Connect with us

International Law

70 years after Auschwitz – deliberate attempts to rewrite history

Published

on

The last week’s Auschwitz ceremony marking 70 years since the notorious death camp’s liberation had a huge turnout. Three hundred survivors of the camp attended. Given the age of Holocaust survivors, the importance of passing their story on to new generations has never been greater. Comparing politicians to Hitler or countries to nazi Germany has become a commonplace insult. But the unspeakable horrors unleashed by history’s most vicious regime bear no comparison.

The Holocaust marked a systematic effort to exterminate entire ethnic groups — most prominently the Jews but also the Roma and Sinti — alongside the slaughter of homosexuals and the disabled. Millions of prisoners of war from the Soviet Union, Polish civilians and political and religious opponents of the nazis including communists, trade unionists, Freemasons and Jehovah’s Witnesses were also exterminated.
The world anti-fascist war which defeated the nazis resulted in efforts to ensure such atrocities would never happen again. But the collapse of the Soviet Union — which played by far the greatest part in defeating the fascist menace, as well as being the liberator of Auschwitz — has seen a deliberate attempt to rewrite history.

The European Parliament sponsors a Day of Remembrance for Victims of Stalinism and Nazism, a pernicious attempt to equate communism with fascism. As Russian communist Il Melnikov said yesterday, virulently anti-Russian regimes in the Baltic states openly celebrate Waffen SS veterans.
Monuments to the Red Army soldiers who, in Winston Churchill’s words, “tore the guts out of the nazi war machine” have been torn down and broken up in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and, since the fascist-backed coup of February last year, in Ukraine.
Ukraine has seen the worst of the resurgence of fascism. New Year’s Day in Kiev saw rank upon rank of torch-bearing neonazi thugs march in honour of Stepan Bandera, who murdered thousands of Ukrainian Jews and Poles during the second world war.
Far-right groups Right Sector and Svoboda do not even bother to hide their racism — but as allies of the pro-EU regime in the country are politely ignored by Western governments, deemed useful for crushing the anti-fascist resistance in the east which hampers attempts to bring Ukraine into the Nato military alliance.

That context explains Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk’s bizarre comments – during his recent visit to Germany – about the Soviets attacking Germany in the second world war, and the Polish foreign minister’s reluctance to acknowledge Russia’s role. Anyone who dared to acknowledge the historical reality would have no choice but to disown the Kiev regime. The shameful and highly disturbing failure to invite Russia’s president was part and parcel of the same narrative that paints the Soviets out of the picture. That is no comment on President Putin himself, a right-wing and authoritarian leader who presides over a corrupt neoliberal state. But freezing out the Russians indicates a further step away from the global anti-fascist unity established during World War II.
There are few signs that the lessons of that war have been learnt in the West. The United Nations, originally designed to prevent the world from sliding into war again, is increasingly sidelined as Washington, London and Paris ignore a body which cannot be relied on to approve the invasions and bombing sprees that are now a routine tool of Western foreign policy. As war rather than peace is increasingly seen as the natural state of things, as violence, hate crimes and racism are again on the rise, we should use the anniversary of Auschwitz’s liberation to remember where they lead.

Polishing – Yes, but refurbishing – No!
The latest remarks of the Polish Foreign Minister, Grzegorz Schetyna, and the broader agenda they are part of – has invited international ridicule of his own by saying on Polish radio that it was Ukrainians, rather than the Russian Soviet Red Army, which liberated the Auschwitz concentration camp at the end of World War Two. However, this statement was not made by accident. His listeners were expected to draw a conclusion from it.
The Polish Foreign Minister’s remarks could not have been more ill-timed, against the backdrop of the carnage being carried out by Kiev in the East of its own country and its own people, which is turning the US-inspired local conflict into an effective proxy war between the US and Russia.

Russia has rightly accused Poland of engaging in a “mockery of history” to support the official US and NATO line on Ukraine. As UK-based journalist and writer Neil Clark recently said: “The fact of the matter is that it was the Soviet Red Army which liberated that appalling camp Auschwitz…Yet now in 2015 we are rewriting history to write out the role of the Red Army liberating Auschwitz for political purposes.”
All this was famously foreseen by George Orwell, who wrote: “The most effective way to destroy people is to deny and obliterate their own understanding of their history” and “indifference to objective truth is encouraged by the sealing off of one part of the world from another, which makes it more difficult to discover what is actually happening …facts will be so dishonestly set forth in that the ordinary reader can be forgiven either for swallowing lies or for failing to form an opinion.”

