Wednesday, March 16, 2016

House Unanimously Passes Resolution Calling ISIS Actions "Genocide"

On Tuesday, the U.S. House of Representatives passed by a vote of 393-0 House Concurrent Resolution 75 (full text) that expresses the sense of Congress that atrocities committed by ISIS against Christians and other ethnic and religious minorities should be labeled war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide. As pointed out in this CNN Op-Ed by Frida Ghitis:
This was one more maneuver in a long-running battle between Congress and the administration. Months ago, Congress set a deadline of March 17 for the State Department to designate ISIS actions as genocide. But according to news reports, Obama administration officials say it appears likely the administration will let the deadline pass while it ponders the legal consequences of the designation.
Some have charged that the State Department's concern is that once ISIS's actions are labelled "genocide," under the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide the United States would be committed to "prevent" and "punish" it. However, in a State Department press briefing on Monday, spokesman John Kirby said in part:
[T]here’s a legal definition for genocide. But I don’t want to get into the specifics of it at this point given that the Secretary’s still working his way through his own determination.... [H]e’s taking it very seriously, and ... he wants to take an analytical approach to this based on the best information that’s available....  [T]he argument that somehow it’s being slow-walked or slow-rolled because of the likely pressure that it might result in further calls for military action just is baseless....