The new article of the Charter of the UN “The rights of the nations, national and ethnic minorities for self-determination”, will allow, by vote of the population of regions of the countries under control of the UN, to gain independence for not gained independence nations at the level of the sovereign state, and for the gained independence nations at the level of autonomous regions – states, at the international organization UN.
As show events on time in the world, two options for achievement of level of the national self-determination are noted, in my opinion:
the first option – democratic and peace, by vote of the population with their compact accommodation in the concrete region of the country with participation of the UN, and
the second option – authoritative and aggressive that allows emergence in the states to separatism of nationalistically oriented citizens of the population with their compact accommodation in regions at the level of the open or hidden connivance of external interested countries to these regions.
So, in my opinion, the new article “The Rights of the nations, national and ethnic minorities on self-determination ” of the Charter of the UN has to consist of three parts for national self-determination of the population of the countries of the world:
the first part of article is for the nations, national and ethnic minorities which historically live compactly in certain regions of foreign sovereign states, without having at the same time national self-determination at the level of the sovereign state in the world and as a part of the UN;
the second part of article is for national and ethnic minorities which historically live compactly in regions of foreign sovereign states, but having at the same time in the world, outside not adjacent borders of the country of the accommodation, the nation sovereign state as a part of the UN and
the third part of article is for the nations which for centuries live compactly in historical lawful territories in adjacent borders of two-three sovereign states, but at the same time historically were the divided adjacent borders of the countries on two-three parts.
Development the new article of the Charter of the UN from legal side belongs to foreign affairs specialists-lawyers of the UN, which have to define fundamental sensible decisions about mention the rights on the basis of rules of international law. At the same time, lawyers of the UN, on the one hand, should not rely on the interests of conflicting parties in the region. On the other hand, lawyers also have to exclude in the new article of the Carter of the UN the geopolitical and geostrategic interests of major powers and countries in these regions and beyond their limits. Whether the UN as historically vital step of the international organization will go to it, it is already other party of a medal. As axiom, it is explained that new article in the Charter of the UN will remake territorially borders of all countries of the world without exception. And it, in turn, will exclude imperial manners of powers and countries of the world with emergence of world wars. And therefore, participation of all member countries of the UN in vote of the new article, but not members of the UNSC with their veto, as a rule, for this discussion is necessary.
In the first part of article – the UN develops all principles of creation of the new, but not repeating, national states with their democratic structures for the nations, nationals and ethnic minorities which are compactly living for centuries in the region on the historically lawful lands, but not having at the same time national self-determination at the level of the state in the world. At the same time peace process of emergence of the new national state has to take place step by step in the following ways on a basis:
1. universal ballot under control of the UN of all population living in this region of the country, but not separately taken its nation, for national self-determination at the level of the only state for this nation in borders of the historical territory of their accommodation;
2. build in the region of democratic structures and institutes with human rights and rule of the uniform Law, and
3. for the purpose of achievement of painless process of their exit of management of this sovereign state and not a rupture of the connection established them in market economy about the country to provide to regions time in 5-10 years for a smooth exit to the level of self-government of the sovereign state.
Kurds in Iraq, Tibetans in the Tibetan autonomous region of China, Basra in Spain, Chechens, Bashkirs, Tatars in Russia and others can be examples of the nations for this case. And what earlier, in the spirit of the times, there will be this democratically peace process, thereby, on the one hand, will win more those states in the territory of which there is this process at their close market interlacing.
On the other hand, will win all mankind with emergence on the world scene of the new, not repeating nation states with the rich national traditions, stories, culture, customs and religions. But the most important the fact that process of peaceful formation of the new states in regions of the countries will eliminate regional wars and the criminally centers on an international basis in territories of their accommodation. And it will exclude bloodshed of the people of these regions at emergence of the new state.
Striking examples told are emergence of 15 new states from former imperial the USSR and also the Czech Republic, Slovakia and the republics of the former Yugoslavia. However, they arose spontaneously, as led to a rupture of their market on the basis of their vertical structure. As result – full collapse of their economy with emergent of the new states.
