“Contagious Fire” in Occupied Los Angeles

Early Monday morning, over 10 police officers fired 120 rounds at Winston Hayes, an unarmed man driving an SUV, who they had been chasing through a residential area in Compton. “The deputies had been told in radio calls that a man in a white SUV had fired shots about 11:51 p.m. and was a possible suspect in a shooting…Deputies started pursuing Hayes because his truck was similar to the one in [the] radio broadcast.” And undoubtedly the fact that he was black made it a lot easier to shoot a man driving a similar car to that driven by a man who was a “possible suspect.” Hayes and one officer were injured and bullets went into “at least five homes” in the area. An analysis of this shooting in the context of long term institutionalized police violence against people of color was given by Dylan Rodriguez, Assistant Professor at the Department of Ethnic Studies at UC Riverside on Uprising Radio this morning.

The LA Times, instead of treating this debacle, which was caught on video, as the crime it is, portrays things from the perspective of the Sherriff’s Department, which is “attempting to improve the way it handles incidents involving large numbers of deputies.”

According to the Times, “Investigators believe the shooting could be an example of ‘contagious fire,’ in which officers in different positions open fire because others are shooting.” Imagine the scenario: cops start shooting; cops hear shooting; cops shoot more to “defend themselves” from shooting. 120 rounds. All fired by the cops, not Hayes, who stayed in his SUV and made his way slowly down the road. Hayes could be the guy who was a “possible suspect,” but they weren’t sure. When he refused to stop his car, a platoon of cops felt like it was OK to wipe him out–because of course it was him, an unarmed black man, they imagined was shooting back at them, not their fellow officers.

Let’s examine this “contagious fire” excuse. Let’s assume that indeed the shooting escalated because the officers thought (correctly) that the firing (that they were doing) was endangering their own lives, so they (stupidly) fired more shots in an effort to end the shooting. By this logic, the fact that there was shooting going on justified an increase in shooting.

This is analagous to the “liberal” view that the US occupation of Iraq is justified because of insurgent violence. We have an insurgency (bullets) that wasn’t there before the US (cops) got there, and which increases in strength everytime the US (cops) commits new atrocities (fires guns). This provides an excuse for the US (cops) to maintain its presence and arrest and kill more Iraqis (continue firing guns). Like “contagious fire” the US occupation of Iraq is a cause and result of the insurgency. Seen in this light, it makes even more sense to me that the US should get out of Iraq ASAP.

And the police who shot at Winston Hayes should never be allowed to carry guns again.


International Law and the Rogue Superpower: The Bombing of Kosovo

Presented at the 1999 Independent Commission on War Crimes during the Bombing of Yugoslavia

The notion that humanitarian violations can be redressed with random destruction and killing by advanced technological means is inherently suspect. This is mere pretext for our arrogant assertion of dominance and power in defiance of international law.

-Walter J. Rockler, a Washington lawyer who was also a prosecutor at the Nuremberg War Crimes Trial (letter to the Chicago Tribune, 23 May 1999).

I advocate world government because I am convinced that there is no other possible way of eliminating the most terrible danger in which man has ever found himself. The objective of avoiding total destruction must have priority over any other objective.

-Albert Einstein, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, February 1948

International Law

What is international law? Should people interested in a just society care about it? Defining international law is in theory easy: “International law consists of rules and principles which govern the relations and dealings of nations with each other.”1 In practice, however, things may be different. Some, such as Robert Harris, an adviser to Margaret Thatcher, believe that questions of international law “are essentially frivolous…International law is essentially at any time what the states say it is.”2 Clearly Harris does not mean all states, since such a system would not be “frivolous.” Implicit in his statement is that international law is what powerful states allow. This cynical notion avoids the real issues. In my belief, international law provides a set of constraints on powerful states, which exist to ensure that they are held morally responsible for their actions. The framework of international law is not always respected, nor is it even enforceable for the most powerful states. It does, however, require states to justify themselves; at the very least the framework provides a basis for critical analysis of the actions of states. Using the meager democratic structures which exist, as well as the media, such critical analysis can lead to movements for revolutionary change.

Discussions of the applicability of international law to a particular case traditionally refer to the conflict between the “ideals” espoused in a law or treaty; and the notion of “sovereignty” which says that ideals cannot be enforced by countries if violations occur within the border of a single country. I will review the particular case of the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia and show that, though the media made frequent mention of this ideological conflict, most analysts missed the point. They focused on a narrow definition of sovereignty meaning “immunity within borders under all circumstances.” In doing so they failed to see the true ideological conflict, that between international law being what powerful states desire and international law as a set of rules for due process, as well as critique.

Any doubt that humanitarian ideals were a pretext for shattering the framework of international law are dispelled when one examines NATO’s bombing campaign in practice. I will show that, not only was the decision to bomb a complete abrogation of international treaties, considered the “supreme Law of the Land” by the US Constitution. NATO is in fact guilty of the worst international offense, war crimes.

Human Rights vs Sovereignty in Kosovo

The March – June 1999 NATO bombing of Yugoslavia was, according to mainstream foreign policy analysts, a test of the principle of “new humanitarianism.” The Western powers finally used force “on behalf of universal values instead of the narrower national interests for which sovereign states traditionally fought…”3 Indeed, many retrospective accounts cast the decision to bomb as the resolution of the conflict between the separate values of human rights and sovereignty. On the one hand, NATO desired to “save lives,” but on the other, the situation in Kosovo was an internal affair of Yugoslavia, whose sovereignty should not be interfered with. According to this view, in deciding to bomb, NATO decided allegedly to consider human rights above sovereignty: “Fifty-four years after the Holocaust…, America and Europe had finally said `enough’ .”4 “America…has long been an agressive promoter of human rights…whose national identity derives more from a `value-driven agenda’ than from traditional notions”5 such as sovereignty. In a New York Times Magazine article entitled, Our Humanity vs. Their Sovereignty, Max Frankel writes, “scenes of huddled masses burned out of their homes and driven into exile aroused our sympathy and overrode all obligations to respect Serbia’s sovereignty.”6 This view is at best only partly true, and reflects a dangerous new double standard on the part of powerful states in the interpretation of international laws.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights

The most basic international standards of human rights are encapsulated in The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which has been split into the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (hereafter CPR) and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (hereafter ESC). These conventions deal with the treatment of citizens by their own governments. The United States has ratified the CPR, which upholds citizens’ liberties such as freedom of expression and freedom from persecution and torture; but it has not ratified the ESC, which includes what are often considered the more basic rights7 of subsistence such as the right to a minimal standard of living, the right to work, and fair wages.

According to supporters of the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia, the government of Serbia was violating the CPR rights in its treatment of ethnic Albanians in Kosovo, and this could not be tolerated. If we assume this was true (a case can certainly be made for this, although the scope of violations is now admitted to be far less serious than initially alleged) how should the US deal with such violations? Looking at the historical record we find that “agressive promoters of human rights” like the United States, when confronted with human rights violations, have often reacted differently than they have with respect to Kosovo. Some violations such as those in East Timor, Colombia, and Turkey, all of which are much worse in scope than those in Kosovo, are committed by allies of the US (Turkey is a fellow member of NATO). In these cases, the US has “reacted” with weapons sales and monetary aid, enabling the atrocities to continue. This reveals the first double standard: not all human rights violators are targets of a “value-driven agenda”. Based on this fact alone, independent military action by the US or NATO to suppress human rights violations is highly suspect.

The United Nations Charter

The primary vessel for international law in the current epoch is the Charter of the United Nations. The Charter invokes the principle of sovereignty in Article 2 as follows: “The Organization is based on the principle of the sovereign equality of all its Members,” and “All Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state.” If a state is commiting an internationally recognized crime within its borders, the Charter says, “Nothing contained in the present Charter shall authorize the United Nations to intervene in matters which are essentially within the domestic jurisdiction of any state or shall require the Members to submit such matters to settlement under the present Charter.” It is this principle which supposedly caused NATO to debate the legality of bombing Yugoslavia.

