Ferencz Letter to the New York Times: Murder or Self-Defense?

To the Editor:

Re "Making Rules in the World Between War and Peace" (Week in Review, Aug. 19):

Legal experts disagree on whether assassination of political adversaries is illegal murder or permissible self-defense. While international violence remains unchecked by clearer laws and effective legal institutions designed to discourage such violence, innocent victims will continue to be killed.

The international criminal court now being formed at the United Nations, despite opposition by the United States, aims to deter such crimes against humanity. The new court will build on the hopes espoused by the United States at the Nuremberg war crimes trials that looked to international law to maintain peace and security for all. To stop unrestrained violence, let us never forget that law is always better than war.

New Rochelle, N.Y., Aug. 19, 2001
The writer was a Nuremberg war crimes prosecutor.