that shattered a monarchic power structure in Iran that was viewed in the region and by the West as invulnerable to internal challenge, once described by Kissinger “as that rarest of things, an unconditional ally.” In other words, it was not just that the foundations of the status quo gave way in Iran, but that their crumbling was brought about by populist tremors that enjoyed widespread cultural legitimacy. It was this cultural legitimacy that again surfaced in the immediate aftermath of the Arab upheavals in 2011, and sent tremors of fear throughout the region, and could not be dismissed on sectarian grounds.

 

The explosive emergence of the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIS) reinforces Ayatollah Khomeini’s central message. Its proclamation of a new caliphate is precisely in line with this type of thinking. The whole carving up of the Arab world into a series of sovereign states is seen from these perspectives as an imposition of European civilization, destroying and destabilizing the only true political community, that of the Islamic uma.

 

Israel’s Parallel Universe

 

Israeli strategists over the years have been divided about their regional priorities, but agreed on the general contour of principal goals. Israel’s preferred Middle East would consist of governments that were both friendly and stable, which made Iran a favorite until it unexpectedly fell apart in 1978-79. Next best, were governments that were formally cool, or even hostile, but remained mostly on the sidelines in relation to the conflict of with the Palestinians, such as King Hussein’s Jordan, Mubarak’s Egypt, and the Gulf states, especially Saudi Arabia. If such stability was not attainable, then strife in a country that was politically hostile was viewed as next best, which is the story of Syria, and to a degree Iraq, in recent years. In other words, Israel could live with regional actors that were rhetorically hostile, as with passport exclusions or UN speeches, but not with states that were politically hostile, and perceived as allies of Palestinian resistance struggle. In that sense, Israel pushed behind the scenes for the American attack on Iraq after 2001 and has done its best to push the United States into a belligerent encounter with Iran in recent years.

 

When it comes to Gaza, and Hamas, the convergence of the Israeli approach and the Arab governmental consensus is an invaluable political blessing for Tel Aviv. It gives Israel unlimited space to push its militarist agenda, however great the carnage and devastation, and even if much the rest of the world may lament the assault upon international law and morality. Even the United States, and its ‘subaltern’ UN Secretary General, have felt the pressure to use their influence to establish a ceasefire, although without daring to lift a critical finger in Israel’s direction and following an Egyptian-oriented peremptory diplomacy that seems more concerned about PR dimensions than achieving an end to the violence. This skeptical reflection was confirmed by the initial ceasefire proposal that was presented to Hamas on a take it or leave it basis, and quite incredibly, that its leaders were informed about only through its media publication. The newer ceasefire approach, based on a sequence of 72 hour truces, follows the same pattern with Israeli and American negotiators refusing to sit at the same table as the representative of Hamas, and yet claiming to seek an agreement that would end the violence.

 

While Israel talks about rockets and tunnels, its massive military operation is being increasingly interpreted by knowledgeable commentators as punitive, and directed not only at Hamas but at Palestinians generally. Some Israeli leaders and their prominent supporters seem to believe that Gazans deserve to die because they voted for Hamas back in 2006, although many Gazans who are dying didn’t back Hamas then or now, and certainly not the Palestinian children who were not even born when Hamas won the elections. A second punitive motivation, and more explicitly endorsed, is a punishment directed at Palestinians in general for daring to form a unity government back in early June, thus challenging ever so slightly the illusion that Israelis had successfully crushed Palestinian political ambition to pursue self-determination by any means other than the futile charade of periodic spurts of diplomacy. Crushing Hamas is seen as a way to make Palestinians submit to the permanence of occupation, the annexation of most of the West Bank, the realities of apartheid administrative and detention policies, and the burial of any prospect of an independent Palestinian state. The Palestinian Authority had been awkwardly docile until it timidly went forward with the unity government, and now must be disciplined by Israel for getting out of line, being taught a lesson once and for all that if it has any future it is to collaborate with Israel, as it had done in the past, with the suppression of Palestinian resistance, above all Hamas, as a telltale sign of its political outlook.

 

A Concluding Word

 

More than anything else, these terrible happenings in Gaza should lead to a realization that the future of the Palestinian people and of the region as a whole depends on finding a just solution of the conflict. The abysmal failure of the Kerry induced talks showed definitively that Israel has lost all interest in a diplomacy that promises the Palestinians a viable and independent sovereign state at the end of the road. With a show of self-confidence the Knesset made clear its own rejection of the two-state diversion by choosing an ardent Likud one-stater, Reuven Rivlin, to replace Shimon Peres, as President of Israel. It is past time for the peoples of the world to wake up to the real nature of the challenge and support a more militant international campaign of solidarity with the Palestinian struggle, and insist on boycott and divestment in all venues, working to support arms embargoes and sanctions on the part of as many governments as possible.