The NATO leaders and the mass media misled the public, however, by focusing much of the debate on the idea of “sovereignty.” In doing so, they ignored the rest of the UN Charter, including the end of Article 2 on sovereignty, which holds, “…this principle shall not prejudice the application of enforcement measures under Chapter Vll.” In the words of UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, “What the Charter does say is that `armed force shall not be used, save in the common interest.'”8 Or, as international law scholar Olivier Corten of the Free University of Brussels emphasizes, sovereignty brings obligations as well as benefits. “All states have formally agreed that they should respect fundamental rights, such as…respect for the physical person…They decided in a `sovereign manner’ to respect these principles, so they must respect them in a sovereign manner too.”9

The UN Charter does not deal solely with cross-border crimes and ignore crimes happening inside borders, as NATO policy makers would have us believe. On the contrary, the Charter does provide a mechanism for dealing with humanitarian problems such as the maltreatment of ethnic Albanians in Kosovo. Article 1 defines two of the main purposes of the United Nations to be “to maintain international peace and security,” and “to achieve cooperation in solving international problems of an economic, social, cultural, or humanitarian character, and in promoting and encouraging respect for human rights…” To promote these ideals, the Charter relegates to the UN Security Council the responsibility to “investigate any dispute, or any situation which might lead to international friction or give rise to a dispute, in order to determine whether the continuance of the dispute or situation is likely to endanger the maintenance of international peace and security” (Article 34, UN). In other words, one who would criticize the internal policies of another state needs to prove before the Security Council that the state is infringing upon the “common interest.”

The International Criminal Court

Assuming the Security Council determines that a state is guilty of egregious human rights violations, such as those defined in the CPR, then the UN Charter urges that “legal disputes should as a general rule be referred by the parties to the International Court of Justice” (Article 36, UN). So the Charter does allow for criminal proceedings against suspected human rights violators, even when those violations occur within the borders of a country. The US has already provided key support for international tribunals for Yugoslavia, Rwanda, and Cambodia. In fact, each of these international tribunals are mainly involved in gathering evidence for and prosecuting crimes which occurred within the borders of a single state. These tribunals naturally are not cautious about eroding the sovereignty of Yugoslavia, Rwanda, or Cambodia. Why didn’t the US and NATO refer their dispute with the Serbian government directly to the court responsible for crimes in Yugoslavia?

We man learn something by looking at the record of the United States with respect to International Courts. Most recently, the United States has been opposing most of the rest of the world by refusing to sign the treaty establishing an International Criminal Court (ICC) in the Hague.10 This reveals the second double-standard. “America clearly believes in building a system of international justice,” The Economist laments, “but on one vital condition: that any such system does not apply to America itself..Such an absolutist version of sovereignty is rapidly becoming an anachronism.”11

According to advocates of bombing (quoted above), sovereignty was important but not as important as human rights, so NATO could defy the inviolability of Serbia’s border to “save” Albanians. At the same time, the US has rejected an international criminal court with universal jurisdiction, on grounds that it would interfere with US sovereignty! Perhaps international rules of sovereignty were never a real concern for NATO policy makers. Rather, this was a convenient ruse to sidestep discussion of due process of international law, which includes bringing disputes to the ICC under the recommendation of the Security Council.

The UN Security Council

Under the UN Charter, the Security Council is the international body responsible for maintaining international peace and security.12 According to the Charter, any state convinced of the necessity of intervening in the affairs of another state must follow the due process of international law. Namely, “If the Security Council deems that the continuance of the dispute is in fact likely to endanger the maintenance of international peace and security, it shall decide whether to take action” (Article 37, UN). Furthermore, “the Security Council shall determine the existence of any threat to the peace, breach of the peace, or act of aggression and shall make recommendations, or decide what measures shall be taken…to maintain or restore international peace and security” (Article 39, UN). NATO openly disregarded this in deciding to bomb Yugoslavia. Even the charter of NATO itself, the North Atlantic Treaty, explicitly gives the UN Charter precedence: “The Parties untertake, as set forth in the Charter of the United Nations, to settle any international dispute…by peaceful means in such a manner that international peace and security and justice are not endangered, and to refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force in any manner inconsistent with the purposes of the United Nations” (Article 1, NATO). Moreover, the North Atlantic Treaty maintains that the UN Security Council is to decide on matters of peace and security (see Article 7, NATO). The UN Charter clearly agrees with this: “..no enforcement action shall be taken under regional arrangements or by regional agencies [such as NATO] without the authorization of the Security Council.” (Article 53, UN).

