'Arrest Blair': British Journalist Offers a Reward for Arrest of 'War Criminal' Tony Blair
September 1, 2012 George Monbiot / George Monbiot & The Guardian & Tom Grundy / New Internationalist Blog
Commentary: "Today I am launching a new fund -- www.arrestblair.org -- to reward people who attempt to arrest the former prime minister.... Was the war with Iraq illegal? If the answer is yes, everything changes. The war is no longer a political matter, but a criminal one, and those who commissioned it should be committed for trial for what the Nuremberg Tribunal called “the supreme international crime” -- the crime of aggression."
Bounty Paid for Blair Arrest Attempt Payouts for attempts to arrest the former PM now exceed £10,000 George Monbiot / George Monbiot.com
LONDON (August 29, 2012) -- On Tuesday the Arrest Blair campaign will pay Tom Grundy £2,400 for his attempt to arrest Tony Blair during a public event in Hong Kong.
The campaign was established to uphold the principle that no one is above the law. The 2003 invasion of Iraq, commissioned by George W. Bush and Tony Blair, meets the definition of a crime against peace, established by the Nuremberg Principles(1) and described by the Nuremberg Tribunal as “the supreme international crime.”
The 2003 Iraq war caused the deaths of between 100,000 and one million people, depending on whose estimate you believe. A series of leaked documents shows that the Bush and Blair governments knew they did not possess legal justification(2,3). Without it, the war with Iraq was an act of mass murder, committed by those who launched it.
Though the former leaders of other states have been prosecuted under international law, none of those responsible for the Iraq war have yet been charged. The aim of Arrest Blair is to ensure that this illegal war is not forgotten, and to maintain international pressure for charges to be brought.
The campaign, which was set up in 2010 by the journalist George Monbiot(4), encourages people to attempt non-violent citizens' arrests of the former prime minister. Donations are made by the public to a bounty fund. When an attempt is judged to meet the Arrest Blair rules, a quarter of the money in the pot is paid to the person who carried it out(5). Tom Grundy's attempt is the fourth that meets the campaign rules. Almost £11,000 has now been paid(6).
Grundy, 29, sought to arrest Tony Blair while the former prime minister was speaking at Hong Kong University, on June 14th 2012. (You can read Tom Grundy's account of his attempt below.) The campaign has considered his attempt and decided that it qualifies for a share of the bounty. He is donating the money to various relevant charities.
1. Principle VI of the Nuremberg Principles says the following:
“The crimes hereinafter set out are punishable as crimes under international law:
(a) Crimes against peace:
(i) Planning, preparation, initiation or waging of a war of aggression or a war in violation of international treaties, agreements or assurances;
(ii) Participation in a common plan or conspiracy for the accomplishment of any of the acts mentioned under (i).”
2. For a summary of these documents and what they reveal, please see http://www.arrestblair.org/blairs-crimes
3. Articles 33 and 51 of the UN Charter list the conditions that must apply if a war is to have legal justification. None of these conditions were met by the governments of the United States or the United Kingdom. http://www.un.org/en/documents/charter/chapter6.shtml
LONDON (January 26, 2010) -- Today I am launching a new fund -- www.arrestblair.org -- to reward people who attempt to arrest the former prime minister
The only question that counts is the one that the Chilcot inquiry won't address: was the war with Iraq illegal? If the answer is yes, everything changes. The war is no longer a political matter, but a criminal one, and those who commissioned it should be committed for trial for what the Nuremberg Tribunal called “the supreme international crime”(1): the crime of aggression.
But there's a problem with official inquiries in the United Kingdom: the government appoints their members and sets their terms of reference. It's the equivalent of a criminal suspect being allowed to choose what the charges should be, who should judge his case and who should sit on the jury.
