HUMAN RIGHTS: North American Game Plans and the Convention on Genocide

Published on Global, by John Bart Gerald, May 23, 2012.

Both the U.S. and Canada have strong laws against the crime of genocide, as required by the U.N. Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, of 1948. Despite ongoing threats to surviving Indigenous peoples and a genocide against the    peoples of Iraq, the Convention is not invoked, and in North America laws against genocide aren’t applied to our own societies. 1  

In Canada, principles of international law are etched into Canada’s Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes Act.  The empowerment of a Conservative government reveals a flaw inherent in the legal system. Canada officially supports laws against torture and genocide with this reservation: under this Act, permission of the Attorney General is required to proceed with charges and prosecution.2

In practice the same mechanism is required for the law against genocide or the law against torture, to have effect. The Attorney General’s permission is required for the prosecution of any crime against humanity, and may also be required to press charges against anyone who isn’t a Canadian citizen.3

In several attempts to charge George W. Bush with torture which is a crime under Canadian law, a war crime, and a crime against humanity, the law was simply not applied: at the Bush visit last October, the Attorney General didn’t give permission to proceed with charges, and in a case brought under the Criminal Code, is reported to have actively interceded.4  With that painfully clear the extent to which developed countries will go to further their interests by ignoring laws, is unknown. In Canada prosecution of the worst crimes known to humankind are left to the government’s discretion … //

… U.S. Declarations and Reservations, at signing, require U.S. consent to bring any case against genocide involving the U.S.8 This effectively removes the likelihood of the U.S. government prosecuting itself on charges of genocide.9 Under the U.S. Criminal Code the writing of the law against genocide offers its own loophole. In the case against Bertram Sacks and others of Voices in the Wilderness  who broke sanctions to take medical supplies to children in Iraq10,  the judge found the Convention on Genocide inapplicable under U.S. Law. Applying to Section 1091 , the law against genocide, Section 1092 providing “Exclusive remedies,” the judge ruled against enforcement of the Convention,11 bringing the U.S. in  violation of Convention rules for effective application. The decision was largely ignored by national media and academic authorities.

For sixty years the Convention on Genocide has been suppressed by U.S. Courts  which have refused to accept a Nuremberg Defense whenever it was raised by anti-nuclear protesters or antiwar campaigns. A recent exception to this was the trial of anti-drone activists, the “Hancock 38” where in November  2011 a judge in Syracuse NY overturned a previous ruling and upheld the Nuremberg Principles,12 though still found the defendants guilty.13

The governments of both the U.S. and Canada are failing in their application of the

law to those crimes all humanity finds unacceptable. One holds back here a discussion of cases of genocide brought against NATO countries by the Democratic Republic of Yugoslavia, or of a case against the genocide in Iraq which has found no venue, or the contentions of genocide concerning Palestine, Afghanistan, or Libya. North American governments are still unable to consider the ongoing destruction of Indigenous peoples within a context of the Convention. The atrocities of torture are more manageable. Since torture doesn’t acquire valid information, its primary use may be to terrorize the greater numbers of innocents, a civilian population, and distract it from crimes more widespread and more lethal to safety.

For this reason the use of torture surfaces as an issue under right-wing governments supporting corporate agendas which are annihilating entire peoples. The faults of non-application of primary human rights law are apparent in the Conservative Canada’s lack of respect for the laws against torture. The Lawyers Against the War “Briefing to the UN Committee against Torture, 48th Session,” makes clear how, as George W. Bush visited Canada, the authorities avoided applying the laws against torture found in Canada’s criminal code, several Geneva Conventions, and other international treaties. And the  government did nothing for Omar  Khadr, recognized as a torture victim by the Canadian court. Difficulties of the Conservative government with regards to the rendition to torture of Afghani prisoners remain without resolution.

The need to avoid the perspective of the Convention can be traced back to the history of the Americas. In Canada, despite programs and practices which place aboriginal tribes in a special relationship to the State, which endangers them, the law against genocide isn’t an available tool of social justice. Politically consigned to silence, the Convention isn’t a tool of prevention, nor protection of the environment against mining interests, nor against the nuclear industry among those forces removing respect for life in habitable land. Faced with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples the government delayed its endorsement until November 12, 2010. MP Irwin Cottler has noted (Calgary Herald14)  that the low budget to enforce the law under the Crimes against Humanity and War Crimes Act hasn’t changed since 1998. A Conservative agenda is gradually removing the people from the protection of the law.

The first defense against genocide relies on the health of communities, as the governments themselves represent the corporate interests they serve to maintain  economies which serve a portion of the people only. For this reason what are basically corporate agendas target communities throughout the world with divisiveness.

What is commonly referred to as the Convention on Genocide, in the hands of the people will be more clearly the Convention against Genocide. (full text and Notes 1 – 9).


QUELLE PLACE POUR LE NATIONALISME DANS UN MONDE PARTAGÉ? 1956, la question nationale et la Guerre froide – Publié dans, par Domenico Losurdo, May 18, 2012;

Un complot mondial contre la santé? dans, le 16 Mai, 2012;

Le coup d’état européen: un pouvoir exécutif qui ne se plie pas au suffrage universel, le 23 Mai 2012.

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