The lies & double standards of International Humanitarian Laws
Posted on June 29th, 2010

Shenali Waduge

What we face today is One standard international law but Double-standards in its application.

We have countries like the US & alliances commit war crimes as a matter of institutional necessity to maintain their imperial role & ensure favorable climates of investments & advance capitalism, we have countries that have supported despots like Suharto, Marcos, Fujimori, Mobutu, Savimbi, Pinochet, we have media of these countries backing their Governments & rationalizing each & every war crime committed, we have foreign policies that claim rights to preemptive use of military power including nuclear power, countries like the US who will not be bound by international treaties or agreements, who will do anything & everything to prevent the emergence of any strategic rival on the world scene & we have an institution called the United Nations that has stood & watched US intervention, a UN that has sided with the rich & powerful nations of the world, a UN that has been silent when US leaders have overthrown democratically elected Governments & installed puppet regimes, a UN that keeps mum on the dealings of multinational corporate’s & has done little to stop the crimes the US has done & is doing throughout the world systematically, constantly, clinically & remorselessly which are fully documented but the UN prefers to go after smaller Governments with the baton of of upholding human rights laws. If human rights laws are applied with bias, officials of these “International Human Rights Organizations” have no moral right to dictate terms or produce writs of international laws to any nation until they guarantee that international laws will be applied equally without bias whether a country is large or small, powerful or not. 

Global trade interlocked within the framework of international laws provide a key to understanding the nature & practice of international laws today. Essentially, the answer lies in the availability of natural resources, scarcities forcefully taken from states that have these resources in & facilitation of its movement through ocean & land. Survival of states, supremacy status for these States & the players & the ability to sustain livelihoods of states ensures that international laws are championed to entrap, enlist & ensure states with natural resources, states with access to ocean depths, states which provide routes over lands are entrapped legally within the framework of international law. Can Sri Lanka now understand the bigger picture behind the build up of LTTE, the existence of Tamil Diaspora, the role of UN committees, panels of experts, International Community & what their real interests are?

The following lines by John Stockwell, former CIA official & author reveals the colonialism behind international laws, the double-standards of international organizations, institutes & even media channels who combine to fool the citizens of the world.

” Coming to grips with these U.S./CIA activities in broad numbers and figuring out how many people have been killed in the jungles of Laos or the hills of Nicaragua is very difficult. But, adding them up as best we can, we come up with a figure of six million people killed-and this is a minimum figure. Included are: one million killed in the Korean War, two million killed in the Vietnam War, 800,000 killed in Indonesia, one million in Cambodia, 20,000 killed in Angola … and 22,000 killed in Nicaragua. These people would not have died if U.S. tax dollars had not been spent by the CIA to inflame tensions, finance covert political and military activities and destabilize societies.

 Certainly, there are other local, regional, national and international factors in many of these operations, but if the CIA were tried fairly in a U.S. court, under U.S. law, the principle of complicity, incitement, riot, and mayhem would clearly apply. In the United States, if you hire someone to commit a murder your sentence may be approximately the same as that of the murderer himself.

Who are these six million people we have killed in the interest of American national security? Conservatives tell us, “It’s a dangerous world. Our enemies have to die so we can be safe and secure.” Some of them say, “I’m sorry, but that’s the way the world is. We have to accept this reality and defend ourselves, to make our nation safe and insure our way of life.”

 Since 1954, however, we have not parachuted teams into the Soviet Union – our number one enemy – to destabilize that country… Neither do we run these violent operations in England, France, Sweden, Norway, Belgium, or Switzerland. Since the mid-1950s they have all been conducted in Third World countries where governments do not have the power to force the United States to stop its brutal and destabilizing campaigns.

 One might call this the “Third World War.” It is a war that has been fought by the United States against the Third World.

The six million people the CIA has helped to kill are people of the Mitumba Mountains of the Congo, the jungles of Southeast Asia, and the hills of northern Nicaragua. They are people without ICBMs or armies or navies, incapable of doing physical damage to the United States the 22,000 killed in Nicaragua, for example, are not Russians; they are not Cuban soldiers or advisors; they are not even mostly Sandinistas. A majority are rag-poor peasants, including large numbers of women and children.

 Communists? Hardly, since the dead Nicaraguans are predominantly Roman Catholics. Enemies of the United States? That description doesn’t fit either, because the thousands of witnesses who have lived in Nicaraguan villages with the people since 1979 testify that the Nicaraguans are the warmest people on the face of the earth, that they love people from the United States, and they simply cannot understand why our leaders would want to spend $1 billion on a contra force designed to murder people and wreck the country.”

International law mirroring colonialism

International law is that which governs sovereign power which is or should be nevertheless equal & universally applicable to all. But the classic question & problem remains who decides what natural law is given that it will always be interpreted through one’s self-interest”¦this certainly does explain the problems associated with modern international law & its application wherein the “power” element often ends up the decider. It is for this reason that many argue that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights & the International Covenant on Civil Political Rights are biased towards Western liberalism. Committing towards a single international law may entail countries to sacrifice their unique cultures”¦.male supremacy, gender inequalities, caste factors etc”¦& this facet of subjugation is what equates international law with colonialism (usurp the sovereign power of these people & imposed laws of subjugation) This naturally results manipulations wherein powerful nations ends up deciding what is natural laws, who is following it & who is not. What eventually happens is powerful nations decide how they wish to follow these laws while smaller & less powerful nations are obliged to follow or face consequences such as economic sanctions, trade embargoes & the latest add-on being military intervention through a “police” body known as the UN.

 A good example of this is the manner the international community decides its actions. There are scores of allegations against human rights abuses in China yet it is not imposed sanctions, embargoes, or summoned to the international court, however Iran is. Why? Because China is economically important, these countries especially the US exports from China which provides credit facility “”…” thus, international law certainly is not applied equally. It is this reality that allows nations & leaders to manipulate the systems that prevail & ultimately ends up following a modern form of colonialism where “domination” over a set of people becomes the norm & until such subjugation succeeds these players will stop at nothing as their actions are never punished by a practically weak but powerful in paper body called the UN.

 The confusing issues that arise with the national laws, international laws centers often on their applicability. While national laws are primarily given rights, & often allows individuals to address the denial of rights as well as punitive measures through a country’s legal systems, the international laws most often cater to a country’s adaptation of the international laws in place & what makes it further confusing is the non-state actors & how international laws can protect their interests when national laws find that they are illegal entities. International law is the primary tool for the conduct of international trade in a world that is increasingly interdependent on each other. Modern international laws have extended their scope to include facets of human rights in order to use these issues as power tools over smaller nations. A perfect example is the GSP plus concessions to which non-trade related issues become a bargaining tool & reasons given to deny concessions or used as a carrot against smaller states. With the involvement of diplomacy, politics & foreign relations international laws provide further reasons to twist & turn its outcome to the benefit of larger countries & their ability to diplomatically manipulate smaller nations. There are instances that countries can decide to completely flout international laws “”…” US continues to do so & not a single international authority has taken any legal actions against it. So what good is a system of international laws applicable to all nations of the world if countries decide to go against them?

 Tanzania invaded Uganda in 1978/79, Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1990, US invasion of Grenada in 1983,,US invaded Iraq twice, imposed sanctions that killed millions of Iraqi’s, Israel forcefully intervened in Lebanon yet UN imposed sanctions against Libya, Rwanda, Iran”¦.& kept silent on US & Israel. If the UN is to decide who is right or wrong & who flouts international laws”¦why have these previous forceful invasions gone unpunished? International laws may exist yet underlying this facet is the practice of nations & their inner systems creating non-state actors, terrorist elements to disturb & disrupt civil society & destability in nations. These covert & overt operations are carried out with the coordination & support of elements willing to upstage a democratically elected government & help set up puppet leaders & governance. In such a scenario how can international laws protect these nations? Often it is the actual custodians or supposed to be guardians of international laws (Security Council members) that actually created these coups in smaller nations to advance their strategic interests in regions. In many ways international law is “weaker” than national laws more so because of its binding quality, lack of organization, approach to problems of adjudication & its actual enforcement which is biased. When US invaded Grenada illegally there was no formal enforcement of action nor was there a formal condemnation. Similar situation arose when Israel invaded Lebanon & neither did the UN do anything when US invaded Iraq twice & Afghanistan as well. Yet, when Iraq invaded Kuwait the UN was quick to take action. The UN however was quick to take military action by sending its forces to Korea in 1950, to Iraq in 1999/2000, to Serbia/Montenegro in 1992, severing air links with Libya in 1992, embargo imposed on North Korea in 2006 yet the UN is paralyzed of action on Afghanistan, Iraq, Falkland Isles, Chechnya, Lebanon & Palestine.  

