Thursday, April 06, 2006

ASIL Takes Stand Against Bush Administration (Sort of)

Brian Tamanaha

The American Society of International Law held its 100th Annual Meeting last week, with a remarkable list of speakers, including Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, former Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. This celebration also produced a resolution that reads in its entirety:

The American Society of International Law, at its centennial annual meeting in Washington, D.C. on March 30, 2006, Resolves:

1. Resort to armed force is governed by the Charter of the United Nations and other international law (jus ad bellum).

2. Conduct of armed conflict and occupation is governed by the Geneva Conventions of August 12, 1949 and other international law (jus in bello).

3. Torture and cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment of any person in the custody or control of a state are prohibited by international law from which no derogations are permitted.

4. Prolonged, secret, incommunicado detention of any person in the custody or control of a state is prohibited by international law.

5. Standards of international law regarding treatment of persons extend to all branches of national governments, to their agents, and to all combatant forces.

6. In some circumstances, commanders (both military and civilian) are personally responsible under international law for the acts of their subordinates.

7. All states should maintain security and liberty in a manner consistent with their international law obligations.

Read in isolation, this resolution is odd. It is a plain restatement of a collection of international rules and principles on the proper conduct of war which can be found in many international law textbooks. Of course this resolution was meant to be more than that. After all, in its entire history the ASIL has issued only a handful (literally) of resolutions, and this centennial meeting was a momentous occasion for the Association.

This resolution was issued against the backdrop of many controversial actions and assertions by the Bush Administration that are evidently contrary to international law, ranging from the propriety of the Iraq War (and the Bush doctrine of pre-emptive self-defense) to its treatment of prisoners.

I guess the members of the ASIL felt that the implications of the resolution are obvious, so there was no need to be explicit.


So we gotta release Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, huh? (Prolonged secret detention blah blah blah.) I hope the next time he smashes a plane into a building, your wife is working there.

And there folks,with Sean's noble sentiments, you have it! The entire debate in America, reduced to its most essential (and lowest)form. Sean, you set the standard for law and decency in America today. You are a true representative of America, circa 2006.

The resolution is far stronger and more damning without explicit reference to the Bush administration.

Yes !!
Let the U.S. authorities [who ever 'They' are] lock up anyone and everyone whom 'they' determine are a threat. No Trial. No Lawyer. No opportunity to plead their case.
Today we lock up them.
Tomorrow we may lock up you.
Any complaints?
I can't hear you. You're locked up and have no representation.

Welcome to Germany, Circa 1939.

Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving.
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