Friday, June 26, 2009

Agent Orange Continues to Poison Vietnam

From 1961 to 1971, the U.S. military sprayed Vietnam with Agent Orange, which contained large quantities of Dioxin, in order to defoliate the trees for military objectives. Dioxin is one of the most dangerous chemicals known to man. It has been recognized by the World Health Organization as a carcinogen (causes cancer) and by the American Academy of Medicine as a teratogen (causes birth defects).

Between 2.5 and 4.8 million people were exposed to Agent Orange. 1.4 billion hectares of land and forest - approximately 12 percent of the land area of Vietnam - were sprayed.

The Vietnamese who were exposed to the chemical have suffered from cancer, liver damage, pulmonary and heart diseases, defects to reproductive capacity, and skin and nervous disorders. Children and grandchildren of those exposed have severe physical deformities, mental and physical disabilities, diseases, and shortened life spans. The forests and jungles in large parts of southern Vietnam have been devastated and denuded. They may never grow back and if they do, it will take 50 to 200 years to regenerate. Animals that inhabited the forests and jungles have become extinct, disrupting the communities that depended on them. The rivers and underground water in some areas have also been contaminated. Erosion and desertification will change the environment, contributing to the warming of the planet and dislocation of crop and animal life.

The U.S. government and the chemical companies knew that Agent Orange, when produced rapidly at high temperatures, would contain large quantities of Dioxin. Nevertheless, the chemical companies continued to produce it in this manner. The U.S. government and the chemical companies also knew that the Bionetics Study, commissioned by the government in 1963, showed that even low levels of Dioxin produced significant deformities in unborn offspring of laboratory animals. But they suppressed that study and continued to spray Vietnam with Agent Orange. It wasnt until the study was leaked in 1969 that the spraying of Agent Orange was discontinued.

U.S. soldiers who served in Vietnam have experienced similar illnesses. After they sued the chemical companies, including Dow andMonsanto, that manufactured and sold Agent Orange to the government, the case settled out of court for $180 million which gave few plaintiffs more than a few thousand dollars each. Later the U.S. veterans won a legislative victory for compensation for exposure to Agent Orange. They receive $1.52 billion per year in benefits.

But when the Vietnamese victims of Agent Orange sued the chemical companies in federal court, U.S. District Judge Jack Weinstein dismissed the lawsuit, concluding that Agent Orange did not constitute a poison weapon prohibited by the Hague Convention of 1907. Weinstein had reportedly told the chemical companies when they settled the U.S. veterans suit that their liability was over and he was making good on his promise. His dismissal was affirmed by the Second Circuit Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court refused to hear the case. The chemical
companies admitted in their filing in the Supreme Court that the harm alleged by the victims was foreseeable although not intended. How can something that is foreseeable be unintended?

On May 15 and 16 of this year, the International Peoples Tribunal of Conscience in Support of the Vietnamese Victims of Agent Orange convened in Paris and heard testimony from 27 victims, witnesses andscientific experts. Seven people from three continents served as judges of the Tribunal, which was sponsored by the International Association of Democratic Lawyers (IADL).

Testimony given by the witnesses showed the following:

Mai Giang Vu, a member of the Army of South Vietnam, carried barrels
of the chemicals on his back. His two sons could not walk or function
normally, their limbs gradually curled up and they could only crawl.
They died at the ages of 23 and 25.

Pham The Minh, whose parents also served in the South Vietnamese Army,
showed the Tribunal his severely deformed, crooked, skinny legs; he
has great difficulty walking, as well as digestive and pulmonary

To Nga Tran is a French Vietnamese who worked as a journalist during
the spraying. Her daughter weighed 6.6 pounds at the age of three
months. Her skin began shredding and she could not bear to have skin
contact or simple demonstrations of love. She died at 17 months,
weighing 6.6 pounds. Ms. To described a woman who gave birth to a ball
with no human form. Many children are born without brains; others make
inhuman sounds.

Rosemarie Hohn Mizo is the widow of George Mizo, who served in the
U.S. Army in Vietnam in 1967. He slept on contaminated ground and
consumed food and drink that were also contaminated. George refused to
serve after he was wounded for the third time; he was court-martialed
and sentenced to 2-1/2 years in prison and a dishonorable discharge.
George helped found the Friendship Village where Vietnamese victims
live in a supportive environment. He died from conditions related to
his exposure to Agent Orange.

Georges Doussin, co-founder of the Friendship Village, visited a
dormitory where he saw 50 highly deformed monsters, who produced
inhuman sounds. One man whose parent had been exposed to Agent Orange
had four toes on each foot. Doussin said Agent Orange creates total
anarchy in evolution.

Dr. Nguyen Thi Ngoc Phuong, from Tu Du Hospital in Ho Chi Minh City
(Saigon), sees many children born without arms and/or legs, without
heads or faces, and without a brain chamber. According to the World
Health Organization, only 1 4 parts per trillion (PPT) of Dioxin in
breast milk can cause severe deformities in fetuses and even death.
But up to 1450 PPT are found in maternal milk in Vietnam.

Dr. Jeanne Stellman, who wrote the seminal article about Agent Orange
in the magazine Nature, testified that this is the largest unstudied
environmental disaster in the world (except for natural disasters).

Dr. Jean Grassman, from Brooklyn College at City University of New
York, testified that Dioxin is a potent cellular disregulator which
alters a variety of pathways to disrupt many systems. Children, she
said, are very sensitive to Dioxin; the intrauterine or post natal
exposure to Dioxin may result in altered immune, neurobehavioral, and
hormonal functioning. Women pass their exposure to their children both
in utero and through the excretion of Dioxin in breast milk.

Many ecosystems have been destroyed and Dioxin continues to poison
Vietnam, especially in the several hot spots.

Chemist Dr. Pierre Vermeulin testified that it was estimated that $1
billion would be required to restore one hectare of land in Vietnam.
The cost of caring for the victims, many of whom need 24-hour care, is

In 1973, President Richard Nixon promised $3.25 billion in
reconstruction aid to Vietnam without any preconditions. That aid was
never granted.

There are only 11 Friendship Villages in Vietnam; 1000 are needed to care for the child victims of Agent Orange.

Last week, the Bureau of the IADL, meeting in Hanoi, presented President Nguyen Minh Triet of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam with the final decision of the Tribunal. The judges found the U.S. government and the chemical companies guilty of war crimes, crimes against humanity, and ecocide during the illegal U.S. war of aggression in Vietnam. We recommended that the Agent Orange Commission be established in Vietnam to assess the damages suffered by the people and destruction of the environment, and that the U.S. government and the chemical companies provide compensation for the damage and destruction.

I told the President that it always struck me that even as U.S. bombs were dropping on the people of Vietnam, they always distinguished between the American government and the American people. The President responded, We fought the forces of aggression but we always reserved our love for the people of America . . . because we knew they always supported us.

An estimated 3 million Vietnamese people were killed in the war, which also claimed 58,000 American lives. For many other Vietnamese and U.S. veterans and their families, the war continues to take its toll.

