Howard's comments on international court "disturbing"

Dr Anthony Burke

Dr Anthony Burke
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Tuesday, 18 June 2002

A University of Adelaide academic has urged the Australian government not to pull its support for the United Nations' International Criminal Court in the post September 11 climate.

Dr Anthony Burke, lecturer in International Relations at the University of Adelaide, says he's concerned about Prime Minister John Howard's comments in the US last week that he had heard "very powerful" arguments against the new International Criminal Court.

Dr Burke says this is a time when the UN's fundamental principles are under serious threat from a range of areas particularly from conservatives in the United States Congress and this could spell doom for the International Court.

"The US defiance of international law in its incarceration of Al Qaeda suspects in Cuba, and the new US doctrine of pre-emptive strike which directly contravenes the UN Charter, is of major concern. But equally disturbing is the US and Australian hostility to the International Criminal Court," Dr Burke says.

"Given the growing opposition to the ICC in Federal Cabinet, this raises the prospect of Australia refusing to ratify an agreement which both Foreign Minister Alexander Downer and Attorney General Daryl Williams support.

"The ICC is a landmark development in the enforcement of international human rights law, which is overdue given the manifest failings of the UN Human Rights Commission over its life."

Dr Burke is concerned that, when added to Australia's disregard for our obligations under the 1951 Convention and 1967 Protocol on refugees, and our indications of "understanding" of US actions in violation of international law, "the Howard Government is engineering a radical foreign policy shift away from Australia's strong traditions of internationalism and good international citizenship".

"This is a short-sighted approach which will damage the International Court and damage Australia's long term interests and security," he says.

Dr Burke, who is also the author of In Fear of Security: Australia's Invasion Anxiety, will speak TONIGHT on the theme "Good Global Governance: Can the UN Deliver?" at a forum organised by the Women's International league for Peace and Freedom (SA) and the South Australian Division of the United Nations Association of Australia.

Where: Coghlin Street Community Centre, 23 Coghlin St, Adelaide
When: 7.15pm, Tuesday 18 June


Contact Details

Dr Anthony Burke
Department of Politics
The University of Adelaide
Business: +61 8 8313 5603