Int'l Resonance of Saddam Verdict

Views on BG | November 5, 2006, Sunday // 00:00

Analysis by BBC

The trial of Saddam Hussein was supposed to mark an important moment in a process of turning Iraq from dictatorship to the rule of law.

However, it might turn out to be just another event in the catalogue of chaos that has engulfed the country.

Its long-term importance might lie more in its effect on a growing body of international law trying to deal with government repressions.

It appears unlikely that the outcome of the trial will materially alter the differing levels of warfare going on in Iraq - the jihadist attacks, the nationalist insurgency, the communal conflicts and the militia rivalries. These are too engrained and have too many deep causes to be changed by one event, however dramatic.

The methods showed in detail how Saddam Hussein managed to maintain control over the country.

Another important aspect of this trial is that Iraqis themselves have run it. That was one of the principles at stake here. Many other trials of dictators have been international interventions - the Nuremberg trials, the Rwanda trials and the former Yugoslavia trials.

The trial takes its place on the growing list of tribunals that are slowly but surely establishing a new body of international law that can be used against repressive rulers.

And looked at from this perspective, the trial perhaps assumes an international legal importance greater than its impact in Iraq itself.

One of the principles of the legal trend is that justice if possible should remain within the country affected.

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