peace treaties

Peace Treaties #

Just War Theory has a long history. In the West it can be traced back at least as far as St Augustine of Hippo, who lived in the 4th century, though there are traces of these ideas in Aristotle’s writing as well.

Traditionally, JWT comprises of three separate areas: jus ad bellum, jus in bello, and jus post bellum, each of which corresponds to a different aspect of the ethics of war: the pre-war considerations, the conduct of war, and the resolution of conflict. Matthew Beard Adjunct Lecturer, UNSW Sydney

Little conceptual thinking has gone into what constitutes a Just Peace. At best it should remove any cause for the further eruption of violent conflict.

One of the first attempts to resolve conflicts through dialogue rather than violence was the Treaty of Westphalia, 1648, following the prolonged bloody murders of the religious wars that plagued Europe from early times of Constantine’s conversion to Christianity and attempting to impose monolithic uniform beliefs or creeds.

Modernity gave us the toleration valorised by Locke and Voltaire. The distrust of government that delivered the US Constitution. The elaboration of the separation of powers and democratic accountability.

John Stuart Mill’s celebration of human diversity. And the creation of institutions (such as the United Nations), developed not to build heaven on earth, but merely to save us from hell.

War crimes #

“To kill one man is to be guilty of a capital crime, to kill ten men is to increase the guilt ten-fold, to kill a hundred men is to increase it a hundred-fold. This the rulers of the earth all recognize and yet when it comes to the greatest crime – waging war on another state – they praise it!

It is clear they do not know it is wrong, for they record such deeds to be handed down to posterity; if they knew they were wrong, why should they wish to record them and have them handed down to posterity?

Those who recognize a small crime as such, but do not recognize the wickedness of the greatest crime of all – the waging of war on another state – but actually praise it – cannot distinguish right and wrong. So as to right or wrong, the rulers of the world are in confusion.” -Mozi, China circa 470-391 B.C.

The first formal peace treaty was The Treaty of Kadesh between Egypt and the Hittite King Hattusilis III and the Egyptian pharah Ramses II in 1269 B.C.

The next probably made after The Persian War, in 501, after Athens had been sacked.

Against Sparta, Athens gave up its mainland possessions and confined itself to a largely maritime empire when the Spartan army retired. The arrangement was ratified by the Thirty Years’ Peace (winter 446–445).

The sack of Troy #

The sack of Troy and later of Carthage, could fit into the category of genocide though in those times to be successful in war one needed to annihilate the enemy.

To truly celebrate victory, the enemy had to be fully vanquished so as to not be capable of rising again, so Carthage was razed and salt spread over the soil.

Tacitus maintained

“Peace is merely the desolation left behind after the decisive operations of merciless power”.

Later Virgil warned:

“To impose the way of peace, you must spare the conquered and subdue the proud.”

Athenians #

Book 5 of Thucydides history describes how the ambassadors of the powerful city state of Athens rebuffed the leaders of the island of Melos, who wished to remain neutral in the conflict engulfing the ancient Hellenic world.

The ambassadors told the Melians that:

“justice is to be found only as between equals in power. As for the rest, the strong do as they will and the weak suffer as they must”.

Some historians claim Julius Caesar could, by today’s standards, be tried as a war criminal. His brutal total massacre of the Germanic tribes in 55 BC in the Netherlands constitutes genocide as he ordered his soldiers to kill all men, women and children.

Muslims and Byzantium #

In AD 917. A group of ambassadors arrive in Baghdad, sent by the Byzantine Empress Zoë, from her capital, Constantinople to negotiate the terms of a peace treaty–the Byzantine and Muslim empires. They having been fighting for centuries over their shared border, running east to west across the Anatolian peninsula.

Europeans claimed just cause in the eight “crusades” that followed.

Treaty of Westphalia #

European settlements of 1648, which brought to an end the Eighty Years’ War between Spain and the Dutch and the German phase of the Thirty Years’ War (Often called the European religious wars). The peace was negotiated, from 1644 and signed on January 30, 1648.

