International Criminal Court (ICC)

Tommy Tiernan – A Storm in an Espresso Coffee Cup ?

2009-09-29:  I don’t have any time for anti-Semitism … but is the current controversy – weeks after the actual event (!) – about Mr. Tommy Tiernan’s remarks during a public Hot Press interview at the Electric Picnic, with Mr. Olaf Tyaransen, just a storm in an Espresso Coffee Cup ?

For a moment … let us taste a different grim, brutal reality …

” At 11.30am on 27 December 2008,  without warning, Israeli forces began a devastating bombing campaign on the Gaza Strip codenamed Operation ‘Cast Lead’.  Its stated aim was to end rocket attacks into Israel by armed groups affiliated with Hamas and other Palestinian factions.  By 18 January 2009, when unilateral ceasefires were announced by both Israel and Hamas, some 1,400 Palestinians had been killed, including some 300 children and hundreds of other unarmed civilians, and large areas of Gaza had been razed to the ground, leaving many thousands homeless and the already dire economy in ruins.

Much of the destruction was wanton and resulted from direct attacks on civilian objects as well as indiscriminate attacks that failed to distinguish between legitimate military targets and civilian objects.  Such attacks violated fundamental provisions of international humanitarian law, notably the prohibition on direct attacks on civilians and civilian objects (the principle of distinction), the prohibition on indiscriminate or disproportionate attacks, and the prohibition on collective punishment.

Hundreds of civilians were killed in attacks carried out using high-precision weapons – air-delivered bombs and missiles, and tank shells.  Others, including women and children, were shot at short range when posing no threat to the lives of the Israeli soldiers.  Aerial bombardments launched from Israeli F-16 combat aircraft targeted and destroyed civilian homes without warning, killing and injuring scores of their inhabitants, often while they slept.  Children playing on the roofs of their homes or in the street and other civilians going about their daily business, as well as medical staff attending the wounded were killed in broad daylight by Hellfire and other highly accurate missiles launched from helicopters and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), or drones, and by precision projectiles fired from tanks.

Disturbing questions remain unanswered as to why such high-precision weapons, whose operators can see even small details of their targets and which can accurately strike even fast moving vehicles, killed so many children and other civilians.”

          … Those were the first paragraphs from the Introduction to an Amnesty International Report … “Israel/Gaza: Operation ‘Cast Lead’ – 22 Days of Death and Destruction’ “, published just a little earlier this year (2009), back in July.

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The Full Recommendations of the Report read as follows …

Given the evidence of serious and extensive violations of international law by all parties to the conflict during Operation ‘Cast Lead’, and the lack of any meaningful measures towards accountability by either Israeli or Palestinian authorities, there is still a need for a full, independent and impartial investigation and for appropriate measures to bring perpetrators to justice and provide reparation to the victims.

Amnesty International calls on the international community to take the following actions:

  • It should provide full support to the international independent fact-finding mission established by the UN Human Rights Council, led by Justice Richard Goldstone, which has taken on as its mandate to investigate violations of international law by all parties and is due to report in the coming months.  The report of the mission’s findings should include recommendations aimed at ending and preventing further violations and at ensuring justice, truth and full reparations for the victims, including restitution, rehabilitation, compensation, satisfaction and guarantees of non-repetition.

In order to allow the mission to perform its tasks effectively, it must be provided with sufficient resources to accomplish all its tasks effectively and promptly; obtain access to all relevant documents, other evidence and persons; and be in a position to protect from reprisals all persons who provide information.

  • It should impose immediately a comprehensive UN Security Council arms embargo on Israel, Hamas and other Palestinian armed groups until effective mechanisms are in place to ensure that weapons or munitions and other military equipment will not be used to commit serious violations of international human rights law and humanitarian law.
  • It should act immediately at the level of individual states to suspend all transfers of military equipment, assistance and munitions, as well as those which may be diverted, to Israel, Hamas and other Palestinian armed groups until there is no longer a substantial risk that such equipment will be used for serious violations of international human rights and humanitarian law.  The suspension should include all indirect exports via other countries, the transfer of military components and technologies and any brokering, financial or logistical activities that would facilitate such transfers.
  •  Also at the level of individual states, it should start criminal investigations in national courts, exercising universal jurisdiction, wherever there is sufficient evidence of war crimes or other crimes under international law, and seek to arrest alleged perpetrators and bring them to justice in proceedings that fully respect international fair trial standards.

Amnesty International calls on the Israeli authorities to:

