Back to Common Ground Archive

July 2, 2002
Program 0227

(This text has been professionally transcribed, However, for timely distribution, it has not been edited or proofread against the tape.)

people at the Ministry of Agriculture have made no secret of their desire to
protect the domestic poultry industry in Russia.

This week on Common Ground, why
feathers are flying over the latest US-Russian trade dispute.

why there’s no such thing as a “quickie” divorce in Chile.

divorce, Chilean style.

translator] No one in Chile gets an annulment for valid reasons. Everyone knows
that you have to lie because there is no other way to separate. There’s no
other way.

women writing from the soul.

She was meek—until you looked into her eyes and then you
thought, well, perhaps not so much meek as undemonstrative. She was Mary the
cook, who walked without moving.

after this.

Chicken Fight

Listen to This Segment

Related Link
American Poultry Association

Tell Us What You Think

MCHUGH: Common Ground is radio’s weekly program
on world affairs. I’m Kristin McHugh.

Keith Porter. The United States and Russia are talking turkey… about chicken.
The two countries, which once used to worry about trading nuclear missiles, are
now embroiled in a trade war over poultry.

analysts say it’s an illustration of just how far US-Russian relations have
moved over the course of the past decade. But as Simon Marks reports from
Moscow, the flap over chicken is every bit as fierce as any dispute that has
preceded it.

[sounds from a large commercial hen house]

it the Great Chicken War. 11 years after the fall of the Soviet Union, Moscow
and Washington are at loggerheads over poultry. And in hen houses across
America, chicken farmers have had enough.

of this is casting a great deal of doubt on their reliability as a trading

MARKS: Richard
Lobb with the National Chicken Council in Washington, DC—yes, there is one—says the Americans feel, well, henpecked by the Russians.

LOBB: The people
at the Ministry of Agriculture have made no secret of their desire to protect
the domestic poultry industry in Russia.

[The sound of a jet airplane]

understand the story, you have to go back to 1991. On a freezing February
morning at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport, an enormous cargo plane brought the
first shipment of American humanitarian aid to Russia.

[sound of people unloading a cargo plane]

MARKS: Boxed up
among the medicines, the vitamins, the soups, and the candies, were portions of
American chicken. Chicken legs to be precise, that Russian consumers rapidly
found they liked. The “Bush legs” as they became known, named after the former
US President who authorized that first aid shipment—became so popular that by
the time Russia no longer needed humanitarian aid, America’s chicken farmers
had a valuable new export market on their hands.

Russia took 40 per cent of America’s chicken exports last
year. But this year, the country has suddenly taken nothing. President Vladimir
Putin slammed the door to American chicken, claiming he needed proof that it
was produced in hygienic conditions before he would allow any more to cross
Russia’s borders.

[The sound of a consumer grocery market]

MARKS: So, visit
a market in Moscow today and the only chicken you’ll find on sale is Russian
chicken. And shoppers who once gleefully consumed American chicken by the
pound, have clearly heard allegations widely publicized here that the US
chicken industry is infected with salmonella, avian influenza, and a variety of
other horrible problems.

[The sound of a consumer grocery market]

FEMALE RUSSIAN CONSUMER #1: [via a translator] I used to buy American chickens a very long
time ago. It was in the early 90s, when everyone was crazy about them. But I
haven’t done it in a very long time

FEMALE RUSSIAN CONSUMER #2: [via a translator] I buy Russian chickens only, they are much
tastier. I don’t care about the price, but I know for sure that Russian chicken
has more flavor. Especially when you fry it or barbecue it.

MARKS: Earlier this year, it seemed the two sides had found a solution to the dispute. The
Russians announced that American chicken could return to the market, provided
that every importer had a permit. But then it turned out permits were almost
impossible to obtain. American producers say the Russians set conditions that
they knew the US farmers couldn’t meet: like requiring original copies of the
same paperwork to be literally in two places at the same time. So with farming jobs
at home on the line, President Bush found himself giving the Russians the bird.

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: We made it pretty darned clear to them that I think we’ve really got
to get this chicken issue resolved and get those chickens moving from the United
States into the Russian market. We laugh, but nevertheless it is a problem,
that we must honor agreements.

MARKS: The Russians say they’ll be happy to talk about chicken, but only if the Americans
talk about steel. President Vladimir Putin appears to want alleviation from US
steel tariffs that were imposed by the White House earlier this year before
he’ll allow chicken to return to Russia, according to analyst Lilia Shevtsova
of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

LILIA SHEVTSOVA: The problem is that Russians are connected this poultry issue with the steel issue, and so
far, Americans’ higher tariffs, well, is a really severe blow for Russian steel

MARKS: Despite being cooped up together in Moscow at their recent summit meeting, even the
countries’ two Presidents couldn’t resolve the flap. And so the dispute
continues, leaving the future uncertain for America’s chicken industry and the
workers who rely on it. For Common Ground,
I’m Simon Marks in Moscow.

