Sunday, August 14, 2005

Victors' justice

As, in some ways at least, a quick addendum to my last post, I noticed that the latest of the ASIL Insights series deals with the fifth and final report of the United Nations Compensation Commission, the body set up in 1991 to deal with compensation claims arising from the first Gulf War, on the basis that (according to Security Council Resolution 687 (1991)), Iraq is "liable under international law for any direct loss, damage, including environmental damage and the depletion of natural resources, or injury to foreign governments, nationals and corporations, as a result of Iraq's unlawful invasion and occupation of Kuwait". There is much in this report that will be of interests to specialists in environmental law, state responsibility and reparations - not least of which will be the compensation awarded for pure environmental loss and the various methods for calculating the amounts.

Here, however, I just want to restate what may seem obvious. At the same time at which the international community is judging and penalising a minor state for an illegal invasion, its most powerful member is threatening to build upon its earlier "precedents" in Kosovo and Iraq in order to launch yet another (almost certainly illegal) invasion of a smaller state. Small wonder that there are serious, basic issues of trust in US assurances of norm-based approaches to international relations...

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