Politics Renewing justice for atrocities
Biden recognizes atrocities against Armenians in early 20th century as genocide
President Joe Biden on Saturday formally recognized the killing of 1.5 million Armenians by Ottoman Empire forces in the early 20th century as a genocide.Biden's declaration is a major break from past U.S. administrations, which avoided calling the atrocities genocide due to concerns over alienating Turkey, an important NATO ally and influential power in the Middle East. Turkey has contested that the killings constitute a genocide.
President Biden'sof the Armenian genocide, inflicted over a century ago with an estimated 1.5 million deaths, acknowledges historical facts and rejects Turkey's long campaign of denialism. The president deserves praise for delivering such a clear statement and, in doing so, underscoring the United States' commitment to confront genocide.
As former diplomats committed to justice for mass atrocities, we have worked collectively for the better part of the last three decades on behalf of the American people to build, support and staff numerous tribunals to prosecute perpetrators of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes against thousands, sometimes millions, of innocent people. America has led before and we must continue to champion the pursuit of international justice for such atrocity crimes.
The Model for Fixing the DOJ
Joe Biden has inherited a department plagued by scandal, just as Gerald Ford did in 1974.Ford managed to make progress on all of these problems in just two and a half years. By the end of his presidency, he had laid the groundwork for a historic improvement in both the appearance and the reality of nonpartisanship and professionalism at Justice. Jimmy Carter’s one-term presidency continued the work. The 1970s ended in a much better place than they had begun, with solidly entrenched laws, rules, and norms that kept the Department of Justice largely—not entirely, but largely—free from partisanship and serious misconduct for decades.
The American Society of International Law just issued a Task Force, U.S. Options for Engagement with the ICC, describing this country's far-reaching support to international justice over the last 75 years and advocating tangible and constructive options for U.S. policy towards the permanent International Criminal Court (ICC). It should be noted that one of us, Todd Buchwald, helped author the report. Despite aberrant episodes of withdrawal, Washington has repeatedly projected - through diplomacy, legislation, presidential directives, military manuals, strategic messaging and targeted appropriations - America's strong national interests in promoting human rights, the rule of law and accountability for those responsible for mass atrocities .
Supreme Court to debate whether nonprofits must reveal donors despite threat of violence
Some fear the Supreme Court case could apply a new standard with sweeping implications for the disclosure of campaign donors and dark money groups.At issue is a California mandate that nonprofits disclose their top contributors to state regulators. Two conservative groups, including one tied to Republican megadonor Charles Koch, say the state's requirement violates the Constitution by subjecting the donors to threats of violence from political opponents.
Bipartisan support for these underlying values has deep roots, including in the United States' instrumental role in establishing the Nuremberg and Tokyoto try major war criminals after World War II and its critical for tribunals prosecuting perpetrators of atrocity crimes in Rwanda, former Yugoslavia, Sierra Leone, Timor-Leste and Cambodia.
American efforts to buttress international criminal justice must include engagement with the ICC. The United States negotiated the creation of this institution andthe court's in 2000 but never ratified it. Washington has not joined the more than 120 states, including almost all our allies and friends, as a member of the court.
Nonetheless, save in the court's very early years, the United States embraced a pragmatic approach in which Washington worked with the court and its supporters on issues of common interest, recognizing that there would be issues on which our interests would diverge.
Supreme Court takes case seeking to expand concealed-carry rights in public places
The Supreme Court agreed to hear a New York case that could expand Second Amendment protections for carrying guns in public places.The nation's highest court overruled handgun bans in Washington and Chicago in 2008 and 2010 in two blockbuster cases that affirmed the rights of Americans to possess guns in their homes but left unanswered questions about carrying in public. The court has largely skirted that and other Second Amendment issues since then.
The court's investigations of the situations in(including some torture allegations against U.S. personnel) and (based on the court's finding that Palestine need not qualify as a state under international law before the court exercises jurisdiction) present such issues and undoubtedly will remain contentious. But such disagreements must not translate into reflexive rejectionism of everything the court touches, as in the Trump administration. Far too much of the court's work serves U.S. interests to make such an approach viable or productive.
The United States learned this lesson as it confronted genocide in Darfur. A policy course correction generated a constructive relationship that enabled the Security Council togenocidal atrocities in Darfur to the court. The Obama administration facilitated the surrender of long-time fugitives from justice to the court - efforts that served American interests by incapacitating individuals accused of committing the worst crimes known to humankind. The United States doubtless will need to turn to the court again to enforce the proposition that atrocity crimes must be prosecuted.
Armenian Genocide Warning by Far-Right Turkish Lawmaker Prompts Criminal Complaint
A member of the Turkish parliament has been accused of threatening a left-wing colleague on Twitter.The Human Rights Association in Turkey has filed the complaint against the independent lawmaker Ümit Özdağ, who engaged in a Twitter spat with Garo Paylan, a Turkish politician of Armenian descent.
This was an underlying message when Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken recently announced theof Trump-era sanctions against the court that were widely seen as counterproductive and anathema to the rule of law and American values. The Biden administration should keep turning the page and return to a pragmatic approach to the court that is consistent with American interests and with our long-standing support for global rule of law and accountability.
The United States, its allies, and friends need the court in our collective toolbox for responding to crises where widespread atrocity crimes are being perpetrated and other options do not exist. We should work with our allies to improve the court's effectiveness and the focus on its core mission, as proposed in a recent.
Current realities beckon. As the U.S. government surveys the world, Russian troops intimidate Ukraine, Venezuelans endure life-threatening government policies, Syrians and Yazidis cry out for justice, Rohingya flee Myanmar's military, Uyghurs are cruelly interned in Chinese camps and atrocities rage in Ethiopia's Tigray region. The ICC needs reform, but a turbulent future demands that we recognize the court for what it is: a critical pillar in the framework of international accountability and atrocity prevention. We would be foolish to pretend otherwise.
The authors served respectively as U.S. ambassadors for global criminal justice in the Clinton, George W. Bush and Obama administrations. The views expressed are solely their own and do not necessarily reflect any institution with which they are associated.
The Supreme Court made the GOP’s new voting restrictions possible .
Voting rights mean little if the Court refuses to enforce them.Many provisions of this new Florida law mirror similar provisions in a Georgia voter suppression bill that became law last March. The Georgia law also takes aim at absentee voting, among other things, but its most troubling provision allows the state’s Republican-controlled legislature to effectively take over county election boards — boards that have the power to disqualify voters and to close polling places.