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The Unfinished agenda of 2016’ Global Politics and expectations of 2017

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The unstoppable flow of new issues in international relations (IR) always pushes aside present and past crises. The entrance of these modern day challenges occupy more of the international community’s resources and time, making other vital issues less important. Is this an organic design, and the natural consequences?

It is a contested argument. However, we all forget that leaving problems to escalate from one year to the next year not only leaves the wound open, but makes it harder to close, particularly in regard to influencing the situation. Though the international players observe these developments as grave concerns, their experiences can only offer a familiar voice asking the stakeholders to remain calm. The Israeli-Palestine conflict, civil wars throughout Africa, the Kashmir issue, Tamil’s status in the United Sri Lanka, belligerent North Korea, Iran’s nuclear potential, governmental issues across Latin America, the worldwide war on terror, the shift of the old world order in the shadow of new rising powers, the impact of the Arab Spring, new tensions between the US and Russia, the Syrian refugee crisis, pandemic diseases, climate change, stalled WTO negotiations and many more keep the United Nations (UN) permanently engaged. Which issues did the international community consider more important than others and which remained untouched during the year 2016 will be discussed here.

This year the Israel-Palestine issue did not received more space in the agenda of the UN but was always present at the table. The recent abstention of the United States in the UNSC censuring the illegal Israeli settlements show that the long-standing approach of America in favor of Israel now is tilting. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was blindsided by this new shift, and spectators continue to contemplate why the US has broken its uncontested support for Israel and what the expected results might be.

No one dare talk of the Kashmir issue boldly, as it fuels the bitter relations between India and Pakistan. The reason for the estranged relations between India and Pakistan begins six decades ago at the partition of the Hindu-Muslim divide. Pakistan invaded Kashmir and was the aggressor in the situation. With no question surrounding India’s status as one of the new rising powers in the international system, seeking major influence within inter-governmental and organisational bodies is tensely anticipated. It seem Pakistan has not realised the reality of this issue, it can cry foul but it will not receive any support from any major Western players. This issue was not considered seriously by the international community for two reasons. First, India maintains that Kashmir is the internal matter of India and will only be resolved bilaterally with Pakistan. It claims that there would be no space for a third party. Second, India is the worlds largest democracy with a fast growing economy, as well as the largest importer of military procurements. India’s growth can be attributed to its friendly relations with major powers in the international system.

The agreement between Colombia and FARC would have ended one of the world’s longest, continuous conflicts in Latin American and set a precedent for resolving any deadly conflicts across the continent. However, Africa remains a continent plagued by suffering, and does not intend to copy the model and attempt to end any of their internal conflicts. Poverty, malnutrition, water insecurity and chronic diseases are threatening Africa’s communities. In addition, other issues like Boko Haram’s insurgency in northeastern Nigeria, ethnic violence in the divided Sudan, and Congo, Somalia, Mali and Algeria registered even more deaths from political violence in the year 2016. Recent reports say that Robert Mugabe, the 92 year old President of the failed state Zimbabwe will be in the race again to retain his presidential power. The UN and the US are concerned about the burgeoning issues across Africa but are unable to do carry out any action because of their focus on eradicating ISIS in the Middle East.

In Sri Lanka, the conflict between the majority of Singhalese and the minority Tamils and taking forward the new constitution of united Sri Lanka will be a burning domestic matter. The post-LTTE regime and the continuous presence of Sri Lanka’s military throughout war-torn regions makes the deprived minority people more vulnerable and poses a serious threat for their peaceful living. Further, the government’s concern to monitor and if needed thwart the regrouping of the LTTE would be understandable but the internal security matters should not endanger to its citizens. The crucial factor here would be an investigation by the UN body regarding the Human Rights violations, torture and unlawful killings during the final seven years of the war, and to apply pressure to the Sri Lankan government for further actions and a follow up. However, the resistance of Colombo in addition to the rivalry between India and China granted free bail to Sri Lanka in Indian Ocean security challenges.

At the Paris accord on Climate Change at the end of 2015 and the follow up in 2016 by the UN, the US sought a Chinese pledge. This was in order to give a chance to the citizens of the world and for the biggest polluters to guarantee change in the face of the real threat of global warming as well as the responsibility to save it. So far, “120 Parties have ratified of 197 Parties to the Convention” (unfcc.int) thus the Paris Agreement was fully supported and entered into force in 2016, received as a very positive message to all environmentalists, climate change scientists and anyone affected/worried about the consequences of pollution.