As a senior judge told the Guardian in November, “Looking into the legality of the war is the last thing the government wants. And actually, it's the last thing the opposition wants either because they voted for the war. There simply is not the political pressure to explore the question of legality -- they have not asked because they don't want the answer.”(2)
Others have explored it, however. Two weeks ago a Dutch inquiry, led by a former supreme court judge, found that the invasion had “no sound mandate in international law”(3). Last month the former law lord, Lord Steyn, said that “in the absence of a second UN resolution authorising invasion, it was illegal.”(4) In November Lord Bingham, the former lord chief justice, stated that, without the blessing of the UN, the Iraq war was “a serious violation of international law and the rule of law.”(5)
Under the UN Charter, two conditions must be met before a war can legally be waged(6). The parties to a dispute must first “seek a solution by negotiation” (Article 33). They can take up arms without an explicit mandate from the UN Security Council only “if an armed attack occurs against [them]” (Article 51).
Neither of these conditions applied. The US and UK governments rejected Iraq's attempts to negotiate(7). At one point the US State Department even announced that it would “go into thwart mode” to prevent the Iraqis from resuming talks on weapons inspection(8). Iraq had launched no armed attack against either nation.
We also know that the UK government was aware that the war it intended to launch was illegal. In March 2002, the Cabinet Office explained that “a legal justification for invasion would be needed. Subject to Law Officers' advice, none currently exists.”(9)
In July 2002, Lord Goldsmith, the attorney-general, told the prime minister that there were only “three possible legal bases” for launching a war: “self-defence, humanitarian intervention, or UNSC [Security Council] authorisation. The first and second could not be the base in this case.”(10) Bush and Blair later failed to obtain Security Council authorisation.
As the resignation letter on the eve of the war from Elizabeth Wilmshurst, then deputy legal advisor to the Foreign Office, revealed, her office had “consistently” advised that an invasion would be unlawful without a new UN resolution. She explained that “an unlawful use of force on such a scale amounts to the crime of aggression”(11). Both Wilmshurst and her former boss, Sir Michael Wood, will testify before the Chilcot Inquiry today (Tuesday). Expect fireworks.
Without legal justification, the war with Iraq was an act of mass murder: those who died were unlawfully killed by the people who commissioned it. Crimes of aggression (also known as crimes against peace) are defined by the Nuremberg Principles as “planning, preparation, initiation or waging of a war of aggression or a war in violation of international treaties”(12). They have been recognised in international law since 1945.
The Rome Statute, which established the International Criminal Court (ICC) and which was ratified by Blair's government in 2001(13), provides for the Court to “exercise jurisdiction over the crime of aggression”, once it has decided how the crime should be defined and prosecuted(14).
There are two problems. The first is that neither the government nor the opposition has any interest in pursuing these crimes, for the obvious reason that in doing so they would expose themselves to prosecution. The second is that the required legal mechanisms don't yet exist.
The governments which ratified the Rome Statute have been filibustering furiously to delay the point at which the crime can be prosecuted by the ICC: after eight years of discussions, the necessary provision still hasn't been adopted.
Some countries, mostly in eastern Europe and central Asia, have incorporated the crime of aggression into their own laws(15), though it is not yet clear which of them would be willing to try a foreign national for acts committed abroad. In the UK, where it remains illegal to wear an offensive T-shirt, you cannot yet be prosecuted for mass murder commissioned overseas.
All those who believe in justice should campaign for their governments to stop messing about and allow the International Criminal Court to start prosecuting the crime of aggression. We should also press for its adoption into national law. But I believe that the people of this nation, who re-elected a government which had launched an illegal war, have a duty to do more than that.
We must show that we have not, as Blair requested, “moved on” from Iraq, that we are not prepared to allow his crime to remain unpunished, or to allow future leaders to believe that they can safely repeat it.
But how? As I found when I tried to apprehend John Bolton, one of the architects of the war in George Bush's government, at the Hay festival in 2008(16), and as Peter Tatchell found when he tried to detain Robert Mugabe(17), nothing focuses attention on these issues more than an attempted citizen's arrest.
In October, I mooted the idea of a bounty to which the public could contribute, payable to anyone who tried to arrest Tony Blair if he became president of the EU(18). He didn't of course, but I asked those who had pledged money whether we should go ahead anyway. The response was overwhelmingly positive.
So today I am launching a website, www.arrestblair.org, whose purpose is to raise money as a reward for people attempting a peaceful citizen's arrest of the former prime minister. I have put up the first £100, and I encourage you to match it.
Anyone meeting the rules I've laid down will be entitled to one quarter of the total pot: the bounties will remain available for as long as Blair lives. The higher the reward, the greater the number of people who are likely to try.
