Saturday, March 8, 2008

Barking Up the Wrong Tree

Here is an interesting idea. A campaign to end all wars by encouraging citizens to report war crimes. UK Indymedia reports:

"Around 70 people attended the launch of the international 'make wars history' launch at Fitzroy Square Indian YMCA hall this evening billed as the world's first mass movement of 'civil obedience', the presentation described how a new international peace movement can grow out of upholding war law and reporting war crime, just ahead of the 5th anniversary of the invasion of Iraq."
Hmm. 70 people is hardly a 'mass movement.' But let's not quibble. Landmark changes in international ethical standards always begin with a few earnest individuals swimming against the tide. But I see a bigger problem.

'War law'* is entirely contingent on the idea that under certain circumstances, war is perfectly legitimate. The law is intended to limit war, not end it. Promoting better adherence to these rules is a fine idea, but I fear these activists are fooling themselves if they think this is a recipe for world peace.

*War law generally consists of three branches: the UN Charter Regime, which specifies which wars are legitimate; the Hague Treaties, which specify what combatants may or may not do to one oter; and the Geneva Conventions or 'international humanitarian law' which cover the treatment of prisoners, wounded soliders and civilians.

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