The deadlock of the WTO Doha Round talks means there will not be negotiations in 2016 due to the inability of the international community. This is not good news to the developing world, as this is the only rules based organisation which gives support to small states. The deadlock must be reversed to give an opportunity to every human being who have the right to live in this world equally. The failure of the WTO in boosting regional trade pacts would be a loss for developing nations. In 2016 the WTO was able to receive the required attention but will get the right consideration in 2017 if the Director General of the WTO, along with the new US administration, the EU, China, India, Russia, Brazil, South Africa and other major players collectively stand to provide a chance for future negotiations.

The second Iraq war, the repercussions of the ‘Arab Spring’ followed by civil war across North Africa and the Middle East has caused serious damage and disasters to humanity. The struggle to wipe out ISIS in Iraq and Syria fuelled the biggest refugee crisis the world has witnessed since World War II. The continuous clash between the US and Russia over Syria ceasefires and the battle for Mosul and Aleppo has devastated the country without any immediate redemption. Though the international community was concerned, the ego’s and power struggle between the US and Russia was the main reason behind the delay to bring all parties for ceasefire discussions.

The threat of nuclear weapons falling into the hands of deadly terrorist groups and proliferation of nuclear material within failing states is a serious issue which hurts everyone in the world. Last year alone, various tests were exercised by North Korea, and though its weapons capacity is contested the main point is that the tests were successful. North Korea is demonstrating its nuclear might with the protective shadow of China. No one is willing to address and/or challenge China’s influence, powers and relationships in the region. Why is this?

The pact with Iran surrounding nuclear material was a necessity as there was no alternatives that pursued the right direction. Which way this option proceeds lies in the hands of the new US president. Hopefully, Iran and its people will enjoy the outcome of the pact and it can be viewed as a positive message. With more investments predicted for Iran, the international community should keep a watchful eye on Iran incase these are viewed as funding opportunities to strengthen their nuclear option in the future. To counteract this, Iran should be guaranteed a security shield to protect them from another nuclear state or threat in their region.

US-Cuba relations

After imposing sanctions on Russia as punishment for the Crimea issue, tensions between the US and Russia have been renewed and registered at a new level. The US administration should not forget that pushing Russia towards the East is a big challenge in that it has the possibility of strengthening the relationship with China. Hacking the US election system, President Barak Obama’s reactions to expelling 34 Russian diplomats from the US, as well as Trump’s response are sending dangerous messages. Instead of retaliating, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s silence troubled every one. Which way the US will move and why remains to seen. The important aspect of this and the biggest worry would be the future and risks of cyber-security and the impact it can have on the international stage.

Silent issues are appearing quickly, particularly after the announcement of Trumps election win. His phone call with the Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-disturbed and shocked China. Trump’s olive branch towards Putin and open talks with Ing-wen will be a gateway to isolating China but also poses serious challenges to the new UN Secretary-General.

Ban Ki-Moon the Secretary-General of the UN is now completing his 10-year tenure. Now, the new Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has “pledged to make 2017 a year for peace.” He has experience in the UN as a High Commissioner for Refugees and as prime minister of Portugal. What the international media and diplomats have commented about the incoming secretary general are positive and widely endorse him as the right choice for this post. Let us hope that he will oversee all the important issues, give immediate attention to deadly issues and will work along with the international community to make a consensus in resolving conflicts and bring peace to this world with a stern hand.

International relations and its issues can not be limited or restricted. They are constantly changing and evolving, and the international community needs to be more resilient and adaptive in order to function at its highest capacity.

The UN has the institutional framework which, empowered by international law and the Geneva Conventions, can take the lead in finding solutions for any conflicts across the world. However, every IR scholar knows that without the backing of the US the UN’s stance would be powerless. Moreover, to carry forward the any proactive UN role the United States support can not be compromised. With unexpected events taking place in the US, president-elect Donald Trump would be the first leader in the history of US politics to be openly disliked by state leaders and his own citizens. With organised rallies, the appearance of posters stating ‘He is not my President’ and a number of debates across social media, serious questions are being about Trump’s presidency.

Though President Barak Obama was praised for his orator-ship, he could only impact minimum issues and some critics state he did not reach his expectations in the year 2016. However, his strong stance on non-intervention, withdrawal of the US military from the Middle East will stand strongly for him in the future. At the same time, the new president-elect of the US is already impacting the world stronger than ever. Russia is happy about the election results as Trump is batting for Russia. Would this mean that the new US policy will attempt to dismantle Russia-China relations? China is not happy about the new US president-elect. India has no opinion but there are expectations for closer ties with the US because of Prime Minister Modi and Trump’s shared policy disarray and inconstant personality traits.