The Decision to Bomb Yugoslavia

Why did NATO really decide to bomb Yugoslavia? In the journal Foreign Affairs, Michael Mandelbaum ponders the reasons for and results of NATO’s war against Yugoslavia. He concludes, “The humanitarian goal NATO sought — the prevention of suffering — was not achieved by the bombing.” In fact, “NATO never even attempted what was announced to be the purpose of going to war in the first place: the protection of the Kosovar Albanians.”13 Mandelbaum also admits that the decision by NATO to bomb Yugoslavia was illegal according to the UN Charter. Others have argued convincingly that most of the Serbian concessions to NATO after the war could have been obtained without violence.14 So why, then, did Secretary of State Albright describe the bombing of Kosovo as “simply the most important thing we have done in the world”15? Sharing this perspective is Morton Halperin, head planner for the US State Department, who “says the continued willingness of countries to intervene in humanitarian crises shows that `the rules and procedures of the new world order are growing…'”16 What does Halperin mean by “willingness to intervene” and “the rules of the new world order”?

Recall that a country claiming to be an “aggressive promoter of human rights” does not even council its allies against committing horrible human rights violations, but instead furthers their capacity for doing so. I surmise that the phrase “humanitarian crises” means “situations in which humanitarian concerns can be used by powerful states to intervene forcibly.” Moreover, since it is not just the “obligations to respect sovereignty” which hamper intervention, but all of international law, Halperin’s “rules of new world order” must include the right to violent intervention by powerful countries no longer constrained by treaties. It is true that powerful states have always given themselves the prerogative to act as they please in international affairs, but rarely so openly. As put by Oxford don Michael Byers, “NATO is making it much more easier for other states to intervene in the future.”17 The precedent made here was not that of humanitarian values overcoming the sanctity of borders, but rather of “the right to intervene” overcoming in public discourse the obeisance to international law.

This precedent is extremely dangerous, because NATO is openly admitting that in international relations there are no rules, save for those defined by the powerful, in accord with the views of Robert Harris (note 2). The implications of this are described by Harvard University Professor Samuel Huntington: “While the United States regularly denounces various countries as `rogue states,’ in the eyes of many countries it is becoming the rogue superpower.”18 The consequences of defying the Charters of the UN and NATO in deciding to bomb Yugoslavia have serious ramifications for the exercise of international law in the future.

In promoting a state of international anarchy in which it is the
“rogue superpower,” the US has violated the most basic principles for
which it allegedly stands (see Table 1). The United States
Constitution holds that “This Constitution…and all Treaties made, or
which shall be made, under the authority of the United States, shall
be the supreme Law of the Land [my emphasis]; and the Judges in every
State shall be bound thereby…” (Article VI, USCon). The UN Charter
is a treaty and thus should be treated as the “supreme Law of the
Land.” In addition, the US has signed the Vienna Convention on the
Law of Treaties (entered into force in 1980), which lays out
international rules for the observance of treaties. In particular,
“Every treaty in force is binding upon the parties to it and must be
performed by them in good faith.” (Article 26, Vienna).

Table 1. Laws which require that the United States adhere to International Treaties


Relevant Text

United States Constitution “This Constitution … and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the authorityof the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby…”
(Article VI)
Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties “Every treaty in force is binding upon the parties to it and must be performed by them in good faith.”  (Article 26)

“A party may not invoke the provisions of its internal law as justification for its failure to perform a treaty.”  (Article 27)

Principles of International Law Recognized in the Charter of the Nuremberg Tribunal and in the Judgment of the Tribunall  “Any person who commits an act which constitutes a crime under international law is responsible therefor and liable to punishment.”  (Principle I)

“Planning, preparation, initiation or waging of a war of aggression or a war in violation of international treaties…” constitutes a Crime Against Peace (Principle VI a)

What happens when a treaty is violated? The Nuremberg trials of the Nazi war criminals set the precedent for the responsibility of individuals to respect international law: “Any person who commits an act which constitutes a crime under international law is responsible therefor and liable to punishment” (Principle I, Nuremberg). In the case of waging war in violation of treaty obligations, the Nuremberg Judgement is explicit: “Planning, preparation, initiation or waging a war of agression or a war in violation of international treaties…” is considered a “Crime against Peace” (Principle VI a, Nuremberg). Clearly if so-called “rogue” states were violating these accords, the US would be outraged, but the US is too powerful to be held liable. In fact, the International Court of Justice rejected Yugoslavia’s request of April 29 to have the US “cease immediately acts or use of force,” not because of flaws in the case, but because of lack of jurisdiction. Yugoslavia held that the US and other NATO countries were in violation of the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. With great insight, the US had ratified the Convention only on condition that the Court was barred from judging on cases against the US. In the case of the “rogue superpower” sovereignty is more important than human rights.

