Commission 6 – Accountability for International Crimes – Hanoi 2009

    Part of the Hanoi Congress – XVII Congress of IADL, June 2009


    • Reparations
      • For the crime of slavery
      • For victims of agent orange
      • For victims of war, e.g., nuclear and chemical weapons
    • Fighting impunity: e.g. role of the ICC
    • Using universal jurisdiction
    • Corporate Accountability.

    Report of Commission VI on Accountability for International Crimes

    Rapporteur: Jonathan C. Moore, Esq.


    The commission was co-chaired by Dr. Hoang The Lien, Deputy Minister, Ministry of Justice, Socialist Republic of Viet Nam and Jeanne Mirer, Secretary General of the IADL.  The following individuals made oral presentations to the commission:

    Dr. Hoang The Lien, Deputy Minister, Ministry of Justice, Socialist Republic of Viet Nam

    Dr. Lien made introductory remarks and emphasized that the essence of the campaign for justice for victims of Agent Orange/Dioxin was the need to compensate the victims of Agent Orange/Dioxin, to provide for the special needs of agent orange victims and to remediate the continuing negative environmental effects of the use of Agent Orange during the American War in Viet Nam.  He emphasized the importance of holding the US government and the chemical companies who produced Agent Orange accountable and responsible for their conduct.

    Dr. Nguyen Dac Nhu Mai, Dr. d’Etat es Lettres et Sciences Humaines, Representante

    Permanente VAVA, France

    Dr. Mai reported on the findings and judgment of the International Peoples’ Tribunal of Conscience in Support of the Vietnamese Victims of Agent Orange/Dioxin held in Paris, France on May 15-16, 2009.  The Tribunal received evidence and testimony from 27 people including victims and expert witnesses.  After examining the evidence, the Tribunal found that the US government and the chemical companies were aware of the dangers of dioxin at the time it was used in Viet Nam, but used it anyway, in violation of customary international law and several statutes, such as the Hague Convention of 1907.

    Prof. Dr. Tran Xuan Thu, Vice-President and Secretary General, The Vietnam

    Association for Victims of Agent Orange/Dioxin

    Dr. Thu provided a detailed presentation on the consequences of U.S. chemical warfare in Viet Nam, including reporting the existence of numerous “hot spots” in Viet Nam which, over thirty years after the war, still show highly elevated levels of dioxin in the soil and in the drinking water, and that the level of chemical warfare engaged in by the United States during the war was unparalleled in the history of warfare.  He advised that millions of people suffer in Viet Nam today because of exposure to dioxin in Agent Orange, and that it includes two and three generations since the war..

    Mario Joseph, Haiti

    Mr. Joseph discussed the situation in Haiti and the importance of enforcing a remedy for the crime of slavery.  He also talked about the efforts being made by Haitian citizens to seek legal redress in the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (“IACHR”) against the United States, the Dominican Republic and Haiti for the overthrow of the constitutional government of Haiti in February, 2004.

    Lu Van Dat, Former President, Vietnamese Lawyers Association

    Professor Dat presented the case for compensation of victims of Agent Orange/Dioxin and called for greater solidarity in the world community for justice for victims of Agent Orange.  He described the massive chemical warfare program as the crime of ecoside, which involved not only damage to human health, but serious consequences to the environment which persist in Viet Nam to this day.  He stated that the issue of compensation for the victims of Agent Orange is not just a Vietnamese issue, it is an international human rights issue and he called upon the international community to engage in a campaign to hold those who manufactured and used Agent Orange responsible for the consequences of their use of an herbicide which they knew contained a poison which could cause injury to human beings.

    Representative Neri Javier Colmenares, Phillipines

    Representative Colmenares advised the commission on the use of what is known as the Writ of Amparo as a mechanism to curb impunity in the Phillipines, particularly given the recent killings and disappearances of over 900 individuals in the Phillipines for which the government of that country has done nothing.  The writ of amparo gives victims of human rights violations a judicial opportunity to gather information on the fare of the disappeared and gather information on the identity of the perpetrators.  It is available to be used by the families of such victims, as well as any concerned citizen or organization.

    John Wheat Gibson, Sr., United States

    Mr. Gibson provided a pragmatic analysis of the use of international tribunals to prosecute individuals accused of war crimes or crimes against humanity.  He set forth the analysis that such tribunals focus primarily on poor and third world countries and avoid holding culpable leaders in countries, like Israel, the United States and Great Britain, who arguably engage in violations of international law on a scale far greater than found in Darfur or Kosovo

    Thomas Mitevov, Belgium

    Mr. Mitevov provided a submission on the concept of universal jurisdiction and the experience in Belgium, particularly recently given the efforts to limit this concept in that country.