The more international issues are in rise the intervention of the US president with rational act would be crucial for resolving conflicts. So far, Trump has not shown any maturity in his statements on global affairs. Contested statements in his name make the global stage more confusing and reduce his image as a trustworthy global leader.

Will the important global issues that remain unresolved or not a high priority in the year 2016 receive attention from the new US president in the New Year 2017? This has no immediate answer. The UN and the US are strongly expected to lead the way for useful solutions to the global problems. We have crossed the year 2016 with some achievements but not with great disappointments. Hence, we have hope that the international community will fight to save humanity from the natural and manmade disasters.

Antony Clement is a Senior Editor (Indo-Pacific), Modern Diplomacy, an online journal. He is a researcher in Indian Foreign Policy. He is currently working on two books - “The Best Teacher” and “Diplomacy in Tough Times”. His research centres on India’s diplomacy & foreign policy and extends to domestic politics, economic policy, security issues, and international security matters, including India’s relations with the US, the BRICS nations, the EU and Australia. His recent book is “Discover your talents.”

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Looking for safety in security studies: Is it relevant to discuss climate change’s impact on UNSC?

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In December 2021, Security Council failed to adopt the draft resolution to integrate the climate security-related threat into the United Nations conflict-prevention strategies. The resolution was aimed to help the forum facing the risk of conflict that will escalate because of social issues affected by climate change such as, drought, flood, soil degradation, and sea level rising that create social-security problems such as water and food scarcity and large-scale people displacement (United Nations, December 2021).

               Through that resolution, it is expected that the concern of climate change and social-security issues that are affected by it would start to be seen as intersectional and contributing to conflict and affecting the security itself. As can be observed in the displacement and refugees issue in South Sudan that pushed 500.000 Dinka ethnic people from their homes and escalated the ethnic conflict between Dinka and Nuer. Other phenomena such as sea level rising also affect island state and their neighbor state which will get affected by refugees that try to get into their country.

               Even though the climate-related threat is classified as a multiplier factor, its impact on the social security issue is real and has the potential to escalate the conflict that risks the security of thousands of citizens. Nevertheless, by the rejection of those draft resolutions from India and Russia, and abstain from China, Security Council then must reject the resolution because of the votes of a permanent member. India, as the member that rejects the draft, bases its rejection on the functionality of the Security Council which is to deescalate the conflict and discuss the climate impact is not a proper forum because there is another forum that has focused on that issue already (Security Council Report, 2021). But, is it necessary to discuss climate change and its impact on Security Council? Is it relevant for climate issues to be discussed in a security forum?

Why should it be UNSC, as a security Forum, to discussed it?

               As a forum and institution in the UN that has been mandated to keep the security and peace, the advocacy of climate adaptation policy the have several urgencies to be integrated into UNSC talks. First, quoting from the UNSC mandate in chapter IV, “The Security Council may investigate any dispute, or any situation which might lead to international friction or give rise to a dispute, in order to determine whether the continuance of the dispute or situation is likely to endanger the maintenance of international peace and security (United Nations, n.d.). Even though that mandate is written in the ‘Pacific Settlement of Disputes’ section, those article is not referring to clauses that limit the situation contribute to the conflict on human activities directly, such as the impact of climate change. Therefore, the impact of climate change should be addressed by the Security Council forum to prevent disputes from escalating into a real conflict that threatened the social-security issue.

               Second, regarding the hierarchical decision-making in United Nations, Security Council has the authority to enforce more binding and interventionist resolutions than other forums such as General Assembly that the socio-economy issues with more loose output. Connecting the dots, the conditions which have been faced by climate change issue in international meetings is slower than what should be expected in creating an assertive and ambitious response, especially when the issues are in intersection with other issues such as conflict escalation. Regarding this situation, the Security council, as the dominant institution that establishes the dominant discourse on international security, has a central role in directing the climate change urgency in international society, since the security discourse is always paramount in international relations.

UNSC as a dominant discourse-maker in security studies

               It can not be denied that United Nations is an organization characterized by monolithic production of power in the implementation of its agenda, with human rights and human security as the dominant narrative in its every decision-making process (Shepherd, 2008, p. 392). This character could be seen through the UN Charter in 1945, particular in article 24.1, “Members confer on the Security Council primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security, and agree that in carrying out its duties under this responsibility the Security Council acts on their behalf” (UN 1945, Article 24.1). Those article referring Security Council as the highest authority institutionally and legislative in the UN through its resolutions. And in the name of security, Security Council has extensive authority in drawing the objective of every resolution and mission. Even though it needs to be questioned on what purposes those objectives are being directed.

