"No peace without justice" has become more than a pious mantra in contemporary international relations. Since the end of the Cold War, the establishment of mechanisms for legal accountability has been part and parcel of the global conflict resolution toolkit. Ad hoc international or hybrid tribunals have been established after conflicts in the former Yugoslavia, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, East Timor, and Cambodia. Despite objections by the United States to specific problems with its mandate, an International Criminal Court (ICC) has been created and its prosecutor, Luis Moreno-Ocampo of Argentina, is currently investigating conflicts in Uganda and in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Our own reservations about certain aspects of this movement notwithstanding -- and to give credit where credit is due -- a large part of the rise of multinational tribunals is due to valiant efforts by individual human rights advocates. This is not just the latest make-work project by well-organized transnational non-governmental organizations.
On the other hand, it is striking that these same human rights groups are largely silent when it comes to demanding accountability for rights violations in the Middle East. Since we find implausible the idea that rights advocates somehow regard lives in the Levant as worth less than lives elsewhere, we query the lack of a call for international criminal prosecution for crimes against humanity. We believe the disdain shown for outrages in that region springs from a reluctance to publicize what they know will be the result of any objective, independent inquiry into the region: the systematic exposure of the so-called Arab resistance for what it is, a multinational organized criminal enterprise that flaunts the laws of civilized nations. Such publicity must not be tolerated.
Accordingly, groups like Human Rights Watch, which issues press releases accusing Israel of war crimes following the death of civilians in Qana, mentions Hezbollah's offenses (which of course include using the Qana residents as unwilling pawns) only as an afterthought. In so doing they knowingly sacrifice consistency and integrity for "relevance" (ephemeral publicity) and "solidarity" (political correctness).
What happens when we apply the standards of the recent jurisprudence of international criminal tribunals to Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah? Our conclusion is that he could easily be indicted under at least nine broad indictments -- with potentially thousands of individual counts -- of crimes against humanity, violations of "common Article 3" (of the Geneva Conventions and of Additional Protocol II), and other serious violations of international humanitarian law. Herewith, then, our indictment of Mr. Nasrallah:
1. Acts of Terrorism, a violation of Article 3 common to the Geneva Conventions and of Additional Protocol II. Members of Hezbollah, assisted and encouraged by and/or acting under the direction of Nasrallah, committed acts of violence to terrorize the civilian populations of Israel and other states. Hezbollah's campaigns of violence -- which have earned it a place on the terrorism lists of the U.S., Canada, Great Britain, the Netherlands, and Australia as well as Israel -- are a matter of public record. Limiting ourselves to major acts committed since Nasrallah took over Hezbollah leadership in 1992, the "acts of terrorism" imputable to him include the killing of four Kurdish activists in Berlin (1992); the bombing of the Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires (1992) which killed twenty-nine; and the bombing of the Jewish community center in Buenos Aires (1996), which killed ninety-five.
2. Murder, a crime against humanity as well as a violation of Article 3. Each victim who dies as a result of one of Hezbollah's terrorist attacks constitutes, of course, another count of murder in the bill of indictment against Nasrallah. These murder victims are a diverse group, by the way. Even as it is battling Israeli forces, Hezbollah has not scaled back its program of killing Lebanese civilians whom it perceives insufficiently enthusiastic about its "resistance," including eighteen "spies" executed in Tyre last week according to one press account.
3. Genocide and/or Incitement to Genocide, a crime against humanity. The Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide makes clear not only that genocide itself ("acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group") is forbidden, but also that conspiracy to commit it and/or direct and public incitement to genocide are criminal. The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda has interpreted these provisions to extend to broadcast and print media. With its vicious anti-Semitism, Hezbollah's Al-Manar satellite television station is such a grievous offender in this regard that even the normally accommodating French have banned its broadcasts.
4. Deliberate Targeting of Civilians, a war crime. Each one of the nearly two-thousand rockets, missiles, and other projectiles that Hezbollah has launched into Israeli territory -- almost all shot at random rather than aimed at specific military targets -- constitutes a separate count of an indictment.
5. Outrages upon Personal Dignity, a violation of Article 3. Among other incidents, one can mention the grotesque incident in 1997 which involved the literal butchering by Hezbollah activist (now Lebanese cabinet member) Mohammed Fneish and holding hostage of the remains of Israeli commandos killed in action, whose body parts were parceled out for "safekeeping" until Israel to agreed to release a number of imprisoned terrorists.
6. Violence to life, health and physical or mental well-being of persons, a violation of article 3 as well as a crime against humanity. Under this indictment one could include the use of civilians -- especially women and children -- as human shields or, as has been reported by numerous sources, the prevention of their flight for this reason. Even UN Coordinator for Humanitarian Action Jan Egelund complained: "When I was in Lebanon, in the Hezbollah heartland, I said Hezbollah must stop this cowardly blending in among women and children." The Australian Sunday Herald Sun has published exclusive photographs of Shi'a Hezbollah fighters deliberately using densely-populated Christian Wadi Chahrour (east of Beirut) as a launch pad for rockets and artillery.
7. Conscription of minors into armed groups or using them to participate actively in hostilities, a violation of international humanitarian law. Nasrallah himself has declared that there is no specific age when a child becomes an adult. Hezbollah's Al-Mahdi Brigades specifically target the under-15 age group for recruitment. The website of Hezbollah-affiliated Islamic Resistance Support Association profiles several minors who carried out armed attacks.
8. Pillage, a violation of Article 3. Virtually unreported in Western media has been the campaign of systematic violence that Hezbollah has carried out within Lebanon against Christian, Druze, and other non-Shi'a communities. The current fighting has not stopped pillagers from their depredations as the Druze villagers of Mari, just opposite the Israeli frontier town of Kiryat Shmona, found out last Saturday when Hezbollah showed up.
Nasrallah, both by his acts as well as his omissions, is criminally responsible for these and other crimes, having planned or indirectly ordered them, or aided and abetted their planning or commission. Furthermore, by holding his position as General Secretary of Hezbollah and exercising command and control over the subordinates who committed these acts, Nasrallah knew or had reason to know that these crimes were being committed. There is no evidence that he even contemplated taking the necessary and reasonable measures to prevent them.
In short, the case for prosecuting Hassan Nasrallah as an international criminal is open-and-shut. However, we are not holding our breath for the usual international justice advocates and NGOs to protest audibly -- or even to be vexed -- when the eventual United Nations-mandated "resolution" does not include any provision for proceedings against Nasrallah. Those who hope for an accounting may have to rely on a more elemental -- though no less righteous -- justice, such as the targeting mechanism of an Israeli missile system.
Michael I. Krauss is professor of law at George Mason University School of Law. J. Peter Pham is director of the Nelson Institute for International and Public Affairs at James Madison University. Both are adjunct fellows of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies.