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US Exit from the UN Human Rights Council: How to Hold the Scales Even

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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.

Conclusion

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.

Ph. D., LL.M, Faculty of Legal Studies, South Asian University (SAARC)-New Delhi, Nafees Ahmad is an Indian national who holds a Doctorate (Ph.D.) in International Refugee Law and Human Rights. Author teaches and writes on International Forced Migrations, Climate Change Refugees & Human Displacement Refugee, Policy, Asylum, Durable Solutions and Extradition Issus. He conducted research on Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) from Jammu & Kashmir and North-East Region in India and has worked with several research scholars from US, UK and India and consulted with several research institutions and NGO’s in the area of human displacement and forced migration. He has introduced a new Program called Comparative Constitutional Law of SAARC Nations for LLM along with International Human Rights, International Humanitarian Law and International Refugee Law & Forced Migration Studies. He has been serving since 2010 as Senior Visiting Faculty to World Learning (WL)-India under the India-Health and Human Rights Program organized by the World Learning, 1 Kipling Road, Brattleboro VT-05302, USA for Fall & Spring Semesters Batches of US Students by its School for International Training (SIT Study Abroad) in New Delhi-INDIA nafeestarana[at]gmail.com,drnafeesahmad[at]sau.ac.in

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OTT broadcast and its censorship: Whether a violation of freedom of speech and expression

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The whole world, owing to coronavirus pandemic, is enveloped in the darkness. It has wreaked havoc on almost all the aspect of human lives. The educational institutions, theaters and cinemas all have been shuttered. Public gatherings, to maintain the social distancing, have been firmly discouraged. Further, the pandemic has significantly modified the media and entertainment consumption patterns. Social lives ventured into digital environment as a result of people being cramped to their homes. People have switched to several sources of entertainment from the comfort of their own homes and over-the-top (“OTT”) platforms have proven to be a major source of entertainment.

OTT platforms have grown exponentially and taken over the industry. OTT platforms expedites streaming of video content over the web. Several OTT platforms such as Netflix, Amazon, Disney Hotstar, Disney+, Apple TV+, Hulu, etc., have primarily ousted the traditional television service. The notification issued by the Central Government of India aimed at getting online media platforms and content on OTT platforms within the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting has been making the rounds in recent times. The cabinet Secretariat, on November 9, 2020, released a notification amending the Government of India (Allocation of Business) Rules, 1961. It has incorporated two new entries to the second schedule of the Rules namely Films and Audio-visual programmes provided by online service provider as well as News and Current Affairs. This action is attributed to the fact that there is large amount of an unrestricted content available on the web as well as lack of an adequate regulatory regime in place to protect its users.

Universal self-Regulation code

The Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) had come up with a Universal self-Regulation code (code) to administer the content available on OTT platforms. The code was primarily adopted by the fifteen OTT platforms namely zee 5, Viacom 18, Disney Hotstar, Amazon Prime Video, Netflix, MX Player, Jio Cinema, Eros Now, Alt Balaji, Arre, HoiChoi, Hungama, Shemaroo, Discovery Plus and Flickstree. SonyLIV and Lionsgate too have recently signed the code. It was manifestly stated in the code that The Information Technology Act, 2000 (IT Act) is the main governing framework when it comes to online content. The values enshrined in Article 19 of India’s Constitution, namely the Right to Freedom of Speech and Expression, direct the internet and material on the internet. A policy for the digital content sector has to be drafted in line with Article 19 of the Indian Constitution i.e. the Right to Freedom of Speech and Expression, and any constraints on the aforesaid right should be fall within the purview of constitutional restrictions set forth in Article 19(2) of the India’s Constitution.