Top of Page

Chile Divorce

Listen to This Segment

Related Link
Santiago Times

Tell Us What You Think

PORTER: South America stretches more than four-thousand miles from the northern tip of
Columbia to Cape Horn just a few hundred miles from Antarctica. Yet, in the
United States, news coverage from this continent seems limited to stories about
natural disasters and failed coup attempts. This week, Common Ground begins a multi-part focus on untold stories in South
America. We begin this week with: “Divorce-Chilean Style.”

MCHUGH: Chile is the last country in the Western world to prohibit divorce. While over 70% of
Chileans support the right to divorce, the Catholic Church hierarchy and
conservative politicians have blocked any change in the law. After a long
delay, the Chilean Senate is finally debating divorce reform. Reese Erlich has
more from the Chilean capital of Santiago.

Hilda Mendez offer is a tour of her small, 3-room brick house in a
working-class neighborhood.

HILDA MENDEZ: [via a translator] This is my room. I have my
collection of perfume bottles.

[The sound of Mendez and Erlich
walking down some stairs.]

ERLICH: I asked what kind of music she likes. [speaking in Spanish]
Que tipa de musica le gusta?

MENDEZ: Musica romantica.

[The sound of romantic music.]

ERLICH: Mendez likes romantic music but hasn’t had much real
romance in her life since her husband left eight years ago. He pays no child
support for their two children, and he lives in a house built on land they
jointly owned. Since Chile does not allow divorce, Mendez and hundreds of
thousands of women like her have no effective means to redress such grievances.

Under Chilean law, Mendez can’t even open a bank account
without her husband’s signature. And her ex-husband—no matter how long they’ve
been separated—will automatically inherit one-half of her estate when she dies.

MENDEZ: [via a translator] I got this house after we were
separated. But he has more rights to this house than my own son. I think it’s
unjust because he hasn’t given us one peso. There are many other single women
in this situation. We can’t get divorced. The man leaves and she’s left to
provide for the children. I can’t sell my house because I need his signature.
And he won’t give it.

translator] Chile is a very macho country, very patriarchal. And many men think
women are their property.

ERLICH: Maria Antonieta Saa is head of the Family
Commission of Chile’s House of Deputies. She helped draft a divorce bill that
passed the House five years ago, but it’s been stalled in the Senate ever
since. In April, a special Senate committee finally began debating divorce

translator] In Chile 25 percent of wives have suffered violence by their
husbands. That’s a very high amount of physical, as well as psychological
violence. This stems from the idea that a woman is a man’s property. Compared
to other countries in Latin America, we have far fewer women in public office.
We have far fewer women in the workforce compared to countries such as Mexico,
Colombia, or Venezuela. Chile is a country that discriminates a lot against

[The sound of church choral and flute music.]

ERLICH: But social conservatives, particularly the Catholic Church
hierarchy, argue that women will suffer the most if Chile passes a divorce law.
Flavio Angelini is president of a Church supported foundation that lobbies
against divorce.

FLAVIO ANGELINI: [via translator] This divorce law is against marriage, against women and children.
Women will become poorer; children will feel the conflict. The law in Chile now
promotes good marriages and allows for settling of conflicts. We think a lot of
couples want to save their marriage and resolve their problems.

ERLICH: Angelini says his group, the House of the Family
Foundation, provides social services to help couples stay together.

ANGELINI: [via a
translator] When a married couple needs advice to resolve their problems, they
come here to consult with other married couples. These counselors understand
that breaking up the marriage is not a solution. Most marriages need better
communication. We believe in preventative services.

[The sound of a church service
with the entire congregation praying.]

ERLICH: The Church leadership argues that divorce not only affects
the couple but society as a whole. Jorge Morales is an attorney for the
Catholic Church in Chile. Morales says the high number of divorces in the US
cause many societal problems.

translator] In 10 more years, half the children in the US won’t know their
father or will have a temporary parent. This is destroying society. There’s a
fear in Chile that there is a very individualistic morality developing, that
the individual is more important than the bonds that bind the community.
Passing a divorce law could lead to the legalization of abortion or genetic
manipulation of births. This is a big concern of the Church.

[The sound of a church
congregation singing.]

ERLICH: But while the Church leadership stands squarely against
divorce for ordinary people, it grants annulments to the rich and powerful.
Morales concedes that every year hundreds of Chileans, many of whom have been
married with children, apply for religious annulments. They can pay up to 30
percent of their annual income for the privilege of getting one.

A cardinal’s niece, a former minister of labor and a
daughter of former dictator General Augusto Pinochet have all received church
annulments in Chile. In fact, Jacqueline Pinochet got two. Patricia Silva is
Chief of the Department of Women’s Legal Reforms of Chile’s federal government.

a translator] The Church allows couples to split up and remarry. It’s a form of
divorce, no matter what the Church calls it. Only people with money can get
these church annulments.

ERLICH: Chile also has a system of civil annulments. And this is
where things start to get really

translator] I was married for 5 years and separated for 1½ years. Later I got
an annulment, which was finalized only 3 weeks ago.

