La jurisdicción universal y la exigencia de motivación en democracia

españaA finales de enero, el Grupo Parlamentario del PP en el Congreso presentó una proposición de ley para limitar la jurisdicción universal en España. En apenas mes y medio la norma era aprobada en las Cortes Generales y publicada en el BOE. Entró en vigor al día siguiente de su publicación. Con presteza inusitada, España ponía el punto final a su posición vanguardista en la persecución de crímenes internacionales contra los derechos humanos.

La norma se aprobó por la vía de urgencia y contó con el único apoyo del Partido Popular, con mayoría absoluta en la Cámara. ¿Cómo se explica la urgencia del trámite y la reforma en sí misma? Un desliz del portavoz del PP en el Congreso basta: “La justicia universal solo provoca conflictos”. Conflictos diplomáticos para su gobierno, se entiende. Continue reading “La jurisdicción universal y la exigencia de motivación en democracia”


International Liberalism and R2P. Have liberalists given up on the ICC?

bashar-al-assad-650x433Granted. The title is a little unfair. The truth is that I am only referring to Michael Ignatieff, but I have the impression that the point is extendible to other international liberals, or rather liberalists. This is pure perception. I would be very happy to be proven wrong. I encourage you to use the space below for that.

The UN inquiry mission on Syria has expanded their list of suspected war criminals. When they presented their report at the Human Rights Council on Tuesday, they assured that their evidence is solid enough to prepare any indictment at the International Criminal Court (ICC). Syria has not ratified the Rome Statute, but the case could be referred to the ICC by the UN Security Council, as it did unanimously with Libya in 2011 (Resolution 1970).

Michael Ignatieff gave an eloquent lecture at King’s College London on Monday. The title was “Legality, Legitimacy & Intervention After Ukraine”. Initially it said “Syria”, but I guess the organisers (or the speaker) decided to adapt the name to the most current events. In any case, Ignatieff talked about both countries.

At first he assured he was not going to advocate an intervention, but I suppose he could not help it and in the end he supported an action based on the idea of “Responsibility to Protect” (R2P), a concept proposed in 2001 by the ICISS, a commission he was member of. Continue reading “International Liberalism and R2P. Have liberalists given up on the ICC?”

Mr. Hague, considering Western Sahara, Morocco is not a strong example of peaceful reform and progress

s300_10535153794_3b1bf41e97_oA few days ago the British Foreign Secretary, William Hague, met the Prime Minister of Morocco, Abdelilah Benkirane. In a short press note, the Foreign Office said that “Morocco stands as a strong example of peaceful reform and progress in North Africa, and the UK will continue to support the government’s reform process”.

Perhaps the Foreign Secretary forgot that since the mid-1970s Morocco occupies militarily a territory roughly the size of the UK: Western Sahara. A colony of Spain since the mid-19th century, the territory and its population were left on their own when Spain left shamefully in 1975-1976. Morocco immediately occupied the land upon the Spanish retreat. In an advisory opinion issued in October 1975, the International Court of Justice rejected the Moroccan sovereignty claims over Western Sahara. For fifteen long years, the Moroccan army and the Saharawi national liberation force (Polisario Front) fought a bloody war that scattered landmines across the territory and expelled tens of thousands of refugees to the neighbouring Algeria. The Polisario Front also fought against Mauritania until the latter’s withdrawal in 1979. After some years of military stagnation, in 1991, under the auspices of the United Nations Morocco and the Polisario agreed to a settlement plan that included a referendum where the local Saharawi population would have the chance to determine its own future. A UN mission (MINURSO) was set up to ensure the settlement was respected and fulfilled. However, to this day, Morocco has consistently refused the Saharawis the referendum they are entitled to by international law and the 1991 peace agreement. Morocco uses its military force to retain control over Western Sahara, while around 100.000 people survive in the refugee camps of Tindouf, in the Algerian desert. Those who remained in the occupied territories suffer continuous violations of their human rights, including torture, unresolved disappearances, restrictions to the freedom of association and discrimination in the access to work, education and healthcare. In the meantime, the natural resources of Western Sahara, particularly fisheries and phosphates, are plundered in front of the eyes of the local population, which doesn’t benefit from these industrial activities and doesn’t have a say on them. Continue reading “Mr. Hague, considering Western Sahara, Morocco is not a strong example of peaceful reform and progress”

NSA surveillance confirms the realist paradigm, and I am not happy about that

Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff and Barack ObamaOnly a few days ago I briefly presented the research of my life, which I have just started and deals with the influence that human rights make on foreign policy making in Europe. In particular, at the moment I am reading and thinking about why countries choose to embrace and foster certain human rights norms rather than others. Right when I was about to accept that principles, ideas and identities play a significant role in the construction of national interests and, therefore, in the way countries interact with each other (“anarchy is what states make of it” and so on), we read in the papers that the US has been spying on foreign allies for a good number of years.

In making sense out of it, no other analyst has been more spot on than Thucydides and his Melian Dialog back in the 5th century BC: “The strong do as they can and the weak suffer what they must”. Continue reading “NSA surveillance confirms the realist paradigm, and I am not happy about that”

Intervening militarily in Syria? Many more questions than answers

Kal Syria The EconomistOnly last week, a US-led military intervention in Syria seemed inevitable. Today, the immediate future looks more uncertain. In a historic debate, the UK Parliament refused to endorse a military action. President Obama referred the matter to Congress. NATO Chief announced that they would not be part of a strike. And the Arab League Secretary General said that a military action outside the UN mandate “is out of the question”.

As of this writing, since the UN research team has not announced its findings, there is no official truth about whether chemical weapons were used in Damascus on 21 August. I think we should first wait for this team to complete their job, although I am personally ready to accept that it happened. MSF treated patients with “neurotoxic symptoms” and Amnesty International has gathered information from survivors of the attack. Nevertheless, the scale of the effects remains unknown. France speaks of 281 deaths, MSF counted 355 and so did the UK Government, while the meticulous US intelligence mysteriously raised the number to 1429 victims. (Toby Helm rightly asks: “Why, if UK relations with Washington were so close, and the UK had known it was facing a crucial parliamentary vote, was Cameron not given access to new, higher casualty figures from US intelligence, cited by Kerry?”). The UN team will not be able (it is not in their mandate either) to determine who used or released the chemical agents, but the attack was directed against areas under control of the opposition forces, which gives us a relevant clue.

Future evidence may prove me wrong, but I believe that the Syrian Government used chemical weapons against its own population, which is clearly prohibited by customary international humanitarian law and constitutes a war crime (Rules 74 and 156 of the ICRC study on Customary International Humanitarian Law). However, when I am confronted by the possibility of a non-UN sponsored military attack in Syria, I ask myself many more questions than I can answer. Continue reading “Intervening militarily in Syria? Many more questions than answers”

Sobre el caso Snowden y el artículo de Vargas Llosa en El País

944202_10200259155144682_2081270785_nMario Vargas Llosa escribe un artículo hoy en El País (Jubilar a los espías) criticando a Edward Snowden por “haber roto su compromiso de confidencialidad que tenía contraído con el Estado para el que trabajaba”. A mí juicio, los puntos destacados de su artículo son los siguientes: a) Snowden no es un héroe sino que ha traicionado al gobierno que le contrató; b) el espionaje es así y así ha sido siempre; c) el caso de Snowden es como el de Assange; y d) ¿por qué tanto alboroto si hace tiempo que renegamos voluntariamente del derecho a la privacidad? Permítanme comentar estos cuatro puntos uno a uno. Continue reading “Sobre el caso Snowden y el artículo de Vargas Llosa en El País”

Los vuelos de Morales no son como los de la CIA

morales en canariasHace dos días Italia, Francia, Portugal y España bloquearon su espacio aéreo al presidente boliviano Evo Morales cuando volaba de vuelta a su país tras una cumbre en Moscú. Según la información periodística, cuando el avión presidencial se aproximaba al espacio francés, le fue denegado el permiso para continuar y el piloto tuvo que echar marcha atrás y aterrizar en Austria a la espera de los permisos correspondientes. Todo parece indicar que esta decisión se basó en la “sospecha” de que Snowden pudiera estar volando con el presidente para refugiarse en el país sudamericano. Según denunció el propio Morales, el embajador español en Austria trató incluso de subir al avión para cerciorarse de que Snowden no estaba dentro.

Al día siguiente, Morales recibió la autorización de los gobiernos europeos para continuar su camino de vuelta a casa, haciendo escala en Canarias. Tanto la diplomacia boliviana como varios líderes políticos sudamericanos criticaron la “prepotencia” del “imperialismo” europeo, calificando el trato recibido por Morales como una “humillación” y un “secuestro”, que además viola la inmunidad diplomática garantizada por el Derecho internacional. Continue reading “Los vuelos de Morales no son como los de la CIA”