NEWSLETTER DECEMBER 2003
We hereby present our newsletter for December 2003. We ask you to send this newsletter on to others who might be interested both home and abroad. You'll also find a Dutch version of this newsletter at the bottom of this message.
The recent capture of Saddam Hussein will result in the Iraqi people bringing him to justice, which is without any doubt reason to rejoice. The general consensus is that he and other Ba’athists should be brought before an Iraqi Tribunal and that they be tried according to Iraqi and international law. Amnesty International has expressed concern to the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) and the Iraqi Governing Council about the decision to establish an Iraqi special tribunal that was taken without prior consultation with the Iraqi civil society or the international community.
JUST ACT emphasizes that the capture of Saddam Hussein does in no way legitimise the illegal invasion and occupation of Iraq. These travesties remain in violation of international law. The justifications given for invading and occupying Iraq quite simply proved to be false or unsubstantiated. No weapons of mass destruction have been found and there is still nothing to suggest that the former Iraqi regime posed a direct threat to its neighbours or any of the occupying nations. Secondly, the humanitarian ‘regime change’ motivation blatantly ignores the support Saddam Hussein received from the US government at a time when his travesties against the Iraqi people were well known.
Under the Geneva Convention, any occupying force is responsible for providing stability and ensuring the safety of civilians. An occupying force is also supposed to respect the law of the occupied country and is not authorized to dictate or influence the new form of government of the occupied country. The Iraqi Governing Council was appointed by the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) and not by democratic elections. Free elections and the transfer of power to the newly elected government according to the will of the Iraqi people must therefore have top priority. Lastly, an occupying force is not allowed to take advantage of its position by reaping the riches of the occupied country. Iraq’s resources are the domain of the Iraqi people and its chosen government. The Iraqi Governing Council should be reticent in handing out contracts or benefits to foreign investors. Any contracts granted by the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) are to be deemed illegal.
The war crimes perpetrated by the US and other occupying forces are subject to investigation. It’s unlikely a UN tribunal will be installed to try any of these war crimes, because any attempt to install such a tribunal will be torpedoed by a US veto in the Security Council. For this reason various alternatives have been introduced by anti-war and peace movements worldwide.
A major initiative is the International Peoples Tribunal Project. This project is a co-ordinated effort of anti-war and peace movements worldwide and a direct result of the Jakarta Peace Consensus.
The project’s formulated goals are:
- to establish the facts and to inform the public about crimes against peace, war crimes and crimes during the occupation, about the real goals behind this war, about the inspiration of the American politics and the dangers they present for world peace. This is especially important to contribute in breaking the wall of lies diffused by the war-coalition and their imbedded press.
- For the peace movement and the global anti-war protest, the tribunal presents an opportunity to continue mobilisation. The tribunal should not remain an academic endeavour but should be backed by a strong international network. Anti-war and peace movements, which carried out the big mass movements against the attack on Iraq have in principle adopted the idea of indicting the aggressors and turning this into a campaign.
- We consider the tribunal as a continuing process. The investigation of what happened in Iraq is of prime importance to restore truth and preserve collective memory against the constant rewriting of history. We have to challenge the silence of the international institutions and impress on them to fulfil their obligations to international law. In judging the recent past our aim is to prevent illegal wars in the future. In this process the tribunal can formulate recommendations on international law and expand notions of justice and ethical political awareness. It can contribute to break the tradition of victors’ tribunals and give a voice to the victims of the war. In doing so we support the demand of large parts of world public opinion and the Iraqi people to end the occupation and restore Iraqi sovereignty.
- The International Tribunal initiative wants to inscribe itself in a broader movement to stop the establishment of the new imperial world order as a permanent state of exception with constant wars as one of its main tools. The Tribunal can bring a moral, political and partly juridical judgment that contributes to build a world of peace and justice.