ERLICH: Antonia
Gonzalez, an television station employee, asks that her real name not be used
for reasons that will become apparent in a moment.

GONZALEZ: [via a translator]
Chilean husbands feel very wounded when the woman leaves the marriage. Even
though I insisted, he didn’t want the annulment. But he finally agreed. I found
a lawyer. He is known for being fast and cheap. He handles 60% of all the annulments
here in Santiago, our capital. Normally he charges $600 but he only charged us
$450 because we had friends in common. My husband paid half, I paid half.

ERLICH: Gonzalez
filed a document with the court saying that the couple had lived at a different
address than what was listed on their marriage certificate. They had to find
six witnesses to lie and corroborate their story.

GONZALEZ: [via a translator] It’s
divorce, Chilean style. No one in Chile gets an annulment for valid reasons.
Everyone knows that you have to lie because there is no other way to separate.
There’s no other way.

Gonzalez strange odyssey wasn’t over yet.

GONZALEZ: [via a translator] After
the witnesses were through the official said “You are now single. But you can’t
get married for another 9 months.” I wondered why? Later he explained that you
can’t get married for nine months, because if you have children, there won’t be
any disputes over paternity.

[questioning Ms. Gonzalez in Spanish] Incredible. You don’t have DNA testing
here in Chile?

ERLICH: I asked if Chilean authorities hadn’t
heard of DNA testing.

GONZALEZ: [via a translator] Yes,
but we don’t use it very often [laughing].

6,000 Chileans a year get annulments, mostly the well-healed and well-educated.

GONZALEZ: [via a translator] In
this country, annulments are really available only to professionals and better
off people. It’s not just a question of money. You need to know how to navigate
the system, how the system works. You are lying. Workers would worry about
telling a lie and putting it on paper. Telling a lie, and putting your
signature on it, is very complicated.

ERLICH: That’s
not the only thing that’s complicated in Gonzalez’s life right now. She got an
annulment, but her live-in boyfriend is still married.

GONZALEZ: [via a translator] His
wife will never agree to an annulment. I will be permanently living with a
married man, but he’s married to someone else!

[The sound of a factory.]

ERLICH: But not
every woman in Chile favors divorce reform. Leaders of the Catholic and
evangelical Protestant churches preach that legalizing divorce will destabilize
the family. And that message effects their followers. Giovanna Vera is a
supervisor at this Santiago clothing factory.

GIOVANNA VERA: [via a translator] I
am an Evangelical Christian. Divorce is against my principals, my view of the
family. When a man and woman get married and form a family, it’s important to
save that family. In extreme cases, like family violence, they should go their
separate ways. But they should do everything to keep the family together.
Divorce is prohibited in the Bible.

[The sound of radio music.]

ERLICH: But such
arguments don’t carry much weight back at Hilda Mendez’s house. She says
opinion polls show that over 70% of Chileans support the right to divorce,
indicating that religious leaders—especially the Catholic Church hierarchy—are
out of touch with most people.

MENDEZ: [via a
translator] Obviously, the Catholic Church was formed by men. They are
religious leaders, but they are men. They don’t understand the need for divorce
for many women, and men as well. The Church thinks that a divorce law will
promote the separation of couples. But that’s wrong. If the law passes, it will
legalize the situation of many people—men and women—who have separated. The law
is written by men. They can have a wife and lover as well. They can have both.

ERLICH: And there
is a particularly well qualified person to talk about how the laws are written.
Adriana Munoz is the newly elected president of Chile’s House of Deputies.

[The sound of Ms. Munoz walking around her office; the sound
of an opening and closing door, then Ms. Munoz working at her desk.]

ERLICH: Munoz is
busy working at her office. She says many Catholics disagree with Church
doctrine on divorce and that influences local leaders. But they are held back
by Vatican policy.

ADRIANA MUNOZ: [via a translator] I
think the Catholic Church is lead by very closed people. It’s run by the
Vatican in Rome. They don’t understand the changes that have taken place among
Catholics in various countries. Many Catholics support divorce here in Chile.

ERLICH: On the
other hand, she explains, many Chileans still respect the Church, in part
because of the principled stand some Catholic leaders took against the Pinochet

MUNOZ: [via a translator] There is
a very ethical sector in the church, who understands Chilean society, who stood
for human rights and against the dictatorship. It’s hard for many people to be
against the church.

ERLICH: House of
Deputies member Maria Antonieta Saa notes that a majority of Catholics support
the right to divorce. But the Catholic hierarchy has a lot of influence with
the political elite. General Pinochet, while still dictator, forced through a
constitution that makes senators for life out of certain officials, including
military officers such as himself. Saa says the Church hierarchy has close
relations with those Senators.

