Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Handbook Needed

The Telegraph (UK) interviews Israeli President Shimon Peres and the first thing he says is:
"The world has experience of wars of armies against armies, troops against troops. So they have a code, they have a law about those sorts of war. There is a total lack of regulations and codes and laws concerning terror. Because terror defies all the laws. What can we do, a lawful country fighting an unlawful terrorist group?

The United Nations should develop a code and codebook of how to fight and not to single out Israel because Israel is hated.

Maybe one could look at Chechnya and one could look to Afghanistan, to Iraq and to Yemen and to Somalia and all over the world. You know, the Arab people lost in the last 10 years a million lives only but only 8,000 lost their lives in the confrontation of Israel. But how about the other almost million people?

There is a majority against Israel in the United Nations, and with all due respect I don't think Israel should learn human rights from Libya or from Pakistan.

We also think that one of the human rights is to remain alive. We didn't initiate it (the war in Gaza). We never went to war on our own initiative. We were attacked, in 61 years nine times, with fully pledged wars and endless terrorist attacks. But if a terrorist does not respect the lives of children, the children of ours and their own children, if they don't respect the lives of civilians, our civilians and their own civilians, and they don't respect mosques and they don't respect ambulances what can the law do?"

This proposal -- to create a code of international law specifically geared towards counter-insurgency and anti-terrorism operations -- is a drum I've been beating on for a long time. It's obviously an issue of critical importance with regards to the sort of threats and conflicts we're likely to see in the 21st century. And, absent some sort of generally applicable and generally acceptable legal code, we're left with ad hoc justice -- and ad hoc justice nearly always ends up being arbitrary justice. Though many, many international legal norms are ignored the world over, I do believe it is easier to skate past a one-shot precedent particularized to an already marginal member of the global community, than it is to simply wave aside generally accepted legal principles.

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