“The 70th anniversary of the United Nations is an opportunity to reflect – to look back on the UN’s history and take stock of its enduring achievements. It is also an opportunity to spotlight where the UN – and the international community as a whole – needs to redouble its efforts to meet current and future challenges across the three pillars of its work: peace and security, development, and human rights.” – Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s message for UN70
2015 marks the global celebration of the 70th anniversary of the United Nations, which is the most representative forum for discussions among the world states on the issues of international concerns and the main international institution which occupies a central place in the system of international organizations.
In response to the horrors of Nazism the United Nations Organization was founded in 1945 upon the initiative of the victorious powers of the international peace and security, are to achieve international cooperation, development and human rights, as laid down in article 1 of the UN Charter.
Unites Nations 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 world states and their relationships.
It commits the organization to, among other things, “promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom,” to “reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women and of nations large and small” and to “save succeeding generations from the scourge of war”.
As the world celebrates the UN`s 70th anniversary, it is a high time to evaluate its activity during this imposing period. “The UN agencies such as UNICEF (the United Nations Children’s Fund), draws donations from governments and private donors to serve the needs of children and mothers in developing countries. It feeds more than 80 million people each year, has helped more than 2.6 billion people gain access to clean water and has brought new vaccines to more than 400 million of the world’s children. The World Health Organization, the specialized agency of the UN that helps governments manage public health crises and fight both communicable and non-communicable diseases, was the main driver behind the eradication of smallpox, an accomplishment that probably saved 150 million lives”.
The UN also plays a crucial role in the formation of the regime of the “responsibility without borders” creating in the mid of 1990th the International Criminal Tribunal for the prosecution of persons responsible for serious violations of international humanitarian law committed in the territory of the former Yugoslavia and the International Criminal Tribunal for the prosecution of persons responsible for genocide and other serious violations of international humanitarian law committed in the territory of Rwanda and Rwandan citizens responsible for genocide and other international crimes, committed in the territory of neighboring states. These ad hoc international courts were established by the UN Security Council. Noteworthy, in order to justify the decision about creating this bodies the UN Security Council referred to the Chapter VII of the Charter of the United Nations, dedicated to the action with respect to threats to the peace, breaches of the peace, and acts of aggression.
In fact, the UN has performed significant accomplishments over 70 years of its activity, but also considerable fails. One of the main reasons for the lack of effectiveness of the Organization lies in its inability and unwillingness in some cases to ensure the implementation of its resolutions. While the UN Security Council is endowed with sufficient powers necessary for the proper execution of its resolutions by the member states, unfortunately sometimes it does not execute its resolutions or properly follow the application of the requirements of its verdicts.
The non-alternative role of the UN in a multipolar-world as the only global international organization capable of solving the problems of international security should be enhanced. Thus, 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, what are the conditions and limits of the UN intervention in the internal affairs of sovereign states, as well as how to reconcile the principle of universality with a special status of the permanent (veto power) members of the UN Security Council, etc. become relevant today.
It is obvious that taking into account also the recent worrying processes in the world it is high time to reform the UN, on which depends the future effectiveness and vitality of the Organization, as well as peace and security in the world as a whole. The debate about the urgent need for change in the Organization has been continuing for a long time, but in the framework of the modern threats and challenges to international peace and security, this issue has a special actuality.
For the its 70th anniversary the UN has created a new official logo: 70 STRONG UN. BETTER WORLD. It use to encourage for educational and public outreach projects advancing the goals laid down in the United Nations Charter, informing the public of the role of the United Nations in the modern era, and promoting informed world debate on the Organization in its 70th year and the world to which it belongs.
The success in the strengthening of the activity of the United Nations can be achieved only in case of renunciation from the policy of double standards in the activity of the UN and the demonstration of political will of great powers that are obliged to approach fairly in political and legal assessment of new threats to peace and security in the face of international conflicts and terrorism. Only the approach based on a solid foundation of international law can be a guarantor of sustainable international development at the contemporary stage of the UN activity.
US Exit from the UN Human Rights Council: How to Hold the Scales Even
Renege, Retraction, Recantation,and Repudiation are the diplomatic devices in the US statecraft which have been flagrantly resorted to by the US administration ever since it has acquired unassailable scale and stature in recent years. The US has been following the practice which I call “Unilateral Retraction from Global Entities & Treaties” (URGENT or Diplomacy of URGENT) in violation of global multilateralism, global constitutionalism and the global rule of law. US is a country that examines the human rights records of other nations and releases annual Human Rights Reports as a part of its pompous advocacy of human rights, the ostentatious championship of the rule of law and narcissistic foreign policy based on the absolute supremacy of US interests worldwide. On June 19, 2018, Nikki Haley—US Ambassador to the UN—declared the repudiation of US membership of the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) that has bomb shelled the UNHRC, and stunned the UN and flummoxed the rest of the world. The latest US position on UNHRC has created wide-ranging implications for the global human rights system and its functionalism. However, there was no astonishment in the US under Trump Presidency announcement as the international community got considerably accustomed to US volatility on global issues; for example, US retraction on Kyoto Protocol-1997, recantation on Paris Agreement-2015 (COP-21),cartwheeling the NAFTA,flip-flops on Iran Nuclear Deal and its summersaults on the WTO membership.
UNHRC Agenda Conundrum
The latest US renege from UNHRC has been there in the offing ever since the UNHRC President Vojislav Suc has mooted stopgap reforms proposals—Ambassador of Slovenia— to justify and streamline the UNHRC functioning, and enhancing its efficiency. However, these reform proposals have already been rejected by the EU (European Union) led by France, Belgium and Portugal and OIC (Organization of Islamic Cooperation). However, the rejection per se shall have an additional implication for the US due to its opposition to UNHRC Agenda “Item 7” where under debates hitherto have been directed at the conflict between Israel and Palestine, human rights of the people of Palestine and the Arab States every year. The UNHRC on June 30, 2006, voted to institutionalize permanently the Review Mechanism known as “UNHRC Agenda Item 7” to assess the human rights abuses committed by Israel at each UNHRC Session. Primarily, the impugned proposals intended to abdicate the current practice of addressing and debating the every UNHRC agenda item at every HRC Session that is convened thrice in a year. But the new reform proposals made provision to club together all agenda items and debates there under which have been alternated across the three annual UNHRC Sessions.
In principle, the US is utterly opposed to the “UNHRC Agenda Item 7” based on its flawed understanding that it is an institutional prejudice against the State of Israel whereas rest of the severe human rights abuses across the world are addressed under “HRC Agenda Item 4.” In July 2017, Haley stated in Geneva that the “UNHRC Agenda Item 7” is scandalous measure against the State of Israel and it does not have any legitimacy to exist. Though, the US objection on “UNHRC Agenda Item 7” is not new. The US Ex-President George W. Bush wanted to disengage from the UNHRC in its infancy years,but the US could thwart the adoption of the impugned UNHRC Agenda Item 7. However, in 2017 US allies led by the UK and the Netherlands mollified the US to accommodate the UNHRC Agenda Item 7 for an ephemeral period for its dilution under a UN General Assembly (UNGA) Resolution that still remains a distant dream. But, the more significant issue is as for how to improve the UNHRC Agenda that incorporates other US demands as well. The UNHRC Agenda could be improved by enhancing the membership of the UNHRC to attend the wide range of global human rights issues.
In this context, the Universal Rights Group (URG) convened an informal consultation with the help of the national governments of the UK, the Netherlands, Latvia, Mexico and Rwanda on December 01, 2017 in Geneva to strengthen the UNHRC.Around 120 States participated in the Consultation along with the UN representatives, NGOs and other selected stakeholders and all of them negotiated and brokered several key improvements that included the restructuring of the UNHRC Programmes by clustering and rotating the UNHRC agenda during the year, and inculcating the highest degree of transparency in the UNHRC functioning, elections, and membership under the auspices of UNGA.Thus, these reformative steps have been reflected in the formal process initiated by Ambassador Suc in January-February 2018 and that too from a US point of view.But, unfortunately, Ambassador Suc got a dent in his initiatives from his own backyard,i.e. the EU particularly from Belgium under the influence of Western Human Rights NGOs against any clustering and rotating the UNHRC Agenda Item 4, France and Portugal. It has been argued that the UNHRC Agenda Item 4 must be part of every session of the UNHRC due to its importance. Simultaneously, many Global South countries especially from the OIC expressed their reservations against any dilution of the UNHRC Agenda Item 7 that, ultimately, disenchanted the US and its allies.
Initially, the nation-states were not properly guided in their opposition,and it was the intent of the founders of the UNHRC that the members would cluster and rotate all agenda items across the three annual sessions of the UNHRC. In fact, it was not there in the initial understanding that UNHRC would decide every agenda item at every UNHRC session as per UNHRC Resolution 5/1in accordance with the IBP (Institutional Building Package) that was adopted by the UNHRC in June 2007.Similarly, Section VII read with Rule 8of the IBP states that at the beginning of each year, the UNHRC shall hold a meeting for the purposes of organizational, planning, and programme the work for the year, including tentative dates of consideration of the UNHRC Agenda Items and the number of meetings to be allotted to each agenda item. But these institutional directives were not heeded to in a regimental manner rather subsequent UNHRC Presidencies have not been active to adhere to the UNHRC mandate as per the IBP procedural mechanism for tangible results for the betterment of human rights around the world.
In such a scenario, the UNHRC has provided an opportunity to the US to withdraw from the UNHRC on the cosmetic ground of non-deletion of the UNHRC Agenda Item 7 and non-compliance of US desire of changing the UNHRC membership rules under the UNGA Resolution just to consign gross human rights transgressions into the dustbin. However, the US had made every effort to make its comparatively constructive and potentially pragmatic proposal materialized by circulating the Draft Text among its allies in Geneva on December 01, 2017 meetingat a time when the US decided to move its Embassy to Jerusalem. Therefore, it did not receive immediate support due to their anxiety about the process of critical institutional changes via ordinary resolutions moved by a single state.Thus, such a US modus operandi generated trepidation among the member states that in future, such a process might be appropriated by the other nation-states that would make the UNHRC invidious and in fructuous.
Therefore, the US exit narrative originates from the moment when States botched the UNHRC President’s February proposals. The primary responsibility for such an unfortunate move will have implications of far-reaching consequences worldwide. The US exit from the UNHRC would hurt the US most,and it would also scale down its global influence and advocacy for human rights, the rule of law and democracy. Further, the US move will make the state of Israel more vulnerable at the UNO,and the US recantation from the UNHRC has established that there are profound doubts about the US commitment to multilateralism.
US Law on International Treaty Obligations
The incumbent US President advocates a review of all multilateral agreements and treaties except treaties on extradition, security,and trade. However, he does not like trade treaties due to his belief in US domestic trade protectionist policies.Under the US law, the ratification of the international treaty is extremely cumbersome. Legally speaking, there are three kinds of international agreements in the US. The US Senate ratifies a treaty by two-thirds of the majority. A US Congressional-Executive Agreement requires only a majority of the both the houses of the Congress. However, US President has the capacity to make a sole Executive Agreement himself,and he can also terminate an international treaty at will as well as congressional agreements. But such a situation of exercise of presidential powers have been examined by the US Supreme Court in Goldwater v. Carter, [444 U.S. 996 (1979)] when President Jimmy Carter acted without Congressional approbation and unilaterally terminated a defense treaty with Taiwan that raised a question with regard to the constitutional role of US Congress to play in the termination of the treaty. The President Carter reasoned that since Congress had not formally challenged his authority, therefore, technically the case was not justiciable. The US Supreme Court judges were divided,and they found that the case involved a political question as per the Justice Rehnquist who led a group of four justices. Whereas Justice Powell was of the opinion that the impugned case was not fit for the judicial review.However, the dissenter justices in the matter were willing to hear the case as the US Congress opposed Carter’s action. Similarly, the Goldwater situation may be replicated if the incumbent US President Trump tomorrow decides to pull out of North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and US Congress challenges the powers of the US President in this regard while voting to stay in the NATO. But such a situation would warrant the Court intervention to resolve the question of separation of powers between two political wings.
The Iran Nuclear Deal is a global but limited political arrangement whereas the Paris Climate Pact is a sole executive agreement and President Trump withdrew from it under the US Law. However, the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) is a better and faster option to retract from its commitments. But the majority of the US states would remain committed to the COP 21 arrangements.On the other hand, NAFTA is a regional treaty,and its implementation depends on the domestic statute and subject to the objection of the US Congress and its overriding by the President.Therefore, there is a necessity of a balanced approach to address the existing treaties in the US. However, the many human rights Conventions have not been ratified by the US government such as 1989 UN Convention on Rights of Child,but Trump is positive to ratify the 1979 UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women. There is a question; is there the death of treaties if the statement of Oona Hathaway—Professor of Law of Yale Law School—is to be believed. But, unfortunately, today’s world is confronted with a US administration that embraces the diplomacy of URGENT for all kinds of entities and treaties.
