undermining bourgeois law (The Hague)
jenyan1 at uic.edu
Thu Feb 21 12:47:12 MST 2002
This is not justice
The Hague has replaced Nuremberg's jurisprudence of
peace with a licence to the west to kill
by John Laughland
The Guardian Saturday, 16 February 2002
Because its legal basis is so dubious, the international criminal
tribunal for the former Yugoslavia seeks to present itself as the
successor to the international military tribunal which tried the
Nazi leaders at Nuremberg in 1946. As with many bodies in
search of legitimacy - the Hague tribunal was created in 1993 by
the UN security council, a body which has as little right to set
up a court as it does to raise taxes - its defenders probably
think that a quick reference to Hitler can settle the matter.
However, the Hague does not embody the legal principles
established and consolidated at Nuremberg. It embodies instead
their complete destruction.
It might seem tactless to dwell on the most obvious ways in
which the Hague differs from Nuremberg: an obscure judge from
the Midlands circuit and an unremarkable barrister who has
prosecuted for HM customs & excise are hardly worthy successors of
the legal giants at Nuremberg such as US supreme court Justice
Robert H Jackson, or the British attorney general Sir Hartley
Shawcross. But the mediocre quality of what passes for legal
reasoning at the Hague has caused the truly remarkable elements in
Nuremberg's noble jurisprudence to be perverted and destroyed.
We now think of Nuremberg mainly as the trial of the Holocaust.
This is not how the architects of Nuremberg saw matters.
Exhausted by up to six years of all-engulfing war, the allies
were mainly preoccupied with the fact that Nazi Germany had
plunged the whole world into conflict. When Justice Jackson
rose to address the tribunal, his very first words were not about
crimes against humanity but instead about his "privilege of
opening the first trial in history for crimes against the peace of
For the judges at Nuremberg, the primordial war crime was to
start a war in the first place. All other war crimes flowed from
this. Although naked aggression has always been illegal under
customary international law - as is attested by the numerous
and no doubt spurious legal justifications made throughout
history by belligerent states for their actions - Nuremberg was
innovatory in its clear legal formulation that the planning and
execution of a war of aggression constituted a criminal act in
international law. It was for this crime, and not for crimes
against humanity, that all the Nazis at Nuremberg were judged.
In the minds of the architects of Nuremberg, moreover, the best
way to preserve peace was to raise the profile of the concept of
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