Global justice or national revenge?

Richard Laming

By Richard Laming

The military action in Afghanistan has no end in sight. The world still awaits a clear definition of what the war is for. It is clear that there is no significant Muslim support for the bombing. There was unity in our horror at the events of 11 September, but there is no such unity behind George W Bush’s actions since.

The Americans have responded in the name of justice, but with the substance of revenge.

It is the right moment, therefore, to publish Daniel Wheatley’s important and instructive paper on the International Criminal Court.

It should not surprise us that, in the wake of an extraordinary criminal act, new methods of applying the criminal law should be required. Sadly, opposition to the idea of an international criminal jurisdiction is deeply entrenched in the minds of some of the people who need it most.

Criminals should not be able to hide from justice behind the artificial barriers of national sovereignty. But how to distinguish between an impartial system of justice and mob rule? That is the dilemma facing Bush and Blair today. A strengthened system for the global application of justice must surely be part of any settlement.

This article was written by Richard Laming, a member of the Executive Committee of Federal Union. He can be contacted at The views expressed in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of Federal Union.

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