Complaints laid against NATO leaders before War Crimes Tribunal and the International Court of Justice.

International Court of Justice proceedings

The government of Yugoslavia has asked the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to hear cases against 10 NATO governments with regard to the bombing of Yugoslavia on the grounds that it violates international law, in particular their obligations not to use force against another state.

While US State Department spokesman James Rubin immediately dismissed the request as absurd and frivolous, the Court itself obviously believes there is a case to answer and was due to start hearing the proceedings on May 10.

There are a number of relevant laws to be considered. These include: The United Nations Charter, Purposes and Principles Article 1:

The Purposes of the United Nations are:

1. To maintain international peace and security, and to that end: to take effective collective measures for the prevention and removal of threats to the peace, and for the suppression of acts of aggression or other breaches of the peace, and to bring about by peaceful means, and in conformity with the principles of justice and international law, adjustment or settlement of international disputes or situations which might lead to a breach of the peace ...

In carrying out these purposes:

All Members shall settle their international disputes by peaceful means in such a manner that international peace and security, and justice, are not endangered.

All Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the Purposes of the United Nations.

The 1977 Protocol 1, Additional to the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949, and Relating to the Protection of Victims of International Armed Conflicts, Article 52 provides for protection of civilian objects:

Civilian objects shall not be the object of attack or of reprisals. Civilian objects are all objects which are not military objectives.....

Attacks shall be limited strictly to military objectives.... military objectives are limited to those objects which by their nature, location, purpose or use make an effective contribution to military action and whose total or partial destruction, capture or neutralisation, in the circumstances ruling at the time, offers a definite military advantage.

In case of doubt whether an object which is normally dedicated to civilian purposes, such as a place of worship, a house or other dwelling or a school, is being used to make an effective contribution to military action, it shall be presumed not to be so used.

Article 54 provides for the protection of objects indispensable to the survival of the civilian population:

Starvation of civilians as a method of warfare is prohibited.

It is prohibited to attack, destroy, remove or render useless objects indispensable to the survival of the civilian population, such as food-stuffs, agricultural areas for the production of food-stuffs, crops, livestock, drinking water installations and supplies and irrigation works, for the specific purpose of denying them for their sustenance value to the civilian population or to the adverse Party, whatever the motive, whether in order to starve out civilians, to cause them to move away, or for any other motive.

The 1949 North Atlantic Treaty, Article 1, states:

The Parties undertake, as set forth in the Charter of the United Nations, to settle any international dispute in which they may be involved by peaceful means in such a manner that international peace and security and justice are not endangered, and to refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force in any manner inconsistent with the purposes of the United Nations.

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This article was published in The Guardian, newspaper of the Communist Party of Australia in its issue of Wednesday, May 12, 1999. Contact address: 65 Campbell Street, Surry Hills.
Sydney. 2010 Australia. Phone: (612) 9212 6855 Fax: (612) 9281 5795.
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