Green Party Statement on Measures to End Terrorism
The U.S. must adhere to international law, say Greens, who see grave dangers in Bush’s expansion of the ‘War on Terrorism’ to Iraq, Somalia, other nations.
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Green Party of the United States adopted a statement this week calling for the U.S. to adhere to international law in dealing with terrorism and acts of international violence and aggression. The text of the statement is appended below. The party’s Coordinating Committee, representing Green Parties in a majority of states, endorsed a statement that balances the party’s dedication to nonviolence with recognition of the need to bring international criminals to justice, and of the need for accountability and international cooperation from our own government.
“We’re gravely concerned over plans by the Bush Administration to extend the ‘War on Terrorism’ into other nations, especially Iraq and Somalia,” said Tom Sevigny, a Connecticut Green and member of the party’s national Steering Committee. “These are moves which will result in more civilian deaths, acts of reprisal against American civilians, and breakdown of the U.S.’s fragile alliances with other Middle Eastern and central Asian nations in the aftermath of September 11.”
“The actions the Bush Administration chose, in the wake of the attacks, reveal purposes other than international justice,” said Holly Hart, co-chair of the national Platform Committee and co-chair of the Iowa Green Party.
“Instead, President Bush is using the ‘War on Terrorism’ to impose and extend U.S. economic and political dominance over the world, including policies of globalization that weaken democracy and the health of the environment, an oil pipeline through central Asia for the benefit of U.S.-based corporations, withdrawal from the Anti-ballistic Missile Treaty and implementation of space-based national missile defense (which Greens call a boondoggle for defense contractors), and the unprecedented expansion of executive powers. New executive powers include Fast Track trade authority (now awaiting a Senate vote), increased surveillance and suppression of legitimate political dissent, secret military tribunals, and license for the Attorney General to override the Constitution at his own whim.”
“Under the guise of fighting terrorism, President Bush is melding an alliance between state and corporate power that threatens the foundations of our democracy,” added Tom Sevigny. “He’s doing so with the help of both Republicans and Democrats, whose votes in Congress helped pass the USA PATRIOT Act and may soon enact Fast Track.”
“All terrorism must be stopped,” added Annie Goeke of the party’s International Committee and a member of the peace organization Women In Black. “We must end all violence visited on civilians, especially war, and we must fight terrorism in accordance with international law, with international cooperation, and with respect for human rights, liberties, and democracy and the goal of peace. Otherwise, terrorism is merely compounded.”
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Statement on the September 11 attacks, from the Green Party of the United States:
Seeking Justice for Acts of Terrorism
December 19, 2001 — A Policy Statement of the Coordinating Committee, Green Party of the United States
Non-violence is one of the ten key values of the Green Party of the United States. To sustain non-violence in the face of terrorist acts, justice must be ensured by following and enforcing international law. By contrast, abandoning international law in favor of war leads to more violence and terrorism. Terrorism is best prevented by policies which further social and economic justice, disarmament, human rights, and humanitarian aid. Non-violent international relations are best achieved and sustained by a consistent commitment to the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights and international law.
The First Step: Indictment
The first step in responding to terrorist acts through international law is the collection of evidence to indict suspected terrorists and those who aided them. The heinous September 11 attacks were crimes against humanity which victimized the citizens of over eighty nations. Our October 10 statement thus recommended that indictments be made through international courts. Specifically, we recommended that the United States petition the United Nations to form an ad hoc international tribunal to prosecute indicted individuals for crimes against humanity.
To the extent that nations such as Afghanistan could be reasonably indicted for supporting the September 11 terrorists acts, we recommended that these claims be referred to the International Court of Justice under the 1971 Montreal Sabotage Convention, which specifically addresses aviation terrorism. The United States and Afghanistan are both signatories to this Convention, as are 173 other states, including all the coalition partners of the US-sponsored “war on terrorism.” As such, all these signatories are obligated by the Convention to resolve their disputes and claims in a peaceful manner, such as referral to the International Court of Justice. Furthermore, as UN member states, the US and its coalition partners are obligated to resolve any dispute with Afghanistan peacefully as required by UN Charter Article 2(3) and Article 33.
Thus, indictments under international law, not declarations of war, are the appropriate first step in responding to acts of terrorism. In contrast to the American-led military response, an international law-based prosecution would have diminished the perception that the US is against Islam, seeking revenge or geopolitical gain. In addition, it would have affirmed justice over revenge, law over power, internationalism over nationalism, and most importantly, non-violence over violence.