SAA: [via a
translator] The Catholic Church is very powerful here within the political
class. The house passed a divorce bill in 1997, but Senate conservatives
blocked any discussion of the bill for five years. President Lagos has now sent
a divorce reform proposal to the House and Senate. Conservative Christian
Democrats have presented another proposal that would allow divorce but under
very restricted circumstances. It’s like having no right to divorce at all.

other women legislators, and political progressives all favor some kind of
divorce law reform. House of Deputies President Munoz has a particularly strong
personal interest. She’s been separated from her husband for 20 years, and he
lives in Austria. Yet she can’t get a mortgage to build a house or even enroll
her children in some Catholic schools.

MUNOZ: [via a translator] I can’t
remarry and if I lived with someone without getting married, it would be a
national scandal. It’s a permanent problem for women in this society. It’s

[Erlich questions Ms. Munoz in Spanish.]

ERLICH: I asked
what if a male politician were in the same situation?

Munoz: [via a translator] Less
complicated. [laughing]. Very much less complicated. [laughing].

says Senate conservatives have the upper hand and divorce reform will be a
tough issue to pass this year. For Common
, I’m Reese Erlich in Santiago, Chile.

Top of Page

Powerful Poetry

Listen to This Segment

Related Link
Merle Collins

Tell Us What You Think

Throughout history, literature has been a powerful force that has helped to
tear down walls and barriers of all sorts. It has been the language of
revolutions and struggles for rights and freedoms the world over. Recently, a
group of female authors from around the globe gathered in Washington to read
their work, discuss their struggles, and provide a glimpse into the lives of
women in a number of diverse cultures. Judith Smelser has more.

[reading her poetry to a group of women] “Some Day is Mother.” When my thought
are a tangle I cannot untie; when meanings are lost and I cannot say why,

Collins addresses a diverse crowd that gathered in Washington to hear the
distinguished group of writers share their work. Collins, a poet from the
Caribbean nation of Grenada, started out as a performer, reading her work
aloud. As for her poems, they grow out of her experiences living in Grenada and
all over the world. One entitled “Images” addresses the plight of women she
observed growing up in the Caribbean nation.

“Images,” yes, deals with this question of woman minding the house, minding the
children, working, but because she’s in the house, not being considered to be a
worker, so she has no pay. And yes, that was a Grenada situation that made me
write that poem, but as I move around to different places, I know that that’s
not only a Grenada experience, it’s an experience that’s replicated elsewhere.”

COLLINS: [reading
her poetry to a group of women] Images battering the receptive ever-forming
mind, watching women, watching children, women watching houses, watching… his
house, registered in his name, of course.

late ’70s and early ’80s, women in Grenada began to organize, in an attempt to
throw off those chains. The women’s movement there was directly connected to
the fight against colonialism, and Collins reflects both struggles in her
writing. Her poem “The Lesson” is about her grandmother’s view of history.

COLLINS: [reading
her poetry to a group of women] Grannie didn’t remember no Carib chief, no
Ashanti king or queen. Her heroes were in Europe, not in the Caribbean, not in
Africa, none in Grenada. Her geography was of the Arctic Ocean and the

SMELSER: The poem
goes on to promise a new history, more in line with Grenada’s indigenous

COLLINS: [reading
her poetry to a group of women] Grannies to come will know of the Arctic Ocean
but will know more of the Caribbean Sea, of the Atlantic crossing. We will
recall with pride our own, so goodbye, William. Good riddance.

SMELSER: Collins
says that poem reflects a time of resolve, among anti-colonialists and among
women’s groups. But she thinks the link between the two kept the women’s
movement from reaching its full potential. Collins ultimately left Grenada,
living for 11 years in London and settling now in the US.

[speaking individually to Smelser] I write a lot about migration. And, for
example, that poem, “She was Quiet,” in that poem, it is looking, yes, at the
experiences of a woman who had moved from Nigeria to London. And also looking
at class, issues of class because this woman is working in the kitchens. Her
experience of her life, everyday life in London, was very different, say from
the experience of someone who had moved there to study or who had moved there
to teach.

COLLINS: [reading
her poetry to a group of women] She was meek—until you looked into her eyes and
then you thought, “Well, perhaps not so much meek as undemonstrative.” She was
Mary the cook, who walked without moving, who talked without a voice, who
looked without seeing, who listened without hearing, just another faceless
person unseeing and unseen on the streets of London.

[Someone from the meeting congratulates Collins]

Collins touched many people in her Washington audience, but so did a very
different kind of writer from a very different world—Iranian novelist Goli

GOLI TARAGHI: [reading her book to
a group of women] What was it that forced him to leave home? Was it the fault
of his students who had thrown a rock at his head? Or was it the fault of the
Shah, who had abandoned and left the country? Or was it the fault of the people
or foreign intrigue? In the final analysis, it was his own fault for being
indecisive and vague about his own ideals. Somehow, he had trusted this
revolution and the judgment of the masses.

passage from the book The Adventures of
Mr. Alev in Exile
, was written more than two decades ago, but it still has
not been published. Iranian censors insist that the main character return to

TARAGHI: [speaking individually to Smelser] They’re afraid of
characters and literature because they really believe in them as real beings
and they can be a danger and they can attack their ideas and they can change
people and they can change the society, you know. And this is the strength of
literature anyway, you know—that in all the governments, totalitarian
governments, they’re always afraid of literature because literature has a
strange, strange power.

