International Terrorism in the Contemporary World

By Marius H. Livingston; Lee Bruce Kress et al. | Go to book overview

ROBERT K.WOETZEL

Détente in Action: A Convention on International Crimes

French President Valery Giscard d'Estaing described detente in his address to Congress on May 18, 1976, as an attitude of remaining open to others' ideas without giving up one's own sense of values. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger most often equates detente with relaxation of tensions, and Soviet Party Chairman Leonid Brezhnev sees detente as cooperation when this is in the mutual interest. Former President Ford decided not to use the word for fear of misunderstanding.

Whatever connotation one ascribes to detente, it is clear that relaxation of tensions between any two parties in the world arena may not be considered relaxing by others. This explains the current Chinese nightmares about a United States-Soviet detente. Domestically, one leader may not consider relaxing what another one does; Ronald Reagan's campaign against detente is a case in point. In a global context, detente to be truly relaxing to all must take into consideration mankind's interests as a whole. The following Convention on International Crimes, presented here for the first time, may speak more eloquently for global detente than any definition can. It was drafted by experts from different ideological and legal systems under the auspices of the Foundation for the Establishment of an International Criminal Court and edited by this writer who is also president of the foundation which is in consultative status with the United Nations. It represents an international code of conduct which proscribes certain actions which are in nobody's interest and which outrage the conscience of mankind. It is open-ended, and other categories may be added on later. It depoliticizes certain actions which constitute obstacles to peace and relaxation of tensions and establishes responsibility and accountability without denigrating states or state sovereignty.

Perhaps it seems ironic that this approach to global detente rests on defining obstacles to peace and categories of international criminal behavior. But it must be remembered that since Cain slew Abel it has been outrages against civilized conduct that have caused war and bloodshed. It is hoped that by isolating the worst of these and by bringing to justice their perpetrators, the causes of international tensions as well as their consequences may be diminished. One may legitimately speculate whether earlier reactions to major violations of human rights in the concentration camps of the

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