Friday, August 30, 2013

empower UN Security Council to freeze war crimes charges when peace settlement reached

Today during MoveOn's online “SyriaTown Hall”, Phyllis Bennis made an important point about seeking indictments for war crimes in ongoing conflicts. Once a party is indicted, his incentive to negotiate an end to the conflict decreases.

I personally favor handling the allegations of chemical weapons use in Syria as war crimes. The UNSecurity Council should refer the matter to the InternationalCriminal Court (ICC).

But if the Obama administration is correct—the U.S. government has lied about these things in the past—and the Assad government did order chemical weapons attacks, sending the matter to the ICC could be an impediment to negotiating a settlement.

I propose the concept of freezing charges at the ICC. In cases where the allegations are referred to the ICC, the allegations could have a rider attached to the referral.

The rider would say, if the conflict in Syria reaches a negotiated settlement approved by the UN Security Council the ICC's mandate to investigate and prosecute these war crimes allegations would be frozen. As long as the agreement holds, the prosecutions would not proceed.

This is an imperfect justice. But it also provides the UN Security Council more of a stick to prod parties to the negotiating table.

Friday, August 23, 2013

top four films from Black Harvest Film Festival

For the last few weeks I have been attending the Black Harvest Film Festival at the Gene Siskel Film Center.

Destination: Planet Negro

Tonight I saw Destination: Planet Negro written/directed/starring Kevin Willmott. All of the independent feature-length films I've attended at BHFF have been good; Destination: Planet Negro was the best. D:PN was funny, thoughtful and endearing.

The premise is that in the 1930s, Black intellectual leadership bands together to devise a way to escape the BS in America. The inner circle takes the resources for the project and builds a rocket designed to take Blacks to Mars. George Washington Carver synthesizes a particularly potent fuel from peanuts and sweat potatoes.