Friday, March 30, 2007

What’s International Law worth to you?

Looking at the debacle the world seems to have its self in; one might say that international law is either a thing of mystery, or inconsequential to the worlds’ dictators and rules. Is this really the case? International law is violated by leaders all over the world, to be sure. The US still refuses to join the ICC based on unfounded claims of the potential for politically motivated cases being brought against it, joined, I might add, by countries like Saudi Arabia, Sudan and China- and what great role models they turned out to be. This however has not stopped the other 100 or so countries now signatory to its Statute, the latest of which is Yemen. Anti-personnel mines are sold by China to Sudan who seems to be ignoring every law concerning internal-conflict. The special court in Sierra Leone, The International Criminal Tribunals in Rwanda and Yugoslavia are also proof that international law has been violated and ignored. The cases of violations go on, much too numerous to know and list here. Is there any hope then, for the further development and compliance of international law?

One of my professors said something in class the other night that I have spent the following days thinking about. He said that the documents and briefs written by the Attorney General and other White House (stooges) officials on the ‘legality’ and rational of the Iraq War and Guantanámo and recently aired BBC TV movies about indicting Tony Blair on violations of international law, is an indication that international law has become a matter of importance to the public and also indicates the need for governments to follow it, or at least to be appearing to follow it. My professor made the point that 50 years ago one would not have found briefs written on the legality of national and foreign policies or entering into a war. The fact that the BBC airs segments devoted to the entertainment and edification of the viewing public based on their leaders actions and possible violations of international law indicates a change in public knowledge and or opinion. The public wants legitimacy. They want their leaders to follow the law. The general public knows what the Geneva Conventions are and when Attorney General Gonzolas calls them “quaint” an out roar of many can be heard. Even if the US currently refuses to sign and ratify the Statute of the ICC, it did, at least at one time, recognize the need for an international court. The US was a major participant in the writing of the Rome Statute despite its current meandering of international law. I think it does go to show that international law is not an obscure idea but a real point of issue and belief for the international community, for both its leaders and citizens.


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