SMELSER: Taraghi
likens her life as a writer to a roller coaster. Some of her books have been
banned, while others have won top prizes in Iran. She isn’t shy about pointing
out those contradictions.

TARAGHI: [talking to a group of women] This is a country of
possibilities. Everything is possible, you know. [laughter] To be a writer and
not to be a writer, to be free and not to be free—you never know. So this is,
at the same time, gives you, you know, a sort of freedom, but a temporary

Taraghi’s sense of humor pervades everything she says and does, but she shied
away from commenting on whether the United States should pressure Iran to stop
censoring its writers. The reason became clear when she was asked if she’d ever
feared for her life.

TARAGHI: [speaking individually to Smelser] So far you know, I can
tell you that apart from censoring my books or forbidding, you know, the
publication of one or two of my books, I never had any problem; I really never
had any problem. But for sure, if I enter into the political, really, if I become
a militant and political writer, things may change.

[The sound of a large crowd at a reception]

Following the event, fans gathered for a reception and book signing. Middle
aged women tote feminist books; men argue the merits of the ideas they’d just
heard; and excited young women in jeans and colorful head scarves are thrilled
to meet the writers who were helping to explain diverse cultures to a US
audience. Yale University Professor and poet Elizabeth Alexander is the
American representative on the panel. She says slowly but surely, poetry is
growing as an art form in the US.

[talking to a group of women] It is an art form that actually is much more
exalted in other countries outside of our own but I think is finding its proper
place. I think these are actually very good times for American poetry. But it
is, you know, poets are presidents in other parts of the world.

[The sound of a large crowd at a reception]

be a bit soon to expect the next US president to come from the ranks of poets,
but if the enthusiasm of this crowd is any indication, their stature should
continue to increase in the years to come.

[The sound of a large crowd at a reception]

SMELSER: For Common Ground, I’m Judith Smelzer, in

[musical interlude]

MCHUGH: If you
have questions or comments about today’s program, visit our Web site at, or, e-mail us at [email protected]

[musical interlude]

ANNOUNCER: Common Ground is made possible by the
Stanley Foundation—on the Web at

This is Common Ground, radio’s weekly
program on world affairs.

[musical interlude]

PORTER: I’m Keith

Kristin McHugh. Coming up this half hour on Common
, why the new International Criminal Court is moving forward without
the United States.

WILLIAM PACE: The US always wanted
to be exempt. And it’s this exemption that was the cause of the US claims that
this is a flawed treaty.

transatlantic tensions and an abandoned military platform’s bid for

Top of Page

Serbia’s Slow Revival

Listen to This Segment

Related Link
Serbia Government

Tell Us What You Think

PORTER: Industry
in Yugoslavia was once the most productive in the communist bloc. But today,
after a decade of stagnation of under the administration of Slobodan Milosevic,
economists say it stands ten years behind neighbors Croatia and Hungary. Now,
help is on the way. European investment banks are helping to repair Serbia’s
infrastructure and, in a bid to support reform, the World Bank has agreed to an
$85 million loan to cover Serbia’s budget deficit. Alastair Wanklyn reports
from Belgrade on Serbia’s slow economic revival.

[The sound of a cheering crowd]

In the streets of Belgrade last year cheering crowds believed Serbia could
regain some of its lost dignity and prosperity.

Economic reconstruction and recovery is our priority.

and a half into the administration of President Voislav Kostunica, the economy
is growing and industry is showing signs of life.

[The sound of a car factory.]

WANKLYN: At this
production line in the Zastava car plant in central Serbia, tiny Yugo cars are
being assembled. Haggard-looking workers, dressed in blue overcoats and on
their feet in some cases only sandals, are using an array of tools, such as
this simple hammer used to place doors onto the half-ready vehicles.

[The sound of a hammer on metal.]

factory has a troubled past. It suffered from a lack of investment under the
Milosevic regime. It struggled under punitive Western sanctions. And survived a
missile bombardment in the early days of the Kosovo campaign. Much of that
damage has been repaired. But factory director Stanijan Stankovic says the
factory needs foreign investment.

translator] We are saying just use your tools and in seven days flat we’ll be
making your products. There’s no need to invest in people or buildings—all that
is here already.

[The sound of accordion music, the tune of the song, Those Were The Days.]

WANKLYN: Yugoslav
citizens strolling on the streets of Belgrade still feel the effects of the
Milosevic days in many ways. Big industry in Serbia fell far behind that in
neighboring countries in terms of reform and competitiveness. The Milosevic
regime failed to fire and retrain workers in loss-making jobs. That is now
changing. At the start of this year, the Zastava car factory laid off many of
its workers after the government promised to help them to retrain and find work
elsewhere. The financial cost is borne by the Kostunica administration and by
foreign creditors; but with 30 percent unemployment in this nation there may
also be a political price to pay. To support and encourage the Belgrade
government in its program, international finance bodies such as the World Bank
and smaller Europe-based banks for reconstruction are pouring funds and credit
into Serbia.

