Some international legal scholars are mesmerized by the concept that states are free to do whatever they please and they cannot be bound by any rule without their consent. (There seems to be a correlation between the fact that the gross of this trend is citizen of a state with huge number of weapons and veto power in the Security Council.) For instance Austen Parrish, Professor of Law and the Vice Dean at Southwestern Law School, does not seem troubled by the fact that “some states, like the U.S. remain opposed to restricting their conduct abroad.”
The question is not what U.S. opposes, but why should I care? All that I care is that U.S. refrains from violating my human rights, for instance it does not kill, torture, imprison without (fair) trial, me or my relatives. If the U.S. says that is not bound by human rights treaties and is free to do to me or to my relatives all those things, then U.S. has an inconsistent argument, when demanding that I don’t commit terrorist attacks against it. Why should U.S. be free to kill me and I should not be free to kill some Americans?
Take Khalid El-Masri for instance. Professor Parrish should explain why El-Masri should not kill the first American tourist he encounters? Or why should he not prepare better and kill 3000, like Bin Laden did? After all, the U.S. judges, including the Supreme Court, care more about the price of oil than El-Masri’s human rights. Germany does not do anything for him, and there is no international court for human rights, because U.S. rejected the idea.
El-Masri has sued Macedonia at the European Court of Human rights. The fact that he has the possibility to sue Macedonia obliges El-Masri to refrain from taking other actions against Macedonia. But since the U.S. does not allow any court to keep it on a leash, and claims to be free to do abroad whatever she wants, El-Masri has no obligation to U.S. whatsoever. If U.S. is free, everyone is free. Freedom is bound to pertain to everyone in the same quantity.
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