Lousie Arbour
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Lousie Arbour
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avgust 20, 2008

















Louise Arbour:
Unindicted War Criminal
by Christopher Black and Edward S. Herman

Among the many ironies of the NATO war against Yugoslavia was the role of the International Criminal Tribunal and its chief prosecutor, Louise Arbour, elevated by Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien to Canada's highest court in 1999. It will be argued here that as Arbour and her Tribunal played a key role in EXPEDITING war crimes, an excellent case can be made that in a just world she would be in the dock rather than in judicial robes.

Arbour To NATO's Rescue

In the midst of NATO's 78-day bombing campaign against Yugoslavia, Arbour participated in an April 20 press conference with British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook to receive from him documentation on Serb war crimes. Then on May 27, Arbour announced the indictment of Serb President Slobodan Milosevic and four of his associates for war crimes. The inappropriateness of a supposedly judicial body doing this when Germany, Russia and other powers were trying to find a diplomatic resolution to the conflict, was staggering.

At the April 20 appearance with Cook, Arbour stated that

"It is inconceivable...that we would agree to be guided by the political will of those who may want to advance an agenda." But her appearance with Cook and the followup indictments fitted perfectly the needs of the NATO leadership. There had been growing criticism of NATO's increasingly civilian infrastructure-oriented bombing of Serbia. Arbour's and the Tribunal's intervention declaring the Serb leadership to be guilty of war crimes was a public relations coup that justified the NATO policies and helped permit the bombing to continue and escalate. This was pointed out repeatedly by NATO leaders and propagandists: for example, Madeleine Albright noted that the indictments

"make very clear to the world and the publics in our countries that this [NATO policy] is justified because of the crimes committed, and I think also will enable us to keep moving all these processes [i.e., bombing] forward" (CNN, May 27).

Arbour herself noted that "I am mindful of the impact that this indictment may have on the peace process," and although indicted individuals are "entitled to the presumption of innocence until they are convicted, the evidence upon which this indictment was confirmed raises serious questions about their suitability to be guarantors of any deal, let alone a peace agreement." (CNN, May 27). So Arbour not only understood the political significance of her indictment, she suggested that interference with diplomatic efforts was justified because the indicted individuals, though not yet found guilty, were not suitable to negotiate. This hugely unjudicial political judgment, along with the convenient timing of the indictments, points up Arbour's and the Tribunal's highly political role.

The Tribunal's Politicization

Arbour's service to NATO in indicting Milosevic was the logical outcome of the Tribunal's de facto control and purpose. Established by the Security Council in the early 1990s to serve the Balkan policy ends of its dominant members, the Tribunal's funding and interlocking functional relationship with the leading NATO powers have made it NATO's instrument.

Although Article 32 of the Tribunal's Charter declares that its expenses shall be provided in the general budget of the United Nations, this proviso has been regularly violated. In 1994-1995 the U.S. government provided it with $700,000 in cash and $2.3 million in equipment, and numerous other U.S.-based governmental and non- governmental agencies have provided the Tribunal with resources.

Article 16 of the Tribunal's charter states that the Prosecutor shall act independently and shall not seek or receive instruction from any government. This section also has been systematically violated. NATO sources have regularly made claims suggesting their authority over the Tribunal: "We will make a decision on whether Yugoslav actions against ethnic Albanians constitute genocide," states a USIA Fact Sheet, and Cook asserted at his April 20 press conference with Arbour that "we are going to focus on the war crimes being committed in Kosovo and our determination to bring those responsible to justice, " as if he and Arbour were a team jointly deciding on who should be charged for war crimes.

Tribunal officials have even bragged about "the strong support of concerned governments and dedicated individuals such as Secretary Albright," further referred to as "mother of the Tribunal" (by Judge Gabrielle Kirk McDonald, president of the Tribunal). In 1996 Arbour met with the Secretary-General of NATO and its supreme commander to "establish contacts and begin discussing modalities of cooperation and assistance." Numerous other meetings have occurred between prosecutor and NATO, which was given the function of Tribunal gendarme.

Arbour acknowleged (April 20) that "the real danger is whether we would fall into [following somebody's political agenda] inadvertently by being in the hands of information-providers who might have an agenda that we would not be able to discern." But even an imbecile could discern that NATO had an agenda and that simply accepting the flood of documents offered by Cook and Albright entailed ADVERTENTLY following that agenda. Arbour's April 20 reference to the "morality of the [NATO] enterprise" and her remarks on Milosevic's possible lack of character disqualifying him from negotiations, as well as her rush to help NATO with an indictment, point to quite clearly understood political service.

The Arbour-Tribunal bias was dramatically illustrated by the disposition of an internal Tribunal report on Operation Storm, which described war crimes committed by the Croatian armed forces in their expulsion of more than 200,000 Serbs from Krajina in August 1995. In only four days "at least 150 Serbs were summarily executed, and many hundreds disappeared," totals that exceeded the 241 victims of the Serbs named in the indictment of Milosevic. But as the United States supported the Croat's ethnic cleansing of Serbs in Krajina, and refused to provide requested information, no indictment of any Croat officer named in the report, or head of state Tudjman, was ever brought by the Tribunal.

Part 2