 

By kindness of the UK Morning Star Editor

Continue Reading
Comments

International Law

Time for a Consolidated Russian-Chinese Approach to Modernize and Reform UN

Published

on

When it comes to reforms of the United Nations, it is indispensable for China and Russia, as long-time UN champions and supporters, to take the lead in promoting bottom-up approach to UN reforms. Moscow and Beijing have already accumulated a lot of experience in working together in drafting UN Security Council (UNSC) resolutions, in setting agendas for UN General Assemblies and in interacting with various groups of UN member states.

When some talk about how to make the UN more efficient and more relevant in global politics, they usually focus on reforming the UNSC. There is no shortage of ideas and even detailed plans of how to expand the composition of UNSC and how to modify the veto power rules within the body.

It is hard to argue against the need to introduce changes to the UNSC’s current mode of operations. And, the Council demonstrates difficulties to jointly approach some of the most devastating and dangerous conflicts faced by the world—be it in Africa, in the Middle East, in South Asia, in Latin American and in Europe and elsewhere.

However, the current international environment does not appear conducive to launching any far-reaching UNSC reforms today or tomorrow. An enlargement of UNSC would make the difficult task of reaching consensus in the United Nations Conference Building in New York City even more challenging; new permanent members would come with their own agendas, priorities and—alas!—with their prejudices and biases. The idea of a veto power abolition would undoubtedly meet fierce resistance from the P5 permanent group members.

Does this mean that one should put all the plans to enhance the United Nations on the back-burner? Not at all.

Contemplating an enhanced UN, one has to keep in mind that the United Nations is much bigger than its Security Council, all the importance of UNSC notwithstanding. Under the contemporary unfavorable circumstances, a bottom-up approach to the UN reforms might turn out to be more practical and more productive than a top-down approach. The United Nations is a graphic illustration of how the 20th century modernist institutional culture confronts the 21st century post-modernist international realities. The needed adjustment is huge, even without touching the Security Council for the time being.

There is an urgent need to provide for more targeted coordination among numerous UN agencies, in particular—to overcome the existing gap between the UN security agenda and its development agenda.

There is a clear necessity to produce a new set of KPIs for the vast UN bureaucracy, which is quite often too much focused on formal report writing. One should think about how the United Nations could make more use of the global civil society and independent expert knowledge. The United Nations should modernize and upgrade its peace-keeping capacity in view of the changing nature of modern conflicts and to move from mostly reactive to proactive approaches to conflicts. UN has to address in a more energetic and systematic ways pending problems of red-tape, bureaucratic duplication, excessive administrative costs and so on.

Some of these and many other institutional challenges confronting the UN have been articulated many times by critics of the organization. Sometimes, the latter used this criticism to cast doubts in the relevance of the United Nations in the 21st century.

The time has come to take a consolidated Russian-Chinese approach to modernizing the UN institutional culture and performance. It goes without saying that this work should not look as an exclusive undertaking of the two permanent members of UNSC, but should rather include as many other member states as possible.

Once this process is launched and gains momentum, it will be much easier to address more divisive issues—reforming the Secretariat, empowering the General Assembly and addressing the most difficult and controversial matter of the UN Security Council composition and the rights of its permanent members. By the time we get to this point, the accumulated track record of working together on less controversial matters should make it possible to find an appropriate arrangement for the Security Council as well.

From our partner RIAC

Continue Reading

International Law

Support the UN’s leadership position and multilateralism

Published

on

Despite its inability to fully satisfy people’s expectations on some issues, the United Nations and its agencies, as well as other multilateral organizations, have made significant efforts to promote peace and development across the globe during the past 70 years. However, the UN is confronted with enormous problems in a fast-changing globe and a complicated international environment.

First, some countries have attempted to undermine the basic norms governing international relations by forming cliques, practicing pseudo-multilateralism, provoking ideological confrontation, and attempting to suppress other countries through sanctions, all while ignoring the UN Charter’s purposes and principles.

They have used a double standard at UN meetings and debates in order to impose their own values and rules on other countries while claiming that they are universal values and rules. They have frequently sought the moral high ground and lectured, criticized, or attacked other countries, as well as openly interfering in their internal affairs. They regard the United Nations as a private club that exists to serve their national interests, and they utilize it when it suits them and ignore it when it does not. These heinous crimes have severely harmed UN member states’ mutual trust and collaboration, as well as the global body’s power and ability to control the globe.

Second, the COVID-19 pandemic continues to represent a major threat to people’s lives, health, and economic activity worldwide. More than 240 million individuals have been infected and 4.89 million people have died as a result of the new coronavirus.

