Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Spielberg’s Munich and the Truth about Palestinian Terrorism and Israeli Counter-Terrorism

Spielberg’s Munich provides lucid accounts of vicious cycle of violence in aftermath of the murder of 11 Israeli athletes at 1972 Munich Olympic Games. It plainly expresses the feeling of majority of his audience that either terrorism or counter-terrorism are pointless, and that they eventually result in killings of innocent bystanders. The fierce reaction in world media with regard to Munich show that there are many who do not share the opinion that lives lost in terrorist or counter/terrorist operations for “higher” political aims, are, in truth, lives lost in vain. Munich's main point is that counterterorism only incites more terrorism. The last shot of the movie rests on the twin towers of World trade Centre. probably indicating the similarity of the American reaction against al-Qaeda to the Israeli response to the Munich massacre. This undermines the saying that the essence of history is to learn from the past it to avoid future mistakes, which could result in heinous consequences for world society.

Spielberg’s Munich follows a Mossad death squad that is assigned the task of assassinating the planners and perpetrators of the 1972 kidnapping and murder of 11 Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics. The film follows the journey of a fictional assassin, Avner, as he grows more and more disillusioned with the Mossad’s extralegal counter-terrorism campaign. However, he never expresses his disillusionment with his colleagues, and fights his battle only on the inside. In the end, he leaves the Israeli secret service embittered and choosing his new home in in Brooklyn.

In the final scene of the movie, Avner asks his Mossad connection why Israel killed the Black September terrorists instead of arresting them. The answer is never given in the movie, but some suggest that arrest always had failed therefore Israel had not choice but to opt for death squad. That kind of explanations are childish and in no way justify the killings merely for political causes. The discussion about Munich is set to continue on these pages in next days.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Quo Vadis Palestine?

It seems that the ever lasting tensions in the Middle East will never disappear. All hopes for a successful resolution of the Israeli-Palestine problems have been squashed by the Hamas's political victory in the latest democratic elections. The world is literally stunned: even Condi Rice has been asking how it is possible that the entire Administration got it wrong. Nobody expected a Hamas landslide of this kind. Hamas is on the USA and EU list of terrorist organizations, its ultimate goal is destruction and deletion of Israel. The Oslo Roadmap to peace is now, apparently, an obsolete document with no real perspective, while simultaneously no alternative has been laid on the table. Beside that there is no one in the regione who could move on the heavy rusty carriage: the leaders are either dead or in coma.

What to do now? Where to go from here? USA has already announced that it will cut the humanitarian aid to the Palestines, now awarding it only on a case by case basis. UN, according to its Secretary General, is considering the same move. EU is still insisting on the old track. But what has this humanitarian aid changed for the better? The big part of it has disappeared in the corrupt pockets of the Palastine officials.

As the commentator in the latest Newyorker has emphasized - the reality in the Middle East is bleak: the people can choose on democratic elections, without necessary preceding democratic institutional structures, between the corrupt dictators affiliated with the West or the militant religious fundamentals "devoted" to the ordinary people. Hamas victory has showed what the people have opted for. At the end of the day it seems that building the wall is the only, though unfortunate, solution.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Odgovor dr. Griesser-Pecar gospodu Bavconu

Zadnja stevilka Sobotne priloge v rubriki "Postni predal 29" objavlja odgovor gospe dr. Tamare Griesser-Pecar clanku gospodu Bavconu "Revizija druge svetovne vojne" iz Sobotne priloge z dne 21. januarja. Besedilo njenega odgovora si lahko preberite v spodnjih vrsticah.

