For several centuries Holland had been regarded
as one of the most civilized nations. The Hague in particular has been
the seat of the World Court in the current century, a court distinguished
by the application of Law to relations and disputes between nations and
states. The City and the Court became intertwined, epitomizing some of
the most admirable legacies of the Western Civilization itself. The cases
heard by the Court and its careful judicial rulings virtually defined International
Law, a field now taught at most major universities. The
World Court, as a global legal Officer, never engaged in advocacy; it never
demanded reprisals; it left the acceptance of its rulings to the parties
involved; it allowed simultaneous representations to all sides in a given
dispute; it did not launder or argue its finding in public before or during
judical review, while the concept of international military intervention
to enforce its rulings remained alien to the World Court.
now, this magnificent legal bequest is being literally raped at The Hague,
its respected home. Its image is being subverted by a would-be legal impostor,
inserted deliberately into The Hague in search of a legal and cultural
pedigree. It is presented as an international
"Tribunal" on war crimes. It uses legal language. It has jurists
on its panels. It has funds but, in fact, it
is a fraud. It clearly has a mission
which by its very nature has become a naked assault on Law itself.
Dealing with war crimes
in the former Yugoslavia, it truncates the true historical context by eliminating
all events before 1991, invoking the statues
of limitations which do not apply to war crimes. Disregarding rules of
evidence and established legal procedure, it investigates, indicts, prosecutes
and renders sentence as a single body. It demands that arbitrary proclaimed
war criminals be physically delivered to the "Hague Tribunal".
It issues daily accusations to the world media
against two particular leaders of a single ethnicity and religion in the
three-part civil war in which all sides share
in brutalities. It does not allow defense attorneys to challenge the accusations,
by hiding itself behind a lack of mandate for trial-in-absentia. It is
even demanding that the NATO troops in Bosnia hunt and arrest the two leaders
at the risk of both military and civilian bloodshed. It
is deliberately sustaining a worldwide media frenzy through which the accused
are pronounced guilty by association and without a trial.
It is destroying and making
a mockery of the judicial system and secular legal tradition
by pursuing its own political objectives.
Americans for International
Justice Committee believes that the decent residents of the famous city
and its highest elected officials are being deceived and dishonored by
the presence in their midst of a would-be "court of law" conceived
in mischief, and motivated by political expediency and bias. It embodies
the imperial arrogance of powers whose leaders mistake might for right.
We, therefore, respectfully petition the Lord Mayor and the citizens of
The Hague to put the "Tribunal" on notice that, as presently
constituted and operated, it debases the true Court's historic legacy and
is no longer welcome in their city. The proclamation would attest in no
uncertain terms that The Hague intends to remain the permanent home and
guardian of International Law, fathered by the illustrious Dutch jurist
Hugo Grotius, whose immortal work 'De jure belli at pacis, 1625, (On the
Law of War and Peace)', has been the guiding light in the slow and painstaking
evolution on international legality and moratality.
Americans for International Justice Committee
- Dr. Raymond Kent Emeritus Professor of History University of California,
Francisco, 17 July 1996.