[The sounds of a small café.]

WANKLYN: At this
fashionable cafe in downtown Belgrade, customers welcome Serbia’s new
engagement with the international system. The young men and women drinking
Italian coffee here are wealthy by local standards. Some say they receive cash
from relatives working outside Serbia. They don’t trust the banks, because of
past corruption that caused investments to disappear. But here too, there’s a
cleanup underway. The government has recently closed down four of the nation’s
largest banks for good.

PREDRAG ILICH: The people are
talking all the time about the credits.

owner, Predrag Ilich, looks forward to a time when the banks are working

Predrag Ilich: With this banking
system, with new banking system, a lot of people will come back to Yugoslavia.
I think that from this point we will have much more better opportunity to work.
Like everybody else.

[The sound of a car factory.]

WANKLYN: Managers
back here at the Zastava car factory, also have their eyes on foreign capital.
Industries across Serbia are vying for early privatization, but with little
cash apparently available in Serbia, privatization is a process that economists
say will succeed only if the government can get foreigners interested. For Common Ground, I’m Alastair Wanklyn in

Top of Page

International Criminal Court

Listen to This Segment

Related Link
Rome Statute

Tell Us What You Think

MCHUGH: The fate
of former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic may greatly influence Serbia’s
long term revival. Milosevic is on trial at The Hague for allegedly committing
crimes against humanity during his reign in power. The trial is part of the UN’s International Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. Soon, however, there will
be a permanent court for trying individuals accused of committing genocide, war
crimes, and crimes against humanity. But the International Criminal Court—or
ICC—is moving forward without the United States. William Pace, the Convener of
the Coalition for the International Criminal Court, joins me now.

MCHUGH: [now
interviewing William Pace] Why don’t we start by briefly refreshing our
listeners on the history of the International Criminal Court.

proposals to create a permanent international criminal court emerge over a
hundred years ago. And so for 50-some years, since the adoption of the Geneva
Conventions and the genocide conventions in 1948 and ’49, there’s been an
effort to create a permanent international criminal court. The Cold War
basically prevented any progress. Then in the early ’90s the Security Council
set up two ad hoc tribunals on the crimes committed in the former Yugoslavia
and on the genocide in Rwanda. During this period of time the General Assembly
had been asked on the initiative of Trinidad and Tobago to reconsider the need,
the statute for a permanent international criminal court. Such a statute was
presented to the General Assembly in November of 1994. And in 1995 the
coalition for the international criminal court, the NGOs, began to try and work
to make this UN negotiation successful.
And against all expectations in July of 1998 the governments by a vote of 120
to 7 voted for the Rome statute for the international criminal court.

that’s what got us to the point that we’re at today. We know that President
Clinton signed the US on to the ICC treaty right before he left office. But
that was never sent on to the Senate for ratification. And then in May
President Bush basically said the US is going to withdraw. Does that come as a
big surprise?

PACE: Well, the
United States has been, if not the single most important leader, there’s no
other nation that has led over the last 57 years, the efforts to create
international law and international justice. President Clinton did sign the
treaty. Very, very often nations will sign a treaty and then it will take two
years, five years, ten years before they will have adopted national legislation
that allows them to ratify a treaty, etc. So the signing was an extension of the
legacy of the United States on this. The efforts to renounce the treaty is now
a renunciation also of this important legacy of the United States.

involved was the US in terms of the creation of the court up until May?

PACE: Every
article in the Rome treaty has contributions from the representatives of the
United States, so tremendous contributions from the US. The US always wanted to
be exempt. They wanted some special exemption because their military presence
and their military forces and their military responsibilities are so much
greater than any others in the world. And it’s this exemption that was the
cause of the US claims that this is a flawed treaty, not, not the treaty
itself, in our opinion.

MCHUGH: As you
mentioned, the US considers the ICC, or at least the Bush administration,
considers the ICC a flawed document, primarily because there aren’t enough
safeguards to protect against American military personnel and politicians from
malicious prosecution. Are there enough safeguards in place?

PACE: To be real
clear, the United States statement of the Undersecretary of State was that they
felt that the court could be subject to politically motivated prosecutions. And
that it should be, therefore the International Criminal Court subordinated to
the Security Council, in order to control that there wouldn’t be politically
motivated. But this is laughable to almost every international affairs expert
in the world. Because the most politicized body in the world is the Security
Council. The protections against politically motivated prosecutions are so
overwhelming in this treaty that many of the nongovernmental organizations and
others would argue that it is much weaker, say, than the ad hoc tribunals that
the Council has set up for Rwanda and Yugoslavia. National legal systems will
remain primarily responsible for investigations and prosecutions.

