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International Law

World powers must abandon double standard policies

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Ms. Najiba Mustafayeva, PhD candidate in International Law, Expert at the Center for Strategic Studies (SAM) under the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan, speaks exclusively to Modern Diplomacy and Dimitris Giannakopoulos, for the international security system and United Nations role on the protection of the global peace.

Ms. Mustafayeva speaks for the reform of the UNSC and how the United Nations could become more effective in order to encounter the global security challenges. Additionally she explains the contribution of Azerbaijan in the regional and global security.

Do you believe that UN need reforms in order to encounter the modern global security challenges?

Modern international relations after World War II have been characterized by the increasing role of international institutions acting as regulating mechanisms of international affairs. Being the most representative forum for discussions among the states on the issues of international concerns the United Nations not only occupies a central place in the system of international organizations, but also plays a crucial role in the contemporary international development and its Charter is a foundation of modern international law, a kind of universally accepted code of conduct of states and their relationships.

The world is changing, and with this reality the UN has faced with additional challenges, which demand the improvement of old and creating new work mechanisms. As former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan stated, the UN does not exist as a static monument to the aspirations of a bygone era, and being changing mechanism, imperfect, like all human creations, but is able to rebuild and improve”. These words reflect the main thrust of the reform process of the Organization necessary to bring its activities into compliance with the requirements of the time. In this respect, the adaptation of the UN to a dramatic shift in the international political landscape becomes demand of the time. The conceptual questions such as what should be the priorities of the Organization in modern era, of which its functions can be delegated to regional organizations or coalitions of states, what are the conditions and limits of the UN intervention in the internal affairs of sovereign states, as well as how to combine the principle of universality with a special status of the permanent members of the UN Security Council, etc. become relevant today. In other words, all these mean the need for dramatic reform of UN and its institutions.

373185bThe UNSC structure is outdated and a remnant of the Cold War. I would like your opinion.

International political commentators often use the word “relic” of the UN, laying in the use of this term has two main ideas: the first implies the absence of activity, the second – worship, despite the fact that the organization is more like a relic of the past. Although the UN’s role in a multipolar-world as the only global international organization capable of solving the problems of international security should be enhanced. The competence of the United Nations covers a wide range of problems. Moreover, currently, there is no real alternative to the UN, other organizations are only able to supplement its activities.

In light of recent events – aggravation of existing and the emergence of new international conflicts, the threat of international terrorism in the face of al-Qaeda and “Islamic state”, massive violations of human rights as a result of such activity update the necessity of the reform.

Obviously the main focus in the reforming process should be done on the reform of the UNSC, suggesting increase in membership of the board, the improvement of the working methods and the implementation of sanction mechanisms used by the Council in its activities. I think that one of the main reasons for the lack of effectiveness of the Council lies in its inability and unwillingness in some cases to ensure the implementation of its resolutions. A graphic example is the Armenian-Azerbaijan, Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

In 1993 the UN Security Council adopted 4 resolutions (NN 822, 853, 874, 884) in connection with the armed seizure of the Azerbaijani territories. In these resolutions the appurtenance of Nagorno-Karabakh region to Azerbaijan was confirmed, sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Azerbaijan Republic, integrity of its international borders and inadmissibility of using force for the acquisition of territories were reconfirmed. The resolutions demanded immediate termination of all hostile actions, immediate and unconditional withdrawal of all occupying forces from all occupied regions of Azerbaijan Republic, in this context – call for restoration of economic, transport and energy connections in the region, return of refugees and IDPs to the places of permanent residence. Considering the aforesaid, it is obvious that the actions of the Armenia should be regarded as a violation of the fundamental principles of international law.

   The resolutions of the UN Security Council are legally binding for all member states of the United Nations (articles 25, 48 of the UN Charter). They are final and cannot be appealed. However, until now the Armenian military forces has not adhered to the terms of these resolutions and continues occupying Azerbaijani territories.

  

Some analysts argue that the UN is a forum of dispute than a forum of cooperation due to the different national interests. Do you agree?

I believe that the main value of the UN for its activities is that it proves the importance of solving global problems through multilateral diplomacy. And this is quite natural, because the response to global challenges and threats can be joint. Only this approach, based on a solid foundation of international law can ensure the sustainability of the world development in the context of globalization. This implies strengthening the central role of the UN as a world organization in all spheres of international life.

