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Possibilities of war-crimes tribunal in Serbia

In an otherwise excellent article on the possibility of indicting Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic as a war criminal ("Milosevic to face a tribunal?" April 19), you state, "Efforts to create a worldwide [criminal] court were headed off by the United States, which was apparently worried that US soldiers would become vulnerable to prosecution."

The treaty establishing the International Criminal Court was approved in Rome on July 17, 1998, by a vote of 120 to 7 states, with 21 abstentions. The court will initially have jurisdiction over genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes. Other crimes may be added later. While it is true that the United States voted against the treaty, the court will begin operation in The Hague once 60 states have ratified the treaty. As of today, 80 states have signed the treaty and two have ratified. The required number of ratifications is likely to be reached in the next few years. US participation is not required, but would be desirable to strengthen the effectiveness of the court.

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The United States is actively engaged in elaborating rules of procedure and evidence for the court, as well as the elements of crimes under the court's jurisdiction. Whether the US will eventually become party to the treaty, and what the ultimate reach of the court will be, remain to be seen.

Jonathan Huston, New York

Your article raises the question of who would negotiate for Serbia if Milosevic and his cohorts were indicted. Serbia would be forced to choose negotiators who do not have a history of war crimes and crimes against humanity. This would open the doors to those who are more democratic, and Serbia's attention could finally turn to building prosperity rather than conquering the land of others. The Serbs need to be challenged with the truth of what has been done in their name.

Bringing to justice the orchestrators of genocide and giving democracy a chance in Serbia, together with ensuring a military balance in the region, is the only long-term solution for southeastern Europe.

As long as a brutal tyrant and his thugs rule in Serbia, democracy will never flourish there and Serbia's neighbors cannot be truly safe.

Mariana Beretin, Sydney, Australia

Handicap access in airplanes

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I write in support of the opinion article entitled "Handicap access needed in the air" (April 19). It was right on target.

On March 18, 1999, the National Council on Disability (NCD) released a groundbreaking report documenting ineffective enforcement of the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA) since the law's passage in 1986. NCD's report, "Enforcing the Civil Rights of Air Travelers with Disabilities," contains recommendations on how to improve the enforcement of civil rights of air travelers with disabilities, including changes to the law and recommendations for the Department of Transportation and Congress.

Unfortunately, NCD has found that although things have improved since the ACAA was passed in 1986, people with disabilities continue to encounter frequent, significant violations of their civil rights. When they complain, they encounter an enforcement effort that is both inconsistent and limited in scope.

We should all strive ever harder to assure that air travelers with disabilities will no longer face discrimination or barriers at the hands of the airlines.

Marca Bristo, Washington, Chair National Council on Disability

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