Several treaties the United States has ratified require an effective remedy for violations of human rights. It is time to make good on Nixons promise and remedy the terrible wrong the U.S. government perpetrated on the people of Vietnam. Congress must pass legislation to compensate the Vietnamese victims of Agent Orange as it did for the U.S. Vietnam veteran victims.

Our government must know that it cannot continue to use weapons that target and harm civilians. Indeed, the U.S. military is using depleted uranium in Iraq and Afghanistan, which will poison those countries for incalculable decades.

By Marjorie Cohn
President of National Lawyers Guild

Student Reflections

My name is Dan Parziale and I am a student at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles. Since I have returned from Vietnam I have found myself reflecting upon my experiences there quite frequently. Again, I want to thank the IADL and the NLG for inviting me and to Ami Silverman, Franklin Sterling and Loyola Law School for supporting me financially to be able to make the trip.
Currently I am working at the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles working in the Immigration Unit and I am currently working on an asylum case from southeast Asia. It has been very interesting to work on a case from this part of the world shortly after spending time there and it has helped to keep our time there in perspective.
One thing I had a problem with at the conference was the way we seemed to close our eyes, or at least our mouths, to some of the glaring problems in several parts of the world. Human rights violations in China were not mentioned and Sudan, Uganda and Columbia were only mentioned in passing, to name a few. I understand that there is only so much we can cover in four or five days, but the level of focus on the US was disconcerting to me in the face of these other countries that deserve our attention. Vietnam, while being the host country, faces several of its own challenges and the country reports from the UN and Human Rights Watch clearly reflect as much. Vietnam was all but hailed as a bastion of freedom and progress. This was troubling for me. While I understand that, as one of the world’s strongest powers, the US rightfully garners a lot of attention. I strongly criticize our shortcomings and call for the prosecution of our leaders when we break international law, but I felt as if some of these other hotbeds of human rights violations needed attention as well. They may have been discussed in the other commissions and if so, then I need to speak with the people who were in those meetings.

That being said, I will walk away from the conference with an overwhelming amount of respect for the people of Vietnam. I was humbled by the love shown by them and the forgiveness expressed for the wrongs perpetrated against the people of their country. They exemplified the qualities that the world will need to adopt in order to create the truly peaceful world for which we strive. I recently heard someone say that even the weakest person can carry the heaviest of grudges and maybe it takes the strongest to let go of that burden. I hope that we can learn from the strength of the Vietnamese people.

I was inspired by the lawyers at this conference who work for international peace. Expanding one’s practice to think about the impact that it can have upon the world is a noble venture and we need more lawyers to take on issues of international human and environmental rights.

It is absolutely imperative that the students and lawyers who were in Vietnam share their experiences and knowledge with the people who were not able to be there. Lincoln Ellis, a fellow law student, and I are going to host a brown-bag lunch or informal dinner here in Los Angeles sometime in the next month or so to share stories and talk about our experiences in Vietnam. If anyone would like to get an invitation, feel free to email me at

Home, Home it is Strange

It's always hard returning to the US after being out of the belly of the beast for a while. Hell, it's even hard coming back when we go up to Vancouver for the Jazz Festival for the day.

After spending two weeks in Vietnam, a country we self-professedly tried to "bomb back into the stone age," it's been particularly hard.

We were taken off guard by the way the War managed to come up virtually every day in some form, large or small. Some of those were expected: the Museum of the Revolution, where the exhibits spoke with great detail and eloquence about what the US did, and how the Vietnamese won the War and defeated imperialism. Very inspiring, and hopeful. Some were unexpected: sitting on a bench out at the temple in Hoan Kiem Lake, looking for the legendary turtles, we were approached by an elderly Vietnamese man who kept asking , "American?" when we said yes and were able to communicate that, he turned around, pulled up his shirt and showed us the torture scars on his back. Taking a leaf from Susan's book, we apologized in one of our few words of Vietnamese, "Sin Loi" (I'm sorry.). He turned back around, took our hands and smiled. warmly, and then took his leave of us. But his face remains burned in my memory.

Then there was the American-born Brit we shared a train compartment with going back to Hanoi from Hue, who insisted, on the verge of apoplexy, that the US was right, and that the domino theory was right, decades after it was proved to be a lie and a pretext.

Now, here we are back in the US, which has learned, apparently, no lessons from history, returning to stories of attacks and bombing in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, where we just killed 60 attending a funeral, by remote-controlled drone, witnesses to a nightmareous science fiction movie of a distopian high tech world.

The problem with Che's dictate that we Americans must fight here in the belly of the beast, is the amount of acid and bile that lives here, the amount of denial and apathy.

But, fight we must, A former client now witnessing for peace in Jordan, on the Iragi border sent a message that yes, the Iraqis too know about our demonstrations and marches: that the media in the Middle East give them prominent coverage and elicit public discussion. So, 30 years from now, our efforts may appear in the history books of Iraq and Afghanistan, and the people may know that we stood in solidarity in the small and large ways that we can.

From Bellingham, WA, a designated "Troops Home Now City" we struggle on. Another World is Possible, Another US is Necessary."

Larry Hildes

Monday, June 15, 2009

Friendship and the Sad Days of Summer Snow

“If you want to scare the vampires you simply drag them into the light.” Michael Franti.

Heading out of Vietnam I passed a beautiful tile mosaic wall dedicated to next years’ 1000 year anniversary of the founding of Hanoi. The city breathes with old and new. It’s perhaps this long continuum that adds to its strength and resilience. No where was this more evident in the efforts of the Friendship Village - a home for the vets and their offspring whose neurological systems and DNA flow with the chemical known as Agent Orange.

I was torn about going to the Village. I had seen the film produced by a Japan filmmaker that she dedicated to her husband - a Vietnam Vet who was caught up in the blanketing of miles of Vietnam with Agent Orange and had succumbed to Cancer. I was against the war and its crimes but felt I might not have any more juice or understanding, especially when it comes to the poisoning of children. I have filled up on both love and horrors these past few weeks. I began to think I might be feeling a little numb? Was there something to be gained by seeing the victims in order to understand the impact of war on people?

Meeting with Director of Village and head of the Victims of Agent Orange Association
The children, often with deformed faces, missing limbs etc - birth defects as a result of their parents exposure to the Toxin - remains the vestiges of a war that lives on in the bodies of its victims and is passed to the next generation. From 1961 to 1971, the U.S. military sprayed Vietnam with Agent Orange, which contained large quantities of Dioxin, allegedly in order to defoliate the trees for military objectives. Dioxin according to the World Health Organization is a carcinogen (causes cancer) and is identified by the American Academy of Medicine as a teratogen (causes birth defects). Between 2.5 and 4.8 million people were exposed to Agent Orange. 1.4 billion hectares of land and forest - approximately 12 percent of the land area of Vietnam - were sprayed. The countless birth defects and injuries are staggering.

But how often we don’t want to face the sad history of our use of violence and our historical efforts from Wounded Knee to Korea and onto Vietnam, to wipe out mass groups of people through massacres, carpet bombing and chemical weapons (depleted uranium weapons in Iraq) in the name of peace and progress. But as we walked into the first classroom my apprehension slipped away and I knew why I was here. I quickly got down to the side of their table and began to talk with them, touch and play. I remembered what I had learned from Fred Donaldson’s Creative Play class. Don’t touch the heads and get down to their space. It was transformative and their smiles infectious. I was so grateful I came.