But it must be took into account the fact that all proposals and projects for the expansion and improvement of UN mechanisms, including the use of veto by the permanent members of the UNSC, as well as discussions about possible models of “updated” the UN will not be effective until the world powers don`t show enough interest in this issue and abandon from the policy of double standards that prevail today in international relations. Otherwise, the significance of the UN would be reduced to the role of simple assistant, helplessly looking at how the leader-countries use the right of veto in the UNSC in order to promote their national interests and solve problems on a planetary scale based on their own benefits and considerations. In the case of such a scenario, the international community risks losing control over the levers of global governance, and the ability to confront new challenges and threats of XXI century.

Azerbaijan plays a vital role for the stability in Central Asia. How Azerbaijan contribute to the regional security and the global peace?

As you know, the past decade has seen significant development and changes in Azerbaijan, as well as the South Caucasus region as a whole. Until the mid 1990s, there was little global awareness about Azerbaijan or the surrounding region. It was mainly associated with oil, conflicts and collapse economies. However, starting with the presidency of the National Leader of Azerbaijan Heydar Aliyev, this situation changed. Over the course of Heydar Aliyev`s presidency, thanks to his colossal efforts and skilful policy, Azerbaijan was transformed from an unknown post-Soviet country with a ruined economy to a reliable and desired partner for regional and global powers. The internal political situation was stabilized; the rule of law was restored; social, political and economic modernization process were launched and strong foundations for future economic development were laid. In current period under the leadership of President Ilham Aliyev, who continued the strategy initiated by Heydar Aliyev, Azerbaijan witnessed rapid development and modernization across all spheres of public policy. The key components of this strategy have been development of a democratic polity and social-economic progress to ensure the welfare of the people of Azerbaijan, a balanced foreign police based on mutually beneficial and commitment to restoring the country`s territorial integrity.

Today, Azerbaijan is a modern, successful, democratic and tolerant state with the highest international authority, growing foreign power and influence in the region. Despite the impressive socio-economic development and foreign policy performance of Azerbaijan, it`s tough geographic neighborhood has posed certain challenges on the country. The major challenge dominating the politics of Azerbaijan has been and continues to be restoration of its territorial integrity. Armenia`s occupation of Nagorno-Karabakh and the seven adjacent regions – 20% of the internationally recognized territory of Azerbaijan – has created about one million Azerbaijani refugees and IDPs. The military occupation has continued during this period and Armenia constantly ignored all international documents, including abovementioned four UNSC resolutions, calling for withdrawal of occupation forces. Despite the military capability built in recent years in Azerbaijan that enables the country to unilaterally restore its territorial integrity, Azerbaijan still preserves its belief in a peaceful solution of the conflict and offers Armenian community of Nagorno-Karabakh the highest possible autonomy within the state borders of Azerbaijan.

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Over the course of Heydar Aliyev`s presidency, thanks to his colossal efforts and skilful policy, Azerbaijan was transformed from an unknown post-Soviet country with a ruined economy to a reliable and desired partner for regional and global powers

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So, Armenian aggression is the most serious threat to stability and safety in the South Caucasus, as the puppet regime generated by the self-proclaimed entity in Nagorno-Karabakh creates problems both for the further progressive development of Azerbaijan, the full realization of its economic, political and human potential, and fulfillment for Armenia, which has become a mono-ethnic state. In current conditions, Armenia remains a “trouble maker” for regional peace and security. Territorial claims by Armenians are not only limited to Azerbaijan, but also directed toward Turkey’s Anatolia and Georgia’s Javakheti areas. Although all three states would like to welcome Armenia to the integration processes within the region, the fact is that unless Yerevan is ready to a pursue constructive attitude toward relations with neighboring states, regional integration remains impossible. Armenia should recognize that it is impossible for any state to achieve prosperity while remaining in isolation.

There are some “frozen” conflicts in the world. Could the dispute of Nagorno-Karabakh be characterized “frozen” conflict?

Despite the fact that various international organizations referred Nagorno-Karabakh conflict as “a frozen one”, since the ceasefire agreement of 1994 from time to time this agreement has been brutally violated by Armenian occupation forces leading to casualties from both conflicting parties. In other words, although we do not observe active and regular military operations and occupation of new territories the conflict can hardly be characterized as “frozen”.

Journalist, specialized in Middle East, Russia & FSU, Terrorism and Security issues. Founder and Editor-in-chief of the Modern Diplomacy magazine.

International Law

Carl Schmitt for the XXI Century

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For decades, the scholars of international relations have confused the term “New World order” in the social, political, or economic spheres. Even today, few scholars confuse the term with the information age, internet, universalism, globalization, and  American imperialism. Unlike the complex categorization of the New World Order, the concept of the Old World Order was purely a juridical phenomenon. However, from standpoint of modernity, the term New World order is a purely ideological and political phenomenon, which embodies various displays such as liberal democracy, financial capitalism, and technological imperialism.

In his Magnus Opus “The concept of the Political”, Carl Schmitt lauded a harsh criticism on liberal ideology and favored competitive decisionism over it. This is why according to Schmitt’s critics; the whole text in “The concept of the political” is filled with authoritarian overtones. Nonetheless, the fact cannot be denied that it was the radical political philosophy of Carl Schmitt that paved the way for the conservative revolution in Europe. Even today, his writings are being regarded as one of the major contributions to the field of political philosophy from the 20th century.

Throughout his major works such as “Nomos of the earth”, “the Crisis of Parliamentary democracy”, “The concept of the Political” and “Dictatorship”, Carl Schmitt frequently employs unadorned terms such as ‘actual’, ‘concrete’, ‘real’, and ‘specific’ to apprize his political ideas. However, he advances most of the core political ideas by using the metaphysical framework. For instance, in the broader political domain, Carl Schmitt anticipated the existential dimension of the ‘actual politics’ in the world today.

On the contrary, in his famous work “The Concept of the Political” readers most encounter the interplay between the abstract and ideal and, the concrete and real aspects of politics. Perhaps, understanding of Schmitt’s discursive distinctions is necessary when it comes to the deconstruction of the liberal promoted intellectual discourse. However, the point should be kept in mind that for Schmitt the concept of the political does not necessarily refer to any concrete subject matter such as “state” or “sovereignty”. In this respect, his concept of the political simply refers to the friend-enemy dialectics or distinction. To be more precise, the categorization of the term “Political” defines the degree of intensity of an association and dissociation.

In addition, the famous friend-enemy dialectics is also the central theme of his famous book “The Concept of the Political”. Likewise, the famous friend-enemy distinction in Schmitt’s famous work has both concrete and existential meaning. Here, the word “enemy” refers to the fight against ‘human totality”, which depends upon the circumstances. In this respect, throughout his work, one of the major focuses of Carl Schmitt was on the subject of  “real Politics”. According to Schmitt, friend, enemy, and battle have real meaning. This is why, throughout his several works; Carl Schmitt remained much concerned with the theory of state and sovereignty. As Schmitt writes;

I do not say the general theory of the state; for the category, the general theory of the state…is a typical concern of the liberal nineteenth century. This category arises from the normative effort to dissolve the concrete state and the concrete Volk in generalities (general education, general theory of the law, and finally general theory of the knowledge; and in this way to destroy their political order”.[1]

As a matter of the fact, for Schmitt, the real politics ends up in battle, as he says, “The normal proves nothing, but the exception proves everything”. Here, Schmitt uses the concept of “exceptionality” to overcome the pragmatism of Liberalism. Although, in his later writings, Carl Schmitt attempted to dissociate the concept of “Political” from the controlling and the limiting spheres but he deliberately failed. One of the major reasons behind Schmitt’s isolation of the concept of the political is that he wanted to limit the categorization of friend-enemy distinction. Another major purpose of Schmitt was to purify the concept of the “Political” was by dissociating it from the subject-object duality. According to Schmitt, the concept of the political was not a subject matter and has no limit at all. Perhaps, this is why Schmitt advocated looking beyond the ordinary conception and definition of politics in textbooks.

For Schmitt, it was Liberalism, which introduced the absolutist conception of politics by destroying its actual meaning. In this respect, he developed his very idea of the “Political” against the backdrop of the “human totality” (Gesamtheit Von Menschen). Today’s Europe should remember the bloody revolutionary year of 1848 because the so-called economic prosperity, technological progress, and the self-assured positivism of the last century have come together to produce long and deep amnesia. Nonetheless, the fact cannot be denied that the revolutionary events of1848 had brought deep anxiety and fear for the ordinary Europeans. For instance, the famous sentence from the year 1848 reads;

For this reason, fear grabs hold of the genius at a different time than it does normal people. the latter recognizes the danger at the time of danger; up to that, they are not secure, and if the danger has passed, then they are secure. The genius is the strongest precisely at the time of danger”.

Unfortunately, it was the intellectual predicament at the European stage in the year 1848 that caused revolutionary anxiety and distress among ordinary Europeans. Today, ordinary Europeans face similar situations in the social, political, and ideological spheres. The growing anxieties of the European public consciousness cannot be grasped without taking into account Carl Schmitt’s critique of liberal democracy. A century and a half ago, by embracing liberal democracy under the auspices of free-market capitalism, the Europeans played a pivotal role in the self-destruction of the European spirit.

