Monday, 9 March 2009

Writing Again.

It’s rather alarming how quickly one can become institutionalised. From October I have been travelling; mostly between Edinburgh and Aberdeen at first but then northern Italy, Holland and as some of you who have read earlier blogs, several months in Israel. Within four days of my return from the Near East, I was out again, travelling to a rig off southern Norway with connecting flights via Denmark. The week following my return I was again in Aberdeen arranging for the sale of my house. So, last week is my first complete week back with the family and to be frank, it is a weird feeling. The rolling stone has finally stopped, at least for a little while.

One would think that being in one place would be a wonderful opportunity to catch up and of course I have with my loved one. But mentally I have just not been able to face anything else. This will be the week to catch up on other neglected business, one of those being writing.

I promised to have a think about the best way to approach the recent crimes committed in Gaza. Now, it is one thing for people like me to write that word, it is a very different thing to prove it. But the laws do exist for groups and individuals to take such allegations to a court of law. From Arabic sources, there was some criticism of the International Criminal Court (ICC) issuing an arrest warrant for the Sudanese President Omar Al Bashir. The basis for this criticism is that it was seen mainly as a political act against a Western enemy. I wondered if Sudan was possibly a signatory to the ICC treaty. Of course it isn’t, but neither is Egypt, Syria, Iran, the USA or Israel. This is interesting as obviously the ICC’s remit covers crimes committed outside the signatory countries. Therefore I would suggest that those in the position of bearing first-hand witness to the recent events in Gaza pool their resources and gather evidence with the view of a submission to the ICC. An alternative avenue would be the Spain's courts, as Spanish law allows for an international arrest warrant to be issued against those charged with crimes against humanity, wherever the events were alleged to have taken place.

It is most probable that these processes are already underway. Why they are so important is this: Israel’s collective punishment of Palestinians over the years have been widely and rightly criticised and being both immoral and unjust. By the same logic therefore, I cannot support the call for embargo and sanctions against Israel. Collective punishment is never right. The individuals who directly take the decisions to proceed in a manner that can be shown to be criminal should be the people who bear the responsibility.
Under liberal values, the rule of law has precedence over all other considerations. That fundamental of western society cannot be compromised: when it has been in the past critics have been quite correct in raising charges of hypocrisy.

Below I have included a link for the ICC which lists the 108 nations and territories that has signed its charter. Apart from the USA, other notable non-signatories include Russia, China, Pakistan and India. This is not to say that all is rosy in the gardens of those countries who have signed: members include Brazil and Columbia for instance. But the step of putting the law of law first, at least in principle, is an important one for any nation to take. It is a principle that should be applied equally: to those who are perceived to be our friends as well as our foes.

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