Crimes against peace were defined at the Nuremberg Trials as ‘planning, preparing, initiating or waging a war of aggression, or wars in violation of international treaties, agreements or assurances’. The only legal ways of going to war are to prevent a major humanitarian emergency, in self-defence, or with the support of the UN. If these conditions aren’t met, a war crime has been committed.
This is exactly what many believe happened in the case of Iraq. These many include Kofi Annan and Desmond Tutu as well as 22% of the British public, according to a recent YouGov poll.
So far, we have seen very few people being made accountable for the crimes committed before and during the Iraq War. The attempts have either been dropped or are considered as largely symbolic.
In 2009 a case was filed in the Spanish courts against the ‘Bush Six’, the lawyers responsible for redefining the definition of torture in the infamous Torture Memos. The torture methods they approved, which were subsequently used during the War on Terror, are considered illegal under international law. Embassy cables released by Wikileaks suggest US officials may have pressurised Spanish officials into dropping the case later that year.
In 2010 a complaint was filed by Professor Francis Boyle at the International Criminal Court against Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, George Tenet, Condoleeza Rice and Alberto Gonzalez (also one of the Bush six) for crimes against humanity, citing the use of extraordinary rendition. The case has never gone to court.
In 2011 a Malaysian War Crimes Tribunal found Bush and Blair guilty of illegally launching the war with Iraq, and in 2012 Bush and the five others named by Boyle were found guilty at the same tribunal of illegally declaring war as well as carrying out illegal torture.
David Lawley-Wakelin, seen in the film, interrupted the Leveson Inquiry to perform a citizen’s arrest on Blair in May 2012. See George Monbiot’s campaign at www.arrestblair.org for more information about why the invasion of Iraq constitutes a war crime and what can be done to bring those responsible to justice. In the US, www.impeachbush.org has similar advice. A citizen’s arrest is largely symbolic and should be carried out non-violently.
- The Global Day of Action on Military Spending is taking place on Monday 15th April 2014.
- War is a Crime
- Impunity Watch
- War Criminals Watch
- Codepink organize actions on a regular basis in the US against military spending, drone warfare, war crimes and escalation against Iran, among other issues.
- Peace Action
- In the UK, Trident is a big focus of military spending campaigns, and forms part of a wider movement focussing in nuclear disarmament alongside the arms trade more generally.
- The Acronym Institute for Disarmament Diplomacy is a research centre with own publications as well as extensive links for further reading.
- British American Security Information Council