New Internationalist Issue 275
The material that follows has been provided by New Internationalist
From this month's editor
When I was a subscriber to the NI rather than one of its editors I used to value it not just because it reached the parts of the planet that other magazines don't reach, but also for its unpredictability. Every three or four issues there seemed to be something maverick in the magazine's treatment that varied the pace of a subscription and offered a different way into a subject.
It was only when I joined the staff that I found those maverick treatments had often emerged out of desperation as a small co-operative with limited resources coped with the demands of producing an international magazine of quality every month.
The operation is not run so much by the seat of the pants these days and maybe some of that ragged, raw unpredictability has gone. Good riddance, you might well think. But we still value a treatment that puts a different twist on a subject and thereby opens a few doors that would otherwise remain shut.
This is why we have chosen to base this issue on a fiction - that a World People's Court has been established without the major powers managing to scupper it in advance, and that a prosecution team is about to bring cases against five important public figures around the world for their various 'crimes against humanity'. The crimes outlined, though - and the damage done to the ordinary people on the other end of them - are very real.
We do not witness their trial. Instead the dossier that the prosecution team has compiled is opened to our gaze, including not just the charges, the anticipated defence and the requested sentence but also the meditations of the Chief Prosecutor on how the case should be played.
You might justifiably feel that these five people are by no means the world's worst 'fugitives from justice' and that there are plenty of brutal dictators still polluting the world who deserve to be put in the dock. This is perfectly true - and the Facts spread on Page 18 breaks down the human-rights record of what we consider to be the ten worst dictatorships in the world, while on Page 12 you will find out what many of the most infamous dictators from the recent past are up to now. But if the case against Saddam Hussein had been followed by a litany of the crimes of General Abacha of Nigeria the magazine would surely have become repetitive as well as thoroughly depressing.
So we have selected a slightly less obvious quintet. I would dearly like to have included a sixth who would have been less obvious still: Professor Jeffrey Sachs, the Harvard economist who has acted as a consultant exporting free-market shock therapy to both Latin America and Eastern Europe. But the case against him didn't quite gel in the time we had available. Maybe next time - any dirt you have on the dear professor may be dished to this address.
for the New Internationalist Co-operative
©Copyright: New Internationalist 1996