Further, the code had delineated a mechanism pertaining to (i) Age Classification (the code had particularized the certain categories for standardized age classification namely All ages, 7+, 13+, 16+ and 18+) (ii) Appropriate content specification ( a content descriptor appropriate to each piece of content that demonstrates and tells the viewer about the essence of the content while also advising on viewer discretion) and (iii) Access control Tools( to regulate access to content, signatories to the Code may implement technological tools and measures for access control i.e. PIN/Password.) The code had also established the perspicuous grievance redressal and escalation process to lodge complaint regarding non-adherence to specified guidelines. The MIB, however, has repudiated the proposed code since it did not explicitly categorize the prohibited content. Further, there is no independent third-party oversight and a transparent code of ethics. The MIB instructed IAMAI to seek guidance from the Broadcasting Content Complaints Council (BCCC) and the News Broadcasting Standards Authority (NBSA) self-regulatory frameworks.

A public interest litigation was consolidated in October, 2018, before the hon’ble Delhi High court by Justice For Rights Foundation to draught certain guidelines for modulating the content available on OTT platforms. The MIB while filing the counter affidavit stated that digital platforms are not required to procure a license from them to exhibit their content and the same is not controlled by them. The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MEITY) has also mentioned that they do not oversee internet content and there exists no mechanism for monitoring or licensing an agency or establishment that posts content on the internet. Nevertheless, it was claimed that the provisions concerning IT are applicable, and concerned legislative authority having jurisdiction under the aforesaid Act is authorized to take action using the power granted to them under section 69 of the Act which involves directives for interception, surveillance, or data encryption. Further, under Section 67 of the Act there are penalties pertaining to posting or disseminating obscene information in any digital form. Accordingly, the court while dismissing the petition opined that it cannot grant a mandamus for the creation of regulations when the IT Act already contains stringent restrictions and currently the foregoing petition is pending in the hon’ble supreme court.

Positions of the law in regards to film screenings

A film must be certified by the Central Board of Film Certification before it can be displayed or distributed in cinemas or on satellite, and the content is constrained by existing laws. The CBFC was established by the Cinematograph Act of 1952. When it was established, it was designated as the Board of Film Censors. It was amended in 1959 to give it the authority to certify a picture for mass consumption. The Cinematograph Act of 1952, the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act of 1995, and the Cable Television Networks Rules of 1994 are among the laws that govern the industry. However, there is no such particular legislation for regulating material on OTT platforms. The government by virtue of Article 19(2) of Indian constitution can impose restrictions on freedom of speech and expressions in the interest of sovereignty and integrity of India, security of state, friendly relations with foreign countries, public order, decency or morality and so on. Consequently, broadcasted content has often been a restricted matter. In K.A. Abbas v. Union of India and Another[1], the constitutionality of censorship was initially challenged. The hon’ble supreme court has upheld the constitutionality of censorship under Article 19(2) of the India’s constitution and stated that films must be viewed differently from any kind of art and expressions because a motion picture can elicit more intense emotional response than any other product of Art. However, such censorship should not be exercised to imposed an undue restriction on freedom of speech and expression.

The constitutionality of censorship was also disputed in S. Rangarajan v. P. Jagjivan Ram [2]wherein the hon’ble supreme court has held that the board’s criterion for appraising the films must be that of an ordinary man with common sense and wisdom rather than that of a hypersensitive mind. The Moral values ought not to be compromised in the realm of any social change. The concept of “Dharam” should not be disrupted by the immoral norms or standards. However, it does not suggest that censors must embrace a conservative perspective. They should be resilient to social change and go with the topical environment. The film is the most legitimate and significant medium for addressing topics of public concern. The producer has the right to broadcast his own message, which others may or may not concur with. The state, regardless of how hostile to its policies, cannot suppress open debate and expression. The democracy is basically a government by the people based on open debate. The democratic form of administration necessitates citizens’ active and informed engagement in the societal issue.

Furthermore in, Phantom Films Pvt. Ltd. And Anr. V. The Central Board of Certification[3], it was said that we are governed in a democratic manner. We can’t expect everyone’s head and intellect to be the same in a democracy. Freedom to think and act in a different way is at the heart of democracy. The beauty of democracy is the diversity of viewpoints, ideas, and manifestations. It’s unrealistic to expect everyone to exhibit themselves in the same way. In the film business, new blood is being infused. This new blood is revved up and eager to get their feet wet in the industry. The film business and the general public have embraced such new blood. Their effort has been recognized and praised by the government. These works are predicated on a certain way of thinking that is unique to them. They have their own opinions and ideas on how the film business should operate, as well as how the medium altogether must be managed. Profanity, obscenity, and depravity do not shock human emotions. Such situations and discussions must be seen in their entirety. The narrative must be perused in its totality and thought upon. It is not appropriate to choose a few phrases, lines, conversations, or situations and venture into the board’s resolution. Certainly, the state, and notably the Central Board of Film Certification, cannot attempt to sculpt and dominate public opinion under the guise of purported public interest or audience preference. That would be terrible, as it would hit at the heart of democracy and civil liberty, which are held in such high regard by everybody. The goals of film certification, consequently, cannot be achieved by disregarding the Constitutionally guaranteed right or by fully undermining and disappointing it. A movie has to be watched on its own and judged accordingly. The plot, subject, background, and location in which it is created, the message it aims to express, and the entertainment, among other things, would all have to be assessed using section 5B’s standards.

Should OTT platforms be governed by a code of self-regulation?

Self-regulation is presently the only option available to such platforms in order to maintain the ability to broadcast material without undue censorship. Because unreasonable restriction would impede the creative flexibility of OTT platforms. It will assist platforms in conducting themselves in an ethical and fair manner while also safeguarding the interests of their users. It would protect content producers’ artistic freedom by promoting creativity and upholding an individual’s right to free speech and expression. The general public desires to view the content in its original and untainted state. They strive to understand artwork in its most primitive sense. The fundamental role of government agency is to maintain the fair field, not to inhibit innovation and ingenuity by placing limitations in a tech industry.

Self-regulators’ competence allows them to adjust their regulations more quickly than government agencies in reaction to technological advancement. More significantly, independent of any technological change, the self-regulator is better equipped to decide when a rule should be modified to improve compliance. Self-regulation has the ability to make compliance more appealing. It develops regulations based on an expert’s level of understanding, customized to the specific sector. These rules are viewed by regulated entities as more “reasonable” from the inception owing to their involvement[4].

Conclusion

The MIB by virtue of the amendment has now can regulate and draught policies regarding digital media and online streaming on OTT platforms. However, such governmental intervention can considerably jeopardize the constitutional right to freedom of speech and expression. The suppression of freedom of speech and expression is what censorships is all about. The freedom of speech and expression suggests that right to manifest one’s thought via words of mouth, writing, picture and any other means. The freedom of speech is one of the most well-known and fiercely protected civil rights against government encroachment. In modern democratic societies, it is generally considered as an essential notion. Every citizen of a democratic nation has the freedom to express his or her opinions on various issues. Thousands of viewpoints are disseminated around the country via various channels. A film director has the freedom to manifest himself and gives effect to his thoughts, even though others may not concur with him. An exhibition of films as well as documentaries cannot be prohibited for purely speculative reasons since prohibiting motion pictures is tantamount to suppressing the right to freedom of expression and speech. Restrictions upon Individual’s freedom of speech and expression must only be permitted if they are required to avert severe harm from being perpetrated. It is critical to have a healthy and extensive amount of free expression in order to assert a thriving and well- functioning democracy. Democracy, otherwise, is obsolete and akin to a totalitarian dictatorship[5]. It should be up to the public to determine what they want to see and what they don’t want to watch. Thus, the cornerstone to safeguarding artistic freedom is a sustainable self-governance paradigm.


[1] K.A. Abbas v. Union of India and Another (1970) 2 S.C.C. 780

[2] S. Rangarajan v. P. Jagjivan Ram (1989) 2 S.C.C. 574

[3] Phantom Films Pvt. Ltd. And Anr. V. The Central Board of Certification 2016 S.C.C. online Bom 3862: (2016) 4 AIR Bom R 593: AIR 2017 (NOC 62) 29

[4] Id. at 13

[5] Subhradipta Sarkar, RIGHT TO FREE SPEECH IN A CENSORED DEMOCRACY, UNIVERSITY OF DENVER SPORTS

 AND ENTERTAINMENT LAW JOURNAL 62, 84 ,89 (2009)

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What Determines Taliban Government’s Legitimacy?

