Friday, 18 July 2014

MH17, PanAm103 and IR655

[What follows is an excerpt from an article headlined UN meets as world leaders call for global inquiry into MH17 crash published today on The Guardian website:]

Sidney Dekker, an expert on aviation safety at Griffith University in Queensland, said: "According to the International Civil Aviation Organisation – a UN body – authority over the crash site and all in it lies squarely with the country in which it happens. It is not where the plane has registered, or from where [it flew], or where the airline is based." (...)

Ben Saul, a professor of international law at the University of Sydney, said that while Ukraine was the “first port of call” for any investigation, there were “exceptional circumstances” which made an international response likely and reasonable.

“There is an armed conflict going on, they don’t have control of bits of their territory. There are also international elements – the Russians seemingly providing the weapon. And there are victims from multiple countries.”

“The difficulty with the UN Security Council is Russia would be likely to block anything. Probably you might get this political difficulty, you might get a [Security Council] presidential statement condemning this heinous act of terrorism, and calling on the relevant authorities to bring the perpetrators to account.”

The Security Council has met previously on the Ukraine crisis, but has taken no formal action due to the disagreements among Russia, Britain, France and the US, four of its five veto-wielding members, Reuters reports.

Saul said that if those responsible fled to Russia, “Ukraine can request help from the Security Council, from its allies diplomatically, to bring pressure if Russia was not co-operating or not surrendering somebody in contravention of their treaty agreements.”

Saul said there were precedents for an international response in similar catastrophes or terrorist acts. The Lockerbie bombing in 1988, which killed 243 passengers, was jointly investigated by Scottish authorities and the FBI. UN sanctions were imposed on Libya to hand over two Libyan nationals for arrest in relation to the terrorist attack.

He said the issue under international law was whether the anti-aircraft missile was fired by separatist forces in the Ukraine and, if so, whether they knew it was a civilian aircraft or believed it was a military craft.

Saul wrote the international law of armed conflict could govern the incident, because fighters had a duty to distinguish between military and civilian objects and not to target civilians. It would be a war crime under international law if separatists had deliberately targeted a civilian plane.

There are suggestions that those responsible may have mistakenly shot down what they thought was a military aircraft. Saul said that in that case, international law may have been breached if the perpetrators did not take reasonable precautions to make sure the target was a military one.

He said the closest parallel could be the shooting down of an Iranian civilian plane by a US warship in the Persian Gulf in 1988. The US believed it was a military craft. The then president Ronald Reagan called it a “terrible human tragedy” at the time, while Iran called it a criminal act.

The US never admitted legal responsibility, but paid compensation to Iran.

1 comment:

  1. CONDULATION (google translation, german/english):

    Now starts the spiral of political blame of assignment in the MH-17, Malaysia Airline Tragedy - it seems to be more important than the technical forensic cause...

    Through forensics and include data of the two found Black Box, flight MH-17 - would in this case according to latest state of the technology - can be evaluated 100%, whether the aircraft of the Malaysia airline, by a missile fire, or an explosion on board the Boeing 777, was brought to the crash.

    The terrorist attack on flight MH-17, the Malaysia airline, with 298 victims, similar to the bombing of PanAm 103, over Lockerbie with 270 victims and the downing of Iran Air with 290 victims - everything from disturbed political reasons - have lost the families of all the victims - their loved ones !

    Our condolences...
    Edwin and Mahnaz Bollier, MEBO Ltd. Telecommunication Switzerland. Webpage: