Monday, November 25, 2013
Florida International University (Miami's public research university) is advertising a faculty position in the Criminal Justice Department, School of International Public Affairs. All specializations will be considered, however, there is a strong interest in applicants with specializations in transnational crimes, terrorism, and global/national security. Job specifics and application procedure can be viewed on the Chronicle's webpage.
Thursday, November 21, 2013
From 4 - 15 November I attended the 20th International Investigator Course at the Institute for International Criminal Investigations in The Hague. It was a fruitful experience. The first week consisted of class lectures on war crimes at the Institute. The primary lecturer on war crimes was Professor Ray Murphy of the Irish Center for Human Rights, National University of Ireland, Galway. Additionally, the course included GPS navigation as well as a mock war crimes investigation consisting of crime scene investigations of a torture chamber and mass grave site. Perhaps most interesting were the checkpoint and minefield exercises. Students had to enter a checkpoint (on foot and in a vehicle) guarded by government soldiers or militiamen. The goal was for the students to learn how to stay together and survive the situation. Students also were driven into a minefield where they had to attempt to successfully escape via prodding for mines. These practical exercises were done at the School for Peace Operations at Harskamp. At the conclusion of the course, students had to present and investigation report of their findings and make recommendations for further action. Hopefully, nobody is ever put in any of the situations we practiced, but if we are, I'd say we have a higher chance of staying alive as a result of what we learned in the course.
I've attended several international law courses throughout the world ranging from 2 - 8 weeks in length. In addition to substance learned, there are always friendships made. I continue to stay in close contact with many people I've met over the years at these types of courses. The past two weeks I developed friendships all over the world, including Canada, the Congo, the Netherlands, England, Ireland, South Sudan, Kenya, Liberia, and Italy. And I must give a special shout-out to my peeps at London Metro PD!
Tuesday, September 24, 2013
There has been much talk on the web regarding Omar Bashir's visa application to visit the United States to attend the United Nations General Assembly the next two weeks. While the discussion is good for academic discourse, there is not much to talk about. First, the United States must grant Bashir a temporary visa to attend the United Nations General Assembly as it is necessary for him to fulfill his duties as a head of state that is a member of the United Nations. Secondly, the United States cannot arrest Bashir and extradite him to The Hague to be prosecuted by the International Criminal Court for genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity.
The United States should not grant a head of state a visa only to arrest them when they arrive. The purpose of the visa is to attend the General Assembly. To use this as a method of encouragement for the arrest would be reflective of some form of international entrapment. The United States has no international legal obligation to arrest Bashir either under the Rome Statute or any other international convention or treaty. For example, the United States is not a state party to the International Criminal Court and under Security Council Resolution 1593 of 31 March 2005, non states parties are only "urged" to cooperate with the International Criminal Court's decisions. Article 6 of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, adopted on 9 December 1948, gives jurisdiction to national courts for the prosecution of crimes listed under Article 3 of the Convention. The reference to an international penal tribunal under Article 6 is only for states that would give such a tribunal jurisdiction over its territories or nationals as a contracted state party. The United States realized the possibilities of any potential future obligation to an international criminal court if one was established. Therefore, it submitted a reservation with its ratification to the Genocide Convention on 4 November 1988, which states that "the United States declares that it reserves the right to effect its participation in any such tribunal only by a treaty entered into specifically for that purpose with the advice and consent of the Senate." Ironically, now the International Criminal Court is requesting the United States to arrest a head of state, who would be granted a visa for the purpose of attending the United Nations General Assembly. Moreover, this would be in violation of Article 105 of the UN Charter, as it gives immunity to representative members (including heads of state) of the United Nations as are necessary for their functions in connection with the United Nations. Any question on the value of Article 105 is answered in Article 103, which states that "In the event of a conflict between the obligations of the Members of the United Nations under the present Charter and their obligations under any other international agreement, their obligations under the present Charter shall prevail."
There is likely to be much criticism toward the United States when Bashir is not arrested and extradited to The Hague. Besides, it was the United States that first called the acts committed by the Sudanese government a "genocide." Professor William Schabas describes the potentially damaging effects if Bashir is arrested when he attempts to perform his duties under the United Nations Charter. The UN Charter, including its immunities of heads of state, has to stand for something. The United States has the "exclusionary rule" in its criminal procedure. All criminal justice systems have to follow the United States Constitution. If evidence or persons are seized in violation of rights provided by the Constitution, then such evidence and persons shall be excluded from prosecution. If Bashir is arrested in violation of the UN Charter, then he should be excluded from prosecution as he was seized unlawfully. Sometimes we just have to wait for the accused to make a mistake before we can arrest him. It won't be the first time a ruthless murderer will speak at the General Assembly. In fact, it's becoming quite common these days.
