BAKU: Genocide Not A ‘Propaganda Term’


News az
March 3 2010

News.Az interviews Belinda Cooper, adjunct professor at New York
University’s Centre for Global Affairs.

Do you think that President Obama will use the ‘genocide’ word in
his speech on 24 April, as Armenians would like?

I can’t predict whether Obama will use the ‘g-word’, though I suspect
not. He has made it very clear elsewhere that he knows quite well
that what happened to the Armenians was genocide, but I think he’ll
continue to believe that the word is too sensitive, balanced against
the importance of our relations with Turkey. But I could be wrong.

May the Azerbaijani authorities succeed in their attempts to have the
Khojaly massacre recognized as an act of genocide act by Armenians
against Azerbaijani civilians?

As for the Khojaly massacre, in this case I would caution against
using the term ‘genocide’. Every atrocity is a terrible thing, but
not every atrocity is genocide, and the word shouldn’t be invoked
as a propaganda term. Genocide, legally, is a very specific crime
with specific elements – particularly the intent to destroy an entire
group, which is extremely difficult to prove. This was most likely a
war crime, and probably a crime against humanity, which is certainly
bad enough; but I don’t believe Human Rights Watch suggested that
it was genocide. Terrible things often happen in war, but not every
terrible thing rises to the level of genocide – nor does it have to,
to be prosecuted. It’s not clear what you mean by ‘recognition’ of the
massacre – I think it’s been widely recognized in the international
human rights community as a crime, like many other crimes occurring
in conflicts around the world. The main issue is your next question,
which is how to prosecute crimes like this.

Baku is trying to call to account some of Armenia’s current political
leaders for their participation in the war with Azerbaijan in the
early 1990s and for crimes against Azerbaijani civilians in Karabakh.

Is it possible to make them answer for that, if there is sufficient

As far as wars in the 1990s and answering for crimes, the venues are
limited, unfortunately, and national courts are still the preferred
forum. At the international level, the International Criminal Court
does not deal with crimes committed before it went into operation in
2003, and in any case neither Armenia nor Azerbaijan is a member. At
some point in the future, perhaps a mixed tribunal, consisting
of domestic and international judges, might be set up to deal with
crimes committed in the war between Azerbaijan and Armenia, as has
been done in other situations (Sierra Leone, East Timor, Cambodia)
– but in that case, both sides’ crimes would have to be considered
(there has never been a conflict that I am aware of where only one
side committed war crimes, so Azerbaijanis would undoubtedly also have
to answer before such a tribunal). As far as immunity, for serious
international crimes, leaders generally do not have immunity before
international courts, but they do have immunity if tried before an
individual country’s courts – for example, if Azerbaijan were to try
people responsible for crimes in its own domestic courts under some
domestic law, or if a third country were to try such people in its
domestic courts, leaders currently in power could not be tried.

But history shows that some political leaders like Milosevic in Serbia
could be answerable for their crimes committed in the past.

Milosevic was tried in a court created specifically to deal with
crimes committed in the Yugoslavia conflict. The court was created
at an unusual moment in history, right after the end of the Cold War,
when the international community was willing and able to come together
to create it, along with the tribunal for Rwanda; that historical
window of opportunity is long gone. In any case, it’s extraordinarily
difficult to create such ‘ad hoc’ tribunals, not only politically
but also financially and just in terms of the infrastructure necessary.

This is why there is now a permanent International Criminal Court. But
that court, too, is very limited in resources and can only deal with
the very worst conflicts right now – Congo, Uganda, Darfur – conflicts
where hundreds of thousands are dying. That’s the explanation for
why this happens so rarely. Mixed tribunals are becoming popular;
these are courts, generally in the country involved, that have both
domestic and international participation (mixed judges, mixed law),
but you need agreement between the various parties in order to achieve
that, which is not easy. That again, might be best for this particular
conflict, but it would deal with all sides’ culpability. Third states
can also try people for certain international crimes, as long as they
are not, or are no longer, leaders in power, if they have the right
laws in place: Spain tried to get hold of Pinochet some years ago when
he travelled to Britain, though that didn’t quite work out, and other
countries have tried so-called ‘universal jurisdiction’, but it comes
with a lot of its own problems, both legal and political. Imagine,
for example, the repercussions of Germany trying to put Dick Cheney
or Donald Rumsfeld on trial for war crimes (which was suggested but
never happened), and you get an idea of how difficult this is. On the
other hand, Germany and other countries have tried people responsible
for crimes in Rwanda and elsewhere. It’s still not so easy to prosecute
people responsible for international crimes, especially during ongoing
conflicts; but it’s happening far more often today than, say, 20
years ago.

Armenia’s ex-president, Robert Kocharyan, once said that co-existence
of Armenians and Azerbaijanis is completely impossible. Do you think
that the two nations will not be able to live peacefully after the
settlement of the Karabakh conflict?

I will go out on a limb on the last question, even though the conflict
between Azerbaijan and Armenia is hardly my specialty, and say that of
course Armenia and Azerbaijan can coexist peacefully – many countries
that were once virulent enemies coexist peacefully – France, Germany,
and Poland, for goodness sake!! Remember the First World War? The
Second World War? It takes political will and often a lot of time –
sometimes a generation has to pass – but of course it will happen,
sooner or later.

Belinda Cooper is co-founder of the Citizenship and Security Program
at the World Policy Institute and an adjunct professor at New York
University’s Center for Global Affairs and editor of "War Crimes:
The Legacy of Nuremberg".

Aliyah Fridman News.Az

From: Emil Lazarian | Ararat NewsPress

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Emil Lazarian

“I should like to see any power of the world destroy this race, this small tribe of unimportant people, whose wars have all been fought and lost, whose structures have crumbled, literature is unread, music is unheard, and prayers are no more answered. Go ahead, destroy Armenia . See if you can do it. Send them into the desert without bread or water. Burn their homes and churches. Then see if they will not laugh, sing and pray again. For when two of them meet anywhere in the world, see if they will not create a New Armenia.” - WS