Letter: After the war...

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The Independent Culture
Sir: The warning by Mary Robinson, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, that Nato may be held accountable for war crimes over its bombing of civilians, was a welcome relief from the double standards applied in many quarters to atrocities against civilians during the conflict in Yugoslavia.

Mary Robinson made the obvious point that where civilian casualties can be avoided, they must be avoided, and asked: "If it is not possible to ascertain that there are civilian buses on bridges, should the bridges be blown in those circumstances?"

One might also ask, if it is known that civilian staff are operating a television station, or car-workers are occupying a factory or a scheduled passenger train may be on a bridge, should they be bombed?

The 1949 Geneva Conventions state that all belligerents must do everything possible to avoid civilian targets and casualties. Where there is doubt a potential target is meant to be presumed to be civilian.


(Halifax, Lab)

House of Commons

London SW1