Forum "Justice, Not Revenge. The Effectiveness of International Courts of Justice Versus The Criminals Against Humanity"


MAY 12, 2014

On Monday, May 12, at the maximum house of studies: the National Autonomous University of Mexico, the Global Embassy of Activists for Peace, the Faculty of Political and Social Sciences, the Office of International Relations and International Law Seminar, conducted the symposium "Justice, not vengeance. The effectiveness of international courts of justice versus the criminals against humanity".

The symposium was attended by prominent personalities of international stature, such as Francisco Guerra, National Coordinator of the Global Embassy of Activists for Peace; Dr. Michael Berenbaum, a specialist in the study of Holocaust commemoration; Dr. Efraim Zuroff, Director of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Jerusalem and Research coordinator of Nazi war crimes; Dr. Pedro Rodríguez Medina, Professor of the same university, who moderated the table; Luis Opatowsky, Holocaust survivor; Jaime Murow, Director of the Association against prejudice and discrimination; and Professor Antulio Ontiveros Laguna , a member of the International Law Seminar of the Center for International Relations and Human Rights Specialist.

The National Coordinator of the Global Embassy of Activists for Peace highlighted the importance of the discussion of these issues, because we know that neither the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations in 1948, or approval of the Rome Statute in 1998, which created the International Criminal Court, have been able to stop the genocides that have been perpetrated in different parts of the world.

- Francisco Guerra, National Coordinator of the Global Embassy of Activists for Peace in Mexico -   

Today we see specific cases such as Darfur, Syria, Ukraine and other nations, where they continue to commit acts of genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and even aggression. Therefore, it is required to promote opportunities of reflection that contribute and generate proposals for solutions to improve the international criminal justice and curb the perpetrations of crimes against humanity.

We welcome everyone present today. May the ideas that are generated here impact our conscious and continue to propel us to work with determination for peace; which is more than a desire, it is a necessity. I close my participation with a quote from our Global Ambassador, Dr. William Soto Santiago:

"It is better to educate for prevention, than judge to punishment."

• • •

Efraim Zuroff is an Israeli historian of American origin who has played a role in bringing Nazis indicted for war crimes to trial. Dr. Zuroff talked about the reasons why they feel obliged to bring these Nazis to trial, and he gave some important points.

- Efraim Zuroff. Historian -     

This is a subject I want to speak of; and I would like to talk to you about this subject because I consider the following: I believe that it is showing how important, how critical the issue of fairness and justice against revenge tends to be; and this tends to be in the world in which we live. In such a way that what we are doing is presenting a moral, legal, philosophical aspect - the basis of all this in relation to what we do - and say something about what has happened around the world.

I would like to summarize a few major points.

Point one: The passage of time in no way diminishes the guilt of the murderers. If someone committed a crime years ago, it does not mean that as time passed they are less guilty today, than when they committed the crime.

Point two: We do not think that old age should merit protection, when people have committed mass murder. If they committed these terrible crimes and now are 85, 88 or 90, this does not determine that a murderer became a righteous man.

And the other point, which is always mentioned by Mr. Wiesenthal, is the obligation that we have towards them, which we have with the Nazi victims.

However, in the Arab world Holocaust denial has been disseminated by the governments of some countries. There is a genocide regime in Iran that openly discusses the destruction of the State of Israel, creating another Holocaust of the Jewish people. And we as victims of the first Holocaust, the first Holocaust after World War II, or the Second World War, we cannot make light of these threats, particularly when we talk about a regime seeking nuclear weapons; there are negotiations to prevent that, I hope that these negotiations will be successful; but we live in a dangerous world and we have to be vigilant.

The importance of continuing to do what we are doing while we can.  

• • •

Next up was Dr. Michael Berenbaum, professor, rabbi, American writer and filmmaker, a specialist in the study of the Holocaust commemoration, who said:

-Dr. Michael Berenbaum. Professor, rabbi, writer and filmmaker-

But let's talk about an important problem that the world confronted. I would like to use a specific word: After the catastrophe, and people referred to the Holocaust as a tragedy, there is a balance between the price that was paid for what happened and what we learned; and this atrocity does not allow us to have stability.

So when we are talking about justice, I want to use a couple of words that are key, important: inadequate justice, delayed justice, fragmented justice, symbolic justice, and justice that seems like an illusion; but justice -with all and whatever it is- is what is important.

And what should people do to rebuild? The world must preserve at least the illusion of justice, so that it can scar over, heal after this terrible, terrible disaster; and this is the goal (not only the Nuremberg Trail and the Nuremberg Law), and the world in which we live.

This is why the Embassy of Peace is carrying out a very important job: Never again! And make sure justice is always, always, fulfilled.

-Luis Opatowsky. Holocaust survivor-

My name is Luis Opatowsky Goldberg. I am originally from Brussels, Belgium, a Holocaust survivor and witness. It's hard for me to explain the Holocaust, what happened or how it happened, because it makes me remember moments that are very sad and very painful for me; as being loaded several days in a freight car for animals, and being locked in there without water, without food; arriving at an unknown location, being greeted with insults, beatings, humiliation, being separated from your family, just to get to the gates of hell. That was ... it was very difficult to survive; but here I am. Miracle, chance, God? I do not know. I am very proud of my Jewish roots. Yes, we must be tolerant, respect everyone, no matter their color, race or religion, and make it so that they never try to destroy us and face the hostile world without fear, to make a better world for everyone.

I want to thank the Global Embassy of Activists for Peace, the Faculty of Political and Social Sciences of the UNAM for their invitation.

Antulio Ontiveros Laguna, stressed the importance of educating for peace.

-Antulio Ontiveros Laguna. Member of the International Law Seminar-

Justice is the new name for peace, ladies and gentlemen. Justice is what will really reveal the scope, the potential we have to create a better world.

Let us educate for peace, but do not expect universities or schools to educate for peace. We as people, as citizens, have a duty-a permanent obligation- to educate for peace; and educating for peace implies coexistence, not survival.

• • •

After the presentations a session of questions and answers was opened, and a book was given to each participant, thus concluding the symposium with a full house and great public response.