At this stage the arrests will be largely symbolic, though they are likely to have great political resonance. But I hope that as pressure builds up and the crime of aggression is adopted by the courts, these attempts will help to press governments to prosecute. There must be no hiding place for those who have committed crimes against peace. No civilised country can allow mass murderers to move on.
14. Article 5.2, http://www.icc-cpi.int/NR/rdonlyres/EA9AEFF7-5752-4F84-BE94-0A655EB30E16/0/Rome_Statute_English.pdf
15. Astrid Reisinger Coracini, 2010. National Legislation on Individual Responsibility for Conduct Amounting to Aggression, in: Roberto Bellelli (ed.), International Criminal Justice. Lessons Learned and the Challenges Ahead (forthcoming).
(June 19, 2012) -- Last Thursday, I attempted a citizen's arrest of Tony Blair for crimes against peace as he was about to present a speech at Hong Kong University about faith. It seems particularly dubious for the ex-British Prime Minister to address the subject of religion, as he has done so much to enrage the Muslim world and thus set back religious tolerance by decades.
My confrontation with Blair came during the deadliest week of violence in Iraq since the US pull-out, and a day after the International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor asked judges to hand down their first sentence to a fellow war criminal, Congolese warlord Thomas Lubanga.
All current ICC investigations and prosecutions are related to African nations, yet Mr Blair's status as an ex-Western leader does not exempt him from its founding Rome Statute, to which Britain is a signatory.
Some will find the comparison absurd but there is little moral difference when the products of their respective leaderships were mass human rights violations against civilian populations.
Blair has requested that people 'move on' from the Iraq War yet, with documented civilian deaths now totalling at least 107,000, leading QC Michael Mansfield has confirmed that there now appears to be enough evidence to trigger an ICC investigation. Legally, the type of weaponry deployed in the war (depleted uranium and cluster bombs) can be described as 'indiscriminate', thus making him liable for mass civilian causalities.
As I put to Blair personally, he is answerable to the sixth 1950 Nuremburg Principle which forbids 'wars of aggression' and gave rise to the Rome Statute -- I also stated that he defied articles 31 and 51 of the UN Charter. Leaked Downing Street memos from 2002 reveal his determination to follow the US into Iraq despite knowing his government would be violating the two aforementioned UN articles, which would permit an invasion.
In fact, the later discredited evidence of Saddam's weapons of mass destruction was irrelevant to Blair as he admitted during the 2009 Chilcot Inquiry that he would have attacked Iraq regardless as to whether such WMDs were discovered.
Blair responded to the charges I put to him by joking to his audience how he's 'used to' such protests and how 'that's democracy for you.' I do not know whether he believes the incident showcased freedom of speech or whether he was lamenting such political rights, but Britons will be familiar with the erosion of civil liberties he brought about in the UK. His Orwellian legacy leaves fewer effective options remaining in the activist's toolbox.
Neither the coalition nor the opposition harbour much political appetite for a domestic criminal investigation, I therefore encourage members of the public to heed journalist George Monbiot's call to challenge Blair directly and pursue peaceful citizen's arrests against him.
My own attempt turned out to be the least controversial thing I'd ever done -- the public seemed unified across comment sections and social networks, from the left and right, that there is a strong case against him. However, he continues to travel freely around the world earning millions as head of a complex, opaque mix of political, business and philanthropic ventures. He commands huge sums from the financial industry and even accepted £13 million ($20.4 million) to advise brutal Kazakh autocrat Nursultan Nazarbayev.
It was improbable that Hong Kong police would uphold local law and frogmarch the ex-PM to The Hague, but there has been some success in renewing awareness of the outstanding legal questions.
One day, it is hoped the charges will stick and he may finally find himself in court. In the meantime, it is important that the pressure is maintained, that the media spotlight is constant and that Mr Blair rightly continues to feel the threat of prosecution wherever he goes.
Tom Grundy, 29, is a British activist based in Hong Kong. He is eligible for a bounty of £2400 ($3,760) from arrestblair.org for his arrest attempt, which he will donate to relevant charities such as the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights in Gaza.
Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.