It is important to experience the casualties of war if only to put a human face on it. These children have been medically linked to Agent Orange decades later. According to the World Health Organization, only 1 - 4 parts per trillion (PPT) of Dioxin in breast milk can cause severe deformities in fetuses and even death. But up to 1450 PPT are found in maternal milk in Vietnam. Dr. Jeanne Stellman, an agent orange expert, says that "this is the largest unstudied environmental disaster in the world (except for natural disasters)."

The US courts threw out the Agent Orange case brought by some fellow Guild lawyers and friends Jeanne Mirer and Jonathan Moore on behalf of some victims of Agent Orange and their association. The court concluded that Agent Orange did not constitute a poison weapon prohibited by the Hague Convention of 1907. The Supreme Court refused to review it.

US veterans had successfully sued the chemical companies Dow and Monsanto (now bringing us GMO Food) who settled out of court for $180 million. Later the vets received $1.52 billion per year in benefits from Congress. Despite promises from Nixon of unconditional aid and clear liability, no assistance has been made for the children or the other victims in Vietnam. Will we ever truly heal until something is done and ackowledged?

The U.S. government and the chemical companies knew that Agent Orange, when produced rapidly at high temperatures, would contain large quantities of Dioxin. They also knew that the Bionetics Study, commissioned by the government in 1963, showed that even low levels of Dioxin produced significant deformities in unborn offspring of laboratory animals. The report was suppressed, Agent Orange continued to be sprayed until after the report was leaked in 1969. Furthermore the Eco-damage wiped out significant forests, made species extinct and still contaminates parts of Vietnam. No US funds have been paid to clean up the mess.

In order to continue the struggle to Congress to get some funds for the victims and their families a Court of Conscience was called in Paris in May by our group IADL and the findings are astonishing and stark reminder that the breadth of destruction left by acts of war go far beyond the “target..” You can read the decision of the International Judges at our site at On my visit to this Friendship Village I learned that this fellow I met ( pictured below ) had had several children but they all died as infants (an all too common event for parents exposed to Agent Orange). He had been in the areas blanketed with Agent Orange during the war. The Village lets him come for rest and to work with him, as he has difficulty with mental functioning. 

Can we even imagine such a trauma to a family? Today I had my new grandson’s 1st birthday party.....Unimaginable.

I recall vividly in 1971 on the steps of the Capital, Peter Paul and Mary singing that deep refrain “when will we ever learn, when will we ever learn?” It pains me that forty years later we still are duped into believing that war is an answer for anything. I think of the millions of Iraqi families scarred for life and for generations.

In the end it is the smiles, songs and faces of the children from Friendship Village that will stick with me forever.
We are creative beings with unlimited potential but we cannot be silent in the face of those who cling to the past ways of relating and solving problems. I hope all of you reading will find a small way to let your congressperson know that they should support a Victim Fund for Agent Orange victims in Vietnam and you can make a donate to Friendship House ( But also find something in your life that supports a move to peace in our world. On March 18, 2002, Vietnam Friendship Village Founder George Mizo died at his home in the village of Hofen, Germany. His wife Rosi and son Michael sent out a message of love for George: "Peace is giving something to life...Your spirit is living in our hearts and in the Vietnam Friendship Village. --With love, Rosi and Michael Mizo, Hildegard Hohn, and all the people you have touched with your life."

Eric Sirotkin
Ashland Oregon

PS - Thanks Marjorie Cohen, one of the Judges of the Court, from some of the stats above. Read her full article on Agent Orange on our site also at

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

It's been fascinating being here, not least to see the Vietnam War from the Vietnamese perspective. Monday we got a tour of the Army Museum, and heard the pride (justifiably) with which the people discuss winning the War and defeating the US.

Today Karen and I sat in on an incredible discussion between NLG law students and Vietnamese students, some law, some language students,a nd after feeli ng each other out and comparing educational systems, Dan brought the discussion to the heart of the issue, The War. The Vietnamese students are very angry about Agent Orange (the Orange Poison as they aptly call it) and everyone seems to know people who are affected by it, now into a third generation. As always in the world, we have a lot to answer for!

When the war itself came up, they were staggeringly gracious, differentiating between Lyndon Johnson and the American people. Citing the Mobilization march, and other demonstrations, they are taught, and talk about how the American people stood in solidarity with the people of Vietnam and made the government stop fighting the war.

They talked about how Americam soldiers were victims and suffer as well.

I couldn't not say something: They give us way too much credit! It was a struggle then as it is a struggle now to get Americans into the streets, and to actually empathize about the suffering of others, to actually see the world beyond the U.S.

In the midst of cryi ng, I was able to apologize and to tell them how glad I was that they had won the war and to sit here in a free Vietnam.

Dan, Karen, and others made wonderful eloquent statements.

One of the Vietnamese quoted Uncle Ho saying that we will drive the AMericans out of teh country and then, when they ask to come back as equals, to roll out the carpet and welcome us back. And, here we are.

We hugged and cried together, and posed for pictures. It was an amzing connection. Solidarity in beautiful radiance.

Two clear lessons, probably more:

1) Every little demonstration that we suffer through where we think no one is watching, no media are covering it, and 50 people show up, makes a difference in solidarity. People are watching, and 30 years from now, maybe the Iraqis will learn about our marches in their history books.

2) Imperialism can be defeated, by determined nations, underarmed, poor, but determined. The empire cannot maintain occupations in the face of committed resistance, and Empires always fall.

The Vietnamese, are extremely welcoming, generous, gracious, and immensely inspiring.

Every town, and most parks and street corners have shrines to the dead of the American War, and yet they welcome us.

There is the old stupid cliche spouted during the War and now again about Iraqis, Afghanis, etc. that they don't value life as we do.

In fact, it's become very clear, they value life in ways that we as Americans can barely begin to understand.

From Hanoi, The City of Peace, may peace be with you all,

Larry Hildes



Tuesday, June 9, 2009

The Vietnamese are SO magnanimous

I just came out of an IADL organized meeting between American and Vietnamese students and young lawyers from around the world, and I am so very humbled by everything the Vietnamese shared with us. These people have the biggest hearts possible. Vietnam continues to struggle and live through the unimaginable physcial, psychological, and ecological damage we unjustifiably imposed upon them less than thirty years ago, in living memory, but here's what the students said about it:

- my family members and my people have suffered from all of the destruction of the war, and it is the responsibility of the present generation to alleviate their pain by fostering partnerships and good relations with the world.
- One woman shared a really poignant story about her uncles and parents who fought against the American invasion--all of them are disabled, and despite the difficulties they have faced personally and in raising their family every step of the way -- they taught their children that "all Americans are not the same, it was the American government of the time that attacked us, not the American people. The people of America were with us, they marched for us and went to jail for us."
- We hold the future and we awnt to hold it for peace, and we want to forget the past atrocities in order to create a bwrrwe duruew.

