A Century in Retrospect Legacy

The USA with the active support of the UK invaded Iraq for the ostensible reason that Iraq had stocked weapons of mass destruction. Till date no such arsenal has come to light. The ruler of Iraq Saddam Hussein has been captured and is being tried for crimes against the people of Iraq by the newly elected government in Iraq. Specifically, Saddam Hussein and seven former Iraqi officials have been placed on trial for having killed around 140 persons in al – Dujail in 1982. In the course of the trial a number of serious interferences with the course of justice have taken place. Some of these are discussed hereunder.

“The demand for Presiding Judge Rizgar Amin’s dismissal, which contributed to his resignation, was nothing less than an attack on judicial independence. ” (Richard Dicker, director of the International Justice Program at Human Rights Watch). The Government’s interference with the functioning of the judges has interfered seriously with the justice process. The government has exhibited its bias by stating that the tribunal trying Saddam Hussein was not subject to any external influences, while at the same time it had reprimanded Judge Amin for displaying leniency towards Saddam Hussein.

Amin’s successor al – Hammashi was transferred because he was a former member of the Ba`ath Party. The United Nations Basic Principles on the Independence of the Judiciary, 1985, is committed to ensuring that judges decide cases in an environment which is “without any restrictions, improper influences, inducements, pressures, threats or interferences, direct or indirect, from any quarter or for any reason. ” (Iraq: Saddam Hussein Trial at Risk, 2004).

“The recent murder of two defense lawyers in the trial demonstrates the urgent need to protect those lawyers as well as witnesses, however, all arrangements for witness protection must be consistent with fair trial guarantees. ” said Richard Dicker, director of the International Justice Program at Human Rights Watch. Two defense lawyers have been assassinated and the remaining defense attorneys have demanded protection in this case. Since its commencement this trial has been beset with major obstacles in the form of intimidation of witnesses and defense lawyers and outright interference in the judicial process.

The Human Rights Watch, as a result of these disturbing developments, has expressed its concern that the tribunal is proceeding in a manner which might result in a serious travesty of justice ( Iraq: Saddam Trial Faces Big Challenges, 2004). The USA alongwith Israel, United Kingdom, Australia, France and some other countries asked the International Court of Justice to refrain from entertaining the any dispute over a fence to be constructed by Israel to keep out Palestinian Terrorists.

This fence is to be constructed as a safety measure, after a suicide bomber attack on an Israeli Bus in the vicinity of the Israeli Premier’s House. It was held by these nations that a dangerous precedent was being set by the ICJ inasmuch as all parties to the dispute had not consented to having their arbitration settled by the ICJ. “Israel contended that the proposed 440-mile security wall, which includes fences, trenches and other barriers, is needed to stop the infiltration of terrorists from Palestinian territories into Israel.

” The USA is of the opinion that this issue reached the ICJ because of a vote in the United Nations General Assembly, which has a majority of nations inimical to Israel. In keeping with the increasing stridency of the Islamic Nations of the World, the Palestinian and Arabic countries have objected to the construction of such a wall as it is tantamount, according to them, to appropriation of territory won by Israel in the 1967 war (Sands, David R. 2004).

In a prominent case Garry Davis filed a case in 1985 against the then heads of state of the USSR and the USA, with the International Court of Justice, wherein he pleaded that the respondents were war criminals within the meaning of the Nuremberg Principles and that they were also guilty of crimes against humanity because of their penchant for nuclear proliferation. He further contended that the future generations would be affected grievously due to nuclear radiation.

This illustrates the fact that if human rights are violated then an individual or stateless person can approach the International Court of Justice for redressal. In this manner the Human Rights Commission has bestowed a responsibility on the citizens to approach the Court whenever Human Rights are endangered. The International Court of Justice empowers or encourages individuals to take action against violators of their individual rights (Garry Davis V.

President of the Supreme Soviet Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and President of the United States, 1985). The International Court of Justice contains within it a smaller and secondary Court of  Arbitration, for adjudication purposes states have to give their consent. The task of adjudication is however rendered all the more difficult when some states, at a later stage of the process, refuse to accept the jurisdiction of this Court. This happened in the case of Britain V.

Albania in 1949 in respect of the Corfu Channel incident (Nash, Michael L. 1999). Judicial activism of the International Court of Justice is clearly visible in the cases mentioned below. In the case Portugal V. India, Portugal was not allowed to enter its territories which were surrounded by Indian Territory. The Court opined that as such a right of passage on being awarded to the Portuguese would create a recrudescence of tension in the neighbouring areas of India and hence it upheld India’s refusal of passage to Portugal (Portugal v.

India, 1960). In Uganda the Court has issued arrest warrants in respect of five senior leaders of the Lord’s Resistance Army or LRA after taking cognizance of the Ugandan referral of the situation in the northern part of the country (Impunity in the Great Lakes Region, 2004). In the case Pakistan V. India the International Court of Justice had given its verdict with regard to the Pakistani Prisoners of War, and asked the Indian Government to take concrete steps to deal with these prisoners.


Queen Noor of Jordan. (2000). A Century in Retrospect Legacy and Lessons. Retrieved March 10, 2006, from United Nations Chronicle Online Edition http://www. un. org/Pubs/chronicle/2000/issue1/0100p4. htm Corell, Hans. Winter (1998). Judicial Redress: Can the European Court of Human Rights Set an Example? Retrieved March 10, 2006, from questia, UN Chronicle, Vol. 35, Winter 1998, http://www. questia. com/PM. qst? a=o&docId=5001411571