JUST ACT recommends individuals and organisations worldwide to endorse and support this project! The International Peoples Tribunal Project is clear about the various ways in which individuals and organisations can contribute to the realisation of this tribunal. For more details on its legitimacy we refer to the platform’s text, as established in Istanbul on October 29th 2003.
Other alternatives deal with bringing governments that participated and/or facilitated in the invasion and the occupation of Iraq to justice by filing criminal charges domestically or at the International Criminal Court in The Hague.
An example of this is the initiative taken by the Dutch Society of Lawyers for Peace, which is preparing to file criminal charges against the Dutch PM and the former Minister for Foreign Affairs, who are primarily responsible for the political support of the American aggression against Iraq and for permitting military transports via the Netherlands. These charges will be put to Dutch Parliament or The Crown and subsequently to the International Criminal Court. Charges will also be filed against companies that were involved in these transports. The initiative is endorsed by JUST ACT and the Dutch Platform Against the New War, which is a platform of Dutch anti-war and peace organisations opposing the unilateral US doctrine of ‘preventive war’.
To support this initiative by co-signing the charges, you can contact the chairman of the Society for Lawyers for Peace, Meindert Stelling. Naturally, the initiative and the political message behind it gain weight with every individual or organisation that supports the charges. It is relevant that Dutch politicians are confronted with a powerful signal from the Dutch population that any violation or neglect of international law is intolerable and that politicians who choose to neglect their responsibilities are not exempt from criminal proceedings.
The European Social Forum took place in Paris from 12th until 15th of November 2003. The Forum resulted in an outcall from the actors and social movement assembly. The ESF consisted of 600 workshops, 200, seminars and 150 plenaries dealing with a whole range of topics. Approximately 60.000 people attended the ESF, approximately 300 participants from the Netherlands. A report of our own experiences during the ESF is available on our website WWW.JUSTACT.INFO.
Next on the Social Forum agenda is the World Social Forum, which will take place in Mumbai (Bombay), India from 16th until 21st January 2004. The forum will build on the World Social Forum 2003 and the various Social Forums like the European Social Forum. Daily reports of our own experiences during the WSF will be made available on our website.
The American political scientist and writer Benjamin Barber will be giving the 5th Globalization lecture on January 8th, 2004 in Felix Meritis, Amsterdam. Barber is known in the Netherlands by his bestseller Jihad vs McWorld, an analysis - long before the 9/11 attacks - of the conflicting powers of globalisation and cultural and religious fanaticism.
Recently the Dutch translation of his latest book 'Empire of fear: terrorism and democracy' was published. Barber describes the boomerang-effect of the american reaction on the terrorist attacks. Fighting fear with war enhances and spreads more fear. The Bush-doctrine is in his eyes a direct threat to world peace. Barber advocates to replace the concept of 'preventive war' with ‘preventive democracy’. As an alternative for globalisation (McWorld) he pictures a ‘Declaration of Interdependence’ where citizens worldwide can connect with the ‘CivWorld’. Frits Bolkestein, member of the European Commission, will react to Barber's lecture, after which they will debate the issues, moderatored by Ruth Oldenziel. The programma start at 19:00 hours with the screening of ‘McWorld’ an episode of VPRO’s Diogenes (1997)
The renowned political scientist, professor van Wolferen, held a book presentation in Amsterdam on November 2nd 2003, which was hosted by the ABC Treehouse in association with JUST ACT. With kind permission of professor van Wolferen a transcript containing his views on international politics and US foreign policy in particular is available through our website. His book, 'De ondergang van een wereldorde' (Ruin of a world order), is to be recommended.
We’re pleased to announce the launch or our new website WWW.JUSTACT.INFO. It provides more in depth information on foreign policy issues and will give you access to independent media outlets, political organisations, think tanks, anti-war and peace movements worldwide, books, reports and articles. The agenda lists activities both by JUST ACT and other organisations we find relevant to foreign policy issues. We realise that additions are still plentiful to be made. If you have any suggestions or something to add to our website, please let us know through firstname.lastname@example.org.
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