These sentiments resonated consistently across the comments, and it was absolutely humbling for me to witness a people -- who America tried to completely break through its indiscriminate bombing campaign and sanctions since -- stand up and reach out with a hand of friendship. Everyone sitting in the room was in tears. Though we shared the pain and suffering of the Vietnamese people, as Americans, I think our tears also symbolized an element of anger and frustration for the injustice that our country has done to millions of Vietnamese.

One thing that came up several times was the our gov'ts hypocrisy in reimbursing our war veterans for damages from Agent Orange, but their strict refusal to do the same for the Vietnamese people. Yesterday we went to the Vietnamese Friendship Village, one of few institutions that take care of children and veterans of Vietnam who have been affected by America's campaign to defoliate this country by spraying Agent orange. Generations of children and their families completely deprived of "life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness." Children born disabled and deformed; families forced to child-rearing instead of earning an income; villages burneded and eternally scarred with the stigma of rearing deformed children and losing family members to complications of Agent Orange --- sheer injustice from every perspective!!

In our country, we compensate victims for the slightest tort crimes with millions of dollars -- but we refuse to deliver that same justice to individuals who were systematically and knowingly sprayed with this heinously toxic chemical.

As Americans, we came out of this student delegation feeling a deep sense of injustice, one stemming both in America's misguided foreign policy that is imbued with the dichotomous us vs. them rhetoric that is blantantly racist, with a mission to do something for this. We need to support our Vietnamese bretherens and bring justice to those who have suffered by holding our government accountable.

Anurag, NYU Law

We Don't Think Marjorie is Ever Coming Home

The RIght to Peace Requires Social Justice

The Right to Peace Commission was filled with people form around the world expressing their visions for a peaceful world. Just the holding of the workshop seemed to reflect what is needed. Listening. Sharing. Curiosity.There is always so much to learn.
There is more that binds us than separates us. The Japanese delegation talked a lot about Article 9 and the UN Charter. A proposal to start an international campaign to not only protect Article 9, but to incorporate it in every constitution was proposed. Speakers from the US, Japan, North Korea, France, Vietnam and others covered the UN documents and resolutions that make peace.

Last night a the Pub we had a gathering of lawyers from the US, Philippines and Belgium. We laughed , ate and shared ideas on how to effectively organize around international peace and justice issues. Listening to the stories of people working on issues of refugees, political prisoners and UN enforcement is very inspiring.

But what is the key to peace? Is it any clearer to me after this meeting? I think its hard to define. However, the past speaker, a woman lawyer from Vietnam, did remind us that “Reconciliation is the First Step to Peace.” It is true and its why I work for a peace treaty in Korea.

We did have a short debate about is it feasible to prohibit war in national Constitutions. The Vietnam speaker said that she thought that Article 9 in Japan was more theoretical than practical as Japan has such an extensive Navy and “Self-Defense” forces. However, I rose up after to strongly contest such a statement saying “ The fact that not one Japanese soldier or citizen had lost his or her life in any war since 1945 is a very practical solution. If not for Article 9 they would have joined the US in Vietnam, Iraq and other wars and killed many many people.

Thus countless of thousands are alive today because of Article 9. Costa Rica also survived and thrived during a decade of war all around them in the 1980’s in Central America because of their peace constitution. Thus, it is not theoretical, but has very, very tangible results.” What I see from this Right to Peace workshop is that peace is not only practical, but saves millions from pain and suffering.

We have formed an Article 9 Working Group to spread support for Article 9 and to work on similar peace resolutions here. Please contact the Working Group Chair Chris Orton at to help out or to get an Article 9 package for presentation with your chapter or group.

At the Congress are people who actively challenge the idea of preemptive war, work at the Hague and with Human Rights Commissions around the world. It is truly a gathering of "People's Lawyers."

There are mixed reviews on Obama here in Hanoi among our delegation and those around the world. There is still a large camp who support his efforts, and certainly his language, but many seem critical of his failure to translate it into action. His actions of continuing the war in Afghanistan, failure to release the photos of Abu Grahib and of course his failure to abolish the military tribunals. I point out that he likely did not release the photos because they would have re-ignited opposition around the world at a time in which he preferred to approach the Muslim world with his Cairo speech and reaching out. The speech and bridge building would have been destroyed and much time lost in building a safer world. On the tribunals, I suspect his decision to “tweek” the process will have the same effect, for if you require due process, throw out confessions under torture and mandate specific evidence most of the cases will be dismissed. For me, the “war” in Afghanistan and into Pakistan is more troubling. I think he should use creativity in calling the “war” a mistake and that these should be treated as crimes with an international body like the ICC set to handle the cases. A war only breeds fear and fuels the arms industry. The acts of 9/11 etc were crimes and should be treated as such - people caught and prosecuted for such crimes.

Currently I am listening to a delegate from Bangladesh share what is going on for lawyers and struggles there for democracy. A government was supposed to transfer power, but failed to do so and the lawyers and others had to fight for it. Vanessa Ramos, the President of the America Association of Jurists (AAJ) spoke on Latin America and the increased peace in the region. The India Association of Lawyers has a large delegation here and they are now presenting on their efforts on peace-building and their support for the Pakistan lawyers - of which there are several here who were detained and arrested during the struggle when the Supreme Court justices were removed.

A delegate from North Korea just got up and passionately spoke about his lawyers organization’s efforts to support movements around the world for peace and self-determination. He told the group that in 2005 he had visited South Korea for some time and that the South Korean lawyers groups and peace groups are very supportive as well of the goal of the Koreas to uphold their agreement of June 15, 2000 to work toward reunification. The two lawyers here from DPRK have been very active participants. I am pleasantly surprised to have had this time to meet and interact and always feel more hopeful when I find people from North Korea who share similar views with many peace-loving Americans.

The world seems so much smaller and more manageable here. Regardless of the impact of IADL around the world, which of course is limited, the collective force of the work of those associated with it play a clear role in creating a more just and fair world. Yet, at times an IADL resolution has put pressure on a government to take action and the work of these lawyers has saved countless lives. Also, one can never underestimate the power of playful and creative exchange!
Posted by Eric Sirotkin Ashland Oregon

Eric's Talk on the RIght to Peace in Korea at IADL

The Right to Peace in Korea with Eric Sirotkin at IADL Congress Hanoi from Eric Sirotkin's Ubuntuworks on Vimeo.

Dan and Lincoln's Research Night Out

President of Vietnam comes to IADL

Vietnamese President Nguyen Minh Triet at the XVII International Association of Democratic Lawyers Congress from Eric Sirotkin's Ubuntuworks on Vimeo.

Incident at Hoan Kiem Lake

This is my first time in Asia and my first IADL Congress and the combination is pretty mind-blowing. I'm taking the day off from the Congress today (the "commissions" are over and today is the organizational day, elections, etc) to spend my brithday paying my respects to Ho Chi Minh and trying to write my thoughts down before they abandon me.