The declaration of war made by President Bush in response to the September 11 events was counter-productive, inappropriate and illegal, placing our citizens at greater jeopardy. President Bush’s statements about a “crusade” against “evil” and the “uncivilized world” were counter-productive because they can be readily perceived as a declaration of war against Islam, thereby inciting further violence. His declaration of war was inappropriate and illegal because it overrode international law which we, as a democratic society and member of the United Nations, are bound to uphold. As far as international legal scholars have determined, there was no legal justification for a declaration of war against Al-Qaeda and the Taliban government under international law. In opposition to American claims, neither United Nations Security Council Resolution 1368 (September 12) nor Resolution 1373 (September 28) authorizes the use of military force. In fact, Resolution 1373 affirms the use of international law and other non-violent means to control terrorism, and pledges UN states to “bring to justice”. “any person who participates in the financing, planning, preparation or perpetration of terrorist acts.” Furthermore, the US right to self-defense under UN Charter, Chapter 7, Article 51, provides the US with the right to defend itself only during attack, not in retaliation for attack, and only until such time as the Security Council has taken measures to maintain peace and security. Thus, Security Council Resolutions 1368 and 1373, by affirming international law rather than military force as the appropriate measures to maintain peace and security, prohibit self-defense as a justification for the US “war on terrorism.” In any case, even if a legal justification for an act of war existed, the United States would be bound by the United Nations Charter to present it to the United Nations Security Council for consideration. In sum, American disregard of international law is an important factor in engendering terrorism.
The Second Step: Extradition
The second step we recommended in our statement on the September 11 events was the extradition of those indicted for crimes against humanity through international law. By not following this recommendation, the United States failed to avail itself of the moral and legal authority of the international community to affirm indictment and extradition as the appropriate response to acts of terrorism under international law. Furthermore, by shunning the Taliban offer to extradite Osama bin Laden to another country for trial, President Bush compounded his disregard for the rule of law and the international accords to which we are a signatory. That such actions should be taken in the name of “civilization” defiles the centrality of the rule of law inherent in its definition. Disregard for the law is what defines a rogue state, not a civilized nation.
The United States’ pursuit of war has contributed to the perception of a war of revenge on Islam for geopolitical gain. It has engendered hostility toward the United States as a result of killing and traumatizing innocent civilians, disrupting humanitarian relief efforts, and extensively damaging the environment and infrastructure of Afghanistan. In all these ways the American “war on terrorism” has led to violence rather than peace, and to further insecurity in the US and the world.
The Third Step: Apprehension
Critics who characterize following the rule of law as idealistic or unrealistic miss the point. Following the rule of law is what legitimizes its enforcement in the pursuit of justice. That is, it is following the rule of law, and the failure of the indicted to comply with it, that justifies the use of force to apprehend them. Failing to follow the rule of law leads to international misunderstanding, visits suffering upon the innocent, and perpetuates the cycle of violence to which history clearly attests. If individuals or groups indicted for acts of terrorism resist extradition, the United Nations should authorize an international police action to apprehend them for trial. Apprehension is the third step in following the rule of law. By following the first two steps, an international police action to apprehend those indicted is legitimized. Creating an international police force to apprehend suspected terrorists is not appropriate unless attempts to extradite indicted terrorists have failed.
International conventions to regulate and review such international police actions would need development. Any international police action must be carried out under the scrutiny and control of the United Nations. It must never be undertaken by a nation or group of nations without international approval, regulation, and review. Such an international police action should be non-violent. However, if it were met with violent resistance then the limited, proportionate use of force to ensure surrender would be justified. Such a response must be conducted in a manner that seeks to preclude civilian injury. Any and all use of force must be reviewed by the international community to ensure compliance with international law.
In our view, the need for such enforcement of international law would represent a tragic failure of international relations, and all efforts must be made to avoid it. Some Green Party members are categorically opposed to the use of force to ensure the apprehension of those indicted, while others would support such an action only if it were the last step of a concerted effort to seek justice through non-violent means as described above. However, we are united in believing that if American foreign policy were characterized by international humanitarian and social justice efforts in the strict observance of human rights and the consistent application of international law, the need to enforce surrender for acts of terrorism would become moot. In this way, we are committed to creating a world free of terrorism by upholding human rights in international affairs and sustaining non-violence in the pursuit of justice under the law.
The Coordinating Committee of the Green Party of the United States does not support the US “war on terrorism” because it fails to uphold the rule of law and the intention to seek justice through non-violent means. The solution to ending terrorism is not a “war on terrorism,” but rather a clear, consistent, and step-wise adherence to the rule of law which is inextricably linked to a profound shift in our foreign policy away from one of militarism and unchecked self-interest and toward one of humanitarian aid and social justice that supports the observance of the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights and international law.