The International War Crimes Tribunal is also known as the Russell Tribunal or the Russell-Sartre Tribunal in recognition of the two founding members: British philosopher, mathematician, and peace-activist Bertram Russell, and Jean-Paul Sartre, French philosopher and playwright. The original tribunal was convened in November 1966 following the publication of Russell’s book, War Crimes in Vietnam. The justification stated for the establishment of the tribunal was the following:
Amy Goodman of Democracy Now interviewed a native American who spoke at the Tribunal, comparing the current situation in Palestine with the terrible acts that the United States had inflicted on him personally and his people. A clip of the broadcast can be seen on YouTube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tg6kSeq77kA I found the interview very touching on a human level. The entire interview can be found on the Democracy Now website at: http://www.democracynow.org/2012/10/9/stream
“If certain acts and violations of treaties are
crimes, they are crimes whether the United States does them or whether
Germany does them. We are not
prepared to lay down a rule of criminal conduct against others which we
would not be willing to have invoked against us.”|
-- Justice Robert H. Jackson, Chief Prosecutor, Nuremberg War Crimes Trials
Further tribunals were set up in later years following the same model. The most recent Russell Tribunal is the Russell Tribunal on Palestine.
Second Session: London, November 2010 – to examine international corporate issues in Israel and human rights law.
Third Session: Cape Town, November 2011 – to examine Israeli practices against the Palestinian people in light of the prohibition on apartheid under international law.
Fourth Session: New York, October 6 – 7, 2012 focused on “US Complicity and UN Failings in Dealing with Israel’s Violations of International Law Toward the Palestinian People.”
Why is this important? The Russell Tribunal on Palestine (or any of the other Russell Tribunals) have no legal force behind their findings. They cannot pass sentence on miscreants; they cannot enforce punishment. What they accomplish is to let the world know that just because crimes are not punished or even mentioned in the mainstream media of the U.S. does not mean they have gone unnoticed. People all over the world are aware of the injustice of what is being done to the Palestinian people, and public opinion is growing among the citizens of the world—both great and small.
Noam Chomsky explains the situation in an articulate statement in his YouTube video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eUl9LI_c8rg
For a ringing endorsement of the Tribunal from Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Alice Walker, see the YouTube Video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bCYpFv_FljE
More information about the New York session of the Russell Tribunal on Palestine can be found at http://mondoweiss.net/2012/10/sold-out-russell-tribunal-on-palestine-kicks-off-in-new-york.html where the below video originated.