Treaty Exit Trends
Notwithstanding of the probability of accomplishment of the US proposals for reforming the UNHRC is an important trend in the international law. However, the Brexit of June 23, 2016, is regarded as the most well-known example of this trend that is perceived as a nationalist impetus in the UK. Since 2012, as many as eight nation-states have exited the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) attributing the lack of efficiency. In 2016, President of the Philippines Duterte threatened to pull out of UNO due to the UN castigation of extra-judicial killings in the Philippines. Similarly, African Union in principle has endorsed the mass withdrawal from the International Criminal Court. Thus, should international community accommodate such an anti-intergovernmental and anti-international treaty obligations trends in the contemporary world order as it is being wrongly encouraged by the US and it may turn out to be the death for international treaties.
The unilateral exit or unilateral denunciation of treaties remains highly contested question under international law. It is generally understood that treaty obligations terminate in both national and international law after a nation-state withdraws from the treaty. Treaty exit makes an impact on both legal systems but there are some treaty exits that divide the status of a treaty by closing its obligations in the municipal legal system but continuing its obligations under international law. But in case of human rights obligations, such a division of treaty exit is not tenable as human rights obligations are protected under the customary international law (CIL) and the US cannot escape from its international human rights obligations under the CIL.
The US has been compromising its diplomatic decency, international integrity, and global human rights credentials that would lead the US towards in state of diplomatic darkness. The state behaviour of the US has established that it does not have any respect for its international human rights obligations. Such US measures are bound to create a New World minus the US due to its blind love for Israel that has been committing war crimes against humanity of Palestine, circumventing the international law and violating the purpose and principles of the UN Charter. But there is still some global optimism left provided Haley’s advocacy of US reform proposal is reconsidered in the current year,i.e. 2018 itself.The US Courts exercise their powers of interpretation by not allowing the US Congress to violate the US’s international human rights obligations. A self-executing treaty provision is the paramount US law that has same status available to a federal statute which is justiciable by the private parties. The US as a liberal, multicultural and cosmopolitan nation-state has to espouse its human rights obligations under international law along with their socio-economic, geopolitical, and diplomatic costs.The US commitment to human rights space in Global South face a critical juncture between US-led “Israel-induced Push” and universal “UNHRC-institutional Trust” that can outpace the hegemonic and imperial tendencies of the overriding US national interests.Therefore, it is equally desirable that the US must have the negotiations based on the strengthening the UNHRC institutional framework to establish its global commitment to human rights.
Why the World is Not Becoming Multipolar
In Russia, the concept of multipolarity is usually associated with Yevgeny Primakov. Indeed, the former Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation marked the start of the transition to multipolarity as a key trend in contemporary international life back in 1996. During his visit to New Delhi as Prime Minister in late 1998, Primakov proposed a plan of trilateral cooperation between Russia, China, and India (RIC) as a practical mechanism for promoting global multipolarity. Sergey Lavrov has also stressed Primakov’s outstanding role in developing the concept of a multipolar world.
Western international relations experts will hardly agree to give priority to the Russian scholar and politician. As a rule, they trace the emergence of the concept of multipolarity to the mid-1970s. The roots of multipolarity are found in the rapid rise of the economies of Western Europe and Japan, in the United States’ defeat in Vietnam, in the energy crisis of 1973–1974, and in other trends of global politics that do not fit into the rigid framework of the bipolar world. The establishment in 1973 of the Trilateral Commission intended to encourage and improve relations between North America, Western Europe, and Eastern Asia also reflected the idea that multipolarity was coming into being, if not already fact.
Chinese historians, in turn, can claim their own version of multipolarity (duojihua) that emerged in the early 1990s and can be traced to the theoretical works of Mao Zedong. In China, the world was expected to transition from unipolar to multipolar via a “hybrid” global political structure that combines elements of both the past and future world systems.
Regardless of how we date the birth of multipolarity as a concept and whom we hail as its pioneer, the concept clearly is not a recent invention, but an intellectual product of the 20th century. It would seem that over the decades that have passed since it was proposed, multipolarity should have evolved from a hypothesis into a full-fledged theory. As regards political practice, intuition suggests that, over the course of several decades, the multipolar world should have finally taken shape as a new global political system with relevant norms, institutions, and procedures.
Yet something clearly went wrong. The world is not behaving as the founders had predicted.
In October 2016, twenty years after Yevgeny Primakov’ policy article was published in the journal International Affairs, President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin gave a speech at the Annual Meeting of the Valdai Discussion Club in Sochi, during which he commented, “I certainly hope that… the world really will become more multipolar, and that the views of all actors in the international community will be taken into account.” Six months prior to that, Putin noted the role of the United States in international relations: “America is a great power, today perhaps the only superpower. We accept this.” That is, even though a multipolar world is the desirable world system, presently it is too early to say that the “unipolar moment” has been completely overcome.
Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation Sergey Lavrov, following the general logic and even the style of Yevgeny Primakov’s narrative of 20 years ago, also spoke about the start of a transition to multipolarity and the completion of the process in some indefinite future: “… A change of eras is always a lengthy process. It will continue for a long time.” As an additional complication, Lavrov emphasized the staunch resistance of the proponents of the old world order: “There are active attempts to hinder the process primarily on the part of those who used to dominate the world, who wish to preserve their domination in new conditions as well, and, generally speaking, to enshrine their domination forever.”
This logic is hard to dispute. Yet some questions remain.
First, the historical experience of the previous centuries offers no examples of an old world gradually transforming into a new one over time. The changes in the world order that took place in 1815, 1919, and 1945 were not evolutionary, but imposed by revolutionary (forcible) means and stemmed from large-scale armed conflicts that had preceded them. The new world order was always built by the victors in their own interests. Of course, we may suppose that humanity has become wiser and more humane over the last 100–200 years, though not everyone would agree. Yet even if that is true, surely all attempts to “gradually” transition to a multipolar world would be the same as trying to alleviate the pain of a beloved pet dog by cutting off its tail piece by piece.
Second, if we take as given that the transition to a multipolar world will become an extended process spread over, say, five decades (1995–2045), this leads to the depressing conclusion that humanity will remain in the “grey area” between the old and new world orders until the middle of the 21st century. This “grey area” is clearly not a particularly comfortable or safe place. It is easy to predict that it will lack clear rules of the game, understandable and generally recognized principles of the functioning of the international system, and numerous conflicts between the emerging “poles.” The system may even split into individual fragments and its “poles” will become self-isolated in their regional or continental subsystems. Can we afford several decades in the “grey zone” without subjecting humanity to extreme risks?
Third, do we even have sufficient grounds to say that the world is moving towards multipolarity, even if this movement is slow, inconsistent, and sporadic? Could we, for instance, conclude that today, the European Union is closer to being a full-fledged and independent global “pole” than it was ten years ago? Can we assert that, over the last decade, Africa, the Middle East, or Latin America have made significant progress towards the status of a collective “pole”? Is it possible to say that as the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) expanded, the group increased its capability to act on a consolidated stance on the international stage? If we are not yet prepared to give an unequivocal “yes” to all these questions, then we do not have the right to say that the world is steadily moving towards multipolarity.