               The power that Security Council had in concepting how security will be achieved in international relations could be reflected to what Buzan (1998) wrote as the process of securitization. Regarding Buzan, the creation of the security concept is the key to legitimizing the use of force, mobilizing international society, and using the special means to intervene in other states’ business in the name of handling existential threats which threaten the existence of states and their sovereignty (Buzzan, 1998). To put it simply, labeling a situation as security will frame that situation as emergency and apolitical. As the implication, issue that had been labeled as a security threat will get punctuation and urgency to exterminate the threat at the institution level, such as the different perspectives of the member which will get in the way of its agenda realization. In this process of securitization, the problem of climate change creates a great leap in its progress to meet its drives the securitization process.

               Nevertheless, the discourse-making of security above is still limited to traditional security conception which refers to the military aspect of security. This limitation can be seen through the articulation of security and its threat by permanent members of the Security Council. India, Russia, and China reject the discussion of the draft resolution because they are afraid that international society will intervene their sovereignty, as what could have happened in Chapter VII (Security Council Report, 2021). In addition, the uncertainty of scientific research about climate and the connection with security means also become another narrative from the three countries to reject the draft.

               The traditional security approach that still dominates shows the failure Security Council, as a security forum for states, to recognize the issue to create a safe environment for its people. All this is due to, first, traditional security studies, on the basic level, are not trying to solve the root of the disputes and war, however, it only focuses on how to avoid the damage that could be achieved by parties involved in the disputes (Walt, 1991, p. 212). Second, the traditional security studies too focused on keeping the concept of the states and its existence, so that it becomes oblivious about the people within the states as the constituent of the state also gives the legitimacy to the state’s sovereignty (Waltz, 1991, p. 213). Those two characteristics of traditional security studies show how security is too limited in the military aspect and lost its ability and orientation to keep the people feel safe.

Stepping out of the old conception

               It can not be denied that the impact of climate change is getting worst every day, even if it is affected the most in several conflicts and disputes in international relations. The urgency for the Security Council to discuss the impact of climate change on conflict escalation is the embodiment of awareness of the need for safety than the conception of security itself.

               As a disclaimer, of course, there is risk and compromise in states’ sovereignty when we try to securitize the climate issue in a security forum. Last time, when international society try to securitize human right issue, US used those narratives to disarm and intervene in the oil field of Iran in 2002. This threat is evident and inevitable because security is the paramount issue in international relations, and every issue that is labeled as a threat of it will expand the authority of states’ to get rid of it, even if it violates others’ sovereignty.

               The only way for security studies to avoid the worsening failure in addressing the issue of security that have been affected by climate issue is to step out of the traditional conception of security, and its rigidity in the game of tough-man through its war-game strategies, while failed to see the essence of the states and the security that we try to create and establish, is the safety of people within the states.

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Treaty on Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons as New Instrument in Nuclear Disarmament Process

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On June 21–23, Vienna will host a historic event in the field of nuclear disarmament – ​​the First Meeting of the States Parties to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW).

The entry into force of this treaty in January 2021 became a long-awaited signal that demonstrated the determination of the UN member states to take concrete measures to outlaw nuclear weapons.

This was a significant moment for Kazakhstan, which in the past experienced detrimental consequences of nuclear tests. As President of Kazakhstan Kassym-Jomart Tokayev noted in his speech at the 75th session of the UN General Assembly, “today Kazakhstan is an example and a role model for the whole world as a responsible state that voluntarily abandoned its nuclear-missile arsenal and closed the world’s largest nuclear test site.”

For half a century, our land suffered atmospheric, ground, and underground tests. This impacted the health of about 1.5 million Kazakhs living near the test site with an area of ​​​​more than 18,000 square kilometres. The consequences of radiation are felt to this day.

On the initiative of Kazakhstan, the closing date of the Semipalatinsk test site – August 29 – was declared in 2009 by the UN General Assembly the International Day against Nuclear Tests. Emphasizing the symbolism of this date, in 2019 Kazakhstan submitted to the UN Secretariat an instrument for ratifying the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW).

Kazakhstan voluntarily abandoned the 4th largest nuclear arsenal in the world, which it inherited after the collapse of the Soviet Union, and in 1993 joined the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) as a state that does not possess nuclear weapons. Let me note, that the TPNW was developed in support of the NPT and fully complements its objective of strengthening the nuclear non-proliferation regime, the peaceful use of atomic energy and wider international security.

In fact, TPNW reflects the dissatisfaction of most UN member states with the disregard by nuclear countries of their obligations on nuclear disarmament, enshrined in several international treaties and documents, including Article VI of the NPT. For this reason, we believe that the treaty should be mentioned in the Final Document of the forthcoming NPT Review Conference in August 2022.

The Treaty establishes several mandatory legal initiatives in the field of nuclear disarmament. For example, nuclear weapons are considered illegal for the first time in human history. Secondly, the production, testing, acquisition, transfer, storage and deployment of nuclear weapons or nuclear explosive devices, as well as the use of threats to use them, are prohibited.

A nuclear-weapon country can join the TPNW if it agrees to destroy its nuclear weapons in accordance with legally binding, verifiable, time-specific plans. Similarly, a country hosting nuclear weapons can join if it agrees to remove them. The Treaty does not prescribe specific timeframes or disarmament measures, as they are planned to be approved by the member states following the First Conference of the TPNW.

Kazakhstan’s active participation gave impetus to the organisation of the First Conference of the TPNW. The most important contribution of our country to this process was acting as a facilitator of substantive solutions. In particular, at the initiative of Kazakhstan and Kiribati (which suffered 39 American and British nuclear weapon test), a working group was created to develop proposals on the issue of positive obligations in accordance with Articles 6 and 7 of the Treaty related to providing support for victims of nuclear testing and use of nuclear weapons, as well as environmental rehabilitation.

The positive obligations under the TPNW refer to the nodal aspects and are focused on eliminating damage from the use and testing of nuclear weapons in the past, as well as preventing possible damage in the future.

The medium-term goal of this initiative on the adoption of positive obligations is to establish an International Trust Fund to finance projects related to victim assistance and environmental restoration.

A specific mechanism is being discussed for identifying sources of funding (from TPNW member-states and non-member states, NGOs, philanthropists, and individuals) for work that requires special knowledge, materials, and equipment. It is important to note that this proposal has found support among the expert community and academic circles.

I would like to note that with the financial support of Kazakhstan and the UN Office for Disarmament Affairs, Kazakh people affected by nuclear testing and the youth representatives from Pacific Island countries will be able to participate in the First Conference of the TPNW and share their stories from a high international rostrum to draw attention to how deplorable the consequences of the use/testing of nuclear weapons can be.

The TPNW positive obligations are of practical value for Central Asia. In accordance with Article 7 of the TPNW, states may request the assistance of other parties to the Treaty and international structures to implement the abovementioned provisions. Considering the existing problem of uranium tailing ponds in several countries of our region, this initiative would help to attract donor funds from other states and international organisations for the reclamation of tailing ponds and the implementation of preventive measures to help the population near uranium mines.

Therefore, Kazakhstan, as the only state in the CIS region that has acceded to the TPNW, is conducting systematic work in accordance with Article 12 on the universalisation of the document to expand the membership of its participants, primarily from among the countries of the Central Asian Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone (CANWFZ).

Let me remind that CANWFZ, established by Kazakhstan jointly with its regional neighbours through the 2006 Semipalatinsk Treaty, is the first and currently the only such zone in the Northern Hemisphere. A key addition to it was the Protocol, containing negative security assurances, which stipulates that countries possessing nuclear weapons undertake not to use them on the parties to the Treaty. In this regard, we are grateful to the United Kingdom, China, Russia, and France for completing the ratification of this important document. Last year, the foreign ministers of the states that are parties to the Treaty – Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan – made a joint statement on its 15th anniversary, in which they reaffirmed their unshakable commitment to its provisions and called on the United States to ratify the above-mentioned Protocol as soon as possible.

The members of nuclear-weapon-free zones around the world are at the forefront of the nuclear disarmament process. The main goals and objectives of establishing these zones are in line with the principles of the TPNW. This means that a state party to the Semipalatinsk Treaty can accede to the TPNW without assuming additional obligations. Besides, if a state that is party to the Semipalatinsk Treaty has already adopted relevant national regulatory legal acts to implement the provisions of the Semipalatinsk Treaty, then this will probably be sufficient to fulfil the obligations that the state will assume by joining the TPNW. This is confirmed by leading international NGOs and experts in the field of nuclear disarmament.

It should also be emphasized that the TPNW is gaining global popularity thanks to the efforts of civil society, which encourages governments and parliamentarians of their respective countries to accede to the Treaty. Kazakhstan welcomes the decision of several European countries (Switzerland, Sweden, and Finland), including the declared intention of NATO members (Germany and Norway), to participate as observers in the First Conference of the States Parties to the TPNW.

The Treaty is another effective platform for our efforts to build a world without nuclear weapons. Kazakhstan will continue to show an example of high responsibility to the present and future generations of humankind.

In this context, it’s worth noting the UN Universal Declaration on the Achievement of a Nuclear-Weapon-Free World, adopted at the initiative of Kazakhstan at the 70th session of the UN General Assembly in 2015. The Universal Declaration calls for the total elimination of nuclear weapons as the only guarantee against their use or threat of use. Last year, the resolution received a record number of 141 votes from UN member states, indicating its positive momentum. Particularly noteworthy was the support from India and Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, which possess nuclear weapons, as well as from Iran, which was among the co-sponsors of the resolution.

If nuclear weapons are declared to be outside of international law, the call for nuclear-weapon states to take urgent steps in the field of nuclear disarmament will increase significantly. To this end, Kazakhstan continuously encourages dialogue between nuclear countries and the TPNW supporters in order to align their views and strengthen trust between them, which is especially important given current geopolitical conditions. Such work is also being carried out within the framework of the Stockholm Initiative for Nuclear Disarmament and specialised platforms within the UN, including the First Committee of the General Assembly, where our country will take over the chairmanship during the 77th session.

The possibility of signing the TPNW and its entry into force have given many countries additional hope for a safer and rational world, which is currently in a serious crisis. As noted by the UN Secretary-General António Guterres, with about 13,400 nuclear warheads around the world, the possibility of using nuclear weapons is more real than in the darkest days of the Cold War. The current military confrontation in Ukraine, discussions about proliferation of nuclear weapons and mutual threats to use them, raise the question about the collective vulnerability of humanity and the urgent need to ban and eliminate the deadly weapons.

The practical contribution of Kazakhstan to nuclear disarmament encourages us to continue calling on nations and governments to redouble their efforts to rid our planet of the threat of nuclear self-destruction by strengthening mutual trust. With that in mind, Kazakhstan has nominated its candidacy for the position of Vice Chair of the First Meeting of the TPNW in 2022 and Chair of the Third Meeting for 2024–2026.

We call on all states, including nuclear-weapon powers, to develop a phased plan for the complete elimination of nuclear weapons by 2045, to the centenary of the UN. The proposals and agreements to achieve this goal could be reflected in the final documents of both the First Conference of the TPNW and the NPT Review Conference.

Kazakhstan realizes that there are many political and technical obstacles on the way to achieving this noble and ambitious goal. We consider it necessary to embark on a practical work in this direction.

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Ukrainian Crisis – End of the International Order?

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Three months have already passed since the Russian ‘special operation in’ or ‘invasion of’ (depends which sources you are citing) Ukraine began. As the international community tries to grasp this ‘denazification and demilitarization’ event, its causes and consequences, much has been talked but little understood about war’s potential to fundamentally change the world order—and about the way it illustrates already ongoing shifts. Yet, every aspect of the planetary balance of power, security architecture, geo-economic and geopolitical dynamics is challenged by this looming conflict.

On May 20, the Habibie Center addressed this topical issue witin its Public Lecture Series. In an event titled ‘The Ukraine Crisis and its Implications for the Global Political Chessboard’, the Jakarta-based think tank hosted Prof. Anis H. Bajrektarevic (Vienna, Geneva, universities of) for a public lecture on the war’s repercussions, both globally, as well as for the Asian continent and its Southeastern theatre.

Prof. Anis H. Bajrektarevic framed his thorough analysis of the conflict by alluding to the usual pattern of “critical insight formation” around an international crisis. The ‘problem’ and its ‘solution’ are presented as two halves of the singular picture. Within this picture, the lights and shadows consist of the ‘costs’ associated with the problem, and their ‘cost distribution’. The multi-dimensional nature of Ukrainian crisis can be understood that way, too. Depending on where the problem’s centre of gravity is located—the rise of new threats in a multipolar order, the global energy crisis, the deterioration of European security structures—different costs can be identified for various stakeholders.

Clearing points at the entrée, professor stated: “the way we formulate the problem will inevitably determine our answer/s and lead the course of our action”. Hence, “today I will concentrate only on setting the questions we must ask to answer what this crisis is about”, explained professor before getting into a 40-minute questions elaboration.

Accordingly, the main historical drives, politico-military aspect, legal aspect, economic aspect, and Ideological aspect (deeper meanings) related to the war were briefly explained. In addition, questions from participants of the lecture were raised regarding future outcomes and implications on RI, and analytical conclusions were drawn making emphasis on being logical and reasonable in studying the case scenario closely. This article will present the details of the discussion following the above-mentioned points.

The first point of the discussion focused on the main historical drives attributed to the long-lasted tension between Russia and Ukraine. Starting with the concept of Competing Universalisms which rather is not Venus Vs Mars competing between the two Marses, mentioned here included the Great Schism which was in the 11th Century particularly in the year 1054 resulted in a distinction between Kyiv Russia and Rimo-Catholic Ummah and how Christianity was a tool for operationalization of religion for ideological pursue (the struggle of the center of interpretation and its peripheries. Secondly, the formation of the Political West at the age of anthropo-geographic inversion/Grand discoveries expanded and projected itself internally but also demographically. Thirdly, attributed to the Napoleonic wars, the Hitler coalition ( ‘Barbarossa’ via Ukraine) and smaller episodes such as Crimean War which lasted from 1853-56 fought between Ottomans, France, UK, and Piedmont-Sardinia Vs Russia,  European Interventionism in the years 1918-22 and the Russo-Polish humiliating war in the years 1919-21 for the Isolation of Russia as a historical constant or ad hoc policy was discussed. Finally, in this category is the three dissolutions in Eastern Europe which made Russia a last huge resource to be conquered and split.

The Second point of the discussion focused on the Politico-military aspect beginning with the astonishing lack on the side of the ‘Collective West’ critical insight about Russia’s reasons, capabilities, intentions, outreach, and lasting effects, the dangerous security experiment of conflict escalation through antagonization of Russia supported by state Adventurism univocally by European elected politicians and cheerleading intellectuals. Secondly, the ambiguity in explaining if the conflict is solely Russo-Ukraine or is it NATO and the Russian federation indirectly in addition to the periodic unclarity of the start of the tension whether it is from 2014 or 2022 supported by the question of whether it is a local conflict that escalates or global conflict that is localized? What the spillover potential or length of the extension is and notably, the US proxy war to save the Dollar’s global position or a new imperial quest of the post-soviet Russia were questions raised for a deeper analysis of the case.

Thirdly, the peculiar nature of military actions such as the historical and political background of Ukraine from Kyiv Russia to the Soviet Republic, the Ethnic, Linguistic, and Religious composite of Ukraine with the alarming GINI Index showing a high gap between the rich and poor, the increased organized crime, depopulation, regressive ta policy and poor labor and environmental standards, change of ethnic composition together with forced migration and the promise made by President Zelensky during the election on the Donbas peace reintegration pledge which had no western/US support were pointed out for further analysis. Fourthly, the huge role of media in terms of censorship, Frenzy, destruction acceleration as coined by the term ‘Pornography of number’- deeper psychologization of issues and using fear as a currency of control, boosting emotional charge, personalization, and further escalation of the conflict by feeding the negative spiral and the link between media compliance and external/sovereign national debt were mentioned.

Lastly in this section was the singularization of foreign aid to Ukraine which lacks the transparency of donors and receivers, quality and configuration of military aid, environmental hazard for fertile soils and underground waters in Ukraine, security risk for the Black Sea theatre, and Europe from diverted stockpiles were explained.

The Third point raised was the legal aspect in the eye of; firstly, the UN Charter and its spirit of collective security and indivisibility the notion of a common European home, the Geneva talks- Détente-Helsinki accord Decalogue/CSCE-(1994 Budapest summit for) OSCE in active peaceful coexistence. Secondly, the Gorbachev-Reagan talks of the 1980s disarmament and security non-expansion guarantee constant western rejection of every politico-military initiative of the post-soviet Russia, the NATO defensive alliance with the 30 years of offensive history which has 9 rounds of enlargements, the less formal but lasting partnerships with formerly neutral Eurasian states, its intervention in Europe, Asia and MENA and the continued dismissal of Russian security concerns were indicated. Thirdly, the Ukrainian neutrality and nuclear disarmament dissolution of the USSR in 1991, the Minsk accord I and II at the maidan event of 2014, and the referendum were discussed. Fourthly, the provocation of NATO/US-Ukraine Military Cooperation with equipment, training, exercises since 2014, Bio-lab activities, the presidential statement made at the Munich Security Conference in February 2022 about accession, and the credibility of ‘Unprovoked invasion of Ukraine’ Vs ‘Unprovoked invasion of Iraq’ mantra, the capacity and willingness to honor agreed international treaties. Lastly in the legal aspect was the question of war crimes which is highly selective and comprehensive.

The Fourth point was the Economic aspect, starting with an observation of the World’s most traded commodities number one being Crude oil then Natural gas and wheat on the third and fifth level respectively which the cost paid for their loss are compensated over peripheral countries and social segments within them. In addition, the temporary gain of military-industrial complex but loss for the overall world stability and security, among these were dismantling the obsolete or old military weaponry on the Ukraine soil free of charge, its replacement exclusively with the western military purchases and financed by Ukraine through its new loans, donations and lend-and-lease arrangements for which the US congress already discussed a 30 billion lend-and -lease arrangements with Ukraine on January 22, was before the conflict started. Furthermore, confiscation of overseas deposits and private property and the notion of secondary sanctions versus friendly and unfriendly nations made sanctions, fragmentation of the global monetary system for with the Petro-Ruble and Russia’s Foreign currency reserves increase and the yuan perceived as a world’s reserve currency, stagflation that is inflation with decreased industrial output and the end of the debt-driven economies lead to De-dollarization. Lastly, the economic aspects of energy security in terms of the Pan Euro Mediterranean (PEM) shift and the post-Paris treaty environmental concerns, preferential prices for the friendly countries competitive on the global market, and food security in terms of widening the gap, de-urbanization, insecurity and hunger, social unrest were indicated to have a collective impact on the current situation.

 Coming to the deeper meanings was the Ideological aspect. Firstly, the crisis of capitalism if it is the west losing its intellectual capacity to offer and lead in organizational constructive ability en march towards the future self-realization metaphorically described as Instagram-isation of life and TikTok-isation of intellect. Secondly, the question of whether westernization of Eastern Europe is possible without de-anti-fascism and anti-Russian rhetoric was forwarded for analysis and in-depth thinking. Thirdly, answering the millenniums-long pattern of the history of mankind is seen as a story of eternal competition over territorial /material, all governed by the alienated ruler)i.     Bolshevik revolution (rule of 99% attempt, non-territorial principle) with the formation of the Universal Organization 1945 and the NAM (Bandung 1955/Belgrade 1961) as furthering of the egalitarian and emancipatory non-territorial idea ii. Fascism/Nazism (Imperialism optimized the idea of material and territorial, while Nazism radicalized it) iii, Glasnost/Perestroika: Dismantling of Warsaw Pact/dissolution of USSR as a triumph of the idea of non-material and non-territorial, and the significant departure from the rule traditionally governing international conduct – might make right  (Soviet Russians pulled back undefeated without a single bullet fired for over 2,000 km, dismantled its empire and recognized its former republics as sovereign states without preconditions, without any international conference nor big power written guarantees) iv, Transhumanism (Great Reset, Depopulation) – the territorial and material idea (of humans without the spiritual dimension, reduced on bio-hackable animal/Bionicle connected to a global IoT network for control and commercial end). Fourthly, the end of white man supremacy referred to the Anglo-German clash with Slaves leading to the fragmentation of the Slavic state and intra-Slavic Guernica. Lastly in this section was the western recession of democracy, its vitality, and future promise asking why the leading western intellectuals obey and the crisis of the leadership and the voters’ apathy.  

Followed by the analytical questions left for the audience to further make logical and reasonable study and researching before speaking on the surface knowledge or relying on misinformation in different social and public media, predictions of the future outcomes and Implications for the Republic of Indonesia were discussed. Among points on the future outcome, an inquiry was put if this leads to global realignment or de-coupling and three possibilities were put as follows:

a. Destruction of Ukraine and the increasing possibility of nuclear war, or the sincere Peace talks;     Statesmanship of the Metternich Concert of Europe vs. short-sightedness of the Versailles

b. Meanings for Asia-Pacific: Measuring the pan-Asia destabilizing momentum and RIC format – and outcome of its triangulation

c. Implication of Inter-Muslim debate (Islam and modernity): for the ‘core’ Muslim world MENA and Implications for the ‘peripheral’, non-Arab Muslim world.

Furthermore, the Implications for the Republic of Indonesia were tentative proposals for the MFA as to the urgent need to reform the UN, and ASEAN in aspects of neighborhood and border disputes. However, neutrality was not indicated to be a good thing as the country must always take sides according to the rule of international law, the Charter, and the Spirit of the Charter. And in the event of intra-Asian military escalation and/or other severe disruptions and asymmetric threats.

Summarized above in different aspects and future outcomes the lecture was entirely focused on showing directions and pointing out important intellectual and logical phenomena to analyze the ongoing war and the outcomes of the world order. Accordingly, a usual pattern with every crisis was discussed to follow which begins with Critical insight formation of both the problem and the answer to it. Analyzing costs of the crisis and distribution of the costs need to be sorted out to reach a conclusion and a solution.

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