It is unfortunate that the United States is in this dilemma. It will be criticized no matter its decision regarding Bashir. The United States has China to thank for not enforcing Resolution 1593, as well as multiple African states that are party to the Rome Statute and have failed to fulfill their legal obligations to enforce the International Criminal Court's decisions, including arresting Omar al Bashir when he visits their territories.
Wednesday, September 11, 2013
Many universities are hosting events to discuss United States policy and the situation in Syria. Florida International University is hosting a panel discussion with faculty experts. The event is open to the public and all are invited to attend. Below is the advertisement.
Sunday, September 8, 2013
President Obama will seek Congressional authority this week to strike Syria in response to President Assad's use of chemical weapons during the current civil war. Obama was very critical of former President Bush's military policy. Obama claimed credit in the 2008 Democratic primaries and presidential election for being one of few senators that voted against giving the Bush Administration Congressional authority to invade Iraq in 2003. It seems that Obama sees a different person when he looks in the mirror ten years later.
Sunday, September 1, 2013
President Barack Obama said yesterday he has now decided to consult Congress prior to striking Syria for using chemical weapons against its own people on August 21. This is wise. John Kerry argued the day before that the US would be justified using military force stating that using chemical weapons against civilians violates international customary norms. Kerry is attempting to justify violating an international customary norm in response to Syria's violation of an customary international norm. There is no greater violation of customary international laws and norms than when one State uses unlawful military force against the sovereign territory of another State. Obama is unlikely to get Congressional approval to strike Syria, but it would not change the fact that if the US did strike Syria with Congressional approval it would still be a violation of international customary norms as well as the crime of aggression. President George W. Bush attacked Iraq with Congressional approval and his presidency suffered as a result. States have an absolute right to use military force to defend against an attack or an imminent strike on its territory. Bush's excuse for going to war with Iraq was stronger than Obama's excuse for striking Syria. Bush argued in a post-9/11 era that the United States should use preeminent self defense to attack a State that had weapons of mass destruction and was a threat to the US. There is absolutely no justification for the US to strike Syria without international support.
President Obama jeopardized his reputation, and the reputation of the United States, by promising that the Syrian government would cross a "Red Line" if it used chemical weapons. Consequently, the US now has five war ships armed with tomahawk cruise missiles. There is a sixth ship carrying at least 350 Marines. The US will look weak and defeated if it does nothing after Obama's continued threats. What is the point of "Red Lines" if they are crossed without repercussions? Obama unfairly put the United States in this position. The American people can respond by denying their president authorization to use military force. Only the American people can speak on behalf of the American people! Obama perhaps realized yesterday that his way out of this mess is to be denied Congressional approval and respond that he will hold off striking Syria for now but leave ships ready to strike in the future if necessary.
Friday, August 30, 2013
Less than an hour ago US Secretary of State, John Kerry, rapped up a public justification for the US involvement in the Syrian conflict. There is little doubt now that President Obama is going to act and back up his past "Red Line" threats to the Assad regime if they used chemical weapons. There are many problems with Kerry's remarks that need to be addressed. I address them below:
1. Kerry listed several other States condemning Assad's use of chemical weapons against his own people, including the African Community, France, Australia, and others. But why are these States not mobilizing their war ships in preparation to strike Syria? Why is the United States doing this alone? Why does the United States not establish a coalition if it has support from these States? Certainly, the States that condemn Syria's use of chemical weapons do not support the unilateral response by the United States. Kerry left that part out.
2. Kerry noted that Russia will block the international community from responding collectively. So, does this allow the United States to act unilaterally? If so, I suggest Obama and other members in his administration send letters of apology to former President Bush and Dick Chaney for criticizing their actions throughout the international community without Security Council approval.
3. Kerry also noted that if the United States does not respond to Syria's use of chemical weapons, then this will encourage Iran and Hezbollah to also use chemical weapons. However, deterrence does have an affect on those who are committed to using these weapons. Furthermore, I argue that these States/parties will enter into the conflict increasing the chances that they will use their chemical weapons if this war becomes an international armed conflict as a response to US strikes.
I fail to comprehend how a president of any State can draw unilateral "Red Lines" on other States. The United States is "A Republic, Not an Empire." How Obama thinks he can strategically strike certain targets in the borders of another State without a military response from other States is incomprehensible. The laws defining aggression are clear. Although Obama believes he will only be conducting a quick military campaign, he does not realize what may follow this military action.
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