I've been starting every day at 5:30, walking the few blocks thru the old quarter from the great little hotel Eric found for us to the gorgeous Hoan Kiem lake, to join literally thousands of local people doing everything from tai chi to aerobics to fan dances to badminton with and without nets and with raquets or feet, to solitary meditation, to just walking around the lake in a huge river of people. The ubiquitous motorbikes are few and far between at that hour and the lake is as calm and reflective as the people.

Yesterday I did my qigong at the far end of the lake near where a young man was up to his neck in the water, slowly walking around and apparently picking occasional plastic bottles out of the water. I quickly realized he was developmentally disabled in some way. (More Agent Orange?) His mouth was open with a frozen surprised expression on his face. He started submerging and coming up with various things from the bottom of the lake and looking them over and holding them up to the sky -- a beautiful blue and white vase, a mucky woodframed screen, and then an amazing ceramic sculpture with a golden dragon and colorful creatures, which was partly covered with snails from the lake. He noticed me looking at him and brought the sculpture over to me as if to offer it to me. I bowed and smiled and pointed to him, as if to say no, it's yours. Suddenly there were two young cops by my side. Apparently, it's illegal to swim in the lake and they wanted him to get out. But instead of yelling at him or threatening him they spoke gently to him and soon there was a crowd of 50-100 people all trying to talk him out of the lake. No one taunted him, no one yelled at him, everyone was gentle and concerned. I had to leave to catch the bus for the Congress so I didn't see the end. But I heard a breaking sound as I was leaving and I found a broken piece of the blue and white vase when I went back this morning, so I think he may have thrown the vase on the concrete bank of the lake, perhaps not understanding that it would break or perhaps trying to fend off the people. Most mysterious. I'm telling about this because the gentle way the people responded seems to typify the social interaction I've observed. Maybe it's not socialism. Maybe it's Asia. It's definitely not what would have happened in a city in the US.

Susan Scott
Inverness, CA
Co-chair NLG IC and Task Force on the Americas

Globalization and Economic, Social and Cultural Human Rights

There is a lot of discussion about action on economic, social and cultural human rights on the agenda, especially with the economic downturn. The downturn is hitting the working poor, youth and women especially hard; all around the world.

It is well known that many of the debts which cripple developing countries were assumed by illegitimate leaders (ie, military dictators) or corrupt ones, but what is less clear is how to create a process for sorting out these loans and forgiving debts that are unfair.

One good proposal that has been floated is to create a legal framework (probably an arbitration system) with guidelines to forgive all debt that was assumed by illegitimate leaders or legislative bodies, and/or all debt which would stunt progress on the Millennium Development Goals.

Lincoln Ellis (NLG student member)

Where do we go from here?

Much of what has been posted on this blog has been about the personal experiences and observations of our delegation. These things have certainly provided depth and color for our readers. They give insight into the culture of Vietnam, not to mention the many and diverse cultures, backgrounds and experiences of the attendees.

But it is important to recognize that we must be about more than building individual relationships, as important as they are. And we must do more than inform others of the value of such relationships. The purpose of the congress, the purpose of our traveling half-way around the world, is greater. As Marx said, it is not enough to understand the world, the point is to change it.

And it is not enough to share with others our experiences in Vietnam. The point is to use those experiences to build a united global movement to defend and expand human rights around the world. It is critical that we develop lasting organizational ties with the IADL and its member organizations and that we become greater than the sum of our parts. While personal friendships developed are meaningful and valuable, we are obligated to transform those friendships into alliances in defense of the oppressed and exploited and in opposition to imperialist war and imperial domination.

We in the United States -- in the belly of the beast -- have many responsibilities:

** We must support the demand for reparations and justice raised by the Vietnamese victims of Agent Orange

** We must not only defend Japan's peace constitution, but bring Article 9 home to the United States

** We must ensure the growth of the movement for boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel

** We must continue to support the Pakistani lawyers movement

** We must support Filipino lawyers and judges who are faced with assassination, disappearance and prosecution for defending human rights against the Arroyo regime

The list goes on. It demands immediate attention and organizational struggle. If this blog does not inspire us to redouble our efforts, we have not expressed ourselves well enough. And if those of us who came to Hanoi are not still engaged next year and beyond, we will have some nice memories, but we will have betrayed ourselves and the movement for lasting peace, true justice and a better world.

Un otro mundo es posible.

David Gespass

Monday, June 8, 2009

Brief Reflection

I will be forever grateful to all of those who encouraged and made it financially possible for me to attend the IADL Congress in Hanoi. I am a 3rd year law student at Loyola College of Law in New Orleans, Louisiana and am plan several of our Guild's events and programs. The time at the Congress has been very inspiring and educational for me. Through meeting delegates from countries that we seldom have an opprotunity to share stories, meals, and time with (ex.- Bangladesh, Lebanon, Colombia, North Korea), I have gained a better understanding of what it means to be a people's lawyer in the context of international law. To daily hear the stories of struggles and hope by lawyers who practice and study the law with an economics and global perspective has been a moving experience. I have made much progress in my own way of seeing the practice of law as an organic and holistic journey for justice. While it's easy to get discouraged with our ideals of a more peaceful and loving world, there is so much beauty and hope to be found in the stories of ordinary people whose voices have been heard because a people's lawyer was able to make the law accessible to the oppressed and/or voiceless.

Alison McCrary

Photos of Titles of Break-Out Sessions at the Congress


I hinted at the idea of balance in my first post, but I wanted to expand upon it in light of our congress. I ran into some Americans the other morning who said they had been coming to Hanoi every year or so since the early 1990's and said that at that time, there were no cars and all of the motorbikes here now were bicycles then. Old Hanoi had certainly changed, but there were still vestiges of that time and I didn’t get the feeling that the people here were as frenetic as the pace seemed to suggest. There seems to be a certain balance between the pace and the culture. Amidst madness on the streets, there is no “road rage”—in fact it seems like people think it’s hysterical when the traffic gets out of control. Yesterday, I watched as ten or so motorbikes tried to untie an impossible entanglement in a narrow alley and the level of stress never seemed to escalate. Maybe I made more of this occurrence than it deserved, but that could never happen in the high stress world of Los Angeles.
Amidst the development in Vietnam, it needs to be able to develop in way that balances respect for culture, the environment, and social rights. I suppose that the mere fact that GDP gores up doesn’t necessarily mean that development is taking place if these aspects of society are not considered and protected.
I hope that as lawyers we are able to achieve balance as well. I think that most people would observe our congress and accuse us of being idealists in some way and feel that the world we envision cannot be achieved. I disagree. First, I think that it takes a certain level of realism to recognize the problems of our world and to decide to try and face them head on, not just by protests (which can also be effective), but also by addressing the fundamental deficiencies in our system, the clear injustices allowed by our institutions of power and the global and holistic impact (economic, social, cultural and environmental impacts) of our actions. We have discussed the right to peace, the need for an independent judiciary, the need for prosecution of crimes against humanity and the requirement to respect the rights of workers and the environment.
We tend to place seemingly conflicting ideas on opposite ends of a spectrum—liberalism versus conservatism, tradition versus progress, industrialization versus environmentalism and idealism versus realism for example. Our challenge is to find harmony between these ideas because it is only by realizing this balance that we are going to be able to move forward in a healthy and sustainable way.
How do we accomplish this harmony? Quite simply, a balanced and well informed approach necessitates awareness which is accomplished by discussion and transparency. President Obama was recently criticized for his frequent acknowledgment of “extreme Islam” during his recent speech in Cairo. By doing so, it was argued that Obama empowered these radical religious groups and endangered both the United States and its allies by doing so. In fact, I would argue that the opposite is true. By opening the lines of communication and recognizing the presence of these religious views in a high profile situation, Obama humanized this group of people and by doing so, the unknown becomes known and the menacing becomes manageable.
By creating transparency and dialogue, fear is reduced and common interests can be recognized. In other words, peace becomes possible. When Obama said in his Cairo speech that his name was in fact Barack Hussein Obama and that he had Muslim blood lines somewhere in his ancestry, he created common ground which could be more easily traversed. In breaking from the “you are either with us or against us” mentality of the prior administration which was used to create fear and animosity, Obama has attempted to say “you are us and we are you.” We have common desires. We have common needs. We have common goals. In an increasingly interdependent world, we can only accomplish those goals by working together and creating solid relationships with one another. Competition must be transformed into cooperation. Obviously this can only be done through communication which can lead to understanding and respect. These realities must be allowed to permeate our system.
Balance will allow us to create a system where we are able to justify what has historically been understood to be diametrically opposed. Balance will allow us to accomplish development as well as conservation. Working to attain balance will force us to consider to holistic effects of our actions. We are but one living organism on this planet and it is only through the effective imposition of peace that we will not only survive, but thrive.
This seems to be one of the goals of this conference and to have the opportunity to sit in the same room as progressive lawyers from all over the world whose collective focus is to reshape the system of law and politics to allow for greater equality and peace is both beautiful and incredibly powerful.
Dan Parziale, Loyola Law School

