Law School’s O’Connell testifies before Congress

Author: Melanie McDonald


Mary Ellen OConnell, Robert and Marion Short Professor of Law at Notre Dame, testified before Congress earlier this month as part of an expert panel onPreserving Americas Global Leadership through International Law and Justice.

OConnell, a professor of international law, reported that the United States has denied itself the advantages offered by international law by ignoring its tenets in invading Iraq, in how it occupied Iraq, and in how it has conducted interrogation.

OConnell referenced the United Nations Charter, the Geneva Conventions, and the Convention against Torture in her statement at the forum organized by House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers.

She stated that, since the nations founding,Our greatest statesmen have understood the benefits of international law and have sought to promote it, to shape it, and to ensure our compliance with it.

Yet, OConnell testified, the United States was and continues to be knowingly and willingly non-compliant with the same laws it helped to write and endorse.

Disregard for Articles 2(4) and 51 of the UN Charter, which prohibits the use of force except in self-defense to an armed attack, led to the United Statesunlawful invasion of Iraq, says OConnell. The U.S. also disobeyed the Hague Regulations, which govern the rules on occupation.

As an occupying power, the United States has not restored nor maintained law and order to ensure public safety, as required by the Regulations.

OConnell cites numerous Articles of the Geneva Conventions that support her contention the U.S. broke international law through its employment of coercive interrogation techniques.

Highly trained and experienced United States Army interrogators believe the use of coercion and abuse is counterproductive to intelligence gathering. Its use by the United States since 9/11 has likely cost this country lives. Again, as with the rules against invasion and the proper conduct of occupation, had the United States complied with the law of interrogation, it would likely have better intelligence; it would certainly not be seen as a country that tortures and abuses prisoners in places like Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo Bay, and, worse, in secret.

_ Contact: Professor Mary Ellen OConnell at 574-631-7953 or_ " "

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