From The Australian, October 19, 2007, by Dore Gold [former Israel ambassador to the UN head of the Jerusalem Centre for Public Affairs]:
THE debate in Australia - kick-started by Opposition Leader Kevin Rudd last month - over the applicability of the genocide convention to the threats of mass murder made by Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is not only welcome. It is part of a larger global movement to find effective ways of stopping Iran from carrying out its declared plan to dominate its neighbours and wipe Israel off the map.
[The question now is : what will Howard/Downer do? - SL]
....The Australian Labor leader is not alone in criticising Ahmadinejad. In June, the US House of Representatives overwhelmingly adopted legislation (411-2) determining that Ahmadinejad's rhetoric did indeed violate the genocide convention.
Earlier in the year, Conservative and Labour members of the British House of Commons lent support to this idea, as did Nobel Peace Prize laureates David Trimble and Elie Wiesel.
It is important to recall that the genocide convention was really born in 1946 when the UN General Assembly first characterised genocide as a crime under international law.
As the horrors of the Holocaust sank into the conscience of the newly formed UN, this resolution evolved into a binding international treaty. The resulting convention, however, was conceived to punish the crime of genocide and to prevent genocide. To accomplish this goal, article three of the convention stated that "direct and public incitement to commit genocide" was a punishable act.....
Actions in Canada against Ahmadinejad are particularly interesting. Irwin Cotler, Canada's former attorney-general, undertook legal proceedings in Canada against Rwandan Hutus involved in incitement to genocide. According to Cotler, Ahmadinejad's rhetoric was "as direct and public, clear and compelling" a case of incitement to genocide as he had seen, even in comparison with the Rwandan case. He did not leave this as a rhetorical judgment alone.
A Canadian parliamentary committee adopted a motion by Cotler to refer Ahmadinejad's genocidal incitement to the UN Security Council to obtain action by the International Court of Justice in The Hague. Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper has also characterised Ahmadinejad's rhetoric as genocidal.
Ahmadinejad is testing the waters of international reaction with his threats to destroy Israel and his denial of the Holocaust. To threaten the use of force against a fellow UN member state is a blatant violation of the UN charter. Yet Ahmadinejad gets away with it. He even gets to address the UN General Assembly, as he did last month.
The failure of the international community to even register any serious complaint only whets his appetite. It becomes difficult for his rivals in Tehran to argue that he has gone too far or that he should accept full international inspection of the Iranian nuclear program. Thus this is not just a point of discussion for international legal experts but a matter affecting international security.
For at this point, Ahmadinejad has managed to use genocidal language with impunity.
Former UN secretary-general Kofi Annan has described the UN's past treatment of the Rwandan genocide as "our collective failure". The warning signs were present and even reported by UN officials, yet nothing was done. The same failure is being repeated in Darfur. In Rwanda, the preferred instrument for mass murder was the machete. In the case of Iran, it is a nuclear-tipped missile. The genocide convention is too important to just ignore.
Australia is uniquely positioned to take a stand based on principle over Iran's repeated statements on the destruction of Israel. Moreover, by leading the defence of international law, Australia could also enhance international security, as the Iranians come to realise that a coalition of states can emerge that will not stand for the rhetoric of mass murder.
For a full report on this issue see "Referral of Iranian President Ahmadinejad on the Charge of Incitement to Commit Genocide" (1M pdf file download)