Amazing Experience

This IADL, as with the previous Congress we attended in Paris in 2000, has been an extremely heady experience. As much as it strengthens and informs our work as Guild lawyer and legal worker to gather with others doing the same or similar work around the country, multiply that 1,000 fold to meet and discuss stratgy with lawyers doing similar work around the worldespecially in these times when the crushing boot heel of repression of dissent remains astride the Constitution.

I've had the privilege of being able to compare notes with lawyers doing mass defense work almost identical to mine in Britain, Turkey, Belgium, etc. It is immensely powerful to know how many of us engaged in similar struglles and building common ground around the world.

There's common work for Guild Lawyers doing everything from employment to fighting anti-terrorism laws, to feminist lawe, anti-globalization, you name it.

I participated in the track devoted to anti-terrorism laws. Many great presenters attacked the substance and theory of that legislation. In addition we discussed building a strategy to get those laws scrapped, and strategies for winning freedom for the Cuban Five.

Meanwhile, Filipino people's lawyers get to talk with those in Indonesia, Belguim, Columbia. the Western Sahara,a nd yes, even the US.

WHere else would you hear a Cuban attorney followed by an Iraqi human rights lawe discussing what to do about US imperials. You're certainly not going to hear that conversation in the States.

Larry Hildes

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Student meeting agenda

This is a quick post to solicit input from law students who may be reading this blog. There will be a student meeting at the IADL on Tuesday, and we'd love to hear from you about what issues are important to law students from around the world. You can let us know in the comment section.

Impressions of Hanoi

First I want to thank all of the people who made it possible for me to be here-Loyola Law School, Ami Silverman, Sterling Franklin and the National Lawyers Guild-thank you for your generosity.

One of the first things I said about Hanoi was that it was a beautiful and chaotic city, but after a few days I have to say that it is a whole lot more. During the midday, getting across the street is an adventure--thousands of motorbikes moving in all directions at the same time with the streets lined with markets of every type but in the mornings there is none of this. I was able to get up around 4:30 the other morning and walk to the lake in the Old District and it was silent. Hundreds of people walking around the lake, doing thai chi, and meditating--preparing for the day. It was the sort of balance that we oftentimes forget to strive for in the United States and one that I think defines life here in Hanoi. The people are intense, but kind and personal. The food is overwhelming, but you cant get enough of it and the age of the city is balanced by the energy and vitality of it.

I am honored to be here as a student representing Loyola Law School in Los Angeles and I am eager to learn as much about this place as I can. I am attaching a couple of pictures I took while at the lake.

Photos from the First Two Days:

American Law Students with the British and Filipino Delegation!

Notes from Commission VI: Accountability for International Crimes


Panel: Jonathan Moore (Police brutality lawyer in NEW YORK); Jeanne Mirer (Sec-Gen, IADL), Mr. Hoang The Li (Dep. Minister of Vietnam Lawyer's Association), Mr. Mario Joseph (Lawyer, Haiti)

General Theme -- Questions of Reparations for victims of war, slavery, unjust intervention.

Accountability for International Crimes

Sunday June 7, 2008

A. Mr. Hoang The, Deputy Minister of

a. Crucial for us to guarantee justice for human beings

b. When looking at the international community, we must see individuals as we see ourselves

c. Questions raised

i. Feasibility of compensation for victims?

ii. Responsibility of the government in the legal system within each country?

iii. Is it feasible for us to expand the scope of accountability to third parties?

iv. What is the role of the International Criminal Court?

1. It needs to be an effective instrument for justice

2. ICC needs to ensure justice in the daily lives of people

3. How should the ICC interfere with roles of national governments?

v. Clarify the following:

1. Judicial rights? DO judicial rights affect the sovereignty of each nation?

2. Focus on corporate accountability and responsibility

3. Define the responsibilities of corporations in relation to the crimes committed

d. We need to look at the efforts made by different nations and come together in unity for each other’s concerns

B. Morning Session: Compensation ad legal responsibilities

a. Compensation for victims of Agent Orange- a presentation by Nguyen Dac Nhu-Mai of Vietnam

b. Chemical warfare under the US program,

c. US Army sprayed over 10,000 chemical substances over the area of

d. Tons of timber have been lost and millions of people have been victims of this chemical warfare

e. Affects the world ecological system.

f. Affected Vietnamese and American soldiers

g. Agent Orange was the most toxic substance used- Dioxin

h. A remedy depends on the amount of intake of the toxic substance- some cause cancer, others death

i. Crimes have cause pain, suffering, and anguish to 3-4 million people and their families (majority are civilians).

j. US Army has used more than 3,000 tons of toxic substances. Entire populations in Vietnam have been wiped out, especially in the mountains

k. Average amount is 360 kg of agent orange used during the chemical warfare in southern Vietnam.

l. We need to analyze the land of Vietnam in relation to this toxic substance. The toxic level created by the US Army on the Vietnamese land is the highest in the world.

m. We need to reduce the toxic levels.

n. The levels of toxins in the land are thousands times greater than the minimum environmental regulations set forth by the US government.

o. Average amount of toxins in blood is 1.9% PPT.

p. Government has recognized the need to help the people affected by this chemical warfare.

q. Vietnamese scientists have carried out and we receive a lot of assistance from the international community

r. Agent Orange has had a negative effect on the people and 3-4 generations from the victims.

s. Chemical warfare is not a weapon of mass destruction for just one generation but a weapon of mass destruction for many generations to come and long-term effects on the soil, air, and water in the area.

t. The US government knew the effects of this substance on the land.

u. US violated international law: Geneva Convention in 2005.

v. People must be held accountable for their crimes.

w. – section on website address international campaigns.

x. Compensation for Vietnamese victims of Agent Orange is an international campaign.

y. The issues explained on the website will be elaborated in the future.

