Exactly which of the following statements from yesterday’s proposed resolution of the American Society of International Law (ASIL) is political?
1. Resort to armed force is governed by the Charter of the United Nations and other international law (jus ad bellum)
2. Conduct of armed conflict and occupation is governed by the Geneva [Conventions] of August 12, 1949 and other international law (jus in bello)
3. Torture and cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment of any person in the custody or control of a state are prohibited by international law from which no derogations are permitted.
4. Prolonged, secret, incommunicado detention of any person in the custody or control of a state is prohibited by international law.
5. Standards of international law regarding treatment of persons extend to all branches of national governments, to their agents, and to all combatant forces.
6. In some circumstances, commanders (both military and civilian) are personally responsible under international law for the acts or their subordinates.
7. All states should maintain security and liberty is a manner consistent with their international law obligations.
(Leave aside the possibly Freudian slip by the scribe, who wrote “Contentions” for “Conventions” in paragraph two.)
This is actually pretty tame stuff. Statements 1-6 are pretty standard boilerplate recitations of well-known principles of international law. (For example, I think you would be hard-put to find a teacher of international law in any civilized country who would give a student credit for writing the opposite on a final exam.) Number seven just says that countries should follow the law.
So what is “political”? And if this is “political,” what’s non-political? Cowed silence in the face of barbarity?