Over the years, multipolarity has become like a distant horizon that keeps receding as we move towards it. Could we not, therefore, apply Eduard Bernstein’s famous saying that “the movement is everything, the final goal is nothing” to multipolarity? That is, could we perceive multipolarity not as a full-fledged alternative to the existing world order, but as a mechanism for correcting the weakest and most vulnerable elements of this order?
“The Concert of Europe” 200 Years On
Adherents of multipolarity like to cite the “Concert of Europe,” the Vienna System of international relations established in Europe in the early 19th century after the Napoleonic wars. This system was truly multipolar; it did indeed help preserve peace in Europe for a long time. Historians debate the precise date at which the system collapsed: 1853 (the start of the Crimean War), 1871 (the Franco-Prussian War) or 1914 (the First World War). In any case, after 1815, the 19th century was relatively peaceful for Europe, particularly when compared to the disastrous 20th century.
Could the “Concert of Europe” be repeated 200 years later, this time in the global, rather than the European, context?
Let us start with the fact that the members of the “Concert of Europe,” despite being very different states, were still comparable in power and influence militarily, politically, and economically. The cosmopolitan European elites remained largely homogeneous (European monarchies in the 19th century were essentially one extended family), spoke the same language (French), professed the same faith (Christianity), and were in general part of the same cultural tradition (the European Enlightenment). Of even greater importance is the fact that the members of the “Concert of Europe” did not have radical, irreconcilable differences in their views on the desirable future of European politics, at least until the rapid rise of Prussia and the subsequent unification of Germany.
Today, the situation is drastically different. The potential members of a unipolar system have fundamentally different political weight. The United States has a greater weight in today’s international system than the British Empire had in European politics in the 19th century. The global elite is heterogeneous, and there are profound differences in their cultural archetypes and basic values. In the 19th century, the differences between the members of the “concert” pertained to specific issues in European politics, to the “manual tuning” of the complicated European mechanism. In the 21st century, the differences between the great powers pertain to the very foundations of the world order, the basic principles of international law, and even more important questions such as justice, legitimacy, and the “great meanings” of history.
On the other hand, the Concert of Europe was so successful largely due to its flexibility. Great European powers could afford the luxury of promptly changing the configuration of unions, coalitions, and alliances to maintain the overall balance of the system. For instance, France was one of Russia’s main adversaries in the Crimean War. Just a year later, after the Treaty of Paris was signed in 1856, Russia and France embarked upon a phase of active rapprochement, which resulted in Russia’s final break with Austria and Austria’s defeat in its 1859 conflict with France.
Could we imagine such flexibility today? Could we suppose that over the course of two or three years, Russia would be capable of swapping its current partnership with China for an alliance with the United States? Or that the European Union, as it faces increasing pressure from the United States, would re-orient itself towards strategic cooperation with Moscow? Such scenarios look improbable at best and absurd at worst. Alas, the leaders of great powers today do not have the flexibility that is absolutely necessary to maintain a stable multipolar world order.
At the end of our short historical sketch, we can ask another curious question. Why did the 1814–1815 Congress of Vienna result in a stable European order, while the 1919 Treaty of Versailles became meaningless 15 years after it was signed? How is it possible that the members of the anti-France coalition were capable of magnanimity towards their former enemy, while members of the anti-German coalition were not? Was it because George Clemenceau, David Lloyd George, and Woodrow Wilson were more stupid or bloodthirsty than Alexander I, Klemens von Metternich, and Charles Maurice de Talleyrand?
Of course not. It is just that the Concert of Europe was created by autocratic monarchs, while the Treaty of Versailles was designed by leaders of western democracies. The latter were far more dependent on national public sentiment than their predecessors were a century earlier. And the public sentiments of nations that had experienced four years of suffering, unprecedented privations, and losses demanded that the Germans be punished in the harshest and most uncompromising manner. And this is what the victors ultimately did, thus planting the seeds of the global carnage that was to come.
Clearly, over the last hundred years, politicians have grown even more dependent on the smallest fluctuations in public opinion. Unfortunately, the chances of seeing new examples of Alexander’s magnanimity and Metternich’s insight today are slim. To paraphrase Pushkin, we can say that “political populism and multipolarity are two things incompatible.”
The “Gangsters” and “Molls” of the Multipolar World
A famous cliché in international relations (attributed to a variety of authors, from Otto von Bismarck to Stanley Kubrick) states that on the global stage, large states act as gangsters and small states act as molls. The concept of a multipolar world is geared towards the “gangsters” and ignores the “molls.” Not every state and not even every coalition of states has the right to claim the status of a “pole” in the international system.
The adherents of multipolarity believe that most contemporary states are simply incapable of independently ensuring their own security and economic growth, not to mention making a significant contribution to shaping the new world order. Thus, in both the current and future multipolar world, only a handful of countries have “true sovereignty,” while others sacrifice this sovereignty in the name of security, prosperity, or even plain survival.
At the time of the Concert of Europe, the “gangsters” could successfully control the “molls” who depended on them, and the number of “molls” was relatively small. Two centuries later, the situation has changed drastically. Today, there are about 200 states that are members of the UN, and then there are unrecognized states and non-state actors. Therefore, the majority of members of international relations in the new multipolar world has been assigned the unenviable role of extras or observers.
Even if we ignore the moral and ethical deficiency of such a world order, there are grave doubts that such a project is feasible, especially given mounting problems in current military, political, and economic unions and the sharp rise of nationalism that affects both great powers and small and medium-sized countries.
The adherents of multipolarity probably think that the “poles” of the new world order will form naturally, that the “molls” will rush into the arms of neighbouring “gangsters” out of love rather than by coercion. That is, they will be driven by geographic proximity, economic expediency, common history, cultural similarities, etc. Unfortunately, historical experience would suggest the contrary. French-speaking Flanders has for centuries fended off the obtrusive patronage of Paris; Portugal has for an equally long time striven to distance itself from the geographically and culturally close Spain; and for some reason, Vietnam has failed to appreciate the advantages of belonging to China’s “pole.” It would be best to not even recall the state of relations between Russia and once “brotherly” Ukraine.
If the “molls” are forced to turn to the “gangsters” for protection, they clearly prefer “gangsters” from a remote neighbourhood rather than from their own street. Generally speaking, such preferences are sometimes somewhat logical. And if this is the case, then “poles” can only be formed “voluntarily under duress,” as the Russian saying goes – and in the 21st century, such foundations have dubious stability.
One gets the impression that the Russian discourse about the impending multipolar world confuses the notions of legal equality (“equal rights”) and actual equality (identity as the ultimate equality). States cannot actually be equal to each other: their size, resources, and capabilities, as well as their economic, military, and political potential, differ too greatly. Yet the apparent inequality of states does not necessarily mean that they should also have different basic rights. There is the principle of all citizens being equal before the law regardless of the differences in social status, property, education, and talents.
Old Bipolarity Billed as New Multipolarity
The differences in the current situation compared to that of the early 19th century are too obvious to attempt to restore the “classical” multipolarity. It would seem that, in one way or another, the adherents of multipolarity also realize this. If we take a closer, more careful look at the discourse in Russia today describing the “new” multipolarity of the 21st century, the magnificent multipolar façade often disguises the same steel-and-concrete bipolar structure of global politics, reflecting the Soviet mentality that has not been entirely overcome.
The “new bipolarity” manifests in all kinds of ways. Consider, for instance, the “East–West” dichotomy, a confrontation between “maritime” and “continental” powers, a clash between the “liberal” and “conservative” worlds, or even the opposition between the United States and the rest of the world. Whatever its external manifestation, the essence remains the same, like in the old Soviet joke about a worker from a factory manufacturing prams who complains, “Whenever I try to assemble a pram, I end up with a Kalashnikov.”
We cannot say with absolute certainty that the world will never go back to the bipolarity of the 20th century. In any case, the possible bipolarity that could result from the impending U.S.–China confrontation is more realistic than going back to the multipolarity of the 19th century. Nevertheless, attempts to combine elements of multipolarity and bipolarity in a single structure is a doomed enterprise. These two approaches to global politics are too different in their basic paradigms. Multipolarity and bipolarity are two radically different worldviews.
Classical multipolarity cannot have any rigid divisions between those who are right and those who are wrong, between friend and foe, between black and white. Foes may prove to be friends, those in the right and those in the wrong may swap places, and there is an entire range of shades of grey in the spectrum between black and white. A bipolar picture, on the contrary, always tends to be Manichean, when friends are always in the right and foes are invariably in the wrong. Friends are forgiven whatever they do, and foes are never forgiven. The notion of the collective West that is popular in Russia is also a vestige of the Soviet mentality. In no way does this fit in with the declared “multipolar” picture of the world, but it is very convenient for constructing the opposing notion of a “collective non-West.”
Familiar stereotypes of the Soviet mentality stubbornly bring us back to bipolar logic and deprive us of the opportunity to take advantage of managing a complex multipolar construction even in those instances when such opportunities present themselves. Of course, there are exceptions to this rule. Russian policies in the Middle East are one such exception, as it is the Donald Trump administration that has been caught in the trap of a bipolar worldview there, while Russia, having taken the preferred position of regional referee, has thus far succeeded in manoeuvring among the various regional players. Russia has been less successful in the Russia–China–India triangle that Yevgeny Primakov had once promoted as the foundation of a multipolar world: the equilateral Russia–China–India triangle is slowly but steadily evolving towards a military alliance between Russia and China.
Overcoming the remnants of bipolar logic is a necessary but insufficient condition for a successful foreign policy. It would seem that the successful use of multipolar approaches promises tactical successes at best. Strategic victories are possible if multipolarity is abandoned in favour of multilateralism.
Searching for a Balance in Open Systems
If we agree with the principle of states having equal rights in the international system, we should abandon the fundamentals of multipolarity. Directly or indirectly, multipolarity assumes that in the future world there will always be states or groups of states with special rights. That is, the privileges of force will be enshrined, just like the victors of World War II enshrined their privileges when establishing the UN system in 1945. However, the experience of 1945 cannot be repeated in 2018: today’s great powers have neither the authority nor the legitimacy nor the unanimity of the countries that had made the decisive contribution to victory in the bloodiest war in human history.
For the international system of the future to be stable and durable, there should be no radical differences between the victors and the vanquished, between “regular” and “privileged” members. Otherwise, any change in the global balance of power (and such changes will occur with increasing speed) will necessitate adjustments to the system, and we will thus go through crises over and over again.
How can we talk about consolidating the privilege of power in the new multipolar structure if this power is diffusing at breakneck pace before our very eyes? In the time of the Congress of Vienna, power was hierarchical and had a limited number of parameters. Today, traditional rigid hierarchies of power are rapidly losing the significance they once enjoyed, not because old components of national power no longer work, but because multiple new components are emerging in parallel.
For instance, South Korea cannot be considered a great power in the traditional sense, because it cannot ensure its own security without help from others. However, if we look at the wearable electronics sector, South Korea is more than a great power; in fact, it is one of two “super powers.” South Korea’s Samsung is the only company in the world that successfully competes with U.S. company Apple in the global smartphone market. From the point of view of the country’s global brand, its flagship Samsung Galaxy S9+ carries more weight than Russia’s flagship S-500 Prometey missile system.
Non-material measures of a state’s power are gaining ever greater importance. A country’s reputation, its “credit history” – which is so easy to undermine yet so hard to restore – is becoming progressively more valuable. Stalin’s famous phrase about the Pope (“The Pope? How many divisions does he have?”) looks more like political antiquity than political cynicism.
If the notion of a state’s power is becoming more equivocal and takes into account an increasing number of parameters, then we inevitably face the problem of determining the new balance of power in global politics. Determining a multipolar balance of power is in general an extremely difficult enterprise even when the number of parameters used is rigidly set. For instance, what is a stable multipolar nuclear balance? What is multilateral nuclear containment? When the number of power parameters tends to infinity, the task of building a stable multipolar balance becomes impossible to solve. Attempting to balance an open system with a permanently growing number of independent variables is the same as attempting to transform a living cell into a dead crystal.
Multilateralism Instead of Multipolarity
A stable system of global politics assumes it will not be entirely fair to more powerful players, as it limits the interests of those players in favour of weaker players and the stability of the system as a whole. Any federative state redistributes resources from prosperous regions to depressive ones: prosperous regions are forced to pay more to preserve the integrity and stability of the federation. Or consider, for instance, that traffic rules in cities are far more restrictive to cutting-edge Lamborghini supercars. Lamborghini drivers are forced to sacrifice most of their “automotive sovereignty” to ensure safety and order on the road.
The future of the world order (if we are talking about order and not a game without rules or a “war of all against all”) should be sought in multilateralism instead of multipolarity. The two terms sound similar, but they differ in meaning. Multipolarity involves building a new world order on the basis of power, while multilateralism is based on interests. Multipolarity consolidates the privileges of leaders, while multilateralism creates additional opportunities for underachievers. A multipolar world is built from blocs that balance each other, while a multilateral world is built from complementary regimes. A multipolar world develops by periodically adjusting the balance of power, while a multilateral world develops by accumulating elements of mutual dependency and creating new levels of integration.
Unlike the multipolar world model, the multilateral model cannot rely on past experience, and in that respect it might appear idealistic and virtually unfeasible. However, individual elements of the model have already been tried in the practice of international relations. For instance, the principles of multilateralism — placing the interests of small and medium-sized countries in primary focus, prioritizing the common regulatory legal balance over the situational interests of the participants in the system — formed the basis for the construction of the European Union. Even though the European Union is not in great shape today and individual parts of this complex machine are clearly malfunctioning, hardly anyone would deny that it remains the most successful integration project implemented in the modern world.
For those who do not like the experience of European integration, it is worth looking for sprouts of new multilateralism elsewhere. Examples include the BRICS+ project and the “Community of Common Destiny.” Both initiatives attempt to avoid the over-complication, exclusivity, and rigidity of the European project by offering potential participants more diverse cooperation options. However, should these projects be successful, they will not bring the world any closer to “classical” multipolarity; on the contrary, they will take the world farther away from it.
The international community will have to somehow restore the regulatory framework of global politics that has been gravely undermined over recent decades, search for complex balances of interests at the regional and global levels, and build flexible regimes that regulate individual dimensions of global communication. Powerful states will have to make major concessions so that multilateral arrangements will be attractive for weak actors. A clean break will have to be made with the centuries-old relics of outdated mentalities, dubious historical analogies, and attractive yet meaningless geopolitical constructions.
The world of the future will be far more complex and contradictory than we thought it would be just 20 years ago. It will have a place for a multitude of diverse participants in global politics interacting in various formats. Multipolarity should go down in history as a justified intellectual and political reaction to the arrogance, haughtiness, and various excesses of the hapless builders of a unipolar world — nothing more and nothing less. With the twilight of the unipolar world, its opposite – multipolarity – will inevitably face its twilight as well.
First published in our partner RIAC
-  Primakov E. M. International Relations on the Eve of the 21st Century: Problems and Prospects. International Affairs. 1996 (10), pp. 3–13.
-  Curiously, at the turn of the century, the idea of multipolarity gained such traction in both the United States and Europe that Assistant to President George W. Bush for National Security Affairs Condoleezza Rice found it necessary to publish a lengthy article with detailed criticism of multipolarity as a concept of rivalry and potential conflicts, a concept that distracts humanity from tackling common constructive objectives. See: http://globalaffairs.ru/number/n_1564.
-  Seventh Foreign Minister of the People’s Republic of China Qian Qichen stated that the world is still in a transitionary phase, and that the new model had not yet been completely shaped. However, an outline of international relations with one superpower and several great powers locked in relations of mutual dependency and strife has already emerged. This is the starting point of the system’s evolution to multipolarity. See Suisheng Zhao. Beijing’s Perceptions of the International System and Foreign Policy Adjustment after the Tiananmen Incident. / Suisheng Zhao (ed.), Chinese Foreign Policy. Pragmatism and Strategic Behavior. New York: East Gate Book, 2004, p. 142.
-  Dugin A. G. Theory of a Multipolar World. Moscow, 2013, pp. 16–19.
-  President Vladimir Putin quite eloquently expounded this view of the world in his speech at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum on June 2, 2017, “To reiterate, there are not so many countries that have sovereignty. Russia treasures its sovereignty, but not as a toy. We need sovereignty to protect our interests and to ensure our own development. India has sovereignty… However, there are not so many countries like India in the world. That is true. We should simply bear this in mind. India is one such country and so is China. I will not enumerate them all: There are other countries, too, but not many.”
Refugee Trepidations: Protection Palisades and How to throw down the Gauntlet
The moniker “refugee” is identified by the academics, aid agents, media persons, governance architects, political establishments from multiple perspectives regarding their protection, rights, and responsibilities. Today, refugees depict the global landscapes with conflict and divergence of assessments that invigorate the global normative debate on the protection, resettlement, reintegration, and management of the 65.6 million of refugees worldwide. The refugee problem is convoluted, and refugee groups and stakeholders create difficulties in addressing global canvas of refugee issues. There are few questions to attend the refugee concern such as who is a refugee in the present circumstances and what are the most critical issues before the refugee communities and institutions entrusted with their protection, collaboration, and interaction? I will try to address this miasma by concentrating on the legal definitions of the term “refugee” and what are the categories of displaced people included and nature of issues attended by the impugned definition.
The Contours of Refugee Definition?
There are two scenarios to appreciate and understand the legal definitions, one is of refugees who have been grappling with the problems of multidimensional implications and second is of nation-states and institutions who have been striving hard to protect the refugees. These definitions govern the standard of qualification where under legal and physical protections are made available to the refugees fleeing from the well-founded fear of persecution and conflict. The principal definition of a refugee has been provided in the 1951 UN Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees (UNCSR) and its 1967 Additional Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees (APSR) that delineates a refugee as an individual or a person “owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted due to the reasons of religion, race, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, nationality is outside the country of his nationality, and is unable or — unwilling to make available to himself or herself of the protection of that country.”It is evident from the above statutory definition that it does not cover the refugee situations of mass exoduses from war.
However, the Organization of African Unity has developed refugee protection arrangement at regional level by concluding and adopting the 1969 OAU Convention where under the definition of refugees has been broadened that include group of people and individuals who face persecution as well as every individual who, “owing to foreign domination, occupation, external aggression, or events seriously disturbing the public order…is compelled to leave…to seek refuge or reception in another place outside his country of origin or nationality.”However, OAU refugee definition must be treated as an element of complementarity to the UNCSR refugee definition. At international level, the instruments such as UNCSR and APSR have been recognized as the subject-matter of International Refugee Law (IRL) along with the relevant provisions of a vast pool of instruments of International Human Rights (IHRL), International Humanitarian Law (IHL), Customary International Law (CIL) and International Criminal Law (ICL).
