Jewish World Review May 13, 2002 / 2 Sivan, 5762

Jack Kelly

Jack Kelly
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Consumer Reports


Impartial justice against Americans by the UN?


http://www.NewsAndOpinion.com | The same day a suicide bomber killed 16 teenagers and old women in a pool hall in a Tel Aviv suburb, the United Nations voted 74-4 to condemn Israel for a "massacre" which even the Palestinian Authority now acknowledges didn't occur at the Jenin refugee camp.

The UN vote underscores the wisdom of President Bush in withdrawing, the day before, U.S. support for a treaty which would subject U.S. soldiers to the same sort of fair and impartial justice that the UN dispenses toward Israel. A treaty drafted in Rome in 1998 would create an international criminal court under the auspices of the United Nations. It would be like the war crimes tribunal that currently is trying former Serb dictator Slobodan Milosevic for war crimes. But it would be permanent, and would have a broader mandate.

The 60 nations required have ratified the treaty, so it will go into effect in two months. But the lack of U.S participation will stunt its growth and limit its influence.

That's good, because in a breathtaking departure from the norms of international law, the Rome treaty asserts the right to extend its jurisdiction over nationals of countries which did not sign or ratify the treaty. In other words, the authors of the Rome treaty claim the right to try Americans without the protections of the U.S. Constitution, and without the assent of the United States government.

The new court will be a panel of judges from different countries. It is not bound by the Bill of Rights. The accused have no right to subpoena witnesses, no right to confront accusers, no right to a public trial, no right to a trial by jury. Conviction would be by a simple majority if the justices hearing the case. The vote would be in secret. Testimony could be taken in secret, trials conducted in secret. The accused would have no right of appeal.

The section on war crimes would permit soldiers -including U.S. soldiers - to be tried for attacking civilians, attacking undefended places, for causing "excessive" incidental death or injury.

The war crimes section also creates such vague new "crimes" as "violating the dignity of an individual," and causing "excessive damage to the environment."

UN Secretary General Kofi Annan has hailed the treaty as "a giant step forward in the march toward universal human rights and the rule of law." The Clinton administration originally refused to sign the Rome treaty because it was so inimical to our standards of justice and so potentially hostile to our national interests. But on December 31, 2000, between pardoning Marc Rich and packing up White House furniture for the move to Chappaqua, Clinton signed.

A treaty must be ratified be a two-thirds vote in the Senate in order for the United States to become a party to it. In expressing his strong opposition to the International Criminal Court, President Bush said he will not send it to the Senate for ratification.

I think Bush should have sent the treaty to the Senate, with a recommendation that it be rejected. The vote against it likely would have been overwhelming, and the world should see that opposition to this imperial overreach by the United Nations is not limited to the present administration.

Bush's rejection of the Rome treaty has been condemned by the usual suspects:

"Today's action by the Bush administration is myopic in the extreme," said William Schulz, executive director of Amnesty International USA. "Driven by unfounded fears of phantom prosecutions, the United States has hit a new nadir of isolationism and exceptionalism."

"There is a certain irony in the fact that the United States, which tends to extraterritorially apply its laws rather widely, is not willing to participate in a truly international consensus," said Canadian foreign minister Bill Graham.

But when the international consensus is wrong, the United States must stand against it. We are not like the Muslim nations, where homosexuals are stoned, and women treated like cattle. We are not like the nations of continental Europe, where anti-Jewish tracts can be read by the light of burning synagogues. We must speak up for liberty, democracy and human rights, even if no one else will.



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03/19/02: It's time pols and gov bureaucrats be held to the same standard of accountability we insist for corporate execs
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03/12/02: Making foreign cheaters pay
03/08/02: Timidity and indecision by senior American commanders
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02/04/02: Why serious folks disregard the European Union --- and why Bush must, too
01/30/02: Give economy pneumonia in order to protect it from a cold
01/28/02: Media is its own worst enemy
01/25/02: Journalists making road to peace a bumpy ride, or: A case study in stupidity
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01/21/02: How Bush could be Generations X and Y's Kennedy ... and guarantee a GOP victory in the midterm elections

© 2002, Jack Kelly