Today some regions of the countries of the world also wish to gain independence at the level of the new national state in which basis either their rich economic budget, or religious motive lies.
Rich regions of such countries as Great Britain, the USA, Spain, Italy, Russia and other advanced countries can be examples. Regions of the countries of the Middle East and Africa can be examples of religious motive.
The second part of the article “The Rights of the Nations for Self-determination” of the Charter of the UN develops rules of uniform approach for national and ethnic minorities which at will of fate of historical events in the past live compactly in regions of others countries, however at the same time have no adjacent borders with their family in the world gained independence national states at the level of the UN.
For example, Jews, Chinese, Armenians, Mexicans and others in the USA; Armenians in France, in Russia, Azerbaijan and so on. In this case, for the purpose of maintaining territorial integrity of borders of the sovereign states fixed UN on which certain part of the territory these minorities compactly live the UN develops the principles of creation of self-government for them at the level of autonomies, as in Denmark, or the state, like in the USA, within territories of their compact accommodation. Besides, process happens according to universal ballot of the population of the region for further accommodation in the territory of this sovereign state which sheltered them and without revision of its borders. At the same time their equal constitutional rights with citizens of this state are created. But for cases of unwillingness of further accommodation in this territory on the basis of results of their vote, the UN is provided rules and conditions of their painless moving from these territories of foreign national states in the territory of the existing their nation states or other countries. It can occur due to monetary compensation to the leaving persons by sides of their states interested in destiny, according to the market of sale and a purchase of the earth and real estate. A striking example is eviction of Jews from the occupied Palestinian earth of Gaza on their home ground of the nation State of Israel with granting housing to them or at will departure to any country of the world.
Otherwise, a paradox of granting the states to these minorities of the rights, at existing in the world of their nation states, can the fact that only in one USA dozens of the states for Japanese, Latin Americans, Chinese, Jews and so on will arise will be. And Armenian ethnic minorities which are compactly living almost worldwide from hundred thousand to one million, for example in California in the USA, in France, in Russia, in Lebanon, in Turkey and in other countries, including also in Nagorno-Karabakh of Azerbaijan, and not having at the same time adjacent borders with their Armenia, will create as a result the largest state in the 21st century on ours to the Planet – the USA*, that is the United States Armenia is improbable. And it is a paradox on time for the three-million population of Armenia, given rise thanks to the October revolution of 1917 by Bolsheviks of Russia. Whereas the Palestinian nation cannot recreate blood of the people self-government at the level of the state since 1948 and is a source of a criminally problem not only in the Middle East, Africa, but already and around the world.
In the third part of the new article of the Charter of the UN, the rule for unity of the divided nation, two-three sovereign states living in adjacent borders on their historical home grounds is developed. In this case, the UN is necessary, on the basis of their universal ballot for association in the uniform nation, to develop ways and conditions of their peaceful painless association and merge of their territories of accommodation. 5-10 years for creation of the uniform nation state with democratic management with preservation of former economic are for this purpose allotted structures.
Examples of this association are already Vietnam, Yemen and there can be in the future reunification of Korea, Ireland, Azerbaijan, also Kosovo with Albania, as the uniform Albanian nation with adjacent borders, but taking into account interests and the rights of the Serbians who are compactly living there with Serbia. Other fresh example it is possible to bring association in the future of the Ossetia people Southern and Northern Ossetia into the uniform state Ossetia. In this case will win, on the one hand, the people uniting in the uniform nation, divided by adjacent borders because of historical events, and, on the other hand, and the states with accommodation of territorially divided nations.
In the absence of the new article the level of the international law from the UN, in my opinion, will be published in the Charter of the UN and the above-stated uniform approaches to these international problems as a paradox, the nations repeating for one and too dozens of the independent states.
And bloody long wars of people of the world, up to world, and existence of the criminally centers will be their investigation as shows time.
