Peace and Neutrality: International and National Perspectives

From left: Carol Fox (Peace and Neutrality Alliance), Roberto Zamora, Joe Murray (Afri)
From left: Carol Fox (Peace and Neutrality Alliance), Roberto Zamora, Joe Murray (Afri)

“Making peace by making war is what we are trying to do – but it doesn’t work”, stated Edward Horgan, former commandant in the Irish Defence Forces and Shannonwatch spokesperson as he addressed the public meeting on ‘Peace and Neutrality: International and National Perspectives’.  Peace can only be achieved by positive neutrality.

One country which has pursued the path of positive neutrality is a country with approximately the same population as Ireland: Costa Rica.  Costa Rica disbanded their army in the 1940s and the President at that time, Jose Figueras, declared that the military budget would be used on healthcare and education instead. Figueras believed it was pointless for a country the size of Costa Rica to have an army as it would never be able to compete with a larger country. Costa Rica has since become renowned for its neutrality and peaceful stance in foreign affairs.

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Prosecution’s Comment on the Decision in the Kuala Lumpur War Crimes Tribunal


President of the Tribunal delivering the judgement to a packed court room

The decision today by the KL War Crimes Tribunal has vindicated the integrity of international law. Its unanimous 5-Judges panel decision has resoundingly – like the 4 decisions of the US Supreme Court – declared that it is not for the President of the US to refashion international humanitarian law to suit the country’s own illegal ends. In particular the decision makes clear that the President of the US and his cohorts cannot authorise the infliction of torturous acts – in violation of international law, including the Convention on Torture and the Geneva Conventions. As the trial showed, Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld, with the support and connivance of their legal advisors, threw their captives into a legal black hole, locking them for years in a constitutional limbo. They asserted – but refused to prove – that their captives were guilty of crimes.And tortured them in ways that defies belief.

What is the effect of this decision? As the highest UK Court decided when it refused immunity to Pinochet, the former Chilean President: torture is a universal crime. It is an international war crime against all of mankind. The judges there said that international law makes clear that there is no safe haven for those who carry out or order torture. And that there is an obligation by States to capture and try war criminals if they enter their countries. Indeed the courts in some countries – like Spain and Germany – have already initiated such action.

Now countries will have this conviction – which also so declared – to support any such action they may wish to take. We must emphasise that this trial was carried out with scrupulous regard to fairness and justice on the basis of rules established by the Nuremberg Charter and the International Criminal Court. Although duly served, the accused chose not to be represented, and in accordance with rules for international tribunals, a defence team was appointed on their behalf as amici curiae. In addition the memoirs of Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld, were supplied and cited to the court – which presented their versions and justifications of events. In a sense they “spoke” to the Tribunal through their writings. Continue reading “Prosecution’s Comment on the Decision in the Kuala Lumpur War Crimes Tribunal”