August 27th, 2006
On August 26 and 27 2006 IADL held an emergency conference on the Deteriorating Situation in the Middle East and adopted an action program.
Paris 26 -27 August, 2006
Declaration and Programme of Action
The IADL has determined that the aggression by Israeli armed forces and its allies on Gaza and the Lebanese territories and the ensuing occupation, constitute grave violations of the inviolable rules of international law and international humanitarian law as asserted in the Hague conventions of 1907, the Geneva Conventions of 1949 and Protocol No. 1, the United Nations Charter and the Convention on Genocide of 1948.
IADL condemns unreservedly Israel’s violations of international law and crimes against humanity which has been manifested by its aggression on and occupation of Lebanese Territories and Gaza, and its continued occupation of Gaza and the West Bank. To address these violations and confirm our commitment to the rights of people to live in peace, IADL resolves to take all necessary actions where possible to do the following:
1. Seek Comprehensive Peace for the Region: The current deteriorating conditions would best be addressed by a comprehensive peace plan which would bring stability to the region and provide mechanisms to bring to justice those who have committed violations of law so that states and individuals will not have violated the law with impunity. Such peace plan must be based must include the withdrawal of foreign forces from occupied territories and the establishment of an independent Palestinian State. Peace must be based on fundamental principles of the UN Charter, and on the basis of the UN Resolutions which have been passed over the years. IADL will use its good offices to encourage the parties to resume the peace process in order that just peace is achieved. A committee will be established by the IADL working with Arab Lawyers Union and other appropriate organizations to implement this recommendation.
2. Prosecution of those Responsible for Violations of Law: In recognition that the Geneva Conventions and Customary International Law and also Article 86 of Protocol I of the Geneva Conventions require action to suppress of grave breaches of the conventions and protocols through criminal prosecution of individuals, whether civilian or military, regardless of rank, for committing breaches of the convention or protocols, IADL will take steps to seek such prosecutions. IADL recognizes, however, that Prosecution under the Rome Statute is not available as neither Lebanon nor Israel have ratified the Rome Statute. Nonetheless, IADL calls for the creation of an ad hoc International Criminal Tribunal on Israel and will seek action on its creation in the General Assembly under Articles 20 and 22.
Investigation will have to be conducted to support any prosecutions and while many groups sending delegations to Lebanon, there is a need for delegations which are designed to preserve evidence or conduct forensic investigations. It is especially suggested that groups such as the Red Crescent and the ICRC take steps to collect and preserve this evidence. IADL is mindful that Article 90 of Protocol I allows the parties to seek the services of the International Humanitarian Fact-Finding Commission (IHFFC), to investigate incidents if they are signatories to the Protocol, and they may make a declaration under Article 90(2)(a) to ratify the Protocol. IADL believes that the State of Lebanon should take the necessary steps to ensure that this matter is dealt with promptly. IADL and the ALU will also constitute and send a fact finding mission to Lebanon, to conduct an investigation. A committee will be established by the IADL working with the Arab Lawyers Union and other appropriate organizations to implement this recommendation.
3. Claims Based on Exercise of Universal Jurisdiction: Assuming that Israel will not prosecute any of its leaders for any of its violations of law (even though obligated to do so) , the principle of universal jurisdiction provides every state with jurisdiction over a limited category of offenses generally recognized as of universal concern, regardless of where the offense occurred, the nationality of the perpetrator, or the nationality of the victim. While other bases of jurisdiction require connections between the prosecuting state and the offense, the perpetrator, or the victim, the universality principle assumes that every state has a sufficient interest in exercising jurisdiction to combat egregious offenses that states universally have condemned. This subject should be discussed at length at the conference to what possible claims can be brought and it which countries.
IADL will work with the Arab Lawyers Union, and other organizations including the Palestinian Center for Human Rights, the Beirut and Tripoli Bar Associations, to promote these types of claims along with the work undertaken by the Arab Centre for Documentation and War Crimes Prosecution of the Arab Lawyers Union.
4. Seeking Compensation from Israel to Pay for damages for its actions. IADL recognizes that Customary International Law, the Geneva Conventions and Article 91 of Protocol I of the Geneva Conventions , requires each party to the conflict to be responsible for all acts committed by persons forming part of its armed forces. Thus, a party to a conflict which violates the provisions of the Conventions or the Protocol shall be liable to pay compensation. A committee will be established by the IADL working with the Arab Lawyers Union and other appropriate organizations to implement this resolution.
5. Seeking Damages from the Aiders and Abettors The laws of war recognize that persons who aid and abet the violations of war crime are liable to the victims for damages. In the United States, claims against arms manufacturers who know that the arms provided are going to be used for purposes which violate international law are just being mounted. There is currently a case pending in Court against the chemical companies which manufactured and provided the US government with the Agent Orange used in the Vietnam War which contained the poison dioxin, and which is continuing to poison the population. These claims are based on the Alien Tort Claims Act. There may be these and other types of claims which may be brought. IADL will work with Lawyers in the US and elsewhere to form a committee to file such cases if possible.
6. Join Campaigns to Place Pressure on Israel to Comply with the Law: There currently are many international campaigns calling for disinvestment and other sanctions against Israel, as well as a campaign to require Israel to comply with the ICJ ruling on the Apartheid Wall, as well as to free Palestinian and Lebanese prisoners. There are also “Tribunals of Conscience” which are being organized by various groups in various countries to try Israel for its crimes in the Court of public opinion. IADL will join and encourages all of its affiliates to with these campaigns to put pressure on Israel to comply with its obligations under international law.