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Last Surviving Nuremburg Prosecutor; Trade Deal Between the E.U. and Canada; Estimates Say 68% of Wildlife will be Gone by 2020

Aired October 27, 2016 - 23:00:00   ET


GEORGE HOWELL, CNN ANCHOR: From CNN world headquarters in Atlanta, I'm George Howell. This is "CNN NEWS NOW."

The president of Turkey says that he is willing to be part of the U.S.- backed offensive to reclaim Raqqa from ISIS. The Syrian city is the militant group's symbolic capital. However, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan

doesn't want the Kurdish militia groups involved. Turkey considers them terrorist.

Protestors in Venezuela clashed with police for the second day in a row. The opposition is accusing the government there of blocking a presidential

referendum. And for the fourth time this year, the nation's President Nicolas Maduro is raising the country's minimum wage. Critics say, though,

that is not enough to solve the brutal economic crisis in that country.

A plane carrying the U.S. vice presidential candidate Mike Pence skidded off the runway at LaGuardia in New York just a few hours ago. No one was

hurt in that incident. Donald Trump phoned his running mate after that incident to make sure that everyone was OK on that plane.

The first lady of the United States, Michelle Obama, appeared for the first time on the campaign trail with Hillary Clinton in the state of North

Carolina, Thursday. The first lady says Clinton is the most experienced U.S. presidential candidate ever. That event drew one of Clinton's biggest

crowds yet.

That's your "CNN News Now." Amanpour is up next. This is CNN, the world's news leader.


CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN HOST: Tonight, shocking images out of Yemen as people descend into starvation, as the war crimes allegation grow there, in

Syria and elsewhere, will anyone be held to account. We speak to the man who prosecuted history's biggest murder trial at Nuremburg.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm pleading with them, stop the killing. You cannot continue this way. Turn to the rule of law. Even if you get a bad

decision, it's better than the war as I have seen it as a combat soldier.


AMANPOUR: Plus, back from the brink. How did the tiny region of Wallonia in Belgium almost derail a major European trade deal with Canada? The E.U.

trade commissioner joins me.

Good evening, everyone, and welcome to the program. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London.

Millions of people in Yemen are starving and on the brink of famine according to the United Nations. New images revealing the horror of what's

been called a forgotten war.

This is 18-year-old Saida Ahmad Baghili starving to death in a country where war has made endemic poverty and hunger much, much worse. A Saudi-

led coalition which began air strikes in March last year has been accused of possible war crimes by human rights groups, which criticizes

indiscriminate bombing of civilian areas. And earlier this month, Riyadh had to apologize for hitting a funeral hall and killing about 150 people.

And Syria's nearly six-year war grows more vicious by the day. The latest atrocity, this attack on a school in the northern province of Idlib

yesterday, which killed at least 35 people. The former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown today said the ICC should take this case.

Syria and its Russian backers have been accused of conducting war crimes, which they deny. And last night on this program, you heard from the U.N.'s

human rights high commissioner.


ZEID RA'AD AL HUSSEIN, UNITED NATIONS HIGH COMMISSIONER FOR HUMAN RIGHTS: I think we have a duty to speak out when we see this sort of bombing. No

matter where it may be taking place. Whether it's in Syria, in Yemen and Afghanistan, all parties to a conflict must of course abide by

international humanitarian law and we will call them out whoever the attacker may be.


AMANPOUR: The Nuremberg Tribunal, which prosecuted Nazi leaders after World War II set the benchmark.


BENJAMIN FERENCZ, NUREMBERG TRIALS PROSECUTOR: Submitted by these defendants was dictated not by military necessity but by that supreme

perversion of thought, the Nazi theory of the master race.


AMANPOUR: That was the American Benjamin Ferencz in 1947. And today at 96 years old, he is the last surviving Nuremburg prosecutor. He has dedicated

his life to accountability and the rule of law, in light of persistent war crimes committed today. We reached him where he's retired in Florida.


AMANPOUR: Ben Ferencz, welcome to our program.

FERENCZ: Thank you.

AMANPOUR: You are 96 years old now, but what a history you have had, from being a young soldier in World War II and then liberating many of the

concentration camps. I wonder what impact that had on you then and today.

FERENCZ: I'm certain that it had a permanent impact on me, not merely because of the emotional reaction to seeing what I've seen as the liberator

of concentration camps. Dead people lying all around. You couldn't tell if they were dead or alive.

The crematory are going, the bodies stacked up like cordwood before the bodies, before they are burned. But certainly the traumatic affect has

remained with me because I have dedicated most of my life, practically all of my life to trying to prevent that thing, that sort of thing from

happening again. In short, to prevent war making itself. It will happen in every war.


AMANPOUR: Indeed. In the absence of stopping war making, maybe making the rules of war stick and insisting on accountability. You were recruited to

be a prosecutor for the United States. You did one of the last trials of the Nazis. I believe 22 people you tried, and they were all found guilty.

And I believe they killed more than a million people between them.

FERENCZ: That's correct.

AMANPOUR: I want you to tell me --


FERENCZ: Including hundreds of thousands of children.

AMANPOUR: Oh, my goodness.

From your perspective, what is the importance of the accountability process, the war crimes trials?

FERENCZ: The importance is the difference between life and death. We are now living in a world where the capacity to kill other human beings was

incredible. In the days when I was a combat soldier carrying an M-1 rifle, we have the capacity from cyberspace to kill everybody on this planet.

And if we don't learn to organize ourselves or we settle our disputes without the use of armed force, we're going to destroy everybody on this

planet. So it couldn't be more important. I'm a believer in the rule of law. The Harvard Law School gave me their highest Medal of Freedom.

I appreciate it because the previous recipient had been Nelson Mandela. And so I have been trying to use the law as an instrumentality to prevent

the illegal use of armed force. And I see that as the only salvation that I can contribute to in making it a more humane world.

AMANPOUR: Today, when we see what's happening in Yemen and the emaciated figures of so many people who the war has prevented from getting enough

food and water, and obviously it looks a lot like some of what you found in the concentration camps, the skeletal figures. I wonder if that resonates

with you as well?

FERENCZ: Oh, absolutely. When I was a prosecutor in the biggest murder trial in human history, I was then only 27 years old, but I made the pitch.

I said the people, the million people, thousands of children shot, one shot at a time, were killed because they didn't share the race and the religion

and the ideology of their executioners.

And I thought that was a horrible thing, and I have been trying to prevent it, and we see it repeated again. The scenes you describe from Syria and

elsewhere, and Africa and other parts of the world, are repeating themselves because they have been unable to accept the rule of law. They

haven't had the vision to see that it's vital for their own survival.

AMANPOUR: When it comes to Syria, we're now nearly six years into a war which is proving to be more and more brutal particularly against civilians.

The Russians and their allies using bunker-busting bombs, children being massacred, and now the United States and the U.N. and others are suggesting

that war crimes are being committed.

And, you know, when I asked the Russian foreign minister about this and showed him pictures about what his bombs are doing, he said, well, this has

to be, you know, adjudicated in a court of law.

But these people don't want to be presented to a court of law. What would your advice be?

FERENCZ: My advice is to recognize that you cannot kill an ideology with a gun. That's what they're trying to do. People who are prepared to kill

and to die for their particular cause, whether it would be nationalistic, or religion or economic, you can't threaten them with imprisonment. They

become martyrs.

So it's necessary for us to recognize there's got to be a better way, and there was after the first -- the Second World War. They decided after

about 100 million people were killed to set up an International Criminal Court, and that court would then settle the disputes between states and

between individuals.

Crimes are committed by individuals, and if there is no one to settle it, because each side is ready to kill a guy for his cause and there is no

third party intermediary which can have a fair judgment or reach a compromise, there's no choice for them but to continue killing each other

and that's what they are doing. Not only Syria, all parts of the world today.

