Saturday, January 24, 2009

Blowing Up Pakistan With UN Security Council Resolution 1386

OK, so the guy's only been in the job a few days and he's already done a lot of good, given the madness of the last eight years; he hit the ground flying.

But now, this.

We didn't expect anything different under the Bush administration – to hell with Nuremberg, fuck the Geneva Conventions, and isn't Habeas Corpus some place in Texas? – but the new guy is promising something different, not that it's going to happen overnight.

However, even regular soldiers are supposed to understand enough of international law to prevent abominations like what happened to Russian prisoners of war during the German offensive of 1942. People were hung at Nuremberg for not knowing, or choosing not to know.

Which brings us to missiles fired by Americans from Afghanistan into Pakistan.

Nuremberg Principle VI (originally published as part of the London Charter in 1945 during the short intermission between Hiroshima and Nagasaki) states in part:

“The crimes hereinafter set out are punishable as crimes under international law:

(a) Crimes against peace:
(i) Planning, preparation, initiation or waging of a war of aggression or a war in violation of international treaties, agreements or assurances;
(ii) Participation in a common plan or conspiracy for the accomplishment of any of the acts mentioned under (i).”

Article 2 of the Charter of the United Nations, signed by the United States states:`

“The Organization and its Members, in pursuit of the Purposes stated in Article 1, shall act in accordance with the following Principles.
1.The Organization is based on the principle of the sovereign equality of all its Members.
2.All Members, in order to ensure to all of them the rights and benefits resulting from membership, shall fulfill in good faith the obligations assumed by them in accordance with the present Charter.
3.All Members shall settle their international disputes by peaceful means in such a manner that international peace and security, and justice, are not endangered.
4.All Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the Purposes of the United Nations.
5.All Members shall give the United Nations every assistance in any action it takes in accordance with the present Charter, and shall refrain from giving assistance to any state against which the United Nations is taking preventive or enforcement action.
6.The Organization shall ensure that states which are not Members of the United Nations act in accordance with these Principles so far as may be necessary for the maintenance of international peace and security.
7.Nothing contained in the present Charter shall authorize the United Nations to intervene in matters which are essentially within the domestic jurisdiction of any state or shall require the Members to submit such matters to settlement under the present Charter; but this principle shall not prejudice the application of enforcement measures under Chapter Vll."

So, at a minimum, if we put Principle VI up against Article 2, we have the United States violating the Charter of the United Nations by “the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state”, by launching missiles at targets in Pakistan over the objections of the government of Pakistan, which is prima facie a war crime.

I'm not a lawyer, but most of the people hung at Nuremberg weren't lawyers, and the only legal basis for NATO involvement in Afghanistan, flimsy though it is, is the “collective right of self defence, as stated in Article 51 of the United Nations Charter:

“Nothing in the present Charter shall impair the inherent right of individual or collective self-defence if an armed attack occurs against a Member of the United Nations, until the Security Council has taken measures necessary to maintain international peace and security. Measures taken by Members in the exercise of this right of self-defence shall be immediately reported to the Security Council and shall not in any way affect the authority and responsibility of the Security Council under the present Charter to take at any time such action as it deems necessary in order to maintain or restore international peace and security.”

And the Security Council has exercised its “authority and responsibility” in the Afghanistan mess by “authorizing” the International Security Assistance Force in Resolution 1386 and subsequent extensions, the most recent being Resolution 1833, passed at a 5 minute meeting September 22, 2008.

The question, the stone cold obvious emperor-has-no-clothes question, is how Resolution 1386 would stand up in the International Criminal Court as a justification for American bombing in Pakistan. And if the legal basis is not Resolution 1386, what is it?

I'd ask my own government directly, but know from experience I wouldn't get an answer, as an ordinary citizen would not get an answer from the United Nations Security Council. But I'm asking anyway.