In that regard, the International Criminal Court is
something of a court of last resort. When, in for example, failed states, as
Yugoslavia was, as Rwanda was, Somalia, Sierra Leone. But for nations with
democratic or legally functioning systems—and no one I think presumes the
United States either military or civil legal system is going to be failed or,
or controlled by a dictator—and therefore the US could assume responsibility
for investigations and prosecutions. There are situations where if Americans
are accused of committing war crimes or crimes against humanity they could be
held responsible. But the safeguards to keep this at national prosecution levels
are enormous.

MCHUGH: So what
happens now? The treaty came into force earlier this year. Where do we go from
here? How soon does this Court become operational?

PACE: July 1 the
treaty has come into force and is now, crimes that occur after July 1 are
subject to the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court. In July we
will be completing the, the last prepatory meeting. In September will be the
first meeting of the nations that will actually be paying for the court and
setting it up—the assembly of the state parties—of nations that have ratified
the court. And in the year 2002 we will see the elections of judges and a
prosecutor, selection of a registrar. And by mid-2003 I think you’ll see a
Court that’s able to respond to referrals that are coming in from around the
world. Again, hopefully most of these can be dealt with at the national level.
But sometime in 2003 I think you will see the court beginning to commence
investigations and trials perhaps in 2003 or 2004.

remind us where it will be located?

Netherlands, which is the home of the World Court, the International Court of
Justice, and many other international organizations, asked to be the host
country. And in Rome at the time the treaty was agreed to the governments
agreed to allow the Dutch to be the host country.

MCHUGH: William Pace is the Convener of the Coalition for the
International Criminal Court. So what do you think? Should the US be part of
the International Criminal Court? Send us your feedback and we may use your
comments on the air. Our e-mail address is [email protected]

PORTER: Coming up, transatlantic tensions. And later, why an
abandoned military platform has declared independence from Britain. You’re
listening to Common Ground, radio’s
weekly program on world affairs.

Top of Page

Transatlantic Relations

Listen to This Segment

Tell Us What You Think

PORTER: In the immediate aftermath of 9/11, Europe stood
shoulder-to-shoulder with the United States. But, as witnessed during parts of
President Bush’s recent European trip, the show of unity is under strain. A
study of newspaper editorials on both sides of the Atlantic tends to suggest
that old tensions have resurfaced and new disagreements have emerged. And while
transatlantic friction is nothing new, some say that what’s different now is
that the ties which prevented a serious rift in the past have weakened. So, how
does the relationship with the Old World look from this side of the ocean?

[Sounds of a restaurant.]

PORTER: It’s a
little slice of France here in the US, created more than 20 years ago by owners
Pierre and Jacqueline Chauvet.

[Sounds of a restaurant.]

PORTER: They come
from a nation often regarded in Washington as one of America’s most difficult
allies. Anti-Americanism is common in France, where even the spread of the US
fast food giant McDonald’s has been highly controversial. But Pierre Chauvet
detects a shift in Gaelic attitudes.

Last year I went to France and McDonald’s was packed on the Champs Elysee. I
went to Cannes, McDonald’s was packed. And I mean, you know, I think the French
change, especially the young people.

French may be falling for Big Macs, but that doesn’t mean they’re prepared to
swallow US foreign policy. In France and elsewhere in Europe there’s
considerable opposition to the prospect of military action against Saddam
Hussein. That’s because Europe and the United States have very different
approaches to problem solving, according to Helmut Sonnenfledt, a long-time
guest scholar at the Brookings Institution in Washington.

They believe that when there are problems, even, or the dangerous problems, the
way to deal with them is through engagement, contact. And there is a tendency
in this country to think about the possible use of force, because of the,
precisely the kind of thing that happened on 9/11.

joins a laundry list of disagreements which are straining transatlantic
relations. President Bush is already under fire in Europe over issues ranging
from the death penalty to the environment. It all has a familiar feel to Washington Post columnist Sebastian
Mallaby, who was brought up in Britain.

Ronald Reagan was portrayed as this quick shooting, slow thinking, cowboy
president, much in the way that I think now George Bush is portrayed. So in
some sense there is continuity.

PORTER: European
hostility is raising hackles in Washington.

DESMOND DINAN: I would say the
perception of Europe at the moment is negative, if not outright hostile.

Desmond Dinan, who moved to the US from his native Ireland in the mid-’80s, and
is now a professor at George Mason University in Alexandria, Virginia.

DINAN: The feelings of hostility
toward Europe come mostly from the right in the United States. And it has to do
mostly with policy toward the Middle East. And what is seen in right wing
circles here as Europe’s criticism of Israel and of American policy toward

PORTER: There’s
also concern in Washington about the widening gap in military capabilities
between the US and its European allies. Richard Pearl, a Resident Fellow at the
American Enterprise Institute and an influential conservative voice in
Washington, predicts a time of shifting relationships.

we look at the evolution of politics in Europe, the United Kingdom and Russia
may be the two countries whose interests are most closely aligned not with
their European neighbors but with the United States.