Sobotna priloga Dela, 28. januarja, www.delo.si

Po kratki hudi bolezni je 2. aprila lani v 66. letu starosti nepričakovano umrl priznani nemški strokovnjak za mednarodno in javno pravo prof. dr. Dieter Blumenwitz (univerzi Würzburg in München). Zapustil je številne pomembne publikacije o aktualnih vprašanjih mednarodnega in javnega prava kot tudi amerikanskega prava. Blumenwitzove precizne, temeljite, prodorne in objektivne analize so bile mednarodno priznane. Kot dolgoletni član (tudi v vodstvenih funkcijah) številnih nemških in mednarodnih strokovnih organizacij (navedem jih samo nekaj: Raziskovalna skupnost za svetovni begunski problem, Mednarodna družba za človekove pravice, Mednarodni inštitut za pravice narodnosti in regionalizem itd.) se je zavzemal za človekove pravice. Za svoje delo je bil nekajkrat odlikovan, doma in v tujini (Čile, Ukrajina, Venezuela). V Nemčiji je dobil evropsko Karlovo nagrado, plaketo za zasluge pri pravu o samoodločbi in zaslužni križ Zvezne republike. Kot izvedenec in pooblaščenec je zastopal nemško zvezno vlado, zvezni parlament in deželo Bavarsko pred nemškim ustavnim sodiščem. V svojem delu je jasno poimenoval zločine nacionalsocializma in fašizma, ampak tudi – na drugi strani – zločine komunizma. Tako tudi v zadnji mednarodnopravni študiji, ki je izšla skoraj hkrati v nemščini (Böhlau) in slovenščini (Mohorjeva, Celovec): Okupacija in revolucija v Sloveniji (1941-1946). To seveda ne prija vsakomur. In tako je prof. Ljubo Bavcon v svojem prispevku pod gornjim naslovom v Delu portretiral pokojnega »kot očitno pristranskega profesorja«, ki bagatelizira okupatorjevo nasilje med II. svetovno vojno in diskreditira upor proti Nemcem in Italijanom. Dokazov za svoje trditve prof. Bavcon ne ponudi, saj jih sploh ni, pokojnemu mednarodnem pravniku pa s svojimi trditvami skuša jemati ugled in dobro ime.
Napadi prof. Bavcona na prof. Blumenwitza, ki se sam ne more več braniti, sicer ne presenetijo preveč. Žal skušajo nekateri – tudi vidni zgodovinarji, publicisti, sociologi in juristi – vtisniti pečat enostranskosti in nemorale vsakemu, ki kot rezultat strokovnega dela zavrača zastarele komunistične klišeje. Dejstvo je, da je bil prof. Blumenwitz skozinskoz demokrat, nasprotnik vsakega totalitarizma in nepodkupljiv znanstvenik, poleg tega pa še zelo humano misleč in toleranten človek. Da bi naj bil »poraženec« druge svetovne vojne, kot trdi prof. Bavcon, je pravi nesmisel. Da ga celo potiska v kot tistih, ki zanikajo holokavst, je neokusna infamija. Naslanja se na latinski pregovor »Semper aliquid haeret« – z drugimi besedami: Naj bo še tako napačno, nekaj bo na njem obviselo. Na začetku II. svetovne vojne septembra 1939 še ni bil tri mesece star. Gospod Bavcon, upokojeni profesor za mednarodno pravo, je očitno zagovornik kolektivne krivde, ki je bila temelj politično motiviranega sojenja v času totalitarne Slovenije. Bil je od l. 1961 naprej profesor na Pravni fakulteti in celo nekaj časa njen dekan.
Blumenwitzova študija je del večjega projekta, ki obsega zgodovinsko študijo, ki sem jo napisala jaz – Razdvojeni narod. Slovenija 1941-1945 (izšla 2003 v založbi Böhlau in l. 2004 v Mladinski knjigi) – in zgoraj omenjeno mednarodnopravno študijo. Bavcon očitno želi prof. Blumenwitza, g. Jožeta Bernika, čigar zamisel je celotni projekt bil, direktorja Muzeja novejše zgodovine Jožeta Dežmana in mene spraviti v kot poražencev in okupatorjevih zagovornikov. Pri tem pa ne pove konkretno, na podlagi česa pride do takih absurdnih trditev. Kot sem v uvodu za Blumenwitzovo študijo povedala, nam je šlo za to, da vse totalitarne pojave in režime, tudi komunizem, ocenjujemo na podlagi istih kriterijev. In s tem, da ne delamo razlik med žrtvami. Po mojem mnenju je za neodvisnega zgodovinarja odločilen prikaz dejstev, ne glede na to, komu ta prikaz služi in komu škoduje. Prav tako pa se mora neodvisni pravnik držati pravnih norm in zakonov, ne glede nato, kdo in kaj je predmet njegovih ocen. V uvodu sem napisala tudi, da morata biti »zgodovinar in pravnik že po svojem poklicu nasprotnika vsakršne nesvobode in totalitarizma«. Namen projekta naj bi bila tudi »pobuda za iskreno in kulturno razpravo o naši polpretekli zgodovini, ki bi vodila ven iz slepe ulice ideoloških intrepretacij«.
Okupatorjeva krivda ni nič manjša, če danes prihajajo na dan tudi dolgo zamolčani komunistični zločini. Ne smemo tajiti, da je poleg nacizma in fašizma tudi komunizem – pod pretvezo pravičnosti in (kot v Jugoslaviji) upora proti okupatorju – hudo kršil človekove pravice. Te kršitve bi po mnenju prof. Bavcona morali utajiti, da ne bi oskrunili pomena narodnoosvobodilnega boja. Upor proti uporu oz. kot on formulira »silobran proti silobranu« po njegovem ni legitimen – in to ne glede na sredstva, ki se jih poslužuje. Tukaj zastopa prof. Blumenwitz drugačno, po mojem mnenju pravilno stališče, ki ga bo moral prenesti tudi prof. Bavcon: tudi tisti, ki se upirajo velikim krivicam, se morajo držati določenih norm. Ne smejo zagrešiti zločinov in po lastni presoji preganjati in moriti. Poleg tega niso vsi, ki so trdili, da se borijo proti okupatorju, imeli v mislih predvsem osvoboditve izpod okupatorjevega jarma. Komunisti so upor proti okupatorju zlorabili za prevzem oblasti.
Veseli me, da je v zadnjem času v Sloveniji vedno več zgodovinskih razprav, ki se resnično trudijo biti čimbolj objektivne. Naenkrat smo na začetku diskusije o preteklosti. Zgodovinopisju lahko samo koristi, če osvetli dogajanje iz vseh zornih kotov in če se sooči z vsemi mogočimi interpretacijami. Zato bi bil kritičen prispevek prof. Bavcona zelo dobrodošel. Namesto tega pa je njegov prispevek poln popolnoma neresničnih in skrajno žaljivih trditev. Skuša preprečiti normalno diskusijo ter aktivirati staro cenzuro izražanja in objavljanja – čisto v stilu nekdanjih časov, ko je še bil urednik režimskih časopisov Slovenski poročevalec in Naši razgledi (1951-1954). Ne bo mu uspelo.