NATO War Crimes

Not only was the decision of NATO to bomb Yugoslavia illegal in theory, it was illegal in practice. The most serious violations of international law are violations of laws respecting war; crimes against these laws are called war crimes. In making their judgement on the Nazi war crimes, the Nuremberg Tribunal declared, “To initiate a war of agression, therefore, is not only an international crime, it is the supreme international crime differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole.” In what follows I give two illustrations of war crimes which NATO has committed, the crime of conducting a deliberate war against civilians and the crime of using weapons of highly indiscriminate nature, cluster bombs. Others have tabulated more extensively the criminal acts of NATO19,20 so I refer the reader interested in more detail to those works.

A war against civilians

The Hague Convention Respecting the Laws and Customs of War on Land of 1907 outlaw the waging of war against civilians, as well as the destruction of civilian objects: “The attack or bombardment, by whatever means, of towns, villages, dwellings, or buildings which are undefended is prohibited” (Article 25, Hague) Also, “In sieges and bombardments all necessary steps must be taken to spare, as far as possible, buildings dedicated to religion, art, science, or charitable purposes, historic monuments, hospitals, and places where the sick and wounded are collected, provided they are not being used at the time for military purposes” (Article 26, Hague). News reports told of horrible “mistakes” where bombs killed civilians, but Jerome Zeifman, former Watergate Committee Counsel, argues that the targeting of civilians was deliberate: “the armed forces of the United States have participated in non-defensive aggressive military attacks.”21

Even NATO admitted that among its goals were the destruction of the infrastructure of Serbian society. Leutenant General Michael Short advocated airstrikes in the capital city of Belgrade, stressing the ” `need to strike at the leadership and the people around Milosevic to compel them to change their behavior.’ ” According to Michael Gordon of the New York Times, “While NATO says it is not fighting against the Serbian people, General Short also hopes that the distress of the Yugoslav public will undermine support for the authorities in Belgrade. `I think no power to your refrigerator, no gas in your stove, you can’t get to work because the bridge is down — the bridge on which you held your rock concerts — and you all stood with targets on your heads. That needs to disappear at 3 o’clock in the morning.’ ” 22 That evening Belgrade sustained a power blackout as NATO warplanes struck a power plant. The following day, Pentagon spokesperson Kenneth Bacon was quoted as saying, “I don’t think he [Milosevic] believed that NATO would hit Belgrade hard, night after night…It has, and it will continue to do so.”23

Airstrikes in regions known to be inhabited by civilians, let alone the most populous city of a country, are illegal (see Table 2). The insistence of NATO that “it is not fighting against the Serbian people” is imprecise. Robert George, Professor of Government at Princeton University, notes that, “even if it would be militarily effective to gain victory by terrorizing the civilian population, that is morally wrong. That is waging war on civilians.” He denounces the indiscriminate nature of the NATO bombardment of cities in Serbia, Vojvodina, and Kosovo, which took place from over 10,000 feet. “Was it fair to impose on Serb and Kosovar civilians the burden of the deaths of large numbers of civilians to ensure that there would be no deaths of NATO troops?”24 Referring to the high-altitude bombing, The Economist writes, “On some interpretations this alone may constitute a war crime.”25

Use of Cluster bombs

Among the most indiscriminate of weapons, cluster bombs were dropped by the NATO allies on heavily populated areas. Cluster bombs scatter of order 200 bomblets in random directions, each of which has a 5-30% failure-to-explode rate. Not only are cluster bombs unguided and unpredictable weapons of mass destruction, unexploded bomblets act as land mines which can kill soldiers and civilians alike. The First Protocol to the 1949 Geneva Convention declares, “Indiscriminate attacks are prohibited…[such as] an attack which may be expected to cause incidental loss of civilian life, injury to civilians, damage to civilian objects, or a combination thereof, which would be excessive in relation to the concrete and direct military advantage anticipated.” (Article 5, Geneva)