PORTER: Sebastian
Mallaby at the Washington Post says
the end of the Cold War has changed perceptions of the United States in Europe.

was this very real and present danger of the Soviet Union, right on their
doorsteps. And so ultimately, when push came to shove they always sided with
the United States. They sided with the alliance, with NATO, and so forth. Now I
think it’s much more a sense of an optional alliance with the United States.
There’s a sense that, that failure is, is possible.

supporters of strong transatlantic relations like Helmut Sonnenfeldt predict
that traditional ties will survive the current tensions.

Despite the strains and sometimes vigorous disagreements, the relationship
between North America or the United States and Europe remains a unique
international relationship.

PORTER: So, the
current friction between the United States and Europe is either a return to
business as usual or the start of a long-term readjustment.

[musical interlude]

Top of Page


Listen to This Segment

Related Link

Tell Us What You Think

governments extend the global war on terrorism to cyberspace, an abandoned
military platform in the waters off the south coast of Britain claims to have
found a new way to give authorities the slip.

MCHUGH: So-called
Sealand is making a sizable profit by renting out space on its many computer
servers to clients around the globe who want to keep their data from prying
eyes. Those who claim ownership of Sealand insist they are outside the law
because they declared independence from Britain before territorial waters were
extended. Suzanne Chislett has more on this offshore portal to the Internet.

[The sound of a boat cutting through waves.]

often bumpy seven-mile speed boat ride over the choppy waters of the English
Channel is the only way to reach the principality of Sealand. It may sound like
the mythical Atlantis, but this is a concrete and metal tennis-court sized
platform, which stands an impressive 50 feet above the waves. [Now with the
sound of machinery in the background.] It’s a paradise to the nameless and
faceless clients who want to ensure their Internet servers and confidential
documents are as far away from the prying eyes of the world’s governments as
possible. Sealand began life as a World War 2 gunnery platform, but following
its abandonment fell into disrepair and was almost forgotten by the British
government. Then in the 1960s…

[The sound of a 1960s Radio Essex jingle.]

radio stations took off and the sea giant became the home of Radio Essex.

[The sound of a 1960s Radio Essex jingle continues, followed
by 1960s rock music.]

from the licensing laws of the UK the abandoned defense post was an ideal base.
And as one tenant departed another arrived, as the men now aboard Sealand
fondly remember.

The day before Britain extended its territorial waters from three miles to
twelve miles during the fishing wars, the Bates family declared independence
here and made it a principality.

current self-styled Prince of Sealand is Michael Bates and it is thanks to his
interesting take on entrepreneurship that the platform is now making money by
renting out server space to those who don’t want to be tracked down. In just
one year Sealand’s computer deck has grown from three servers to row upon row
of machinery, which 24 hours a day, every day, keep the secrets of their
clients. Prince Michael flatly refuses to name any names.

BATES: I can’t
discuss the clients. I mean that’s just a confidential thing. That’s the whole
idea. It’s a secure location with secure clients. Even the clients don’t get to
access the machines and when the machines are bought, the machines come directly
from our suppliers in case somebody puts a bugging device in or a bomb in it or
anything like that.

widely believed the majority of clients are finance and gaming companies.
Bates’ only stipulation is no child pornography. Recently a group of Canadian
students investigated the prospect of following in the footsteps of online
music swap site Napster by examining the opportunity of renting server space on
Sealand. Matt Goyer, one of those involved, says the no tax rule of Sealand was
just one of the advantages.

MATT GOYER: Well, Sealand is a good
place for a couple of reasons. One, they have no copyright laws. Two, they
haven’t signed the major intellectual property convention, the Bern Convention
and three, they do no real trade with the United States’ government, so the US
government can’t impose any trade embargoes on them and they can’t be pressured
into a situation where they would have to shut us down.

international legal experts are not convinced that Sealand really is a safe

The courts in the United States and elsewhere don’t look to where the server
resides. What’s really more important is where the damage caused by using the
server results or where the person resides who controls the server.

E-commerce lawyer Barry Sookman believes individual nations could take action
if they wanted to.

courts in those countries have made it very clear that where infringement
results from activities in foreign places but that have implications in the
United States or Canada, that they have jurisdiction to deal with it.

though, Sealand and its various mysterious clients appear to have escaped the
law and business is reportedly booming.

[The sound of 1960s rock music.]

that situation continues, remains to be seen. For Common Ground, I’m Suzanne Chislett in London.

MCHUGH: That’s
our show for this week. If you have questions or comments about today’s
program, visit our Web site at Or, e-mail us at
[email protected] Please drop us a line. We’d love to hear
from you.

Transcripts and information on how to order copies of this and other Common Ground programs are also
available on our Web site, I’m Keith Porter.

Kristin McHugh. Cliff Brockman is our Associate Producer. B.J. Liederman
created our theme music. Additional compositions by Wink Music.

ANNOUNCER: Common Ground is made possible by the
Stanley Foundation. The Stanley Foundation promotes public understanding,
constructive dialogue, and cooperative action on critical international issues.
On the Web at

Top of Page

© 2002 by The Stanley Foundation
RealAudio® is a registered trademark of RealNetworks, Inc.