Warner Todd Huston
International busy body laws waning?
By Warner Todd Huston
May 22, 2009

Are we beginning to see the first cracks in the idea of "universal jurisdiction," the international busy body "law" that said that any nation can arrest the leaders of any other nation and try them for "war crimes"? Let us hope we are, at least.

Now, I've always contended that the Nuremberg trials of Nazi war criminals was a mistake. Not because those Nazi scum were innocent, far from it. But, rather, because it set a bad precedent that contended that the "international community" was qualified to capture, prosecute, and punish "war criminals." This entire concept is made to order if one wants to destroy national sovereignty but not for one much interested in the rule of law. In fact, it is a direct assault on any rule of law because it invites the capricious rule of the mob (by reflecting current world opinion) on just who is and who is not a "war criminal." Not to mention that the assumption that a world body can make these determinations must as a matter of course preclude any power over its own people by the individual nations involved. The determination of the "world community" will and must supersede national legal rulings — unless those rulings happen to agree with that world opinion which only makes the national decision at best perfunctory and certainly pointless.

And true to the slippery slope eventuality against which every sophist in debate club claims is an illegitimate notion upon which to argue, after WWII the "world" decided on an ever increasing authority to declare national leaders as "war criminals" and assumed any manner of powers to try them and punish them. the "International Criminal Court" is a prime example of this concept. All it ever was, of course, was a kangaroo court. Fortunately, the U.S. has resisted this foolish notion since the Nuremberg Trials ended.

For several decades the European community had decided that it alone knew better than any nation about just who was and was not a war criminal. The Belgians for instance assumed the power to prosecute war criminals and began demanding that one nation or another relinquish its leaders for prosecutions. Several European nations, such as Spain, similarly decided they were the moral guardians of the world and began to demand that other nations allow their leaders to be "tried" there.

Naturally it was all a farce. Few actual prosecutions ever took place and those that did were little else but show efforts and trials by absentia. These kangaroo courts barreled down that slippery slope turning right into the circus they were bound to become. Soon enough the most popular use for these "trials" and demands for same became but efforts to advance political notions and pet causes as opposed to serving any kind of justice. Naturally, Israel and the U.S. became prime targets while some of the worlds worst abusers of human rights were ignored.

The rule of the angry Euro-weenie mob became the guiding notion, not any adherence to law or moral authority. As per human nature, this was the only way these absurd trials could end up and they succeeded admirably in serving to reflect man's folly.

But, perhaps we are finally seeing some cracks in this bald assumption that "universal jurisdiction" is a good idea?Perhaps the end of this notion that a "world community" is somehow smarter than any individual nation might soon arrive. Not long ago, Belgium scaled back its ridiculous laws concerning universal jurisdiction. The political games that leftist politicians were engaging in with this idea was making that country look foolish and everyone knew it. Every disgruntled far left politician and non-governmental agency known to man was streaming to Belgium to file cases against every world leader they didn't like. It was a circus of activity and abuse of the whole concept was the rule of the day. But Belgium wised up curtailing its universal jurisdiction rules in 2003.

And now, just this month, Spain has decided to emulate Belgium's 2003 decision. In an overwhelming vote against the idea of universal jurisdiction the Spanish Parliament has voted to roll back the right of its judges to investigate crimes perpetrated in other nations by foreign actors. That would put an end to Spanish courts attempting to put on trial American or Israeli officials for any supposed was crimes. Amazingly, Spain has a socialist government at this time yet still voted in a land-slide to repeal the capability of its judges to go after foreign leaders such has been the abuse of the system.

Sadly, just as Europe seems finally about to realize that the "international community" makes for bad law, we are seeing our own American jurists and legal minds leaning toward supplanting American law by intermingling foreign law and precedent into it. Back in 2003, then Justice Sandra Day O'Connor was heard to advocate for the U.S. Supreme Court to take foreign precedent into account. In like manner, current Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg also voiced a desire to incorporate foreign precedent into American jurisprudence. Even today, Obama's nomination for the top legal advisor to the State Department, Harold Koh, said he backs the idea of relying on foreign precedent.

So, just as it is starting to dawn on Europe that this is not a good idea, our own extreme left is clamoring to begin the effort to break down our national sovereignty by mixing foreign laws and ideas with our own. Isn't the left always the last to realize logic?

Certainly there is no shortage of those looking to further international busy body laws like universal jurisprudence, but with Belgium and now Spain rolling back their former policies, maybe we are beginning to see a dent in the acclaimed inevitable logic of the extreme left's concepts of international law that really only succeed at tearing down national sovereignty.

© Warner Todd Huston


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Warner Todd Huston

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