In 1984, Latin American states adopted the Cartagena Declaration on Refugee (CDR) where under a new ground “massive human rights violations” was added to the grounds of refugee qualifications at the Colloquium on “the International Protection of the Refugees in Latin America”, Panama, and Mexico, held at Cartagena, Colombia on 19-22 November 1984.Latin America widened the refugee definition and proposed new approaches to the humanitarian needs of refugees and displaced persons in a spirit of solidarity and cooperation. However, the CDR is a non-binding agreement, but it carries collective ethical and moral commitments beyond Latin America. The 30th anniversary of the CDR was commemorated in Brasilia on 2-3 December 2014 when governments of Latin America and the Caribbean assembled and 28 countries and three territories of the Latin America region and the Caribbean adopted the Brazil Declaration known as “A Framework for Cooperation and the Regional Solidarity to Strengthen the International Protection of Refugees, Displaced and Stateless Persons in Latin America and the Caribbean” and a Plan of Action called “A Common Roadmap to Strengthen the Protection and Promote the Sustainable Solutions for Refugees, Displaced and the Stateless Persons in the Latin America and the Caribbean within a Framework of Cooperation and the Solidarity.”Therefore, the people or group of persons crisscrossing international borders to escape civil strife, conflict or war have also been recognized as refugees on the prima facie basis in Africa and Latin America as well as Asia and Middle Eastern region. The Poverty-stricken countries in the region prefer the expanded refugee definition as they do not have the proper administrative wherewithal to determine the refugee status. Among the Global North countries, the mass exoduses are not automatically recognized as refugees rather they are subjected to the “individual refugee status determination” procedure under the restricted refugee definition of UNCSR.
Definitional Dynamics and Delineation
The international definition of the term “refugee” is constricted and restricted,but its dynamics are susceptible to much delineation that is rudimentary as well as fragmentary and cannot be applied to all situations of human displacement and migration and refugee groups and refugee exoduses. These situations may have profound ramifications for the entire gamut of refugee entitlements from migration, transition,and destination based on their endurance and existence. The expression “refugee-like situations” is used to portray people such as Biharis in Bangladesh, Burmese in Thailand and Malaysia, Bedouin in Kuwait and Iraq who are stateless and deprived of the national protection of their countries of origin, countries of nationality and countries of habitual residence but they have not been recognized as refugees under the IRL. Therefore, the situation of refugees in the age of Securitization and Restrictionism of Asylum has become extremely precarious,and 1954 and 1961 UN Conventions on Statelessness and Reduction of Statelessness respectively have done a fraction of service under the auspices of the UNHCR in assuaging their predicament. Further, the phrase “internally displaced persons” (IDPs) refers to people who move or migrate due to the same reasons as refugees within their homelands,and they do not cross international borders. There is no international body specially empowered to look after the IDPs, but the UNHCR can take their responsibility upon the request of a national government and the UNHCR designate them as “People of Concern to UNHCR” but national governments generally do not invite the good offices of the UNHCR or other agencies in the name of sovereignty, homeland security, and terrorism.
The international legal definition of expression “refugee” also makes an exclusion of those people who do not flee or move due to persecution but they migrate due to climate change-linked human displacement in the forms of droughts, famine, floods, earthquakes, environmental degradation, global warming, depletion of ozone layer, erosion of landmass of littoral areas, and soaring of sea-level. It is a fact that such a new class of people now called “forced migrants,” “forced displaced peoples,” “climate migrants,”or “climate refugees” who desperately require international protection and humanitarian assistance. Similarly, the catchphrase “refugee” also rejects people who move due to economic considerations owing to economic apartheid based nationalism, economic boycott based on communalism, economic ostracism based on casteism, economic immigration based on political liberalism and extreme poverty and such peoples are branded “economic migrants.” Another group of people is “asylum seekers” who migrate as consequences of political opinions, and offenses and diplomatic omissions. They get refugee status provided their claims are adjudicated upon by the IRL.
The refugees flee, leave, move or migrate from their homelands due to the persecution that is a central ground for their protection, recognition,and reception as refugees in the land of asylum. However, there is a debate in the juridical domain as to what signifies and frames the “persecution” as some stakeholders catechize should persecution be state-sponsored, state-patronized or state-linked and riveted upon individuals, or should pervasive practices, audacious attitudes and autochthonic approaches in the society meet the requirements for persecution. Even there are plenty of arguments that gyrate around as to what are the contours of human rights abuses and cultural practice and common tradition. These questions crop up in gender- connected instances; i.e., many countries in Afro-Asia regions practice female genital mutilation (FGM), Taliban regime has thwarted girl education that too against Islamic tenets, prohibited the sexual orientation predilections of Afghan men and women, Iran handed down severe punishments to gays and lesbians and sent them to gallows and it is an offence to talk of LGBTQ rights in many countries. Nevertheless, there are many critical issues of the international forced migration studies that have not been ruminated according to a gendered perspective, and in turn, many crucial topics for gender-linked have been neglected when studying migrants and mobile people while answering a pertinent question as to how marital status, age, and ethnicity shaped migration and settlement patterns in specific economic, cultural and political contexts.There has to be a more razor-sharp dialogue between migration studies and gender studies while taking into account the fact that male and female roles were, and are, the result of social, cultural and economic construction from the late Middle Ages to the early 21stcentury.Therefore, gender-related aspects and dynamics have shaped the grounds for granting asylum and refugee status to persons, of course, on a case-by-case consideration. In many countries, religious, racial, linguistic, coloured and cultural minorities are subjected to persecution in violation of IHRL, IHL, IRL, CIL,and ICL,etc. However, international understanding and consensus are conspicuously absent on the global norms and human rights standards in this regard.
The national governments and international organizations and bodies are significantly engrossed to formulate international policy framework to address the refugee issues and population mobility. Refugees, asylum seekers, and IDPs perceive legal protection as the principle and most enduring global issue. The responsibility to protect (R2P)is based on the principle of sovereignty where under nation-states have the primary obligation to protect their citizens and subjects against all hostile circumstances. But, unfortunately, modern nation-states are flagrantly recalcitrant to perform their international human rights obligations. These legal protection obligations are embedded in the concept of sovereignty, and the international community is equally obligated to maintain international peace and security under Article 24 of the UN Charter. Moreover, there are umpteen and specific international legal arrangements, covenants, charters, pacts, treaties and declarations relating to IRL, IHRL, IHL, CIL, ICL and municipal law to protect the human rights of all across the world. Even the legal protection of refugees is central to the mandate of the UNHCR while taking into account all policy matters of refugee protection backed by the UN Commission on Sovereignty and Intervention. However, there are many issues involved in the R2P such as at what stage does international community decides the international invention to protect the refugees? What should be a threshold of military intervention and its legal justification? There have been instances of international intervention like the Gulf War (1991-1992), Somalia (1992-1993), Bosnia Herzegovina (1995) and Kosovo (1999) whereas international intervention was not invoked in Rwanda (1994). However, currently, there is as many as 110,000 UN Peacekeeping field personnel including military, police, and civilians and 14 UN peacekeeping missions are active across the four continents. In past 70 years, more than 1 million men and women have served 70 UN peacekeeping operations. Therefore, nation-states must follow the R2P Covenant in the situations of ethnic cleansing, genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity, rape, murder, and massive violations of human rights and beyond.