Over 1,100 cluster bombs, each containing about 200 bomblets, were dropped on the province of Kosovo alone. According to the World Health Organization, about 150 Kosovars were killed or injured by “land mines and unexploded ordnance,” which included cluster bomblets, in the first month after the bombing ended. In addition, commercial fishing from Ancona to Trieste has been banned by the Italian Government because NATO planes unloaded unused bombs into the Adriatic, including cluster bombs. Several fisherman have been injured, and 97 bomblets have been recovered so far. Unexploded cluster bombs pose a serious risk to civilians throughout the world. Millions of less-advanced bomblets are still scattered in the forests and fields of Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia, the result of America’s Indochina war campaigns of the 1960’s and 1970’s and are “still killing and maiming,” according to an August 2 Newsweek article. Cluster bombs dropped during Operation Desert Storm have killed or injured over 1,000 Kuwaitis. And now, a “Washington source” is quoted in Newsweek as admitting, “We used cluster bombs in Kosovo in a way that we knew shifted the risk from pilots to civilians.” This disturbing admission begs the veracity of NATO’s claims to be conducting a “humanitarian war.”

Table 2.  International Conventions Violated by NATO During the Bombing of Yugoslavia
Violated Text
The Hague Convention Respecting the Laws and Customs of War on Land (1907) “The attack or bombardment, by whatever means, of towns, villages, dwellings, or buildings which are undefended is prohibited.” (Article 25)

“In sieges and bombardments all necessary steps must be taken to spare, as far as possible, buildings dedicated to religion, art, science, or charitable purposes, historic monuments, hospitals, and places where the sick and wounded are collected, provided they are not being used at the time for military purposes.”  (Article 26)

“Civilian hospitals organized to give care to the wounded and sick, the infirm and maternity cases, may in no circumstances be the object of attack…” (Article 18)
Principles of International Law Recognized in the Charter of the Nuremberg Tribunal and in the Judgment of the Tribunal (1950) Violations of the laws or customs of war which include…wanton destruction of cities, towns, or villages, or devastation not justified by military necessity” are War Crimes (Principle VI b)
Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties (1969; entered into force 1980) “A treaty is void if its conclusion has been procured by the threat or use of force in violation of the principles of international law embodied in
the Charter of the United Nations.”  (Article 52; cf. the threat of bombing to induce Yugoslavia to sign the Rambouillet Agreement.)
Protocol Additional to the Geneva Convention and Relating to the Protection of Victims of International Armed Conflicts (Protocol 1)  (1949) “Indiscriminate attacks are prohibited…[such as] an attack by bombardment…which treats as a single military objective a number of clearly separated and distinct military objectives located in a city, town, village or other area containing a similar concentration of civilians…[or] an attack which may be expected to cause incidental loss of civilian life, injury to civilians, damage to civilian objects, or a combination thereof, which would be excessive in relation to the concrete and direct military advantage anticipated.” (Article 51)

“Attacks shall be limited strictly to military objectives…In case of doubt whether an object which is normally dedicated to civilian purposes, such as a place of worship, a house or other dwelling or a school, is being used to make an effective contribution to military action, it shall be presumed not to be so used.” (Article 52)

“It is prohibited to attack, destroy, remove or render useless objects indispensable to the survival of the civilian population.”  (Article 54

“Care shall be taken in warfare to protect the natural environment against widespread, long-term and severe damage. This protection includes a prohibition of the use of methods or means of warfare which are intended or may be expected to cause such damage to the natural environment and thereby to prejudice the health or survival of the population. ” (Article 55)

“The use of remotely delivered mines is prohibited unless such mines are only used within an area which is itself a military objective or which contains military objectives, and unless:   (a) their location can be accurately recorded…; or (b) an effective neutralizing mechanism is used on each such mine” (Article 5.1; eg. unexploded cluster bombs) 
Ottawa Anti-Personnel Land Mine Treaty (1997) NATO’s use of cluster bombs should be interpreted as a violation of the land mine ban, since unexploded bomblets (5-30% of the total) embed themselves in the ground and act as land mines.
United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (1982; entered into force 1996) US Intended to halt and board ships bearing oil to Montenegrin ports. France objected so NATO settled on a “voluntary” blockade, which some states (such as Ukraine) disregarded.  The Convention states, “In straits…all ships and aircraft enjoy the right of transit passage, which shall not be impeded…” (Article 38)

Additionally, NATO planes dumped unused cluster bombs in international waters off the coast of Italy.   According to the Convention, “States shall adopt laws and regulations to prevent, reduce and control pollution of the marine environment by dumping.” (Article 210)
“Dumping” means “any deliberate disposal of wastes or other matter from vessels, aircraft, platforms or other man-made structures at sea.”