    Saba El Mukthar

    Mr. El Mukhtar made a submission on the International Criminal Court and how such courts have lost credibility because of their practices.  He advised that 35 African nations are considering withdrawing from the International Criminal Court because this court is used mostly to prosecute leaders or former leaders of African nations.  He also made reference to the failure of the U.S. to recognize the jurisdiction of the ICC and the fact that it has entered into 80 separate agreements with countries around the world that have agreed not to prosecute U.S. citizens in the ICC.

    Hassan Jouni, Lebanon

    Mr. Jouni discussed the common issues that exist between Viet Nam and Lebanon.  He talked about the need to make the concept of universal jurisdiction more universal and applicable to the international law violations of those states, like Israel, that act with impunity.

    Dr. Le Duc Hanh, Socialist Republic of Viet Nam

    Dr. Hanh spoke about the concept of universal jurisdiction and the current threats, such as in Belgium, to limit the jurisdiction of courts that have been given universal jurisdiction to deal with international crimes.  She called upon the world community to support the concept of universal jurisdiction, while at the same time trying to close the gap between willingness and capacity to enforce such jurisdiction.

    Zead-al-malum, Bangladesh

    Mr. Zead-al-malum provided information on a provision of the Bangladesh Constitution which provides for jurisdiction in the Bangladesh courts for violations of international law committed on Bangladesh soil.

    The following individuals made written submissions to the commission but did not give oral presentations:

    Raji Sourani, Palestine

    Mr. Sourani’s paper outlined the evolution of the concept of universal jurisdiction.  It is intended to ensure that those individuals who commit crimes against the international order are brought to justice.  The International Criminal Court (“ICC”) was established to provide accountability for those who commit such crimes; to bring those responsible to justice.  He also outlined threats to universal jurisdiction, including, for example, Spain’s proposed amendment to its universal jurisdiction legislation.

    Dr. Dorys Quintana Cruz, Secretaria Sociedad Cubana de Derecho Internacional, Union National de Juristas de Cuba

    Dr. Cruz provided a written submission on the importance of an international campaign for justice for victims of Agent Orange/Dioxin.

    Dinesh Tripathi, Nepal

    Mr. Tripathi provided a written submission on the International Criminal Court and the need to apply the principles underlying the ICC to the culture of impunity that currently exists in Nepal and he called upon Nepal to ratify the Rome Statute and recognized the ICC in order to end this culture of impunity.

    Mizushima Tomonori, Japan

    Mr. Tomonori provided a written submission on the United Nations Security Council’s referral of the situation in Darfur to the International Criminal Court.

    Extended comments were provided to the commission by the following participants:

    Fabio Marcelli, Italy

    Jeanne Mirer, Secretary General, IADL

    Jonathan C. Moore, Attorney, United States

    Anta Guisse, Avocat, Paris, France

    Beth Lyons, Attorney, United States

    Anna Morris, Haldane Society, United Kingdom

    Ba Tram, Ministry of Health, Socialist Republic of Viet Nam

    Salim Akbar, Bangladesh

    Saba Al Mukthar


    The proceedings of the commission led to the following recommendations:

    1.        It is important and vital that the IADL made the struggle for justice for the victims of Agent Orange a major part of its work.  This includes, inter alia, concerted and sustained effort by the IADL to implement the findings and judgment of the International Peoples’ Tribunal of Conscience in Support of the Vietnamese Victims of Agent Orange/Dioxin.

    2.        Because the issue of the use of Agent Orange is not just a Vietnamese issue, but an important international human rights issue as well, the IADL should consider taking action in international forums, like the United Nations General Assembly, the United National Human Rights Council, to raise the question of accountability and responsibility for the use of Agent Orange during the Viet Nam War, to seek compensation for the victims of this chemical warfare program and to seek remediation for the environmental damage caused by the use of such chemicals.

    3.        The IADL calls upon the United States government and the US corporations who manufactured Agent Orange during the Viet Nam war to recognize their responsibility to compensate victims and remediate the environmental damage caused by Agent Orange/Dioxin.

    4.        The IADL recognizes the important of the International Criminal Court and urges that its processes be used in a non-discriminatory fashion.

    5.         The IADL endorses the concept of universal jurisdiction and calls upon those countries who are attempting to limit such jurisdiction to end such attempts.

    Download Papers Presented to Commission 6 (Hanoi 2009):