Basically the treaty attempted to curtail the power of the Pope by devolving it to small principalities.

Some scholars of international relations credit the treaties with providing the foundation of the modern state system and articulating the concept of territorial sovereignty.

The nation state grew out of the Treaty of Westphalia, the religious wars that killed about 20% of Europe’s population.

Congress of Vienna #

Congress of Vienna, assembly in 1814–15 that reorganized Europe after the Napoleonic Wars, was the most-comprehensive treaty that Europe had ever seen. Until an even greater settlement took place at Versailles after World War I, it was customary for historians to condemn the statesmen of Vienna. It was later realized how difficult their task was, as was the fact that they secured for Europe a period of peace of 100 years, which was its cardinal need.

Austria, Prussia, Russia, and Great Britain, the four powers that were chiefly instrumental in the overthrow of Napoleon, had concluded a special alliance among themselves with the Treaty of Chaumont, on March 9, 1814, a month before Napoleon’s first abdication. The subsequent treaties of peace with France, signed on May 30 not only by the “four” but also by Sweden and Portugal and on July 20 by Spain, stipulated that all former belligerents should send plenipotentiaries to a congress in Vienna. Nevertheless, the “four” still intended to reserve the real decision making for themselves.

The secondary objective was to “turn back the clock”. Napoleon had “liberated” the areas he conquered by abloshing mondarchies. The Holy Alliance of Russia, Austria, Priussia and France wanted to re-instate heriditary rule by Monarchs by eliminating popular rule. Article six explicitly stated that popular governments were to be destroyed and royal monarchies reestablished. Britain abstained.

Prince Metternich is considered the main architect of the Treaty. He decried the waste of young lives for no real gain and was determined it should never happen again. Often characterised as a conservative, he was actually visionary and established a peace that lasted 99 years by attempting to maintain a balance of power between the five great nations.

Metternich’s great fear was a fear of revolutionaries demanding universal suffrage, posing a threat to “legitimate” aristocratic and regal power.

Further revolutions in 1830 and 1848 were ruthlessly suppressed.

Socialism became the most paranoic concern after 1848, especially Karl Marx’s Communistic Manifesto which gave rise to irrational phobias deeming it as godless. It has more biblical and ethical support than either feudalism or capitalism.

Britain came out of the Napoleonic Wars with not only all her colonies intact but added some of France’s as well. She guarded them jealously, threatened by the rise of Prussia and unification of Germany’s demand for “a place in the sun”. This is indubitably the underlying cause of WWI.

Treaties of Nanking 1842 & 1862 #

The Opium Wars waged in 1840 and again in 1860 attempted to force a deadly drug on hapless coulees.

By 1835, the trade imbalance between Britain and China induced the government to introduce opium to the Chinese to addict the Chinese coulees, simply to balance the books. Through collusion of British officials, traders and mandarins in China, the British Government became the biggest drug pusher in the world.

Hong Kong became the centre of the Opium trade. In 1842, the emperor dumped tons of opium into the sea, resulting in gun boat diplomacy of the first Opium War.

Two Opium Wars, 1842’s and 1862’s were fought to make the Chinese pay.

The treaty of Nanking, 1842’s first three items were:

  • The Chinese will stop calling Westerners “barbarians,
  • Westerners do not have to kow tow to the Emperor, and
  • the Chinese will accept and pay for the Opium.
    Hong Kong was ceded to the British into perpetuity.

In 1860, Lord Elgin seized China’s Summer Palace, looted its treasures, then burnt it down with several hundred Eunuchs and maids inside. Victor Hugo: “we called ourselves civilised and them barbarians”.

The second treaty of 1862, had exactly the same first three items. It was the Americans in 1907 firing on British ships that forced England to abandon their unconsionable treatment of the Chinese.

For some reason the Chinese still resent what they still call “a century of humiliation”.