dr. Tamara Griesser-Pečar, Dunaj

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Nepali government cracks down opposition ahead of elections

Last Thursday the Nepali government arrested more than 100 political leaders and civil society activists , which raised fears that violence and human rights abuses will have priory ahead of forthcomin elections. Security forces are reported to have permission to shoot anybody violating curfew at night.

Since last February 2005, when King Gyanendra assumed all executive authority with the army’s support, fundamental rights – including freedom of assembly and expression, the right to information and the right to be free from arbitrary detention have been suspended until further notice.

Today Asia is the only continent whithout regional system of human rights protection and regional human rights tribunal. Nepal is one of few Asian countires who ratified the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights in 1991 without substantial reservations. It needs therefore to abide by its international obligation contained in especially Article 2 and 26 recognize that all persons are equal before the law and are entitled to protection from discrimination on any ground, and ensure the following articles are respected: Article 22 of the ICCPR, which states that everyone shall have the right to freedom of association with others, Article 21 of the ICCPR protects the freedom of peaceful assembly, Article 19 of the ICCPR protects the “freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media.”

Asian countries are not on other planet and its leaders need to recognize that human rights are universal and that people are equal before law and finally stop using cultural relativism for their own political and economic gains.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

International community refuses to provide Saddam with a fair trial guarantees

It is theoretical question whether or not former dictators and war criminals deserve a fair trail in the countries where independent judiciary so far has been non-existent or to say the least non-efficient. However, in Iraq international community seemed to be decided to guarantee fair trail for Saddam Husein, however as situation right now shows it can not deliver its promise with his defence lawyers being killed almost every week.