C. Afternoon Session: Comprehensive Remedy and responsibility of the International Court

a. Mr. Mario Joseph of Haiti

i. Haiti was the first to carry out the revolution

ii. Haitians have been killed by US troops so they could explore our gold mines.

iii. The US has exploited worked.

iv. Haitians suffer from the long term effects of colonialism.

v. Many Haitians still live in exile.

vi. In 1904, the French colonialized.

vii. Haitians have been liberalized and we have created a nation-wide solidarity campaign to fight against exploitation.

viii. UN needs to send a special envoy to Haiti to prevent Haitians from being victims of unrest.

ix. Haitians are helpless because the United States prevents stabilization.

x. Haiti would like for more people globally to be aware of their situation.

b. Korea Democratic Lawyers Association from People’s Democratic Republic of Korea

i. Crimes committed before 1945 against the Asian people by Japan

ii. Slavery crimes are still committed today.

Madame Mai:

- Technical aspects of Int’l Court of Conscience for victims of Agent Orange in Vietnam.

o Organized by IADL: Consisted of 7 Int’l Lawyers

- Present photos of court held in Court, 15-16 May, 2009.

- Testimony presented by victims: “Justice for Vietnam Ribbons”

o Vietnamese civilians, former US GIs, GIs from other nations like South Korea involved.

- War Crime under Art 6(b) of Nuremburg Convention – using dioxin is a war crime.

o War also pronounced illegal/unjust

o Intergenerational Ramifications

- Verdict: USG & companies complicit in atrocities are responsible for compensation to victims

o Amount is yet to be calculated

o And the amount should be transferred over a period of 4 weeks.

Lawyer & Professor of Law in Vietnam: Prof. Liew Win Dat (?)

- Three Points:

o Who are the perpetrators of crime?

o How to ask for compensation to USG & Companies?

o What should be the guiding principal for compensation?

- Intl Crim Law insuff to fit the context of this situation à doesn’t include crimes committed by ecoside

- Effects of Ecoside

o Damage of human health not sufficient. This was used as a mechanism to commit genocide – despite controversy

o USG & Companies have not recognized their rights as neither participated in Tribunal.

§ Problems: (1) how can we engage them in enforcing the Tribunal’s decision?

· Perhaps the UN? Potentially with UN’s HRC?

§ (2) Estimating damages

o Why did they still commit these crimes knowing they were int’l crimes? Especially applicable to Iraq…

- Ends with Ho Chi Minh quote: “unite, unite, unite…success, success, success”

- Recommendations:

o Not solely Vietnamese but a global issue – holding US accountable for their responsibility

o Attain Success Now or in the Future.

Jeannie Mirer:

- Unsuccessful in US Courts – it was a legal weapon bc it was a herbicide and there was no int’l law classifying dioxin as illegal – loss of life and property was pronounced collateral damage

- There have hearings on this in the US congress, so perhaps resolution through legislative means, but long struggle.

- Link to IADL’s int’l campaign for Vietnamese victims of Agent Orange.

- Q: In the proceedings going fwd in US Congress, are the claims of Vietnamese being combined with claims of US Veteran? Would it be of any benefit to take this claim in fornt of the HRC to embarrass the US, and perhaps lead to some sort of settlement?

- A (Moore): There was a case filed in 1979 re injuries caused by exposure to Dioxin; ready for trial 1984, only against chemical industry, not USG (couldn’t do it), and they settled for $180 million; very small amount for catastrophic damages. “best they could do at that point”

o Veterans whose illnesses revealed after the settlement were first rejected (collateral estoppels) but then later permitted by the SCOTUS; yet then the case of Vietnamese seeking compensation was dismissed by all courts.

o Change towards US vets in 1990s – US Vets began being compensated for injuries ssustained by Agent Orange as long as they can show they served in Vietnam during the period Agent Orange was used, and they were in the area that it was sprayed, and they had an illness identified by US Inst of Medicine that is caused by Agent Orange.

o As of 2005, 160,000 US Veterans receiving full compensation for Agent Orange related illness, despite their level of exposure was very short, where as the Vietnamese lived under this for three years.

o Currently $1.5B spent annually on compensating US Vets.

o This is gravely iniquitous and by setting up tribunals like Paris, we are trying to build world opinion on this issue. Those who paid for these toxins, who made them, knowing their consequences should pay for it.

o There is an effort to bring this claim to HRC and working with reps in Geneva.

- Comment: Fabio: No question there is an int’l crime, and a denial of justice by the USG bc there was no oppt given by the US to bring claims This case should characterize IADL for the coming years along with the Cuban five.

o Mechanisms: (1) HRC, (2) bring a resolution in front of the UN GA, following art 86 of the UN Charter to bring this issue in front of the ICJ for a consultative opinion.

§ Issues to ask: violation of crimes, denial of justice, consequences 1 & 2.

§ The ICJ can give a consultative opinion.

- Vietnamese Doctor, Emotional Account:

o Birth defects on those affected. She personally experienced the effects of the war, but what she is saddened by the impacts of US on Vietnamese environment, land, and people. Unfair that US Vets are compensated, but not Vietnamese people.

- Mr. Hasan from Lebanon: There are common issues bt situation of Vietnam and Lebanon – wants to collaborate on finding a solution. Reasons why they share the problem:

o Problems with HRC: no enforcement mechanism, no legal voice, jus community voice to create pressure.

o Bring the case to International Courts, write all of the legal bases for this case and raise in the ICJ – two bases:

§ (1) against one nation that has caused int’l crimes and US should bear the responsibility in front of the int’l criminal tribunal

§ (2) There are individual grievances – and bring this case to UNSC to seek resolution from them, Art. 337. Art. 22 in UN Charter concerning establishment of ad hoc commission or agencies to deal with such problems

§ (3) Get USG & Companies to acknowledge chemical warfare.

Mr. Mario Joseph (Haiti)

- Haiti was one of the first nations to be a victim of neoliberal economic reforms.

- Shares impact of imperialism, especially US-led attacks (since 1915) for Haiti’s ‘gold mines’

- US set up a puppet regime in Haiti & recruited many people to extract gold – leading to victimization of Haitian people. Many Haitians live in exile.

- After gaining independence, French has paid $150 million for exploitation of ancestors, but such an amount is both insufficient and insignificant compared to the damages incurred.

- Goal: Prevent extraction and exploitation of natural resources.

- Since 2004, Haiti has been led by a US led commission to stabilize Haiti’s political situation.

o 2003, there was political unrest, UN intervened to stabilize the political situation there and the unrest spread to the D.R.

o 2004, President was kidnapped & UNSC created a resolution calling upon US & Canada to send peace troops to stabilize the conditions on the island.