2 Aug

Poetry and War

 

During these days of continuing massacre in Gaza I have found it difficult to focus the mind elsewhere. I came across a short statement of about 200 words by the great, enigmatic 20th century poet, Wallace Stevens, stuck between poems in his Selected Poems, p.270, with a characteristically unemotional title—‘A Prose Statement on the Poetry of War.’

 

Stevens seems to be telling us that true poetry is a peacetime activity generated by the imagination while poetic responses to war are products of our consciousness derived from the domain of fact. In his words, “consciousness takes the place of imagination.” It is, to be sure, a special kind of consciousness, imbued with what Stevens refers to as the ‘heroic,’ and I would add, the ‘tragic’ and ‘unimaginable.’ We witness horror visually and viscerally, and yet we still too often rely on statistics about killing and dying to shape our sense of the gravity of all that is happening.

 

Stevens also reminds us that the imagination is not without its own ambitions, seeking to impart a sense of reality that supersedes the facticity of what Stevens is calling consciousness. Ambitions of this sort, situated in the hidden recesses of mental activity, also reflects the strong pull of desire, which if it challenges the prevailing images of what we might call ‘heroic fact’ generates severe feelings of hostility. It is a war zone of its own. Stevens alludes to “the endless struggle with fact” whether in peacetime or during a war, and adds, almost as a cautionary warning, “[b]ut in war, the desire to move in the direction of fact as we want it to be and to move quickly is overwhelming.”

 

There is of course a haunting ambiguity in Stevens’ use of the word ‘we’ in this sense. Who are we? Does not our answer, usually not articulated, tell us how we join imagination to fact under the stress of war. The intensities of the ongoing violence in Gaza stifles the imaginative voice because the domain of fact becomes truly, even appropriately, overwhelming. Yet fact can be as victimized by subjectivity as the realms of the imagination, especially when it collides with desire. I think these days of those who would rationalize ‘massacre’ as ‘self-defense’ or dehumanize and demonize victims by branding ‘the other’ as ‘terrorist.’

 

While attentive to the terrible reality confronting us by the ongoing happenings in Gaza, we should strive for root causes. What is it about our world that allows the Guernicas, Auschwitzs, Hiroshimas, Srebrenicas to keep happening? How do we best identify this genocidal virus that keeps attacking the body politic, and yields tears, but no antidote? Is it the reification of ‘the other’ and of ‘the self’ that allows us to see mostly ‘villains’ and ‘heroes,’ and not children, women, and men? Up to now, we allow these lines of division to be drawn and to dominate the public sphere, and affirm partisanship as ‘realistic’ because the tensions of our world means that either I die or you die, and our leaders find good reasons for us to live and you to die. And so atrocity

begets atrocity, a ceaseless cycle with periods of calm and shifts of place, culprit, and victim.

 

In reflecting along these lines I am reminded of Theodor Adorno’s extraordinary comment—“To write poetry after Auschwitz is barbaric.” Adorno’s meaning is not immediately evident, nor will it ever be. The cultural critic, Brian Oard, insists that the assertion must be read in its broader context, and in light of Adorno’s own later clarification that softens the specific injunction. If so approached, the statement is meant less literally than if read or invoked as an isolated indictment of what could be described as the indecency of any return to ‘cultural normalcy’ after the enormity of the crimes of the Holocaust.

 

What Adorno wants us to grasp is that Western culture that allowed Auschwitz to happen included its cultural artifacts, incorporating even the work and worldviews of poets in an overall totality that facilitates the grotesque. It encourages the coldness of indifference and helplessness in the face of the severe abuses of all those who fall outside the protective umbrella of our conscience.

 

Can we capable of learning anything at all from the corpses being drawn from the rubble of devastation in Gaza day by day? Is not the beginnings of a response, whether in the domains of imagination or consciousness, a refusal to embrace the moral and political delusions of sub-species identities, whether of nationality, ethnicity, religion, gender, and civilization? Until the self merges with the other on a planetary scale, we will feel the pressure to avert our gaze from those crimes against humanity committed on our behalf or against those with whom we have no tribal or national identification. Is such an affirmation of species unity a dangerous utopian dream? We cannot know, but we should realize by now that the its rejection helps explain the recurrence of genocidal nightmares.     

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