The American Civil War #

The military death toll in the US Civil War was six times larger, relative to size of population, than the casualty rate in World War II.

“Immediately after Atlanta fell to his army, Sherman initiated a plan to expel all civilians from the city. Sherman declared:

‘If the people raise a howl against my barbarity and cruelty, I will answer that war is war and not popularity seeking. If they want peace they and their relatives must stop war.’

During the Civil War, General William Tecumseh Sherman, who set fire to Atlanta, believed he was entitled to do anything in pursuit of victory, because he was fighting against an enemy that had begun an unjust war. A Life of William Tecumseh Sherman Michael Fellman University Press of Kansas 1995, Pages:180-182

The unforgiving retribution imposed on the south meant that the civil war has never ended.

Joan Biaz, Night they drove old Dixie down:The

Some say that the Civil War has never really ended because of the punitive retributive aftermath. Before he became one of the most famous men in America – fame gained due to his reputation as a gunfighter – Will Bill Hickok was a daring and effective Union soldier in the Civil War, serving as a scout, spy and sharpshooter. Over time, the band known as Quantrill’s Raiders would include the future outlaws Frank and Jesse James, the Younger brothers, and William ‘Bloody Bill’ Anderson. We could call it a continuing insurgency.

Treaty of Versailles #

There can be no doubt that the harsh terms of the Treaty of Versailles were the direct cause of Hitler’s rise to power. Some delegates worked toward a fair and just peace treaty, while many merely wanted “revanche”.

Australian interests were misrepresented by “The little digger”, Billy Hughes who according to Carl Bridge, six months before Versailles, when the war was entering its final stages, Hughes was in Britain making red-blooded and widely popular speeches about the need to make Germany pay the whole cost of the war. Lloyd George, anticipating an election at war’s end, paid lip-service to this rabble-rousing, but he also knew that the German economy needed to be preserved for the sake of world trade. And Woodrow Wilson’s Fourteen Points, the broad blueprint for the peace treaty, spelled out that there would be no punitive financial settlements against Germany and no colonial acquisitions. (Carl Bridge, The Inside Story, 2017)

Woodrow Wilson continued to fight, insisting,

‘The only principle I recognize is that of the consent of the governed.’ We’ve got to make peace on the principles laid down and accepted, or not make it at all.’ It is asserted that his concept of self determination of citizens came from Joseph Stalin.

Wilson told the American commissioners: ‘Gentlemen, this is not a meeting of the Peace Commission. It is more a Council of War.’

Evidence suggests Woodrow Wilson sustained an attack of food poisoning, whether accidental or not is open to doubt.

Then, abruptly, without warning to or discussion with any other Americans, Wilson suddenly abandoned principles he had previously insisted upon. He yielded to Clemenceau everything of significance Clemenceau wanted, virtually all of which Wilson had earlier opposed.

German reparations and that Germany accept all responsibility for starting the war. The Rhineland would be demilitarized; Germany would not be allowed to have troops within thirty miles of the east bank of the Rhine. The rich coal fields of the Saar region would be mined by France and the region would be administered by the new League of Nations for fifteen years, and then a plebiscite would determine whether the region would belong to France or Germany. The provinces of Alsace and Lorraine, which Germany had seized after the Franco-Prussian War, were moved from Germany back to France. West Prussia and Posen were given to Poland – creating the ‘Polish corridor’ that separated two parts of Germany. The German air force was eliminated, its army limited to one hundred thousand men, its colonies stripped away – but not freed, simply redistributed to other powers.

On May 7 the Germans were presented with the treaty. They complained that it violated the very principles Wilson had declared were inviolate.

Wilson left the meeting saying, ‘What abominable manners …. This is the most tactless speech I have ever heard.’

Yet they had not reminded Wilson and the world that he had once said:

a lasting peace could be achieved only by – ‘‘A peace without victory.’

Wilson also told Baker, ‘If I were a German, I think I should never sign it.’

It is of course impossible to say what Wilson would have done had he not become sick. Perhaps he would have made the concessions anyway, trading every principle away to save his League of Nations.