COVAX was created by the World Health Organization, a specialized UN agency, to ensure equitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccines around the world. However, the global “vaccination gap” remains large, vaccine distribution is inequitable, and vaccine shortages in many developing and least-developed countries remain unaddressed. In addition, the virus’s constant evolution has posed significant obstacles for governments’ preventive and control efforts. Sadly, some governments have attempted to delegate their obligations to others, jeopardizing the global fight against the epidemic.

Third, the epidemic has wreaked havoc on the global economy, particularly in underdeveloped countries, resulting in increased unemployment, lower earnings, and poverty. Furthermore, the pandemic’s effects, as well as human factors, have rendered global industrial and supply systems vulnerable and unstable.

Part countries have created large amounts of currency notes in attempt to address their economic challenges, hence passing some of their economic issues to other countries. Some nations have urgently sought to divorce their scientific and technology sectors from those of other countries, obstructing global science and technology progress. As a result, many nations may be unable to reach the goals set forth in the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which is aimed at solving development issues.

Fourth, as a result of climate change, extreme weather events have grown more common and devastating. Extreme weather events may become more common and cause greater damage if global temperatures continue to rise as a result of increased greenhouse gas emissions. And if countries do not cut their use of fossil fuels quickly enough to keep global warming below 1.5 or 2 degrees Celsius, the world may suffer catastrophic repercussions.

Finally, the UN’s role has diminished as a result of the aforementioned issues, as well as overstaffing, low efficiency, sluggish action, and poor execution. Humankind is confronted with a plethora of new difficulties in today’s fast-changing world, and it is becoming increasingly difficult for the UN to adapt and/or handle these issues.

It’s no wonder, therefore, that UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres stated during the UN General Assembly’s 76th Session that mankind will be in grave danger if “effective multilateralism” is not practiced, and that the world needs a “UN 2.0” to recreate the ideals on which it was built. In order to face these difficulties, the international community must sustain a UN-centered world order based on international law and norms that regulate international relations.

All countries should respect and treat one another as equals, and those states who prioritize their own interests over global ones and impose penalties on other countries should be opposed. In addition, the international community should work together to minimize inter-country disputes, ensuring that all nations select the political system and development path that best suits their national circumstances, and appreciate diversity.

Moreover, all UN member states should uphold their commitments under the UN Charter and assist the UN in its efforts to solve emerging global concerns. For the interest of all member states, the UN should increase its capacity building, deepen reform, enhance efficiency, and protect justice.

In order to prevent the pandemic, the international community must take steps to reduce the danger of cross-border infections and guarantee that vaccinations are distributed fairly across the world so that developing and least-developed countries can vaccinate their people.

Furthermore, all countries should refrain from using economic and financial policies and tools to benefit themselves at the expense of others, maintain the stability of global industrial and supply chains, eliminate all forms of protectionism, and promote regional trade and investment liberalization to help the world economy recover.

They should also set concrete goals for peaking carbon emissions and attaining carbon neutrality in accordance with the principle of shared but differentiated responsibilities, as well as pursue a green and low-carbon development path, to combat climate change.

Continue Reading

International Law

Debunking the Sovereignty: From Foucault to Agamben

Published

on

“Citing the end of Volume I of The History of Sexuality, Agamben notes that for Foucault, the “threshold of modernity” is reached when politics becomes bio-politics—when power exercises control not simply over the bodies of living beings, but, in fact, regulates, monitors, and manufactures the life and life processes of those living beings.” For Agamben, the term politics in the western context is effectively a politics of Sovereignty and consequently, for Agamben, Sovereignty itself is inherently bio-political.

In the latter context, the term bio-politics is not modern rather it is ancient. Here, Agamben comes in disagreement with Hannah Arendt and Michel Foucault. Perhaps, this is why, Agamben dedicated his widely cited work “Homo Sacer” to reconcile the bio-political theory of Hannah Arendt and Michel Foucault to grasp the decisive moment of the Modernity. In order to reconcile the bio-political theory of Hannah Arendt and Michel Foucault, Agamben uses the concept of “Bare Life” or “Sacred Life“.

According to Agamben, Michel Foucault has overlooked the writings of Hannah Arendt, and hence, the gap should be filled. To illustrates his understanding of the modern bio-politics, Agamben imagines the “the concentration camp and the structure of the great totalitarian state of the twentieth century. For Agamben, in the modern times every political space has become a camp that is why he has used the term concentration camp instead of the city state.

Hence, for Agamben, the camp is a place where law is nothing and the existence of beings is reduced to a bare life. Moreover, a camp is place where the sovereign decision acts without any consequence and thus the existence of every man is reduced to a bare life. Thus in his famous work, Agamben aspires the return of the sovereign by rejecting the Foucaultian Methodology. Although both Foucault and Agamben are against the concept of totalitarianism but the only divergence exists in their methodology. But according to several scholars, on one side Agamben is against the concept of totalitarianism but on the other hand he attempts to resurrect it by nullifying his initial argument.

