The tribunal has defined the following crimes that are
within its jurisdiction:
- Grave Breaches of the 1949 Geneva Convention
- Violations of the laws or customs of war
- Crimes against humanity
The tribunal at present has in its detention unit
thirty-eight indicted war criminals and thirty-eight convicted war criminals are
still at large.
The main rationale behind this article is to present the
case for Western leaders being indicted for similar offences. Could it happen?
If it could will it happen? NATO has adopted the role in the last decade of
global policemen. Are global policemen above international law? In 1989, the
perceived threat of the Soviet Union was finally dismantled along with the
Berlin Wall. NATO is now the big global power with no apparent equal. It answers
Storm was initiated following the incursion of Kuwait by Iraq. In the 11
years that have followed, the United States has pursued a policy of containment
almost, imposing sanctions that have more of an affect on a civilian populous
than any regime that they hope to destabilise. In 1999 the Iraqi Ministry of
Health estimated that 1.4 million Iraqis of all ages had died as a result of
sanctions. Between 1991 and 1996 according to the UN's own statistics over
500,000 Iraqi children had died due to a lack of medical care and one third of
all children were undernourished. Does Saddam care? No. Saddam remains in his
palaces whilst his people starve and his ability to make war doesn't seem to
have been taken care of.
During the war with Iraq the United States and her allies
destroyed Iraq's water supply and in the 11 years that have followed they have
prevented it from being repaired. Dams and irrigation systems were knocked out
and as a result water-borne diseases such as dysentery, typhoid, hepatitis,
cholera and polio are rife. Directly after the war, suffering from the
complications of these diseases e.g. vomiting, diarrhoea and extreme
dehydration, the people drank more and more of the water that had made them ill.
In 2000 it was reported that the US-led forces, during the Gulf War, had
poisoned Iraq's water supply. This is in direct contravention of the
Geneva Convention which
clearly stipulates in Article 54:
"It is prohibited to attack, destroy or render useless
objects indispensable to the survival of the civilian population."
Why haven't Bush Sr. and John Major, the then leaders in
1991, asked to be accountable for their actions before an international court?
An Iraqi child with dysentery in 1990 had 1 in 100 chance
of dying. In 1999 those odds were slashed to 1 in 50.
In 1999 NATO launched
Operation Allied Force,
an air campaign, against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. During this
campaign 38, 000 sorties were flown, 10, 484 of which were air strikes against
targets within Kosovo and Vojvadina. The explicit aim of this campaign was to
drive Serbian armed forces out of the disputed Kosovo region preventing crimes
of humanity against the ethnic Albanian civilian population.
"Our military objective is to degrade and
damage the military and security structure that President Milosevic (Yugoslav
President) has used to depopulate and destroy the Albanian majority in Kosovo."
Yugoslav media estimated that thousands of civilians had
been killed by these strikes. The Serbian government, perhaps more
realistically, predicted 400 - 600 deaths.
The pressure group, Human
Rights Watch, submitted a
report in which they came to the conclusion that 500 civilians had been
killed. The report concluded that whilst no war crimes had been perpetrated NATO
violated International Humanitarian Law.
The report suggested that NATO may have broken the Geneva Convention in 5 areas.
These areas were:
- They conducted attacks using cluster bombs near civilian areas (following
international condemnation, the US stopped using these weapons half way through
the war. Britain did not).
- They targeted areas of questionable military legitimacy.
- They did not take adequate measures to warn civilians of impending
- They took insufficient measures to verify the presence of civilians on
- They took insufficient measures to verify that targets did not have
concentrations of civilians.
The Human Rights Watch report suggested that NATO had
attacked nine non-military targets. Those that spring instantly to mind are the
Serb television and radio, two separate incidents of bridges being attacked
bus went over them and the assault on the Serbian civilian town of
Of course, all of these could be put down to incredibly bad
logistics. I am not claiming that NATO is an overtly aggressive evil entity
guilty of the crimes Milosevic is accused of. I do, however, believe that all of
those in high positions (including those in the West) should be held accountable
for incidents in war-time. If their actions were unavoidable, then they should
explain it to a court of law.
I think this article could yield some interesting,
compelling debate over the question of whether Bush Sr., Major, Clinton, Blair
and various high-ranking military personnel should have been brought before an