Under the United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad stands guilty of incitement to genocide. According to Article 3 of the Convention, both “Conspiracy to commit genocide” and “Direct and public incitement to commit genocide” are “punishable” offenses. Ahmadinejad, in his calls for the destruction of the Jewish state and in his attempt to construct a nuclear weapon to accomplish that genocidal goal, clearly stands in violation of the Article.
So why wasn’t Ahmadinejad arrested this week in New York City? Surely, whatever claim he might have to diplomatic immunity is outweighed by his inarguable violations of a United Nations convention on genocide. Imagine the bloodshed that might have been averted had Hitler been arrested or killed in the 1930′s. This is not to make an out-sized claim in favor of The Great Man Theory of history, which would assert that the Holocaust and World War II could have been averted entirely had Hitler been removed from the scene, or that our problems with Iran would disappear were the same to happen to Ahmadinejad. But apprehending Ahmadinejad and holding him accountable for his crimes would be a step in the right direction.
The call for Ahmadinejad’s arrest came from Dr. Charles Small, Director of the Center for the Study of Anti-Semitism at Yale University. He lays out the case convincingly and forthrightly:
Given Mr Ahmadinejad’s consistent statements over the years, and in accordance with the Convention, he ought to be arrested and given due process as stipulated in the Convention. This clearly overrides any question regarding free speech. It is myopic to remain focused on some domestic philosophical debate when the facts on the ground violate international law in a flagrant manner. In terms of freedom of speech, Ahmadinejad has conducted many interviews with American and Western media outlets over the years. Unlike in Iran, it is easy for people in the U.S. to access such interviews and video footage of speeches, as well as the text of his policy positions.
Let us hope that we do not rue the day the international community failed in its obligation to arrest this international criminal.