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Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

With the fall of Kabul, and the evasion of President Ashraf Ghani, the Taliban has taken over the reins of Afghanistan. States like Pakistan and China have already expressed their willingness to “work with the Taliban”  thereby legitimizing the Taliban government, whereas India has refused to recognize this “reign of terror”. The jurisprudential question of legitimacy arises here because the transfer of power in Afghanistan was through a coup d’etat which constitutes an extra-constitutional means of formation of government. Governments desire legitimacy because it gives them the right to rule and an acceptance on the international and domestic levels.

The most accepted theory in this regard is Hans Kelsen’s Pure Theory of Law. Kelsen, a positivist, claimed that law was contaminated by sociological impurities and morality, and focussed his theory on law alone. He based the legitimacy of the new order of government on its efficacy, and a rule was said to be efficacious when individuals regulated by it “behave, by and large, in conformity” with it. When the new order was efficacious, the coup was said to be successful, and the new government was held to be a legitimate one. Kelsen’s theory was widely accepted to uphold governments after coups such as in The State v. Dosso (Pakistan; 1958), Madzimbamuto v. Lardner-Burke (Southern Rhodesia; 1968), and Uganda v. Commissioner of Prisons (Uganda; 1966), among others. Since Kelsen tries to purify laws from the socio-political aspects, he contends that that it is irrelevant why people comply with the law and it could even be out of pure fear. Thus, a rogue government such as the Taliban which is efficacious as it receives compliance out of coercion and not out of consent, would be a legitimate one from a Kelsenian perspective.

The primary criticism that arises to Kelsen’s separability thesis is that he fails to distinguish between validity of law and its legitimacy. Critics have argued that while validity of law concerns with its authoritativeness, legitimacy depends on the virtue of justness and is contingent upon socio-political and moral factors. The issue lies with attaching legitimacy to the performance of the government. Instead, legitimacy should involve the questions of whether the government has the ability to demand the obligations out of voluntary conviction, provide for public goods such as the rule of law, protection of fundamental rights, etc., and function in a manner such that the society is generally benefitted. A study on legitimacy in seventy-two countries concludes that more the citizens are treated as rightful holders of political power, more legitimacy the government derives. This means that the virtue of legitimacy must flow from the citizens and the society and not from a coercive power that the top-down approach provides.

In the light of this, when the Taliban government is examined, it is realised that with its extremist ideology and terror activities in the past, it can hardly fulfil this criteria.While the ‘good Taliban’ has claimed that it will protect the freedom of press and not discriminate against women while allowing for their participation in the society within framework of Islamic law, these assurances will pacify only those who are unfamiliar with its history. Under the rule of Taliban in the years between 1996 and 2001, human rights were suspended, and political killings, rape, torture, amputation, and public executions were common place. A Taliban 2.0 which has emerged victorious against one of the major superpowers of the world, and has external support is unlikely to reform. Ideologically, they still remain the same movement committed to a puritan interpretation of Islam and this is evidenced by the fact that the barbaric Sharia law is in place once again. These baseless claims should be perceived as a political strategy to appease states into granting them de jure legitimacy because despite the jurisprudence of legitimacy developed, there is nothing in the international law that bars states like China, Russia, Pakistan or others from recognizing the rogue state of Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan. Therefore, the future of the Taliban and Afghanistan rests in the interplay of international actors.

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Artificial Intelligence and International Refugee Law