- Seeks the UN to send special rapporteur to Haiti to stop/report on the attacks there, especially attacks on innocent individuals.

- No justice attained for ‘extrajudicial killings’ and US military intervention.

- Q: How did UN troops arrive in Haiti? What’s the Rule of Law like in Haiti?

- Q: (from Korean Democratic Lawyers Committee) DPRK: crimes committed by Japan against Asians, unless the past is corrected properly – future cannot be corrected.

o Issue of comfort women, forced labor of 6 million Korean, forcefully drafted millions of Asian people, slavery

o Apologize and compensate Japan, in accordance with Geneva convention, violations of Koreans in Japan, UDHRs, etc.

o He asks for establishment for another tribunal.

Right to Peace:

- Japan in Somalia:

o Japan has a peace Constitution but it sent a troops to Somalia with guns

o They would have fired if they had found weapons on a Malta ship – these ships sent were patrol aircrafts. This would be a change in policy because before it was supposed to be completely defensive. Now Japan is trying to make these arrangements permanent.

o Historical background to Pirates firing Japanese ships – acts of piracy have become frequent due to development crisis there: government collapse so they cannot control their territorial waters, they do not have control over their territory, giving rise to Islamic warlord forces

o What is needed is to improve economic situation—int’l cooperation to rebuilding the country so they don’t have to resort to piracy.

o UN GA responded under Chap 7, that use of naval vessels and use of force – same as Bush response after 9.11.

o US is considering bombing strongholds of pirates on ground. What japan is doing with patrol aircrafts is participating in US opearations to end piracy. This violates US convention of law of sea wheich tries to contorl priacy as crimes, but not without military response.

o This response would instead of eradicating problem would make pirates heroes in their nations.

o New challenges to protect peace constition:

§ Japan has never sent combat forces aborad.

§ Self defense forces have NEVER fired forces—but this situation permits such a situation from arising.

- Eric Svodkin, NLG, Korean Peace Project:

o We have normalized relations with Vietnam, exchanged ambassadors – but we have failed to do that with DPRK.

o No relations and no basis for conversation. There is no way to peace, peace is the way (Gandhi)

o Why isn’t state recognition a prerequisite to negotiations – state of war continues.

o In 1953, with no peace treaty, only with an armistice agreement to stop shooting. It required parties to get together to negotiate a peace treaty, there was a meeting in Europe but there were no discussions since until recently.

o Maintaining a virtual state of war and run war games on border, embargoes, and little dialogue, state of world peace is in jeapordy.

o We need peace bc:

§ (1) Legal Right to Peace. UN resolution 3911 – it is the people’s right to peace—not governments. It demands states eliminate war and threat of war ; int’l diputes settled through peaceful means; states hae to d otheri upmost for people’s right to peace.

§ What has happened in Korea? People’s right to peace.

§ Urging all nations to start a peace project on Korea…What does the Korean conflict bring to us?

· Nuclear Non-Proliferation of ALL countries

· Issues of mass-war crimes and massacres.

o Learn about the shocking instances war in South Korea.

· SK govt Truth & Reconciliation Commission found 100,000+ killed by SK & US forces beforethe war even began.

· Fear in Japan that is used as a reason to repeal Art. 9

o Peace in NE Asia s Close. This is because both sides have unification ministers, and draft plans on reunification, but it has often been the US & Japan that have stood in the way of peace in Korea.

o This issue brings the problem of abuse of UN powers. Using UN banner to carry out atrocities across in Korean war

o NO exit strategy for 28,000 troops in SK!! We need to move out today

- Under Right to Peace : we need to stand firm with People of Korea that they have a right to peace.

- Importance of this mission:

o Goal is to support reunification of N-S Korea, while showing solidarity, and currentl militarism of the US is misguided.

o UN must continue efforts to pursue rights to peace in the future.

- We can no longer afford a culture of war, and shirfiing our culture from mainitaing a astate of war to a state of peace.

- Currently, US spends more in Korea than the US spends on MDG agenda on human security, human rights & education.

- Focus NOT on the past – but on the future. Building a peace culture.

Accountability for Int’l Crimes:

Mr. Hasan Juni, Lebanon:

- Holding US companies accountable for producing weapons used against middle eastern people.

- Using CIL and international universal jurisdiction in bringing such cases. The courts in Spain did not respond to our concerns because they did not receive anything from Israel.

- Universal jurisdiction needs to become less rigid, and the Geneva Conventions need to be implemented and executed globally.

- Discussed role of international judicial institutions in bringing peace.

- Subjectively, he is unsure about int’l jurisdiction, but we need int’l solidarity to attain justice, bc currently we feel that we are living in a world without justice. How can we tweak existing organizations to deliver the basic promises of UDHRs.

Dr. Lee Duk Han, Universal Jurisdiction:

- Three points:

o 1) the scale of jurisdiction

o 2) impact of such jurisdiction

o 3) challenges facing them..

A. Writ of Amparo (for property and humans): Extrajudicial Killings in the Philippines

a. Representative of Parliament, Neri Colmenares

b. Escalating human rights violations

i. Enforced or involuntary disappearance

ii. Extra judicial killings

iii. Impunity

c. Under the Arroyo government between Jan 21, 2001 to September 31, 2008, many people disappeared. Many were murdered with no investigation.

d. Make sure that laws are passed so the perpetrators can be prosecuted

e. Writ of Amparo was taken from the Mexican legal system and was imposed in the Philippines

f. In addition to the Writ of Amparo, they also have the Writ of Habeas Corpus.

i. It’s a remedy available whose right to life, liberty, and security is violated or threatened with violation by an unlawful act or omissions of a public official or employee.

ii. Who can file the Writ?

1. The aggrieved party or

2. Any qualified person

a. Any members of the immediate family of the aggrieved party

b. Any relative within the 4th degree

c. Any concerned citizen or association if there is no known members of the immediate family or relative of the aggrieved party.

iii. The petition may be filed at any day at any time with the Regional Trial Court of the place where the threat, act, or omission was committed.

g. The Writ of Amparo gives an opportunity where we can pierce through the veil of immunity and take a steps to hold the perpetrator accountable.

h. The judiciary has been very passive for a long time and now the Supreme Court has come in with the Writ of Amparo.

i. We need to find creative ways to hold governments accountable for their crimes.

j. We can creatively advance the struggle without abandoning the traditional means of bringing justice.

k. We must deal with these human rights violations systematically. We can use universal jurisdiction.

l. Lawyers in the Philippines (National Association of Peoples’ Lawyers) face extreme pressure in doing their work. One of our members were captured and the government was forced to release him only with pressure from outside lawyers in more powerful countries.

m. They need international lawyers to express concern when they are in the Philippines. Come to the Philippines to do a fact-finding mission so the People’s Lawyers in the Philippines can show us the situation.

n. When people from the countries of the UK, US, China, and the EU speak out, it saves lives. It saves murders, executions, extra judicial killings.

o. Certain governments are very important to the Philippines. The US and military aid is very important to the Philippine government

Documentary on Agent Orange -- *Absolutely Amazing*

Anurag Gupta & Alison McCrary