48th session, U.N. Sub-Commission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities (1996) “…urged all States to be guided in their national policies by the need to curb the production and the spread of weapons of mass destruction or with indiscriminate effect, in particular nuclear weapons,chemical weapons, fuel-air bombs, napalm, cluster bombs, biological weaponry and weaponry containing depleted uranium. ” (Resolution 1996/16)

The Future of International Law

NATO has succeeded in creating a precedent for independent intervention outside of the trappings of international law, making it “easier to intervene in the future”(note 17). NATO has committed war crimes. What can stop the further degradation of peace, justice, and human rights in coming years? The UN Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, posed the problem quite lucidly:

To those for whom the Kosovo action heralded a new era when states and groups of states can take military action outside the established mechanisms for enforcing international law, one might equally ask: Is there not a danger of such interventions…setting dangerous precedents for future interventions without a clear criterion to decide who might invoke these precedents and in what circumstances?27

Only outspoken, rational, and thoughtful criticism which appeals to the moral nature of the human race can stop the continuance of the NATO precedent. I believe a campaign to strengthen the legitimacy of international law should be part of this discourse.

1 Legal Information Institute, Website: http://www.law.cornell.edu/topics/international.html
2 Harris, quoted in Lucier Insight into the News August 2 1999.
3 Mandelbaum, Foreign Affairs, Sept-Oct 1999.
4 Wines, New York Times, June 13 1999.
5 Miller, New York Times, April 18 1999.
6 Frankel, The New York Times Magazine, May 2 1999.
7 Shue, Basic Rights: Subsistence, Affluence, and US Foreign Policy, 2nd Ed., 1996, Princeton Univ. Press.
8 Annan, The Economist, Sept 18 1999.
9 Corten, UNESCO Courier, July-August 1999.
10 At the Rome meeting which established the court, 120 nations voted in favor of the ICC, 21 countries abstained, and the US, Israel, China, Iran, Iraq, Libya, and Sudan voted against the treaty. Douglass Cassel, director of the Center for International Human Rights of Northwestern University School of Law, reported in the May 12, 1999 issue of Christian Century that “following the 120-7 humiliation of the US in Rome, delegates applauded for 15 minutes.”
11 The Economist, Oct 9 1999.
12 The US is a Permanent Member of the UN Security Council, together with China, Russia, Britain, and France. Permanent Members may veto Council Resolutions. Since 1966, the US has (often for reasons of “sovereignty”) vetoed 72 Security Council Resolutions, while Britain has vetoed only 29, Russia 15, France 14, and China 2.
13 Mandelbaum, Op cit.
14 See for example Chomsky, The New Military Humanism: The Lessons of Kosovo, 1999, Common Courage Press.
15 Albright, quoted in Mandelbaum, op cit.
16 Halperin, quoted in The Economist, Sept 18 1999.
17 Byers, quoted in The Economist, May 15 1999.
18 Huntington, Foreign Affairs, March 1999.
19 Lykourezos, Complaint Charging NATO’s Political and Military Leaders With Grave Breaches of the Geneva Convention of 1949 and Violations of the Laws and Customs of War See http://www.nato-warcrimes.gr/index.html
20 Zeifman, International Ethical Alliance versus William Clinton and William Cohen See http://www.iethical.org
21 Zeifman, quoten in Lucier, Op cit.
22 Short, quoted by Gordon in the New York Times, May 13 1999.
23 Bacon, quoted by Becker in the New York Times, May 14 1999.
24 George, quoted in Lucier, Op cit.
25 The Economist, Op cit., May 15 1999.
26 Dickey, Dennis, Nadeau, Bernard, & Barry, Newsweek, August 2 1999.
27 Annan, Op cit.