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Alfred de Zayas

Prof. Alfred de Zayas, UN Human Rights Council Independent Expert on the promotion of a democratic and equitable international order addresses during the Military Expenditure and its Relationship to the Purpose of the United Nations, Geneva. Monday 14 April 2014. Photo by Violaine Martin

I have asked Alfred de Zayas, a former UN Special Rapporteur, Professor of International Law at the Geneva School of Diplomacy and International Relations, about the recent developments concerning US and Iran.

Alfred de Zayas Scott Ritter wrote the following passage:

"The Trump administration has justified its action, citing unspecified intelligence that indicated Suleimani was in the process of finalizing plans for attacks on U.S. personnel and interests in the region, claiming that Suleimani’s death “saved American lives.” This narrative has been challenged by Lebanese officials familiar with Suleimani’s itinerary, noting that the Iranian general had been in Beirut on diplomatic business, and had travelled to Baghdad via a commercial air flight, where he had been diplomatically cleared to enter. These officials claim Suleimani was killed while riding in a convoy on his way from Baghdad International Airport into the city of Baghdad."

As an expert on international law, could you please comment on this rationale for a strike, namely that somebody was posing an imminent threat to 'US personnel and interests in the region.'

How do you assess the legality of assassinating a senior military officer and, if Gen. Suleimani was indeed on 'diplomatic business,' one who was at that time acting as a diplomat? Are these new developments and what are the implications? What has the reaction among fellow diplomats been?

Could you please comment on Pres. Trump's threats.

Prof. Alfred de Zayas: Targetted assassination of diplomatic and military personnel constitutes a gross violation of the UN Charter and peremptory norms of international law.

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We are witnessing a revolt against the international order under the UN Charter, a series of international crimes that should allow the ICC Prosecutor to start an investigation.

The major problem is and remains the lack of enforcement mechanisms, so that the United States and NATO Continue to violate international law with total impunity. This undermines the credibility of international law and of institutions like the United Nations. Let us not forget that in 2003, although UN secretary General Kofi Annan declared the Iraq invasion an "illegal war", no one was ever called to account, and major actors, who should have been indicted under articles 6, 7 and 8 of the ICC statute, never were and are still at large today.

Through his irresponsible and illegal actions Trump may yet throw the world into World War III. We can expect countermeasures both from Iran and Iraq.

Trump acts like Roman emperors who considered themselves above all laws, legibus solutus.

Sad that George W Bush had the support of 42 other countries in what may be called the greatest violation of international law since the Nuremberg Trials. Today the Europeans are making themselves complicit in the crimes by their silence and inaction. Maybe European leaders will come to understand that the US under Trump poses the greatest danger to world peace and human rights. It is no longer acceptable to continue business as usual.

The U N general,assembly should adopt a resolution under article 96 of the UN Charter asking the International Court of Justice to define the legal consequences of US actions and the level of compensation to be paid by the US to the victims.

Through his irresponsible and illegal actions Trump may yet throw the world into World War III. We can expect countermeasures both from Iran and Iraq.

Of course the US base in Iraq should be closed, it is a disgraceful vestige of imperialism and neocolonialism, and a monument to media disinformation and fake news.

slava zilber 200

Alas, We may also expect a lot more terrorism in Europe and elsewhere. Bad way to begin 2020.

Slava Zilber