The Merchants of Death War Crimes Tribunal (November 10-13, 2023) will hold accountable — through testimony of witnesses — U.S. weapons manufacturers who knowingly produce and sell products which attack and kill not only combatants but non-combatants as well. These manufacturers may have committed Crimes Against Humanity as well as violated U.S. Federal criminal laws. The Tribunal will hear the evidence and render a verdict.
To reach the largest possible audience and to maximize international participation, the testimonies of the witnesses for the Tribunal will be video-recorded throughout the upcoming year as investigative teams identify witnesses and elicit their testimony. This will include testimonies from the victims of war, military and weapons analysts, lawyers, journalists, and moral philosophers and theologians.
These recorded testimonies will then be presented to the Tribunal and a world-wide audience (via the internet) during the weekend of November 11, 2023. The opening session with the Tribunal members will be live (and livestreamed) providing an opportunity to introduce each Tribunal member, review the purpose of the Tribunal, the charges at issue, and the naming of the defendants. Similarly, the final session of the weekend will be live with Tribunal members discussing the evidence and offering their opinions and recommendations.
Teams of college and university students led by their professors and lawyers will conduct many of the aforementioned video interviews around the world. We will ask corporate directors of weapons manufacturers to sit for recorded interviews. A video library of these testimonies will be assembled over the course of the next year. The video testimonies will then be reviewed by lawyers and analysts to select those that are most pertinent.
By presenting prerecorded videos of the witnesses rather than live testimonies, we will create a structured and unique presentation of the evidence to the Tribunal. Technical interruptions and other delays during the Tribunal will be minimized. Additionally, the gathering of video evidence can begin soon.
An outline of the presentation is as follows:
These five sessions will be followed by discussion and recommendations by Tribunal members.
Kathy Kelly, a peace activist and author, made over two dozen trips to Afghanistan from 2010 – 2019, living with young Afghan Peace Volunteers in a working class neighborhood in Kabul. She learned about conditions in Afghanistan through encounters with mothers and children, many of whom were directly affected by war. With Voices in the Wilderness companions, from 1996 - 2003, she traveled 27 times to Iraq, defying the economic sanctions and remaining in Iraq throughout the Shock and Awe bombing and the initial weeks of the invasion. Kathy has been an educator for most of her life, but she believes children of war and those who are victims of violence have been her most important teachers. She is board president of World BEYOND War and a co-coordinator of the Ban Killer Drones campaign. (www.bankillerdrones.org)
Nick Mottern is Co-coordinator with Kathy Kelly of BanKillerDrones.org and is an organizer of the Merchants of Death War Crimes Tribunal, which will be holding hearings in November 2023. He is a member of the national board of Veterans For Peace. He is also a reporter, whose work has appeared on Truthout, Common Dreams, Counterpunch and on other websites, and he is a researcher and organizer who has worked for the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Nutrition and Human Needs, Bread for the World and Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers. While with Maryknoll he coordinated, with Jerry Herman, of the American Friends Service Committee, the Africa Peace Tour, an educational tour that brought Africans to the U.S. to speak about apartheid and U.S. military involvement in Africa.
Brad Wolf is a lawyer, former prosecutor, professor, and community college dean. He is cofounder of Peace Action Network of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, an affiliate of Peace Action and a partner of World BEYOND War. Brad is a full-time activist for peace and justice and his writings have been published in The Progressive, Common Dreams, Counterpunch, Antiwar.com, Consortium News, and Dappled Things. He recently authored a book on Philip Berrigan's collected writings entitled "A Ministry of Risk."