And I'm pleading with them, stop the killing. You cannot continue this way. Turn to the rule of law. Even if you get a bad decision, it's better

than the war as I have seen it as a combat soldier.

AMANPOUR: Well, it is amazing to see your passion and your commitment and your sharp legal mind at the age of 96 and after so much that you have

done. So what would you say then and how do you feel about the -- what looks like, you know, the beginnings of the dissolution of the

International Criminal Court?

Because we've had African countries pull out, Mr. Ferencz. We've had, you know, Gambia and South Africa, and Burundi and now maybe Kenya and Namibia,

and they are saying, hey, this is bias. This is humiliating us Africans?

FERENCZ: It is not the dissolution of international law that you are pointing to. You are witnessing the downward scope of a spiral which is

spiraling slowly upwards. It goes down and then it comes up again.

The amount of progress we have made is fantastic. And I see it from the perspective of a man who has been working on this all of my life. We have

international courts for the first time. We have changes in the way people think. That's our basic problem, to educate people to be willing to

compromise, to have more compassion, to be prepared to accept a compromise.

Either you have a court with enforcement powers, which we haven't even started to work on under the United Nations charter, or you're going to

have to change the way people think. They all recognize it is a horrible thing. And it's an absolutely horrible, stupid thing what they do now when

the heads of state don't agree. They send young people out to kill other young people they don't even know, who may have done them no harm, who may

have done nobody any harm.

And when they get tired of killing each other, they pause, they declare victory, they rest a while, then they start again. That is the current

system. It's crazy. It's absolutely stark, raving mad. It's genocidal homicide. And everything else I can think about and it will take a while.

And what you are describing are the ups and downs which are inevitable, regrettable and the longer they delay, the more pain and suffering they

will have.

AMANPOUR: Well, one final question on the International Criminal Court. The African leaders say that it is biased against the continent. They

probably mean it's biased against them. But, yesterday, I was speaking to the U.N. human rights high commissioner who said, you know what, it may be

biased against leaders who are committing crimes, but it is there for the victims.

FERENCZ: The court was not built to defend the strong and the powerful. It was there to protect the victims and any attack on it, no matter what

the accusation is. Ultimately it's an attack on victims themselves.

AMANPOUR: What do you think? Do you think there are legitimate accusations of bias against the ICC?

FERENCZ: They are absolutely absurd. The chief prosecutor of the ICC Fatou Bensouda is herself from Gambia. A very lovely black woman. Same of

prince of Jordan, who is high commissioner of human rights as you call it has been dedicating his life as well to building up the International

Criminal Court.

So the thought that a black person would be the prosecutor and deliberately excluding everybody except black defendants is absurd. It is just -- but

they don't recognize.

The main problem is you can't arrest, you don't have the power, you don't have the mechanism to arrest the president of the United States or the

prime minister of Germany or Russia. We don't have the physical power. We have no institution set up to give us that power. The results is what you

are getting now. Everybody does what he thinks is in his own best interests and they have no other alternative other than to use armed force,

which is getting more and more deadly all the time.

AMANPOUR: Ben Ferencz, thank you so much for joining me. That was a great pleasure.

FERENCZ: OK. I look forward to hearing or seeing your broadcast.


AMANPOUR: And talking about the Saudi atrocity against the funeral home, we said that they had apologized. And we should also say that they have

opened an investigation into exactly what happened there.

Today, the European parliament awarded the Sakharov Prize for human rights, recognizing some new heroes in this struggle. The Iraqi-Yazidi women Nadia

Murad Basee and Lamiya Aji Bashar who escaped lives as ISIS sex slaves and now help the Yazidi community still at risk.

When we come back, we go back to Brussels and a crisis at the heart of the European Union, the off again, on again trade deal with Canada. The blocks

trade commissioner joins me after this break.


AMANPOUR: Welcome back to the program.

