Political analyst Ali Korram has, in an analytical piece published in Arman-e Emrooz daily newspaper, weighed in on the White House’s double-standard approach vis-à-vis the issue of war crimes. The Full text of the article follows.
The Hague-based International Court of Justice (ICC) is an age-old legal entity. When the United Nations was formed, it chose the ICC as its legal and statutory arm.
Since then, the rulings of the tribunal have always been respected and not been contested by any institution or country. In other words, the verdicts issued by the court should be so precise that cannot be criticized or faulted. Therefore, the ICC’s rulings have been used as a legal yardstick in international relations so far.
The only place where the tribunal’s verdicts may be thrown out is at the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) with the consensus and unanimous decision of the five permanent members of the council plus its non-permanent members only for one purpose: international peace and security. If an ICC ruling jeopardizes international peace and security for some reason, then the verdict can be suspended upon the UNSC’s order.
Therefore, as it can be seen, the tribunal’s rulings are so strong that are reviewed only in cases where international peace and security come into play. Only in such cases may the court’s verdict be temporarily suspended or set aside.
Now, the performance of US President Donald Trump and his radical associates such as John Bolton should be studied. In a recent speech, Bolton threatened to slap sanctions on the ICC and its 15 judges and block the tribunal’s access to its bank accounts in the United States and any transactions between the court and other banks taking place through the US if the ICC investigates the United States’ war crimes in Afghanistan. This is probably the first time in history that a country is interfering with the ICC’s independence of opinion.
Throughout the past 73 years since World War II and even during the era of the League of Nations and before the ICC came into existence, the importance of the tribunal has been due to its independent rulings. Accordingly, this is the first time a country lays claim on the court’s verdict, and that every country itself is unfortunately the custodian of the UN Charter.
That means the disaster that the United States is bringing about with regards to the court cannot be forgiven or condoned whatsoever. If America’s war crimes in Afghanistan are true, then Afghan people are entitled to having an independent international authority look into the crimes. Nevertheless, the US government, which has committed war crimes in Afghanistan, is officially blocking the ICC’s work and, even worse, has threatened the tribunal.
If the US’ war crimes in Afghanistan are not to be probed, then why is it that Washington is so sensitive and makes so much fuss about war crimes in Syria? International conscience says war crimes should be investigated, be it in Syria, Yemen, Myanmar or Afghanistan. It doesn’t matter which country has committed the crime. The perpetrator should be introduced as the guilty party.
Didn’t the US roll up its sleeves and prosecute and hold tribunals for leaders of former Yugoslavia for war crimes in Bosnia and Kosovo? Didn’t Washington call for them to be tried and face justice? Didn’t the US hold a tribunal in Nuremberg to prosecute Nazi Germany after the World War II? Didn’t the US try leaders of the Nazi Party at that court?
As you see, the United States has actively taken action to investigate war crimes over the past 73 years, but, shamefully enough, is threatening unbiased ICC judges with sanctions and questioning the ICC’s independence of opinion.
If it happens, the United States – at least the US under Donald Trump – has no right to express its opinion about war crimes in Syria or any other place and call for other countries’ leaders to stand trial.