undermining bourgeois law (The Hague)

jenyan1 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
        the world".

        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
        state sovereignty.

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