International humanitarian assistance organizations have been in Catch-22 situation that requires as to how best extending assistance and protection during conflicts. There are challenges when humanitarian assistance, UNHCR officials, and NGO staff per se become the target of combatant parties. Therefore, international humanitarian agencies confront incredibly hostile scenarios that pose pertinent questions like do these humanitarian agencies require military intervention for the security of UNHCR officials, NGO staff, and assistance operations? Should these agencies circumvent the principles of neutrality and impartiality while performing their works? Should these agencies prefer to remove the people from conflict zones as a solution? Are there options before the humanitarian agencies to prefer withdrawal from the zones of hostilities while maintaining the equilibrium in their responsibilities to protect refugees, displaced people and the workforce? These challenges require a reliable solution at the anvil of human rights.
There is another dimension to the current discourse on the lego-institutional response of the aid agencies during population migration, protection in the refugee camps and treatment of combatants, military deserters and war criminals. Under international law, refugee camp communities and voluntarily migrant populations are often considered vulnerable civilian targets, but people are privy to military engagement are excluded from refugee status and benefits incidental there under. However, there are sizable armed combatants engaged with opposition armed forces in their country of origin whom I address as “refugee crusaders” who have been witnessed fighting in their homelands or lands of their reception particularly the Rwandans in the Democratic Republic of the Congo aided and supported by other countries and Afghan Mujahedeen in Pakistan who were aided and armed by the Pakistan, US, Saudi Arabia, and the China to fight and flush out the Soviet military from Afghanistan.
Burden-Sharing v. Shared-Responsibility
The international community is also confronted with another prominent dimension of refugee exoduses into the adjacent countries. The “Global North” countries do not approve of the comprehensive regional refugee definitions contained in the 1969 OAU Convention and 1984 Cartagena Declaration where under mass exodus of refugees have been recognized. But the disdaining the idea of R2P, contempt for humanitarian sensitivities, municipal lego-institutional political ramifications, entreating for systematic population migration, unwillingness of the neighboring nation-states to host the mass influxes of refugees and disregard for the concept of global refugee shared-responsibility(GRSR) have paved the way for temporary refugee protection (TRP) programmes where under temporary refugee status (TRS) is granted in the Global North countries, and it is called “B-status” or “Extended Leave to Remain” in Europe. These TRP programmes have the provisions to grant “temporary residence permits” to people in flight sans the full implementation of the 1951 UNCSR norms on refugee status and IHRL standards. For examples, the Bosnians and Kosovars in Western Europe and Salvadorans in the US were granted TRS. However, the principle of TRP is circumscribed by a vortex of complications such as offering the TRP by many countries to evade their permanent global obligations enunciated in the IRL, IHRL, IHL,and CIL, case-by-case approach based conferment of TRP with protracted parleys on “burden-sharing” by many states and the justifiable allocation of refugees among receiving states. The concept of “burden-sharing”about refugees has a volatile history,and it commenced in the 1950s as a principle for promoting international solidarity among the refugee-hosting countries.
However, the idea of “burden sharing” is a conspicuous gap in the IRL; therefore, it requires a better lego-institutional response mechanism. Therefore, the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) has adopted the New York Declaration (NYD) on September 19, 2016, where under more than 193 nation-states committed to the principle of “equitable burden-sharing” and responsibility to host and protect the refugees in mass flight. The New York Declaration contemplates a “Global Compact on Refugees(GCR)” having two modules namely the “Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework (CRRF),”and the UNHCR has been entrusted to formulate the entire GCR. The newest third draft of the GCR has been released on June 04, 2018 and the UNGA shall adopt the final draft of the GCR by the end of 2018. However, it remains to be seen to what extent the GCR would bridge the refugee protection gaps in existing IRL on the burden-sharing. However, the doctrine of Non-refoulement must be invoked to assure the nation-states to grant TRP,but the contemporary discourse is on the timeframe as to when and how refugees should be returned to their homelands. Who should decide their return and what are the contours of such a replacement? However, their return must have IHRL components relating to dignity and safety while critically appreciating circumstances in their homelands.
These protection measures are inherent and entrenched in the principle of “Non-refoulement” enshrined in Article 33 (1)of the 1951 UNCSR stating that “No Contracting State shall expel or return (“refouler”) a refugee in any manner whatsoever to the frontiers of territories where his life or freedom would be threatened on account of his religion, race, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion.”Now, the principle of “Non-refoulement”is an inalienable part of customary international law applicable to all nation-states regardless of their being privy to 1951 UNCSR with its 1967 Additional Protocol or not and it is also central to municipal legal systems. However, it is still debatable whether “Non-refoulement” is a jus cogens of international law or not but Refoulement and Restrictionism are part of modern nation-states,and refugee receiving governments are hell bent to wind up refugee camps. For example; Vietnamese in Hong Kong, Rwandans in Tanzania, and North Koreans in China, some categories of refugees in South Asia, and Syrian refugees in few European States have been bracing these situations that violate the principle of “Non-refoulement.”
There is No Wrap-Up
There is no wrap-up in evolving the understandings and exploring the options to provide legal protection to refugees around the world,and it requires a proper appreciation of normative perception of protection and humanitarian complexities entrenched in the refugee well-being. The refugee problem in the Global North countries has triggered the societal tensions and anxieties. Many national governments have been extracting fiscal support from rich donor governments in the name refugee hosting without addressing the local repinements due to the presence of refugees. Therefore, the Global North governments ought to be vigilant regarding shifting responsibility for hosting refugees in the Global South or unstable countries. In Europe, recent elections in Germany, France,and Austria have shown that it was immensely challenging to mollify the native people about the refugee protection and it resulted in detrimental repercussions for the political class, regional stability,and homeland security.
There are numerous stakeholders like national governments, academics, refugee crusaders, refugee aid people, RSD personnel and the media that can generate public understanding, motivate international community and formulate pragmatic policies on legal protection gaps under the IRL.The comity of nations is responsible for protecting refugees, motivate all refugee stakeholders including national governments and support the GCR mechanism. The UNHCR has successfully established itself as a catalyst in protecting, fostering and managing refugees and their mobility across the world and its role must be central to the success of the GCR. The nation-states and all the stakeholders must strive to accomplish the human rights-oriented transformation of the lives of refugees and the host communities.There is an indispensable requirement of refugee participation in the Global Refugee Forum under the GCR to disseminate information and share best practices from a multitude of perspectives based on age, caste, creed, ethnicity, disabilities, diversity, gender, race, religion, social origin, political opinion, and regional affiliations. The UNHCR must develop these elements as an intractable part of the GCR regime.
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