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Refugee rights are cosmological, binding, blended, co-dependent, and interconnected and constitute the basic structure of international custom [BASIC] encapsulating the national jurisdictions across the world. BASIC thrives on dignity; therefore, the word “refugee rights” can be delineated and defined in a single word–as per my understanding–called “dignity,” as it is the issue of human dignity that we address in refugee rights. Therefore, refugee rights mean dignity, but the same has been further convoluted with the ascendance of Artificial Intelligence (AI) has presented new challenges to human equality in all walks of life. AI has reduced humanity in algorithmic calculations contrary to global human rights norms. AI does not recognize the significance of humanitarianism in its current form. It has envisioned a world of dynamic numerals that do not protect humanity and mitigate human sufferings in the Refugee Status Determination (RSD) procedures.  Algorithmic humanitarianism is an idea suffering from the mechanical, technocratic, and scientific acclimatization of human existence devoid of ethics, justice, and morality. Machine-controlled calculations exclusively adjudicate the RSD procedures and immigration decisions. But the application of AI has also raised a host of issues relating to the data privacy, confidentiality, and use and misuse of data information collected by the governments, organizations, RSD officials, and immigration authorities from the refugees and asylum-seekers migrants, and stateless (RAMS). Such data may be exploited, employed, and maneuvered for geostrategic, geopolitical, geo-engineering, medico-research, socio-economic, and demographical purposes by the global, regional, and domestic institutions and governments. In human rights protection, refugee rights, and immigration decisions, AI has been adversely impacting RSD procedures and immigration judgments across the world.

Algorithmic Humanitarianism

Therefore, algorithmic humanitarianism has presented a compendium of questions than answers. Hence, AI lacks anthropogenic sensitivity, critical thinking, human subjectivity, and objectivity thresholds needed to appreciate the degrees of persecution and discrimination in RSD procedures and immigration decisions in violation of global human rights norms of refugee protection. Thus, there is a need to rummage and ruminate upon these issues by examining AI’s application and assessing the impact thereof on the global human rights norms that sustain humanity and make human existence humane beyond the insight of algorithmic intelligence and discernment. There has to be a human-centric primacy of AI application while positioning refugee equalizers in the ADM Technologies Framework (ATF) for RSD Procedures viz-a-viz international human rights law (IHRL) challenges with the human rights-based approach (HRBA). Further, the equality framework of AI must constitute and advocate that algorithmic humanitarianism must be reprogrammed with new AI technologies impregnated with global human rights norms for sustainable artificial intelligence.

Peremptory acceptance of AI technologies and greater dependence upon AI by both national governments and the private sector and actors have led to growing apprehension regarding the potential adverse repercussions for the core principles of democratic societies like human dignity in diversity, ethical governance, democratic transparency, multicultural accountability, and pluralistic inclusivism. Therefore, there is an indispensable requirement for a framework of global governance to address the full range of societal challenges concomitant with AI inter-alia intimidations to the right to privacy, the right to access to information, the right to equal protection of the law, and the right to non-discrimination during immigration and repositioning of refugees consistent with the existing global human rights framework. Because the emergence of AI is a reality and it has penetrated in the universal institutional life of nation-states, also providing an opportunity for the human mind to utilize it in a manner that conforms and complements global human rights norms while taking into account the Limits of AI Reception, Laxities of AI Recantation, & Luxuries of AI Repercussion.  In the future, artificial intelligence technologies might well substitute humans in the workplace altogether. But at least for the foreseeable future, businesses will derive far more value using AI to augment and enhance existing capabilities than automate away human jobs. All nation-states should establish an independent, empowered body to address all aspects of management and review for all types of ADM technologies employed by the national governments worldwide and put all existing and future AI models in the public domain for their scrutiny.

AI and Refugee Rights Equalizers

The free expression of ideas and opinions, freedom of association, the right to privacy and the right to access to information are digital equalizers for refugee rights in an age of AI propounded and protected within the ambit of IHRL framework such as Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), UN Covenant on Civil and Political Rights-1966 (ICCPR), UN Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights-1966 (ICESCR) along with Sub-international Human Rights instruments like AU’s African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights. But, unfortunately, these rights have become the pawns of online state surveillance and transgressions facilitated by the gigantic deployment of AI technologies. States have been using AI software against refugee rights defenders, peace activists, human rights journalists, civil society advocates, etc. The speed of technological development empowers individuals globally to utilize novel models of information and communication technologies to elevate the capability of governance structures, commercial establishments and civil society individuals to embark on data surveillance, collection, and an interception. Such steps in a digital age allow the circumvention and abuse of human rights enunciated in Article 12 of the UDHR and Article 17 of the ICCPR that have put a question mark on the future of the right to privacy of individuals, the rights of women, the rights of children, and the rights RAMS.