A landmark trade deal between the European Union and Canada has gotten a last-minute reprieve after half of Belgium threatened to derail a deal that

was seven years in the making. The Wallonia Region thought it threatened their farmers and their environment. The regional government there walking

away from today's talks happy with the outcome at last.


PAUL MAGNETTE, MINISTER PRESIDENT OF THE WALLONIA GOVERNMENT (through translator): After long negotiations, we finally reached an agreement

between Belgians that will be submitted to the European institutions. Wallonia is extremely happy that its demands were heard. We always fought

for treaties that strengthen social, environmental norms and protect public services.


AMANPOUR: Sitting here in London, surely this cautionary tale cannot be lost on Brexit, Britain. That and the crisis of confidence in

globalization in my conversation with the E.U. Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom.


AMANPOUR: Commissioner, welcome to the program.


AMANPOUR: So are we sure now that this deal will be made, will be signed and what brought it back from the brink?

MALMSTROM: Well, we're not certain yet, but the Belgian different entities had declared that they are happy with the agreement and the discussions

that has been going on on the highest level led by the Belgian prime minister now for three days. And they will now anchor it in the different

federal parliaments. And then, of course, we need to make sure that also the other 27 E.U. countries are fine, but we are very close now so I'm


AMANPOUR: What do you think of the hold? As I understand, it needs to be signed by Friday night, is that correct?

MALMSTROM: The prime minister of Belgium gave his Belgian counterparts a deadline until Friday after midnight. But I think there will be debates

already tomorrow morning, Friday, in the different entities. So hopefully by tomorrow afternoon or early evening, there will be a conclusion to this


AMANPOUR: OK. Can I just point out, we have a big map on our table here, and this map is showing that the Wallonia region, which held out against

this deal and nearly catapulted the deal into oblivion is about half the region of Belgium. But if you put that into the whole map of the E.U., it

is all a very, very, very, very small region to be able to torpedo a deal that has been worked on for so long by so many. How is that possible?

MALMSTROM: Well, indeed. The Belgian constitution is very special because they have this rule or the laws that international agreements such as this

one have to be approved by all the federal governments.

And when all of the other member states some ten days ago declared that we are ready to sign, Belgium was not in position to do that because of this

internal division.

Now, hopefully, we're getting over this and of course for the future we will have to discuss how we will make agreements on trade agreements for

the future. We have around 20 in the making, or almost 20, and we have already 40 in place.

AMANPOUR: Well, let's talk about the future, because obviously this is front and center, whether it's Brexit negotiations about making new trade

deals or whatever it might do -- might be.

I mean Belgium itself was dysfunctional for more than a year. It didn't even have a government because of disputes between the two sides.

Doesn't this kind of action bode very badly for the E.U.'s ability to sign trade deals?

MALMSTROM: Well, of course, the world has been looking at us very closely these last several ten days or a week, and asking themselves how is it

possible. And, of course, the E.U. is going through quite a lot of internal crisis. So this is not adding positive image to it, and that's

why it is so important that we really get an agreement on this, that we can also start engaging early on the other trade agreements as we try to do


I mean, I am traveling the whole European Union and many others in order to try to engage with the citizens to overcome the skepticism and this anti-

globalization that is so strong and makes so many people unsecured and worried about these trade agreements. But it is a bit surprising that an

agreement with Canada, a country who is so close to the European Union shares so many values, and we have so much in common not only on trade but

on so many other global issues, that this has led to such controversy. Of course many of our other partners are worrying.

AMANPOUR: I do want to read you a few stats and ask you to explain and expand, because for whatever reason, there seems to be sort of a growing

tipping point of opinion against global trade deals.

You see it playing out in elections from the United States to around Europe. But you have said that obviously these trade deals are incredibly

important, quote, "A billion euros of trade per year creates 15,000 jobs. Already today exports to Canada support 900,000 jobs."

Why aren't people getting that message? What are you all doing clearly wrong?

