The Geneva Convention and "Collective Punishment"

[Irish Times-Ireland] Sean Gannon - In 1942, after Nazi official Reinhard Heydrich was assassinated by the Czech underground, the SS rounded up the residents of the nearby village of Lidice. Some 200 men were immediately executed. Two years later, a partisan bomb killed 33 members of an SS police battalion in Rome. In reprisal, the following day, 335 Italians were taken down to the Ardeatine Caves and shot in the back of the neck. Such were the type of atrocities that the framers of the Fourth Geneva Convention had in mind when they outlawed "collective punishment" in 1949. Therefore, the constant invocation of the Geneva Convention by critics of Israel in the context of its lockdown of Gaza represents little more than a cynical exploitation of the language of international law, part of a well-established strategy which seeks to de-legitimize Israel. However, the legality of economic sanctions in conflict situations is enshrined in the UN Charter despite their unavoidable impact on civilians. The UN embargo against Saddam Hussein's regime caused enormous suffering among ordinary Iraqis. Yet no one accuses the Security Council of imposing "collective punishment." The Fourth Geneva Convention does not obligate the supply of goods and services to enemy populations other than "essential foodstuffs, clothing and tonics intended for children under 15, expectant mothers and maternity cases."

2008-08-15 01:00:00

Full Article


Visit the Daily Alert Archive