FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Hold the Bush Administration Accountable for Flauting International Law

by CURTIS F.J. DOEBBLER

I just wanted to take this timely opportunity to encourage those of you who are courageous enough, to think about what you can do to encourage the United States to respect international law through outside pressure on the United States.

While I laud the efforts of those within the United States — such as the recent effort of Ben Davis and those who supported it — and hope that such efforts will continue, at the same time I am every day more and more convinced that change cannot come from within the United States, or that if it does, it will only be after countless people have died or suffered because of the failure of the US to respect international law.

This belief is based on dozens of meetings every year with senior American officials, with senior diplomats, and with senior foreign government officials. And it is based on meeting and representing some of the most downtrodden people in the world and advising some of those who are among the most persecuted by the United States, often even called terrorists by our government.

Many, many other governments–even friends of the United States — at their highest levels believe that the United States is very harmful for international law and must be forced to change through outside pressure. Some believe this pressure must be radical, others believe that this pressure must be slow and careful. But that there is a significant international consensus that recognizes the harm the United States is doing and recognizes the need for it to change, is something that I hope will encourage you.

If you are an honest international lawyer–one who at least believes in the supremacy of international over domestic law and who believes that domestic law can never be used as an excuse for violating international law and who believes that international law is formed and interpreted through the consensus of all states and not unilaterally–than speak to the diplomats in the United States or to other foreign government officials. Speak to them cautiously and seeking to learn from them and to understand them and I will bet that every one of them will indicate serious problems with the United States government’s understanding of international law. And if you get close to them they might also share with you what they are doing to correct these problems or if you study international affairs enough you will undoubtedly see the often weak, but constant, efforts.

More strikingly, if you can, travel to countries like Sudan, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Ghana, Senegal, Malawi, Mozambique, or South Africa, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Palestine, Iran, or Jordan. Don’t stay in the four or five star hotels everyday, but spend a couple of nights in mosques, sleeping on the floor with other travellers and those who have no other shelter. Speak to them–you can usually find an English speaker–ask them why their country is poor, ask them if they think the United States was right to bomb Iraq and Afghanistan, ask them if they respect George W. Bush, and most importantly, ask them if they think the United States respects international law. Then tell us their answers to this last question.

If you are a professor teach abroad in Asia, Africa, or the Middle East or a semester or even a few weeks in the summer and learn from your guests. Speak to the government officials in the country you are in and to the opposition figures. Ask them the same questions. Or spend a few years at a university in Libya or even Saudi Arabia and get to know your students better then in the mere formalities of the classroom. Volunteer to speak with their student groups, meet civil society, the lawyers’ unions, the teachers unions, the religious leaders. even volunteer to advise the governments. ask them the same questions. Spend one weekend every month seeking out the refugees and the displaced and ask them the same questions.

And even contemplate why you feel scared as your plane must nose dives 10,000 feet to avoid being shot down; or why you get guns pointed at you by American soldiers; or why you cannot go home for a few hours because your neighbour is being raided and innocent men and women and children rounded up some to be disappeared; or why an Ethiopian living on US$2 per day pays more for fresh water produced in the USA, than you do; or why many people look at you with hatred when they learn you are an American. And after you think about this, think about what you can do.

I am asking you to please consider making an effort to strengthen the ability to those outside the United States to be able to pressure the
United States to respect the law. There are many, many ways that you can do this. As international lawyers it is probably one of our most
urgent responsibilities.

Unless international law starts to respond to the concerns of the people who are effected by it most, it will lose relevance. Unless you as Americans or with an interest in America and in international law, start to understand the problem and start to understand that the solution is not from within but from without, the problem may continue for a long, long time, causing misery for generations of people, and the deaths of many people.

Please think about the truth and gravity of the fact that the United States has violated more peoples’ human rights in more serious ways with more impunity than any other country in the world. What does this say about international law to the person living on 5 dollars a week in some far off country, when he or she is offered the chance to hurt American interests and to perhaps violate international law?

Dr. CURTIS F.J. DOEBBLER is an Iinternational human rights lawyer. He can be reached at: cdoebbler@gmail.com

 

 

 

 

Curtis FJ Doebbler is a visiting professor of international law at the University of Makeni, Webster University (Geneva) and the Geneva School of Diplomacy and International Relations. He is attending the climate talks in Paris on behalf of International-Lawyers.Org, an UN ECOSOC accredited NGO.

Weekend Edition
April 29-31, 2016
Andrew Levine
What is the Democratic Party Good For? Absolutely Nothing
Roberto J. González – David Price
Anthropologists Marshalling History: the American Anthropological Association’s Vote on the Academic Boycott of Israeli Institutions
Robert Jacobs
Hanford, Not Fukushima, is the Big Radiological Threat to the West Coast
Ismael Hossein-Zadeh
US Presidential Election: Beyond Lesser Evilism
Dave Lindorff
The Push to Make Sanders the Green Party’s Candidate
Ian Fairlie
Chernobyl’s Ongoing Toll: 40,000 More Cancer Deaths?
Vijay Prashad
Political Violence in Honduras
Pete Dolack
Verizon Sticks it to its Workers Because $45 Billion isn’t Enough
Richard Falk
If Obama Visits Hiroshima
Margaret Kimberley
Dishonoring Harriet Tubman
Deepak Tripathi
The United States, Britain and the European Union
Peter Linebaugh
Marymount, Haymarket, Marikana: a Brief Note Towards ‘Completing’ May Day
Eva Golinger
My Country, My Love: a Conversation with Gerardo and Adriana of the Cuban Five
Moshe Adler
May Day: a Trade Agreement to Unite Third World and American Workers
Paul Krane
Where Gun Control Ought to Start: Disarming the Police
David Anderson
Al Jazeera America: Goodbye to All That Jazz   
Rob Hager
Platform Perversity: More From the Campaign That Can’t Strategize
Pat Williams
FDR in Montana
Dave Marsh
Every Day I Read the Book (the Best Music Books of the Last Year)
David Rosen
Job Satisfaction Under Perpetual Stagnation
John Feffer
Big Oil isn’t Going Down Without a Fight
Murray Dobbin
The Canadian / Saudi Arms Deal: More Than Meets the Eye?
Gary Engler
The Devil Capitalism
Brian Cloughley
Is Washington Preparing for War Against Russia?
Manuel E. Yepe
The Big Lies and the Small Lies
Robert Fantina
Vice Presidents, Candidates and History
Mel Gurtov
Sanctions and Defiance in North Korea
Howard Lisnoff
Still the Litmus Test of Worth
Dean Baker
Big Business and the Overtime Rule: Irrational Complaints
Ulrich Heyden
Crimea as a Paradise for High-Class Tourism?
Ramzy Baroud
Did the Arabs Betray Palestine? – A Schism between the Ruling Classes and the Wider Society
Halyna Mokrushyna
The War on Ukrainian Scientists
Joseph Natoli
Who’s the Better Neoliberal?
Ron Jacobs
The Battle at Big Brown: Joe Allen’s The Package King
Wahid Azal
Class Struggle and Westoxication in Pahlavi Iran: a Review of the Iranian Series ‘Shahrzad’
David Crisp
After All These Years, Newspapers Still Needed
Graham Peebles
Hungry and Frightened: Famine in Ethiopia 2016
Robert Koehler
Opening the Closed Political Culture
Missy Comley Beattie
Waves of Nostalgia
Thomas Knapp
The Problem with Donald Trump’s Version of “America First”
Georgina Downs
Hillsborough and Beyond: Establishment Cover Ups, Lies & Corruption
Jeffrey St. Clair
Groove on the Tracks: the Magic Left Hand of Red Garland
Ben Debney
Kush Zombies: QELD’s Hat Tip to Old School Hip Hop
Charles R. Larson
Moby Dick on Steroids?
Alice Donovan
Cyberwarfare: Challenge of Tomorrow
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail