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International Law

US Hybrid War Against Venezuela Goes To Court

Ambassador Alex Saab, a victim of the US economic war to achieve regime change in Venezuela, has been under arrest for over two years. This article recounts the developments in the diplomat’s court case. Saab is fighting against his illegal detention and extradition before the 8th District Court in Miami. As Venezuela’s special envoy and a deputy ambassador to the African Union, Saab has diplomatic immunity from arrest and detention under the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations. Although a party to the convention, the US has flouted this principle of international law. Alex Saab was targeted by the US because of his role in helping circumvent their sanctions imposed on Venezuela. These measures, a form of collective punishment, are intended to make conditions so onerous that the people would renounce their elected government. Such unilateral coercive measures constitute hybrid warfare and are illegal under international law.

UN Special Rapporteur Calls For End Of All Unilateral Sanctions Against Iran

Claiming that unilateral coercive measures taken by the US and some of its allies against Iran had harmed ordinary Iranians’ rights to employment, health, and food, the UN Special Rapporteur Alena Douhan demanded the withdrawal of all such sanctions immediately and proposed mechanisms to prevent such measures being taken in the future. Douhan’s report on Iran was released on Monday, September 12. Douhan, a professor of international law, told Iranian news website Tehran Times in an interview on Monday that, contrary to claims by countries who pursue such policies, “ordinary people are directly affected by the sanctions.” She also drew attention in the interview to the work the Iranian state was doing for the millions of refugees in the country from Afghanistan and elsewhere.

Sanctions Are Destructive, Illegitimate, And Totally Bipartisan

What right does the United States have to starve civilians to achieve political goals? Despite its obvious importance, this question is largely absent from mainstream discourse. Through economic sanctions, or economic warfare, the U.S. can unilaterally collapse economies and generate famine in foreign countries. The civilian death toll from sanctions is often equal to—and sometimes greater than—the toll from conventional warfare. Yet on both sides of the aisle, it is taken for granted that we have the “right” to impose destitution on civilian populations in order to advance our interests. The U.S. administers two types of sanctions: primary and secondary sanctions.

Biden, Like Trump, Breaks International Law

In a blatant violation of international law and its 1947 hosting agreement, the US government has blocked numerous countries from participating in events at the UN headquarters in New York City. The Biden administration is banning Russian diplomats, while the Trump administration illegally prohibited top officials from Venezuela and Iran. Reuters reported on September 2 that Russia has filed a formal complaint with the United Nations, after the US government has “been constantly refusing to grant entry visas” to Russian diplomats to participate in events at the UN headquarters, Moscow’s ambassador said.

Whose Rules? Our Rules!

There is a puzzle about American hegemony that should interest us more than it does. We are a conquering empire (even if our latest conquest always seems to end in retreat), but we can’t agree on the content of the product we send abroad. Is it constitutional democracy? Or is it “openness” minus “whiteness” plus “diversity”? We are confident to the point of delusion, and at the same time, we are bewildered. Robert Frost has a poem called “How Hard It Is to Keep from Being King When It’s in You and in the Situation.” That is pretty much how we look at things. The US has been king since we installed the Bretton Woods financial system in 1944 and oversaw the founding of the United Nations in 1945. As Stephen Wertheim showed in Tomorrow, the World, the plans for our ascendancy go back as far as 1940. Still, what to make of the situation?

New Revelations Confirm Illegality Of The Extradition And Arrest Of Saab

In his new memoir, Sacred Oath, former US Defense Secretary, Mark Esper, who served under President Donald Trump at the time of the arrest of Alex Saab in Cape Verde, effectively admits that the White House was quite aware of the fact that Saab was a diplomat at the time of his capture. As Esper writes, “At Maduro’s direction, Saab was reportedly on special assignment to negotiate a deal with Iran for Venezuela to receive more fuel, food, and medical supplies. Saab was Maduro’s long standing point man when it came to crafting the economic deals and other transactions that were keeping the regime afloat*.*” Esper’s recognition that Alex Saab was “on special assignment” and negotiated economic deals for Venezuela is a tacit recognition of Saab’s diplomatic status. 

Afghan Groups Challenge Effort To Seize Billions From Central Bank

New York – Afghan civil society groups are opposing the effort by a group of 9/11 families and other U.S. victims to seize billions of dollars from the Central Bank of Afghanistan to satisfy judgments against the Taliban. In an amicus brief filed yesterday, they argue that the $3.5 billion in blocked assets belongs to the people of Afghanistan and should be used to stabilize the economy and alleviate the humanitarian catastrophe there. At issue are $7.1 billion that the previous government of Afghanistan placed in the New York Federal Reserve. After the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan in August 2021, the Biden Administration froze the funds. In February, President Biden signed an executive order effectively allocating half for humanitarian relief in Afghanistan and leaving half subject to litigation brought by some of the 9/11 families.

Venezuela Demands Recognition Of Alex Saab’s Diplomatic Status

This Wednesday, April 6, Venezuela’s National Assembly (AN) unanimously approved a draft agreement to demand acknowledgement of the diplomatic status of Alex Saab, who has been illegally imprisoned in the United States since October 2021. The AN statement establishes that Alex Saab has been serving as a diplomatic agent since 2018, as a special envoy for Venezuela in Russia and Iran, and since 2020 as ambassador plenipotentiary to the African Union. In addition, he was appointed in 2021 as permanent representative of the national government’s delegation for the Mexico Talks held with the opposition.

Spain Abandons Former Colony In The Western Sahara

Spain has announced that it has endorsed a proposal by the Kingdom of Morocco to designate the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR) as an “autonomous” region within the North African state. Former United States President Donald Trump in 2020, recognized Moroccan control over the Western Sahara in an attempt to strengthen relations between the Kingdom and the State of Israel. Formerly known as the “Spanish Sahara”, the people of the territory have been demanding national independence for decades. All of the former colonies of Europe within the African continent have sought independence from the former imperialist masters. Although there are 55 African countries which are members of the African Union (AU) and the United Nations, the phenomenon of neo-colonialism has hampered genuine liberation and continental unification.

The Greatest Evil Is War

Preemptive war, whether in Iraq or Ukraine, is a war crime. It does not matter if the war is launched on the basis of lies and fabrications, as was the case in Iraq, or because of the breaking of a series of agreements with Russia, including the promise by Washington not to extend NATO beyond the borders of a unified Germany, not to deploy thousands of NATO troops in Eastern Europe, not to meddle in the internal affairs of nations on the Russia’s border and the refusal to implement the Minsk II peace agreement. The invasion of Ukraine would, I expect, never have happened if these promises had been kept. Russia has every right to feel threatened, betrayed, and angry. But to understand is not to condone. The invasion of Ukraine, under post-Nuremberg laws, is a criminal war of aggression.

The Illegality Of NATO

In recent years, participation in NATO has made European countries accomplices in US efforts to achieve global hegemony by means of military force, in violation of international law, and especially in violation of the UN Charter, the Nuremberg Principles. Former UN Assistant Secretary General Hans Christof von Sponeck used the following words to express his opinion that NATO now violates the UN Charter and international law: “In the 1949 North Atlantic Treaty, the Charter of the United Nations was declared to be NATO's legally binding framework. However, the United-Nations monopoly of the use of force, especially as specified in Article 51 of the Charter, was no longer accepted according to the 1999 NATO doctrine. NATO's territorial scope, until then limited to the Euro-Atlantic region, was expanded by its members to include the whole world”

Ajamu Baraka: ‘We Need To Demand The US Cease Operating As A Rogue State’

As the United States, with the aid of Western allies and the corporate media, escalates aggression toward Russia using Ukraine as the vehicle, it is necessary to take time to look at the bigger picture of the United States' disregard for international law and the impact that is having globally as well as the push to expand NATO and how that is causing significant division within the alliance. Clearing the FOG speaks with Ajamu Baraka, a long time international human rights defender and the national organizer of the Black Alliance for Peace, about the United States as a rogue state and what that means for Black America. He also discusses the state of the antiwar movement in the US and the black misleadership class, plus what we need to be doing as US hegemony and the white supremacist-based American Exceptionalism that undergirds are being challenged.

Trial Monitors Condemn Judges For Attacks On Donziger

This executive summary presents an overview of key findings of a international group of legal scholars and practitioners who conducted impartial monitoring of the case of United States v. Steven Donziger, No. 19-CR-561 (LAP); 11-CIV-691 (LAK). This summary sets a brief background, the principle findings of the monitoring group and the Panel's recommendations. The summary contains no footnotes; references to relevant sections of the fully-footnoted report are provided. The Panel has determined that the conduct of judges and prosecutors in Steven Donziger's case has led to numerous and serious violations of his rights with respect to liberty, arbitrary detention and fair trials under international human rights law, in particular Articles 9 and 14 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, ratified by the United States in 1992.

The Rule Of Law Must Finally Evolve Into The Rule Of Justice

Many politicians, academics, media pundits are wont of invoking the “rule of law”, a “rules-based international order”, “values diplomacy” etc.  But what do all these benevolent-sounding slogans actually mean in practice?  Who makes the rules, who interprets them, who enforces them?  What transparency and accountability accompany these noble pledges? In a very real sense, we already have a “rules based international order” in the form of the UN Charter and its “supremacy clause”, article 103 of which grants it priority over all other treaties and agreements.  The norms established in the Charter are rational, but effective enforcement mechanisms are yet to be created. We also have humanistic “values” that should guide diplomacy and peace-making – including the principle “pacta sunt servanda” (treaties must be implemented, art. 26 of the Vienna Convention on the law of treaties). 

Iraq Announces End Of US Combat Mission

Iraqi groups expressed dissatisfaction and opposition to the official announcement of the end of the US combat mission in the country on Thursday, December 9, weeks before the deadline of December 31. The groups pointed to the official declaration by the US that no troops will be withdrawn from Iraq immediately but that the remaining troops will shift their mission to assisting and training the Iraqi forces. The groups have reiterated their demand for a complete withdrawal of foreign troops. Qasim al-Araji, Iraq’s national security advisor, tweeted, “today we finished the last round of dialogue with the international coalition..to officially announce the end of the combat mission of the coalition forces and their withdrawal from Iraq.”
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