By Curtis Cooper
On Thanksgiving Day, November 27, 2008, Russian veterans, lawyers, historians, students, and members of civil society were joined by foreign guests for a conference at Victory Park in commemoration of the 60th anniversary of the Post-World War II Tokyo War Crimes Tribunal. Background The conference, entitled “Issues in Contemporary International Law and Lessons of the Tokyo and Khabarovsk Trials,” was organized by the International Federation for Peace and Conciliation, the Outstanding Land and Naval Commanders of the Fatherland, and the International Union of Lawyers (Moscow). According to the conference organizers, “In present times it is important for the international community to pay attention to the consequences which unavoidably arise for war criminals in unleashing war, and to be reminded about the inevitability of punishment for the wrongs they have done.”
Participation by leadership of the International Association of Democratic Lawyers and the Guild
Jitendra Sharma, President of the International Association of Democratic Lawyers, presented a written address to the conference. Also in attendance were IADL Vice President Roland Weyl, and representatives from the Japanese Lawyers International Solidarity Association (JALISA) and the National Lawyers Guild. The day after the conference, President Sharma, Vice President Weyl, and the author were warmly received at the offices of the International Union of Lawyers (Moscow), which is composed of members from the former Soviet Republics and which will celebrate its twentieth anniversary in June. Discussions focused on how the IADL and International Union of Lawyers can work more closely together in the future, building on the existing links in the leadership of the organizations.
Russians’ Hopes for America
Despite the current tensions between the US and Russia which have arisen in the context of NATO expansion, the economic crisis, missile “defense,” and the Georgian conflict, it was encouraging to witness the conference’s dedication to upholding international law, harkening back to a time when the Soviet Union and United States were allies in the fight against fascism. In terms of the present, the overwhelming sentiment expressed by Russians at and after the conference was a hope that Russia and the USA can live in peace and cooperatively address serious issues which confront us in the economic, military, and environmental spheres.