Moreover, the digital rights and the right to privacy prompted by AI technologies application become more sensitive in the case of the RAMS, particularly if the impact of AI might lead to the detention and deportation of RAMS to their homelands which might put their life at persecution. AI technologies have posed legal, ethical, and social implications for the international community of nation-states to deliberate upon positioning the potential refugee equalizers in the ADM technologies framework for RSD procedures. However, the impact of AI on RAMS and protection regime underscores the risks that AI, algorithms, machine learning, and related technologies may pose to the rights of RAMS, also acknowledging the openings AI technologies offer to augment the accessibility of the rights envisioned in the UDHR and UNCSR. But few questions remain to be answered: What are the positive and negative impacts, risks, and threats of AI technologies for RAMS and their protection rights? What is the legal framework that guarantees RAMS to have access to the Internet and Digital Rights? How does the current legal framework protect the rights of RAMS to access the Internet and their online privacy rights? How can AI enhance the welfare of the RAMS? How could AI make sure RAMS’ access to education? How could AI ethics and policies protect and accommodate RAMS’ rights and mitigate the risks they might face? And what are the predicaments that AI could be abused to circumvent internationally granted rights of RAMS?

The geopolitical ramifications make the challenges associated with Internet sensitive that paved the way for enhanced censorship on social media and other OTT platforms. By banning the websites or resorting to state censorship, the biggest casualty is free speech and privacy. Under such state censorship, online human rights defenders face prosecution and endure persecution at the same time. Unfortunately, IRL instruments do not envisage any reference to the digital or information rights of refugees. However, AI has massive potential to uphold and promote the rights of RAMS; conversely, it can also suppress them. For example, facial recognition technology can be impregnated with AI software to pinpoint and target the RAMS who challenge the repressive asylum regime in host countries and oppose the regime in their countries of origin. AI prognostic propensities might be subject RAMS to arbitrary detention and deportation.

IHRL Obligations

All nation-states must create a special task force (STF) to convene and assemble all ADM scientists & developers, national policy-makers, crucial stakeholders, prominent civil society institutions, educational institutions, and non-governmental organizations to adequately appreciate the actual and potential impacts of ADM technologies on global human right norms. Such steps would lay down the foundations for ethical, moral, and value-oriented dimensions to AI and its application while preserving human rights in RSD and immigration decisions. International refugee law and immigration is a realistic prism that provides a methodology to assess state practices, border control security apparatus and checking measures, global migration governance regime, worldwide criminalization of migration, and surging xenophobia. The RSD and immigration law operate at the intersection of municipal and international law and ensnares global human rights norms and international law. In Genesis, “And God said, let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and overall the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. So God created man in his image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.”  Therefore, in the current world order, nation-states have a constitutional scheme to respect international human rights obligations, internet governance with algorithmic transparency in the wake of invoking ADM technologies and their utilization.

ADM Companies and Beyond

Thus, most ADM companies contend with working independently without coordination and collaboration of their initiatives and productivities. It is incumbent upon the UN to lead and bring these companies to one platform while calibrating and coordinating their endeavours in confronting the challenges posed by AI governance. These ADM technology companies must work collectively to ensure that human rights are firmly entrenched in developing, designing, and deploying AI systems worldwide. As ADM technologies evolve and develop, innovative AI governance models have also become crucial for centrally positioning human rights obligations in the AI governance’s operational trajectory. However, it is aptly impressive that all stakeholders and parties privy to the development, employment, and management of ADM technologies must have holistic and critical scrutiny of the actual impacts of AI application and its implications and repercussions on humanity.

Besides regulation, public procurement and standardization should also include human rights principles and rules, thus shaping AI’s future. Public bodies and authorities should require that suppliers respect human rights while designing, developing, and deploying AI technologies that they intend to supply. Finally, AI protocols should be based on technical standards incorporating human rights rules and principles. These standards should be set forth by a collective body with global reach and representing the different sectors of society, including industry, states, civil society, international organizations, and academia.

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