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 giugno 2020 


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by Renzo Foa Rome - The objective is the immediate constitution of the international tribunal for crimes committed in the former Yugoslavia. One of the means to achieve it is collecting signatures to present a "solemn appeal" to the U.N. leadership and a declaration of commitment to operate in the various countries to urge the respective governments to act. Obviously the promoter of these initiatives is the Radical Party. Barely a few months after the overwhelmingly successful membership campaign, Emma Bonino is once again the promoter of a somewhat whirling initiative. Telephone lines and faxes are ready to overheat. Soon a delegation of the Radical Party will fly to New York, knock at Boutros-Ghali's office at U.N. headquarters and hand him a sizeable package of signatures - hopefully 50,000. In the meanwhile, parliamentarians from various countries, from Albania to Canada, are already at work to urge their foreign ministers to endorse the immediate constitution of the Tribunal. Realistically, this will mean by the end of 1993. On the morning of that same day, international press headlines announced the agreement reached between Israel and the P.L.O. and the new strategy in Mogadishu, while Bosnia was given secondary coverage. In her small office on the third floor of Via di Torre Argentina, in the heart of Rome, Emma Bonino is summoning her forces to launch this new political campaign she has engaged in, looking to the world and not just to Italy. Or rather, looking at the place Italy can have in the world. And already scoring some points: 2,000 first signatories, including Nobel prize winners Vasilij Leontijev, Ilya Prigogine, George Wald and Nevil Mott, and an array of parliamentarians, professors, journalists and people working in show business, Maurizio Costanzo and Pippo Baudo among others. Q: Why this sudden surge of action on the international tribunal? A: Because the U.N. General Assembly is about to meet, and there is risk that, failing a political will, alibis will be sought to set aside a decision that was taken already last May and that needs only to become operative by appointing the judges and prosecutors and by defining the agreements with the Netherlands to establish the seat of the court in The Hague". Q: Therefore there is a precise deadline. But a mobilization of this kind is nonetheless sudden here in Italy... A: Italy is one of the few countries which seems to ignore this problem. In fact, ever since the corruption scandal broke out, all attention is focused on domestic issues. And yet the problem is being discussed throughout the world. This is yesterday's issue of the New York Times. It reported on the political conflict on the appointment of the prosecutor, and of the opposition - especially on the part of the British who are actively engaged, with Mr Owen, in the diplomatic mediation - to appointing Prof. Cherif Bassiouni, who is, among other things, one of the masterminds of the project of a permanent international tribunal. Q: With respect to this, while having signed the "solemn appeal", I would like to submit an objection: don't you think the creation of the tribunal on war crimes in former Yugoslavia might jeopardize the negotiations? A: We need to start separating diplomacy from the law. Another priority is starting to support the idea that there are other means apart from force to create a new world order. Q: Once more, I have to play devil's advocate. Isn't there the risk that an international tribunal such as this could have a merely symbolic or at the most a political value, instead of being really effective? A: Once again, I think the most important step is showing the world that something is being done, that the U.N. is providing itself with a means to enforce the law. The subsequent question is, with what means and what law to enforce. Clearly the answers are complicated. For example, the rules of this tribunal include a provision according to which there can be no judgments by default, precisely in order to avoid any political temptations. There is also an important provision that establishes that not even the most heinous crime, i.e. genocide, can be punished with death. Q: In other words, it is a first step to define the rules and find the means to enforce them. But what could happen? The precedent of the sanctions against Serbia is far from encouraging... Q: Quite simply, a person like Milosevic might never be able to leave his country again, and be reduced to a pariah at the international level. Q: But why create an international tribunal to judge war crimes in Yugoslavia alone? A: For the moment we need to concentrate on this tragedy. Clearly we hope that the U.S. will create a permanent tribunal by 1994. In other words, that a law valid for all will be created, and that the praxis of concluding agreements without a framework of rules to enforce them will be dropped. The signatures I am collecting will serve this purpose too.

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