The vicious technological drive under liberal capitalism led the European civilization towards crony centralism, industrialism, mechanization, and above all singularity. Today, neoliberal capitalism has transformed the world into a consumer-hyped mechanized factory in which humanity appears as the by-product of its own artificial creation. The unstructured mechanization of humanity in the last century has brought human civilization to technological crossroads. Hence, the technological drive under liberal democratic capitalism is presenting a huge threat to human civilizational identity.


[1] Wolin, Richard, Carl Schmitt, Political Existentialism, and the Total State, Theory and Society, volume no. 19, no. 4, 1990 (pp. 389-416). Schmitt deemed the friend-enemy dialectics as the cornerstone of his critique on liberalism and universalism.

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International Law

Democratic Backsliding: A Framework for Understanding and Combatting it

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Democracy is suffering setbacks around the world. Over the past decade, the number of liberal democracies has shrunk from 41 to 32. Today, 34 percent of the global population lives in 25 countries moving in the direction of autocracy. By contrast, only 16 countries are undergoing a process of democratization, representing just 4 percent of the global population. Reflecting these troubling trends, USAID Administrator Samantha Power, during her confirmation hearing, highlighted democratic backsliding – along with climate change, conflict and state collapse, and COVID-19 – as among the “four interconnected and gargantuan challenges” that will guide the Biden Administration’s development priorities.

However, defining “democratic backsliding” is far from straightforward. Practitioners and policymakers too often refer to “democratic backsliding” broadly, but there is a high degree of variation in how backsliding manifests in different contexts. This imprecise approach is problematic because it can lead to an inaccurate analysis of events in a country and thereby inappropriate or ineffective solutions.

To prevent or mitigate democratic backsliding, policymakers need a definition of the concept that captures its multi-dimensional nature. It must include the actors responsible for the democratic erosion, the groups imperiled by it, as well as the allies who can help reverse the worst effects of backsliding. 

To address this gap, the International Republican Institute developed a conceptual framework to help practitioners and policymakers more precisely define and analyze how democratic backsliding (or “closing democratic space”) is transpiring and then devise foreign assistance programs to combat it.  Shifting away from broad generalizations that a country is moving forward or backward vis-à-vis democracy—which makes it difficult, if not impossible, to derive specific solutions—the framework breaks closing democratic space into six distinct, and sometimes interrelated, subsectors or “spaces.”

Political/Electoral: Encompasses the arena for political competition and the ability of citizens to hold their government accountable through elections. Examples of closing political or electoral space range from fraudulent election processes and the arrest or harassment of political leaders to burdensome administrative barriers to political party registration or campaigning.

Economic: Refers to the relationship between a country’s economic market structure, including access and regulation, and political competition. Examples of closing economic space include selective or politically motivated audits or distribution of government licenses, contracts, or tax benefits.

Civic/Associational: Describes the space where citizens meet to discuss and/or advocate for issues, needs, and priorities outside the purview of the government. Examples of closing civic or associational space include harassment or co-optation of civic actors or civil society organizations and administrative barriers designed to hamper civil society organizations’ goals including limiting or making it arduous to access resources.

Informational: Captures the venues that afford citizens the opportunity to learn about government performance or hold elected leaders to account, including the media environment and the digital realm. h. Examples of closing informational space consist of laws criminalizing online speech or activity, restrictions on accessing the internet or applications, censorship (including self-censorship), and editorial pressure or harassment of journalists.  

Individual: Encapsulates the space where individuals, including public intellectuals, academics, artists, and cultural leaders– including those traditionally marginalized based on religious, ethnicity, language, or sexual orientation–can exercise basic freedoms related to speech, property, movement, and equality under the law. Common tactics of closing individual space include formal and informal restrictions on basic rights to assemble, protest, or otherwise exercise free speech; censorship, surveillance, or harassment of cultural figures or those critical of government actions; and scapegoating or harassing identity groups.

Governing: Comprises the role of state institutions, at all levels, within political processes. Typical instances of closing the governing space include partisan control of government entities such as courts, election commissions, security services, regulatory bodies; informal control of such governing bodies through nepotism or patronage networks; and legal changes that weaken the balance of powers in favor of the executive branch.

Examining democratic backsliding through this framework forces practitioners and policymakers to more precisely identify how and where democratic space is closing and who is affected. This enhanced understanding enables officials to craft more targeted interventions.

For example, analysts were quick to note Myanmar’s swift about-face toward autocracy.  This might be true, but how does this high-level generalization help craft an effective policy and foreign aid response, beyond emphasizing a need to target funds on strengthening democracy to reverse the trend? In short, it does not.  If practitioners and policymakers had dissected Myanmar’s backsliding using the six-part framework, it would have highlighted specific opportunities for intervention.  This systematic analysis reveals the regime has closed civic space, via forbidding large gatherings, as well as the information space, by outlawing online exchanges and unsanctioned news, even suspending most television broadcasts.  One could easily populate the other four spaces with recent examples, as well. 

Immediately, we see how this exercise leads to more targeted interventions—support to keep news outlets operating, for example, via software the government cannot hack—that, collectively, can help slow backsliding.  Using the framework also compels practitioners and policymakers to consider where there might be spillover—closing in one space that might bleed into another space—and what should be done to mitigate further closing.

Finally, using this framework to examine the strength of Myanmar’s democratic institutions and norms prior to the February coup d’etat may have revealed shortcomings that, if addressed, could have slowed or lessened the impact of the sudden democratic decline. For example, the high-profile arrest of journalists Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo in December 2017 was a significant signal that Myanmar’s information space was closing. Laws or actions to increase protections for journalists and media outlets, could have strengthened the media environment prior to the coup, making it more difficult for the military to close the information space.

A more precise diagnosis of the problem of democratic backsliding is the first step in crafting more effective and efficient solutions. This framework provides practitioners and policymakers a practical way to more thoroughly examine closing space situations and design holistic policies and interventions that address both the immediate challenge and longer-term issue of maintaining and growing democratic gains globally.

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International Law

Authentic Justice Thus Everlasting Peace: Because We Are One

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The ceasefire in the Israeli-Palestine conflict is a good thing. We thank God for it. Be it between two individuals or institutions or nations or the internal colonial and colonized, war does not do anything except cause more immediate or future mass misery and human destruction. Our continued memories of our interpersonal and international and internal colonial and civil wars and the memorials we erect to remember them recall and record wounds and pains we never get over. 

So it becomes a bothersome puzzle as to why we human beings still just don’t get that war like oppression leads to nowhere except to more human devastation. And we should have learned by now but have not that peacemaking like ceasefires mean nothing without justice.

 It is the reason why I constantly find myself correcting those who stress Peace and Justice.No Justice No Peace is more than a cliche.It is real politic emotionally, economically, socially, and spiritually.

Our American inner cities like those in every continent where culturally different and similar people live cramped impoverished lives and nations and colonial enclaves with such unequal wealth remind us of their continued explosive potentialities when peace is once again declared but with no justice.Everyone deserves a decent quality of life which not only includes material necessities but more importantly emotional and spiritual freedoms and other liberations.Not just the victors who conquer and rule and not just the rich and otherwise privileged.

 And until such  justices are  assured to everyone peacemaking is merely a bandaid on cancerous societal or International conflictual soars which come to only benefit those who profit from wars which are bound to come around again when there is no justice and thus peace such as  family destroying divorce lawyers, blood hungry media to sell more subscriptions , arms dealers to sell more murderous technologies, politicians needing  votes so start and prolong wars, and military men and women seeking promotion while practicing their killing capacities.

So if those of us who devoutly practice our  faiths or our golden moral principles,  let us say always and pray and advocate justice and peace always  as a vital public good  and  do justice then lasting peace in our personal lives and insist that national leaders, our own and others do the same in their conduct of international affairs and affairs with those who are stateless in this global world. 

All such pleading is essential since we are all brothers and sisters in the eyes of God who created all of us  in God’s image as one humanity  out of  everlasting divine love for all of us so we should love each other as God loves all of us  leading to desiring justice and thus lasting peace for each and every one of us.

This is difficult for those in international affairs to understand who take more conventional secular approaches to historical and contemporary justice and peace challenges as if our universal spiritual connectivennes  ( not to be confused with the vast diversity of organized religions)as human beings which makes us all brothers and sisters has no relevance. But if we are going to find true enduring peace we have no alternative but to turn our backs on increasingly useless secular methods which go either way, stressing peace then justice or justice then peace and understand how much we must begin to explore and implement approaches which we look at each other as spiritually connected brothers and sisters in which it is the expectation that peace only comes and lasts when  through the equal enjoyment of justices for every human being, we restore our universal kindred rooted in the everlasting love of God and thus for each other, no matter the different ways in which we define God or positive moral principles which originate in understandings that we human beings in all our diversities are one and thus brothers and sisters.

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