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International law demands action from Howard.

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11 August 2006

International law demands action from Howard

Federal Member for Denison, Duncan Kerr SC MP will call on the Howard Government to use its influence with the US to effect an immediate ceasefire in Lebanon.

As a well respected human rights and constitutional lawyer, Mr Kerr argues there are limits to self-defence in international humanitarian law.

The following is the text of a statement to be read in Hobart at midday on 12 August at Parliament House lawns:

“It is time for Australia to take a stand for an immediate ceasefire in Lebanon - a ceasefire which sees Israel ceasing its hostilities in southern Lebanon, Hezbollah ceasing its rocket attacks on northern Israel and the return of the two kidnapped Israeli soldiers.

“In Lebanon, one million people are internally displaced - that's a quarter of the population; the equivalent of five million Australians.

“The fact is any country around the world, including Israel, has the fundamental right of self-defence.

“But we must also recognise that no country around the world has a right to attack civilian targets and economic infrastructure.

“Apart from the humanitarian catastrophe, this war is a strategic calamity whose ramifications we can't yet know.

“No-one can predict the strategic outcome of this tragic military intervention, but there is a real risk that it will only breed and feed into the

cycles of tit-for-tat violence with which we are sadly so familiar in the Middle East.

“Lebanon is being turned into a disabled state. This now month-long conflict has left the Lebanese Government unable to provide basic services to its population for an indeterminate time. It may eventually be rehabilitated but this will take many years and many billions of dollars.

“The Australian Government has been slow to commit to substantial assistance to the rehabilitation. We call on them to give more - and to do more.

“The bombing must stop. And it must stop now. We must urge the Australian Government to act in a way which makes moral and strategic sense, and call for an immediate ceasefire based on the conditions I have outlined."

Contact Duncan Kerr 0418 125161