Wilson became the undeserved scapegoat of the punitive and vindictive treaty perpetuating the cycle of blood lust.

Historians with virtual unanimity agree that the harshness toward Germany of the Paris peace treaty helped create the economic hardship, nationalistic reaction, and political chaos that fostered the rise of Adolf Hitler.

It did not require hindsight to see the dangers. They were obvious at the time.

John Maynard Keynes called it the ‘murder of The Treaty of Vienna,’. The peace was to be a Carthaginian one, and calling Wilson:

’the greatest fraud on earth.’ ‘We are at the dead season of our fortunes …. Never in the lifetime of men now living has the universal element in the soul of man burnt so dimly.’

Wilson represents a good man who caved in to pragmatism.

Herbert Hoover believed that the treaty would tear down all Europe, and said so.

The impossible crippling reparations resulted in France invading the Ruhr Valley in 1923, increasing Germany’s grievances, providing traction for the rise of right wing extremism.

Since about the last thirty years, we appear to be sinking into similar mindsets.

World War II #

The horrors of the Second World War inspired two major declarations of faith:

• the United Nations Charter (1945)
• the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948).

Both emerged in the brief, politically temperate interlude between the last months of battle and the beginning of the cold war. As with most declarations of faith, their adherents—first and foremost, governments—have frequently failed to live up to them, but practically all governments say they accept the basic code of conduct these declarations expound.

Governments and people, especially in peaceful times, may grow disillusioned with the United Nations; horrendous atrocities may sometimes make a mockery of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights; but these two documents set basic standards for a tolerable society on this planet. The continuing effort to achieve and maintain those standards is the frontier between civilization and barbarism.

Both declarations certainly made sense to people who had just been through six years of world war. With more than sixty million killed and unimaginable ruin and misery, who could object to the words

UN Charter

We the peoples of the United Nations determined…to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, which twice in our lifetime has brought untold sorrow to mankind…to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom….

Recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world.

To show they’re serious about protecting people’s human rights, governments must ensure access to real complaint processes. Unenforceable rights lead to corruption. For people whose rights are violated, it’s critical that something is done about it to deter reoccurrences.

Ben Ferencz believes “war makes murderers out of otherwise decent people” and has spent his life working to deter war and war crimes.

It is not enough that their elders promise ‘Peace in our time’; it must be peace in their time too, and in their children’s time; indeed, my friends, there is only one real peace now, and that is peace for all time. – Dwight David Eisenhower

Unless all major powers are willing to follow the international rules based order; chaos and anarchy result, making war inevitable.

The Nuremberg Trials #

The Nuremberg trials after World War II were historic – the first international war crimes tribunals ever held. Hitler’s top lieutenants were prosecuted first.

Then a series of subsequent trials were mounted against other Nazi leaders, including 22 SS officers responsible for killing more than a million people – not in concentration camps – but in towns and villages across Eastern Europe.

Their trial was held before an International Military Tribunal (IMT) in Nuremberg, Germany. Judges from the Allied powers—Great Britain, France, the Soviet Union, and the United States—presided over the hearing of 22 major Nazi criminals.

Subsequently, the United States held 12 additional trials in Nuremberg of high-level officials of the German government, military, and SS as well as medical professionals and leading industrialists. The crimes charged before the Nuremberg courts were crimes against peace, war crimes, crimes against humanity, and conspiracy to commit any of the foregoing crimes.

The defendants generally acknowledged that the crimes they were accused of occurred but denied that they were responsible, as they were following orders from a higher authority.

Unfortunately, the same standards are not applied to the West in its conflicts, especially in our attempts to fight terrorism.

Soviets and Nuremburg #

The Soviets were not just part of the prosecution team at Nuremberg; they were instrumental in defining the crimes of which the Nazi leaders were accused.

Geneva Conventions #

All’s fair in love, war and politics? You be the judge.