Compliance with rule of law and human rights requires legal representation, and the lawyers involved in Saddam’s trial are not having an easy time. One investigative judge was murdered in the spring of 2005, two defence attorneys were murdered in the fall, and Iraqi officials announced earlier this month that Chief Judge Rizgar Mohammad Amin wants to resign. International organisation present in Iraq and Coalition of the Willing need to support those trying to re-establish the rule of law in Iraq. But rather than supporting the Iraqis working on Saddam’s trial, the international community has opted to stand by and watch. The murders past fall of two Iraqi High Court defence lawyers who had declined housing and protection in the international green Zone demonstrate that even Saddam’s lawyers are not immune to the violence inIraq. Some of the remaining defence counsel seemed reluctant to accept the green zone protection of the Iraqi and American authorities in Iraq. Instead they turned to the United Nations and asked the international community for support, including personal protection, but their requests were refused.

If the respective states of the international community really stands for justice and the rule of law, they should be working towards strengthening rule of law in Iraq, which includes also appropriate protection for Saddam’s defence lawyers.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Preliminary ruling procedure in need of reforms?

One of the arguably most famous provisions of the Treaty on the establishment of European Community is certainly Art 234 which provides for the so called preliminary ruling procedure. It enables national courts (and requires national courts against which there is no further judicial remedy) to refer a question of the interpretation of the Community law if this appears necessary to render a judgment in a particular case.

Preliminary ruling procedure is a cornerstone of the EU judicial system which is unparalelled in the world. National courts namely act simultaneously as EU courts, i.e. there is no special federal judicial system as this is the case in the comparable non-unitary statal organizations.

The procedure has worked extremely well and it has in recent years resulted in a literal overflow of cases from the Member States' courts. ECJ therefore became signficantly overburdened, extending the typical waiting time for a decision over 2 years. Since this waiting period might be already nearing the boundaries of the reasonable time period necessary for a decision, varius reform proposals of the procedure have been laid on the table. Thus, especially Advocates General have urged the ECJ to limit its jurisdictional scope and entrust more cases to the national courts. It was submitted that famous CILFIT, Foto Frost and Dzozdi line of cases should be reconsidered in order to cut the number of cases coming to ECJ every year (249 requests for a preliminary ruling in year 2004, for example). The Treaty of Nice enables the transfer of preliminary rulings in specific areas to the Court of First Instance, etc.

However, the ECJ firmly sticks to its precedents and it has by and large refused to follow the proposals by AGs. The Court apparently fears that unity and effectiveness of the Community legal order might get seriously impaired if the prelimary ruling procedure would become less rigid, leaving sligtly wider margin of appreciation to the national courts. The situation is certainly not an easy one, therefore it remains to be seen if a good and working middle way between the concern for uniformity of EU law and the reasonable time necessary to render a judgment might be found.

Yale Law Professors question the selection process for US Supreme Court justices

They came up with an interesting proposal that the United States Senators can ask the Supreme Court nominees about have they would have voted in cases that the Supreme Court has already decided. They demonstrate that such questions neither compromise the independence of the judiciary nor politicise the rule of law, but instead serve important structural values since they can help generate the democratic legitimacy necessary for courts to exercise the formidable power of judicial review. The article may be reached at http://www.thepocketpart.org

Now Chief Justice John Roberts already in 1981 objected such a proposal by submitting that the “proposition that the only way Senators can ascertain a nominee’s views is through questions on specific cases should be rejected. The suggestion that a simple understanding that no promise is intended when a nominee answers a specific question will completely remove the disqualification problem is absurd. The appearance of impropriety remains.”

One may add that such a solution would be appropriate also when choosing judges of Slovene Supreme and Constitutional Courts even tough the selection processes in the United States and in Slovenia vary to some aspect.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Breaking the wall

Last December a federal high court judge in Nigeria authorized a lawsuit that seeks to lift the asylum status of the former Liberian ruler and war criminal Charles Taylor. In March 2003, Taylor was indicted by the UN-mandated Special Court for Sierra Leone for crimes against humanity, violations of article 3 common to the Geneva conventions and additional protocol II and other serious violations of international humanitarian law during that country's decade-long civil war. The full text of indictment is available here http://www.sc-sl.org/taylorindictment.html.

