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Barbara Panvel examines an alternative approach to the war in Afghanistan by looking across the world to New Zealand. The Kiwis are introducing laws which make it harder for their leaders to become embroiled in adventures abroad.

How many more poorly equipped young soldiers are going to die in this futile occupation of Afghanistan before there are mass ‘troops out’ demonstrations?

Civilised, prosperous, non-nuclear countries like New Zealand, Sweden, Japan, and Switzerland engage to keep the peace under UN direction, to help with reconstruction and to defend their countries if attacked.

An International Non-Aggression Bill is currently before New Zealand’s parliament, which - if passed - would ensure that the use of armed force by New Zealand is always in conformity with international law and the UN Charter. It would also protect New Zealand’s leaders from external pressure to commit their Defence Force to any illegal action overseas.

All member states are obliged to refrain from the use of armed force, which is inconsistent with the purposes of the United Nations, and this Bill would make an act of aggression a crime in New Zealand law.

The planning, preparation, initiating or executing an act of aggression in violation of the Charter of the United Nations by a New Zealand leader would become a criminal offence punishable by imprisonment

It would be unlawful for a New Zealand leader to plan, prepare, initiate or execute an act of aggression violating the Charter of the United Nations and the person committing such crimes of aggression would be liable on conviction to a maximum sentence of ten years imprisonment.

Such a law in this country would make politicians far more careful. It would either have prevented the slaughter of Iraqis and the allied troops, the current loss of life in Afghanistan and the huge financial costs - or ensured Tony Blair’s impeachment soon after the invasion.



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