June 20, 2007

Rothman-Kirk Resolution Passes: House Calls on UN to Charge Iranian President with Violating the Genocide Convention and UN Charter

Today, the U.S. House of Representatives passed Congressman Steve Rothman's (D-NJ) resolution urging the United Nations (UN) Security Council to charge Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad with violating the 1948 Genocide Convention and the UN Charter. To join the UN, Iran agreed to abide by both accords, but Ahmadinejad has violated both by publicly calling for Israel to be "wiped off the map."

Rothman's bipartisan Resolution (H.Con.Res.21), which he introduced with Rep. Mark Kirk (R-IL), passed by a vote of 411 to 2.

"When the leader of an armed nation such as Iran calls for the destruction of a fellow member state of the United Nations, the UN must prosecute and punish him. It is my hope that this resolution will effectively increase pressure on the United Nations to hold Iranian President Ahmadinejad accountable for his genocidal words and prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons," said Rothman.

Ahmadinejad has repeatedly and publicly called for Israel to be 'wiped off the map.' Yet, the 1948 Genocide Convention not only prohibits genocide, but also prohibits 'direct and public incitement to commit genocide.' It also provides that no one is above the law. People advocating genocidal crimes shall be punished whether they are constitutionally responsible rulers, public officials or private individuals.

Further, Article 2, Section 4 of the United Nations charter - to which Iran has agreed - requires all UN member states to 'refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state.'

H.Con.Res.21 makes it clear that the U.S. Congress sees Ahmadinejad's statements as violating both the letter and spirit of these international pacts. H.Con.Res.21 had strong bipartisan support leading up to today's vote, with103 co-sponsors, including 57 Democrats and 46 Republicans.

"The prohibitions against genocidal hate speech against nations and peoples exist for a reason," said Congressman Rothman. "No one heeded the danger of Adolf Hitler's hateful calls for the death of the Jewish people and six million of them were killed by Hitler's followers."

Congressman Kirk has pointed out that: "In the past, dictators often tell us what crimes they will commit long before they strike. If we learn from that lesson, we will take early action against the Iranian leader who has told us that he hopes to murder many."
Reps. Rothman and Kirk sit on the House Appropriations Committee's Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Agencies, which oversees U.S. spending on foreign aid and the activities of the U.S. State Department.

The text of Rep. Rothman's speech in support of H.Con.Res.21 is online at:
http://rothman.house.gov/news_releases/2007/june18.htm .