The hypocrisy of these actions can be summarized in the moral right of the US to lecture to any country against invading sovereign nations, lecture on abuse of human rights, treatment of Prisoners of War or even the use of nuclear weapons. Was it not the US that dropped nuclear bombs not once but twice? Does the US have any moral right to dictate terms to any country after the manner in which it has been directly & indirectly responsible for the loss of possibly 6m people? Has the US even apologized to any of these nations?

 To settle disputes there are ad hoc tribunals “”…” International Court of Justice (ICJ) the principal judicial organ of the UN & then there is also the International Criminal Court(ICC) to deal with serious violations of international law by individuals. A State cannot be compelled to use the ICJ to resolve a legal dispute, however if a matter is referred to it binding parties must carry out the findings. These legal proceedings however become intertwined politically as was with the case of Libya following the Lockerbie bombing wherein the ICJ gave in to Security Council supremacy. In essence, the manner in which larger nations especially the permanent members of the UN Security Council functions it is clearly impossible for any international court to declare “right” from “wrong” it is possibly for these reasons that diplomacy is advocated & a series of compromise actions are expected from perpetrators”¦.this again translates to colonialism aspects coming to focus wherein powerful members of the international community through legal bodies will demand that certain national interests will be opened up to these players, international investments, caretaker roles in areas where countries have large natural resource deposits are often targeted. This is the political cost a smaller nation is likely to have to face”¦& if readers are able to understand & place these instances in the Sri Lankan context we can well understand the maneuverings of these international players pre-LTTE & now post-LTTE defeat.

 International laws & its success must come into play before these laws are broken & requires interpretation of these laws. When a terror movement started out in Sri Lanka & while it was defined a “terrorist” entity globally, the world should have backed Sri Lanka to ensure the protection of its citizens against LTTE terror. That it did not is shamelessly clear. While LTTE offices were opened in foreign climes, its spokesman were free to travel & often given VIP welcomes, foreign leaders went so far as to even attend their fund raising activities while suicide bombings, assassinations on political leaderships, moderate Tamils were taking place at regular intervals. Peace negotiations, ceasefires were arranged only to allow time for LTTE to regroup, re-arm & renew attacks on Sri Lanka’s armed forces. NGOs & International INGOs were housed in offices that were practically adjacent to LTTE “offices” wherein these officials local & foreign had first hand view of the recruitment of children as child soldiers an act against international law/Geneva Convention & despite over 3000 documented evidence of violations the world & the UN did nothing to stop LTTE. Moreover, we seem to have forgotten that the LTTE leader was actually entrapped in 1987 but India, our supposed “concerned” & “loving” neighbor not only demanded that the LTTE leader be set free, India even flouted diplomatic decency & descended upon sovereign Sri Lanka & dropped food parcels. If any UN panel is appointed it is India that must be first questioned for its role in forbidding the capture of the LTTE leader in 1987 which eventually resulted in the deaths of thousands of innocent women, children, men & religious heads post 1987 upto the final elimination of the LTTE in 2009. So for over 20 years of suffering India is directly responsible for Sri Lanka’s loss & the prevalence of terror in Sri Lanka.

In essence how valid is international “law” & from where does it derive its “legal validity” “”…” how does it become “law” & what is the juridical origin of this “law”. What we presently have is a “law” with a series of “commands” issued & backed by “threats” & essentially questions the “law” that exists for sovereign States. Many of these laws espouses to follow a set of “values” & these values are often predominantly pro-Western & again challenges age-old behavior & culture patterns of nations. Many of these western nations traditionally have emerged from prisoner populations quite in contrast to rich cultures of Asia. So, while States may agree to follow the treaties it has signed & face punitive actions for flouting same, how are non-state actors to be punished leave alone be brought before any international court when these players are often on the run or often hidden by powerful nations who desires these players to exist for their own interests”¦.we cannot forget how Prabakaran was at one time given Indian hospitality nor the reality behind Osama’s dealings with US Presidents & key officials nor Saddam Hussein’s friendships with CIA!