MALMSTROM: Well, something apparently. Even if we have really worked, not only myself and my team. As I said, we are traveling across the European

Union, meeting with civil society, trade unions, small and medium size business, environmental organizations to try to listen to the concerns and

explain, because I meet so many, especially small and medium size companies, who say that we do already today export to Canada, for instance,

but it costs us 18 percent in tariffs, or 30 percent in tariffs and we could get rid of that. It would be cheaper for us and we could employ more


But that link making it easier to trade and increased investment growth and jobs, somehow we have failed to explain that. And there we must do much

more, of course, engaging with all of the member states and also for the companies themselves to help to make that case and explain the importance

for the different communities across Europe.

AMANPOUR: Again, another amazing statistic. 31 million jobs in the E.U. depend on exports. So here are these statistics, and you have to try to

tell the story properly.

But what on the other flip side of the coin does this Canada experience say to Britain, a Brexit Britain, which says, oh, well, we can, you know,

negotiate trade deals with all the different members of the E.U. and everybody around the world?

MALMSTROM: Well, I think the current climate, and you just referred also to the debate in the United States, shows that trade, globalization, issues

related to open borders, migration are very controversial today.

So it won't be easy for anybody to do this. And we really need to engage and to be pedagogic and make sure that we work from a very early stage in

an inclusive, transparent way.

We are trying to reform the E.U. policy in that direction, but it takes time. And many people are still suffering from the economic crisis, still

without jobs. They feel unsecured about their future. And we need to make sure that we explain the benefits of trade to them, but also that the

societies can make sure that those who are temporary or for longer time losers of globalization, that they are protected by strong social systems,

social security systems and so on, given the right education, the retraining and so on. But, of course, to do that, we need growth.

AMANPOUR: And even the head of the IMF, Christine Lagarde, said the globalization must work for everyone. You've just touched on that and the

need to do better in that regard.

Cecilia Malmstrom, thank you so much indeed for joining us.

MALMSTROM: Thank you very much.


AMANPOUR: And on a happy face note, New York's Museum of Modern Art has acquired the original set of emojis made in Japan in 1999. It has been a

good year for emojis as this one was named the word of 2015 by Oxford English Dictionary last November.

Next up, there is no word or emoji to describe the unspeakable horror that's been done to our precious wildlife. Imagining how to save it --



AMANPOUR: And finally tonight, imagine a world without these beautiful creatures. According to the most detailed report to date, six out of ten

vertebrates, that's everything from birds to mammals to fish, have disappeared since 1970. And it's estimated that 68 percent of our

wildlife, 68 percent will be gone by 2020 and the problem is everywhere.

From the top of the world's mountains through the forests and into seas, rivers and lakes, which are hardest hit of all. The new data shows that

the planet's wildlife faces an incredible threat, which is us.

The major cause for these catastrophic numbers is farming and logging, which destroy animals' habitats. It doesn't have to be this way as the

world's naturalist and Chief Sir David Attenborough pointed out to me. We can stop it, he says.


DAVID ATTENBOROUGH, BRITISH BROADCASTER AND NATURALIST: The awful thing is that we know how to fix it, you know?

It's like magic. I mean, we know the steps that could be taken. And we need to get the world's nations to agree to do it. That's the problem. It

can be done.

AMANPOUR: You know, if anybody's program, if anybody's life's work has been exactly dedicated to that, it's you. You were the pioneer and you

remain the master of this profession.

Are people paying enough attention?

ATTENBOROUGH: Well, they're not paying enough, that's for sure. But they're paying more than they did, you know?

And if you talk to young people today, young people are passionate about wildlife. Much more than they were when I was a kid, when I was their age.

They're really, really angry at what people are doing to the natural world. And they really want to care about it and do something about it.


AMANPOUR: And, of course, if we mess with our animal life or our plant life, that not only impoverishes our world, but affects our climate and our


That's it for our program tonight. Remember, you can always listen to our podcast, see us online at and follow me on Facebook and

Twitter. Thanks for watching and goodbye from London.