Academic journal article International Journal of Punishment and Sentencing

Referral of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the Member State of the Islamic Republic of Iran to the United Nations, Including Its Main Bodies, Judicial Organs, and Specialized Agencies on the Charge of Incitement to Commit Genocide and Other Charges

Academic journal article International Journal of Punishment and Sentencing

Referral of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the Member State of the Islamic Republic of Iran to the United Nations, Including Its Main Bodies, Judicial Organs, and Specialized Agencies on the Charge of Incitement to Commit Genocide and Other Charges

Article excerpt

ON BEHALF OF THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ISRAEL

INTRODUCTION

1. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has made the destruction of Israel his avowed policy. Between his repeatedly stated intentions and exhortations to others, this matter might be considered his principle foreign policy objective. (2) Ahmadinejad's declaration that Israel "should be wiped off the map" was met by a widespread international outcry. (3) Yet it did not stop with this single instance, but rather the President of the Islamic Republic of Iran repeated the same theme on multiple occasions, referring for example, to "the myth of the Holocaust." (4) Moreover, it was adopted by leading members of the Iranian national security establishment. This speech and his subsequent reiterations and embellishments on it are alarming and destabilizing. They also constitute direct and public incitement to commit genocide--a gross violation of international law.

2. Legal proceedings carried to a prompt and successful conclusion, would offer an alternative course of action. Further, a peaceful resolution of these circumstances is possible if the U.N. and its constituent organs treat Ahmadinejad's incitement with the gravity it deserves. (5)

3. Historically addressing genocide has been primarily a forensic endeavor that only begins to function in earnest when the tragedy is over. However, international and municipal law now exists that seeks to improve on this sorry record. In an effort to avoid bloodshed, the honorable prosecutors will be petitioned to hear the following arguments, and to take action in accordance with his/her mandate.

4. The earliest relevant international legal initiative was the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. (6) As its title implies, the Convention was formulated to prevent genocide. More recently the Rome Statute created the International Criminal Court (ICC) to hear the most serious crimes of concern to the international community as a whole--genocide being the first such crime. Other relevant criminal law sources, international, (7) regional, (8) and municipal, (9) are all jurisdictions (10) worthy of consideration. (11) It should be noted that most nations criminally punish incitement without requiring the element of a causal nexus between the act and harm. (12)

5. Should any of the relevant U.N. or municipal organs take appropriate and timely action against the President of Iran, this will enable the international community to improve upon its record of allowing genocide to transpire against groups such as European Jews, Bosnians, Tutsis, (13) and now the Sudanese in Darfur. (14) This shameful record can be improved upon by simply fulfilling the Genocide Convention's express mandate of prevention, specifically by prosecuting Ahmadinejad's direct and public incitement to commit genocide. In all these historical cases, and certainly in the ongoing conflict in Darfur, the international community has ignored genocide even amidst reliable reports of atrocities. While all of these acts of genocide are deplorable, among these tragedies a few cases stand out, where opportunities were missed to save victims. In these cases, there were early warning signs of genocide, and specifically there was direct and public incitement to commit genocide long before atrocities began--and still there was no intervention. This was the case in both Nazi Germany and in Rwanda, (15) and the initial stages of a parallel situation are emerging in Tehran. In fact, because of the international threat posed by Iran's ongoing rogue nuclear technology program, Ahmadinejad's confrontational incitement is far more threatening than that of his predecessors. (16)

6. Such responsibility already weighs heavily upon the United Nations, as noted by the then United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan on the tenth anniversary of the Rwandan Genocide:

   We must never forget our collective failure to protect at
   least eight hundred thousand defenseless men, women and
   children who perished in Rwanda ten years ago. … 
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