Shortly thereafter, Taylor was granted asylum by Nigeria's president, Olusegun Obasanjo, and he has since resided in a private mansion in the Nigerian city of Calabar. In May 2004, two Nigerian nationals petitioned Nigeria's high court to overturn the grant of asylum. The men had had their arms chopped off in Freetown by soldiers of the Taylor-supported Revolutionary United Front. Rather than shelter Taylor, they submitted, Nigeria must prosecute him or send him to the special court to face trial. In rejecting the government's objections, the high court held that the claimants had a right to sue for redress so long as Taylor enjoyed asylum. Whatever the outcome, the decision stands as a powerful example of an independent court standing up to strong political currents.

Dictators in Africa must be told in every way possible that they cannot preach peace unless they enthrone democracy in their countries and respect universal human rights. His indictment is indicative of his past criminal conduct and criminals should not be allowed to go free, no matter their status. Taylor must answer to charges of committing crimes against humanity. This should serve as lesson to all dictators, wherever they may be -- they can no longer be allowed to disregard the rule of law, and abuse human rights with impunity. However after two years the questions remains the same will Nigeria turn Charles Taylor over to the Special Court for Sierra Leone? The fight against grave human rights violations can only be won if tackled effectively.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Minorities in Haider's Carinthia

The enfant terrible of Austrian domestic politics - Joerg Haider - continues his crusade. He is still opposing the execution of the decision of the Austrian Constitutional Court which ordered installment of the bilingual road signs designating the names of towns and villages in Carinthia with more than 10% of inhabitants belongin to Slovenian minority. The judgment of the Constitutional Court, now already the second in a row, was rendered on the basis of the Art. 7 of the Austrian Staatvertrag, i.e. the State Treaty, by which today's Austria came into existence after its infamous role during the WWII.

Why the road signs? It is sad, but true: it was the only constitutional means to make Art. 7 alive: the members of Slovenian minority had to argue that they did not know that they drive through the village (and that they have to slow down accordingly) beacause they could not understand the language in which the name of the village was written.

It is a long story and those that are intereted into it should be referred to the following site http://kaernten.orf.at/stories/84325/.

All in all, to conclude we have to allude to one famous professor's succintly put statement: "The democracy of the vile people, will be vile!" That is all what the dispute in Karnten is about.

Activism of Slovenian President

President of Republic of Slovenia, Janez Drnovsek, has in the recent months with his activities surprised not just Slovenian public, but has also stirred many emotions in the Balkans and he is now spreading his ideas on humanitarian help to Darfur in the UN and quite recently in Bolivia. Just today he was seen on national Slovenian TV in a rather obscure setting, i.e. taking part in inauguration of newly elected Bolivian President that was conducted on certain hill according to the traditional Indian customs - into which Slovenian President did anything but fit. The official purpose of his visit in Bolivia, being one of the poorest country in Latin America, is to gain more support for his Darfur plan. Quite incredible destination for these kind of aims, at least in our eyes.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Welcome to GlobalLawAndPolitics Blog

Today marks the beginning of the work of the GlobaLawandPolitics Blog! The aim of the blog is to respond to the processes of globalization and to spread understanding and knowledge about global law. Therefore the blog strives to promote a greater awareness and understanding of international law, human rights law and european law not only amongst lawyers but also within the general public accross the world. One goal of this blog is to be as inclusive as possible and we warmly welcome the participation of all those with a commitment to the development and study of international law.It is submitted that all actors in international community have a wide responsibility, moral and legal, to use its influence to promote the respect for human rights in respective communities. Their reputation has been increasingly dependent on their response to violation of human rights, in particular the most fundamental human rights, and the defence of such rights. International community has a responsibility to use their influence to try to stop human rights atrocities committed by the government or armed political groups in the countries in which they operate. On this website you will in future find details about the opportunities that exist for active involvement in the work of this blog group.