In the latter context, there is a huge difference between Agamben and Foucault when it comes to the question of bio-politics, law, sovereignty, life and law. Hence, the divergence can be understood from the context of ontology, epistemology, metaphysics, politics, methodology and normativity. For instance, unlike Foucault, in his famous work “Homo Sacer” Agamben defines the concept of sovereignty from the Schmittian Standpoint, that is a sovereign means;” he who decides on the exception”. This is why, various experts deemed Agamben as the radical, who is trying to resurrect politics as opposed to Sovereignty.

On the contrary, just like Foucault, Agamben consider the concept of the bare life as the nucleus of the sovereign power. However, on the other hand, Agamben embraces the argument of Carl Schmitt that the concept of “Exception” lies at the heart of the Sovereign Power or Sovereignty.

Hence, when it comes to the Sovereignty and Bare life, it is the inclusion of zoe within the bios only by the means of Zoe’s exclusion. Here Zoe means (Bare Life) while Bios means (Political Life). Moreover, in Agamben’s definition of ‘Sovereignty’ does surrounds institutions rather it defines the abstract and exceptional relationship between the Zoe and Bios. Hence, basically, it is through this particular exceptional and abstract relationship, Agamben attempts to define the context and prevailing dynamics of the Western Politics. In contrast, Agamben defines the context of Sovereignty within the standpoint of the exception, perhaps, here the “exception” resembles the return of “The Sacred” in the Roman law. No doubt, it is a clear fact that “the sacred” in the Roman law serves as a kind of bridge between Aristotle and Modernity.

In the latter Context, it can be said that for Agameben the term sovereignty is not just a social or political phenomenon rather a trans-historical Phenomenon. On the contrary, for Michel Foucault, the term sovereignty is a recent phenomenon, whose origin can be traced to the power of the feudal monarchy during the middle Ages. Nonetheless, the fact should be kept in mind that whether it was in the ancient times or modern day, Sovereignty has played a key role in underlying the Social Contract. 

According to the Foucaultian definition, the theory of Sovereignty relies on the subject, whose sole power is to establish the unity of power. More precisely, in the Foucaultian context, the theory of the Sovereignty assumes three ancient elements: First, a subject who must be subjectified, the unity of power must be established, and the legitimacy, that must be respected by all (Subject, unitary power, and the law).

Basically, the latter three elements clearly explains the dynamics of the feudal power during the Middle Ages. Moreover, from the Foucaultian standpoint the concept of discipline and bio-power are essential concepts surrounding term “Sovereignty”.

Another difference between Foucault and Agamben was that Agamben equates the concept of Sovereignty with the state, whereas, Agamben laments the erosion of the modern day State-Sovereignty equivalence. Nonetheless, the fact cannot be denied that Foucault failed to use the historical Schema in order to understand the meaning of sovereignty first from the standpoint of discipline up to the level of the security and the bio-power. For Foucault, discipline within the context of sovereignty only exists in the ancient world, however, in the modern times, it has been replaced by the concept of bio-power and the security. Hence, for Foucault, in the ancient times, the Penopticon can be seen as a great dream of the Sovereignty.

On the other hand, the fact cannot be denied that in the modern times, the concept of sovereignty has entered into the innate symbiosis with various professions ranges from jurists, doctors, scientists, scholars and even priests. It was the famous German Jurist Carl Schmitt, who first grasped the definition of sovereign exception, which is nothing less than the limit concept of the doctrine of the state and the law. Hence, the fact cannot be denied that here the concept of state and sovereignty resembles each other.

Hence, if we put the Agamben’s and Foucaultian definition of sovereignty into context then it becomes clear that the concept of sovereignty in Agamben’s perspective is not united rather it is more historical and continuous. More precisely, in Agamben’s perspective the concept of sovereignty is historical, which can be stretched from the time of Aristotle to the Modern day.

Similarly, for Agamben, the subject of the sovereign power, which is the result of the division of Zoe/bios, have been polluted or corrupted over the course of the centuries. Moreover, during this particular course, the domain of the Zoe was extended to a significant level, whereas, the domain of the bios was diminished by unfolding its actual perspective. As a matter of fact, throughout his writings, Agamben subscribes to the juridico-discursive concept of power, which for Foucault was insufficient for understanding the very concept of the modern bio-politics. In contrast to the above, the fact cannot be denied that through his major contributions, Michel Foucault attempted to project the “entire western reflection on Power“.

Continue Reading

Publications

Latest

Trending