 The fundamental truth is that a world that had to witness two World Wars in the early 1990s ended up with scores of mini wars despite the formation of the United Nations & over the years piling up of world organizations & personages tasked with preventing & maintaining world peace. How many of these officials have taken accountability for their own inactions in the face of the reality of political interference & super power bullying is the question that needs to be given answers to. The legal entities that have been created has ended only another means of legally binding nations to comply to the dictates of these super power nations that desire to by hook or by crook subjugate these nations primarily as a result of the RESOURCES available in these nations. The message that needs to be reiterated is that there cannot be different laws applicable to the US, EU, Asia & Africa.

 In bringing an individual(s) before international adjudicators what international law ignores is the mandate of the people of that sovereign nation. Clearly, in Sri Lanka’s case when a country stands & demands why an expert panel should be appointed by the UN Secretary General, who is actually mandated to listen to the voice of the people for it is with their vote that the Government has been democratically elected. Losers of democratic elections need to respect the decision of the people but continue to serve the nation by addressing areas that an elected Government may be ignoring. Opposition parties & leaderships are certainly not meant to function of upstaging an elected Government by hook or by crook & certainly not through building up unsubstantiated stories that have today served as the basis for a war crimes probe. The lack of “ƒ”¹…”Fair & equitable treatment” is what naturally has Sri Lanka so irked for none of the previous atrocities, human rights abuses by larger & more powerful states have been investigated nor brought before any international court. Until such time, crimes are punished equally the UN & none of its officials have any moral right to be pointing fingers. In the case of Sri Lanka, UN representatives cannot escape its first hand presence & role throughout the conflict where more often than not they have actually been in the thick of things & very much present amongst the LTTE terrorists “¦that they have done nothing to even bring what they have seen before their superiors shows their own bias. When unlimited trips of UN officials, special rappateurs etc have descended upon Sri Lanka demanding access & first hand look at how Sri Lanka’s resettlement as well as conditions in the camps were & despite issuing favorable statements while in Sri Lanka these very officials end up issuing harangues against the Government “”…” these are the double standards at play. Can any country whatever its military might proudly declare its ability to militarily defeat a TERROR group? Has any country even those that forcibly entered sovereign states & launched military campaigns on a slogan “war on terror” been admonished by the UN for their inability to resettle thousands of people they have displaced. Have UN envoys, special representatives gone & overlooked how the US has been looking after these displaced or even the manner in which the US treats Prisoners of War? NO!

 Then how many more laws must we have if the real perpetrators are not punished? The UN should be ashamed of the thousands if not millions of lives that have been compromised because its status in practice is that of only a puppet for world powers & bully for smaller less powerful nations. In not taking actions when it could, in not preventing crimes when it could, in not using the volumes of research & studies & documentary evidence compiled by its own staff members to punish non-state actors & terror organizations”¦what the UN has done is unpardonable over the years. Can we all remember a UN Secretary General issuing a letter of sympathy for a dead LTTE leader? Any human rights law to be enforced must be done without malice, bias & never to side super powers but that is what is happening. Laws are not to be campaigned for”¦they are to be enforced EQUALLY.

 Citizens of a country must realize the power they have for until such time they do these colonial maneuverings will continue to take place under the guise of international humanitarian laws the strings of which are being pulled by the super powers & the UN is merely a facilitator to such “¦the gameplan is to decisively defeat leaders that withstand international dictates to enable them to eagle in on a country’s resources”¦this is & will be the order of things to come in future.

 Where Sri Lanka’s leaders are responsible & accountable is for their role in ensuring that the sovereignty of the nation or its people are never compromised”¦its land is not given to foreign labor even with foolproof terms, its love for supreme power doesn’t end up destroying the very achievements it has gained which will ultimately result in creation of Marcos type regimes that will naturally facilitate & invite international interference. Sri Lankan leaders certainly needs to understand that there are limitations to being in power & teachings of Buddhism should be perfect to understand this.

 

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