  • Ensure national, impartial and thorough investigations, in accordance with international standards, of the evidence indicating that its forces committed serious violations of international human rights and humanitarian law during the conflict, including war crimes, and wherever there is sufficient admissible evidence, prosecute any alleged perpetrator in proceedings that fully respect international fair trial standards ;
  • revise its interpretation of the rules and principles relating to the concepts of military objective, military advantage and proportionality, to ensure that these concepts are fully consistent with international humanitarian law ;
  • ensure that the Israeli military comply fully with the duty to take precautionary measures when carrying out attacks, as well as in defence, and do not carry out attacks as a form of collective punishment ;
  • publicly commit not to use artillery and white phosphorus weapons in densely populated areas ;
  • provide full reparations for the consequences of its unlawful acts and omissions ;
  • immediately end the blockade of the Gaza Strip, which is collectively punishing the entire population of Gaza, in breach of Israel’s obligations under international humanitarian and human rights law ;
  • co-operate fully with the international independent fact-finding mission established by the UN Human Rights Council, led by Richard Goldstone; and with other international investigations into violations of international law by all the parties to the conflict ;
  • ratify Additional Protocol I of the Geneva Conventions without reservations and make a declaration under Article 90 accepting the competence of the International Humanitarian Fact-Finding Commission ;
  • ratify the Rome Statute of the ICC, without making a declaration under Article 124 – which would exclude for seven years the jurisdiction of the Court over war crimes – and making a declaration pursuant to Article 12(3) that its jurisdiction encompasses the Operation ‘Cast Lead’.

Amnesty International calls on the Hamas de facto administration to:

  • publicly renounce its policy of unlawful rocket attacks against civilian population centres in Israel ;
  • ensure that no armed group operating in the areas under its de facto control carries out rocket attacks against Israeli civilians or commits other violations of international humanitarian law ;
  • ensure that Hamas’ fighters comply fully with the need to take precautionary measures in attacks and in defence, including the need to distinguish themselves from non-combatants to the maximum extent feasible ;
  • undertake to hold accountable those responsible for the rocket attacks, according to internationally recognized fair trial standards and without recourse to the death penalty ;
  • co-operate fully with the international independent fact-finding mission established by the UN Human Rights Council, led by Richard Goldstone; and with other international investigations into violations of international law by all the parties to the conflict.

What are the views of Mr. Alan Shatter, T.D. … and the Jewish Representative Council of Ireland … concerning the use by the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF), authorized by the Elected Government of Israel (a polity scarred by the Holocaust) … of measures and methods equivalent to those used by the German army and authorized by the Nazi Regime of Germany, in Europe, during the 1930’s & 1940’s ?

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The current controversies about Iran’s Nuclear & Missile Programmes …

Israel, alone in the Middle-East, has possessed for many years aggressive nuclear capabilities which are undeclared and not subject to international controls.  These extensive capabilities have constituted a permanent threat to peace and security in the region … and an arms race was inevitable.

Israel has ignored countless Resolutions of the United Nations General Assembly and Security Council … as well as the General Conference of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).  It refuses to accede to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons … and it stubbornly refuses to place all of its nuclear installations under IAEA safeguards.  Why is that ?

And when will Israel understand that its geographical location is outside Europe … in the Middle-East ?   Is it not time that it behaved in a neighbourly manner … with its own close neighbours ?

We demand an Independent Palestine NOW !

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Israel a Criminal State ? Guantánamo Bay an Illegal Occupation ?

2009-01-01:  Sustainable Human & Social Development is much more than an academic theory.  It is a necessary concept for our troubled times … in our global community.  Intricate, open, dynamic and still evolving … it is very much intended for practical implementation.

 

A robust understanding of this social catalyst is critically underpinned by human and social rights.  Specifically, initial reference is made to the following International Legal Instruments:

         1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UN OHCHR) ;

         2001 Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity (UNESCO) ;

         2006 Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UN).

 

Sustainable Design is the ethical response, in built and wrought form, to Sustainable Human & Social Development.  As our understanding of ‘sustainability’ develops, so too must ‘design’ (spatial planning, architectural/engineering/industrial design, and e-design).

 

At a macro-level … issues causing untold social, environmental, economic, institutional, political and legal damage, destruction and harm:

 

We see on our television screens and hear from our radios that the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) are again committing criminal acts in Gaza.  These acts are authorized by the Government of Israel.  The country’s population continues to vote these Governments into power.

 

The USA’s treatment of prisoners in Guantánamo Bay was, and still is, degrading, inhumane and criminal.  Beyond that, however … the annexation of the bay area remains, to this day, an international act of piracy (refer to the 1901 Platt Amendment and later ‘treaties’ with Cuba procured by the threat or use of force).

 

The USA and British fundamentalist western crusade against the regime and peoples of Iraq was a cynical act of barbarism and a crime against humanity.  We look forward to the day when George W Bush and Tony Blair will be brought before the International Criminal Court (ICC).

 

At a micro-level … every designer can act, and make his/her positive contribution:

 

Accessibility of buildings for people with disabilities, to take just one example, is now a legitimate social right which must be protected and nurtured, i.e. properly resourced, by all States Parties to the 2006 UN Disability Rights Convention.  People must be able to independently approach, enter, use, egress (under normal conditions) and evacuate (in a fire emergency) any building in our built environment.

 

Two Immediate Requirements for Sustainability Implementation:

  1. A radical overhaul of the Education and Training of any person connected, directly or indirectly, with the design, construction, operation, management, servicing or maintenance of our Human Environment.
  2. The widespread introduction of Sustainability Impact Assessment (SIA) at all levels of our Public and Private Institutions.  SIA is a continual evaluation and optimization process – informing initial decision-making, or design, and shaping activity/product/service realization, useful life and termination, or final disposal – of the interrelated positive and negative social, environmental, economic, institutional, political and legal impacts on balanced and equitable implementation of Sustainable Human & Social Development.

 

 

Happy New Year !

 

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