The First Geneva Convention was held on 22 August 1864, the first of four treaties of the Geneva Conventions.

It defines “the basis on which rest the rules of international law for the protection of the victims of armed conflicts.”

It essentially catered “for the Amelioration of the Condition of the Wounded in Armies in the Field”.

After the first treaty was adopted in 1864, it was significantly revised and replaced in 1906, 1929, and finally 1949. It is inextricably linked to the International Committee of the Red Cross, which is both the instigator for the inception and enforcer of the articles in these conventions.

What is acceptable and what is prohibited in armed conflict? These form the foundation of international humanitarian law and provide a framework setting out the rules of engagement.

In 1968, Eleanor Roosevelt was posthumously awarded the UN Human Rights Prize and in 1998, the United Nations Association of the USA inaugurated the Eleanor Roosevelt Human Rights Award.

Inspirational quotes from Eleanor:

A good leader inspires people to have confidence in the leader. A great leader inspires people to have confidence in themselves.

Since the 1983 Beirut barracks bombings, a caveat has been added to American rules of engagement to state that all personnel have an inherent right of self-defense.

George W. Bush simply renamed Enemy Prisoners of War – as “illegal combatants”

John Paul Stevens, followed up in 2006 with an epoch-making opinion in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld, which clarified that—at the very least—the Geneva Conventions Common Article 3 applied to the war on terror. And because that article requires:

trial of detainees by a “regularly constituted court, affording all the judicial guarantees which are recognized as indispensable by civilized peoples,” the military commissions Bush had planned since 2001 were inadequate.

The decision implied that whatever global struggle the US wanted to wage against terrorism would have to be conducted under the applicable international law—because nothing less than the war’s legitimacy depended on it.

The problem is that these lofty ideals can not be enforced. The fact that the West has violated most of them in Korea, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan gives us little moral authority to impose them on others.

There has never been a peace treaty to end the Korean War of 1951 - …..

International Criminal Court (ICC) #

A Panel of Experts in International Law was convened at the request of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court in support of his investigation into the ‘Situation in the State of Palestine’, which covers international crimes committed either on the territory of Palestine or by a Palestinian national.

The Panel’s mandate was to advise the Prosecutor on whether his applications for arrest warrants met the standard provided in article 58 of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC)

The eminent Panel Members and academic advisers, mainly British, were selected because of their expertise in public international law, international human rights law, international humanitarian law. We should question why more diverse countries were not represented to give the panel more gravitas.

The Panel has operated pro bono and independently. It has unanimously reached all of the views contained in their Report. The Panel agrees with the Prosecutor’s assessment that the ICC has jurisdiction in relation to crimes committed on the territory of Palestine, including Gaza, since 13 June 2014, under article 12(2)(a) of the ICC Statute.3

It also agrees that the Court has jurisdiction over crimes committed by Palestinian nationals inside or outside Palestinian territory under article 12(2)(b) of the Statute.

The ICC therefore has jurisdiction over Israeli, Palestinian or other nationals who committed crimes in Gaza or the West Bank.

Any attack on the ICC undermines the confidence and respect of trusted public international institutions. This leads to a defiance of a rules based international order, ultimately resulting in anarchy which tends to lead to war.

All responsible leaders in the world should put their faith and trust into legitimate international institutions.

Peter Dutton’s public statement on the ICC’s action included this:

“it’s an abomination, the ICC, and it needs to be ceased, this action is antisemitic”.

He later said he wouldn’t rule out cutting ties with the ICC altogether.

That’s too incoherently stupid to qualify as disingenuous. Maybe he really thinks the definition of antisemitism is “anything Israel doesn’t like”. Maybe he doesn’t know that Australia is a signatory to the Rome Statute that established and guarantees the jurisdiction of the ICC. I’m guessing the former inister in charge of the Australian Federal Police doesn’t know that it’s an offence under the Commonwealth Criminal Code to intentionally obstruct the course of justice in the ICC. Michael Bradley, writing for The Politics.