The author of article advises the authorities of the countries accepting numerous immigrants not to occupy them compactly on one nation, on the example of Chinese in the Siberian region of Russia that will bring in the future to their rights for repeated national self-government. As an example, Kosovo for Albanians in the presence of their Albania, and Nagorno-Karabakh of Azerbaijan for Armenians at Armenia.
Besides, compact accommodation of immigrants does not allow them on time to be integrated into life of society and into the culture of the hospitable country.
So, the mankind and the UN are faced by a dilemma: to be to the new article “About the Rights of the Nations for Self-determination” in the Charter of the UN for emergence peaceful manners of the new sovereign states, it is concrete for the nations which did not gain independence for today, at the level of disintegration of empires and countries, or to be to wars any level, up to nuclear world, for revival of ancient and modern empires with their colonial manners in the 21st century?
Validity of Reservations of Bangladesh against Article 2 of CEDAW
One of the greatest victories for the post-modern feminist movement in the arena of International Law was the Convention on Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW, hereinafter, the Convention). Often termed as the harbinger of an alternative understanding of the feminist cause going beyond the Human Rights regime, the Convention heralded the greatest possible change in the Status of women, recognized internationally. Often regarded as the International Bill of Rights for Women, CEDAW is a comprehensive treaty on the rights of women and establishes legally binding obligations on the State Parties to follow the legal standards set by it to end discrimination against women by achieving equality between men and women. (Tackling Violence against Women, London School of Economic Blog)
Despite the theoretical attempts at establishing an equal society, for most part of the World, the coverage of the Convention is minimal. This is mostly because of the ‘reservations’ made by member States in the name of personal laws often originating in their religious set up. The personal laws in their very inception are rooted in the ideas of patriarchy, dominance of men, and lesser roles for women. Many instances from the sources of these personal laws would prove that men are in charge of women and hence can direct their personal spheres. These discriminatory personal laws are protected even in the most advanced constitutional setups either through a document or a bill of rights within the purview of Right to Religion. As a consequence, many countries in order to show their neutrality towards the concept of Religion and to establish the beautiful ideals of secularism tend to overlook the discrimination these religious laws preach.
In the current Article, the researcher provides an analysis as to what kind of reservations are permitted under the CEDAW, and how Bangladesh completely misunderstood its qualified right of Reservations, as an absolute right and established an anomaly, which doesn’t merely contradict its international commitments but also the fundamental principles of the Constitution of Bangladesh.
Concept of Reservations to Treaties
The existing ambiguities in the treaty reservations law have often led to irregularities and illegalities in law. In 1969 the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties was adopted to codify practice and provide legal guidance on the meaning of reservations and a uniform procedure for entering them. The Vienna Convention provides that reservations may not be made that are “incompatible with the object and purpose of the treaty.” (Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties (23 May 1969), Entered into force 27 January 1980. United Nations, Treaty Series, vol. 1155, p. 331.) This provision raises as many questions as it answers, as the Vienna Convention does not define “object and purpose,” nor does it indicate what body has the power to determine validity. The Vienna Convention also provides for state parties to object to a reservation within twelve months of its entry. However, objections do not dispose of the question of validity, although some states have objected to reservations to CEDAW on the ground of invalidity. In 1994,M. Alain Pellet, the Special Rapporteur on Reservation to treaties, addressed various aspects of the reservation issues. The most significant for purposes of dealing with CEDAW and other human rights treaties is his discussion of reservations to “normative” treaties. The international human rights treaties differ from most other treaties in that their implementation is monitored by bodies that are established by the terms of the respective treaties. (Human Rights Committee, General Comment No. 24 on Reservations, CCPR/C/21/Rev.1/dd.6 (November, 1994), republished as HRI/GEN/1/Rev.6.) Despite establishments of treaty bodies, within the framework of treaties, who hold authority to judge any reservations on its merits, all these bodies have had issues with reservations.
The Convention permits ratification subject to reservations. Some state parties that enter reservations to the Convention do not enter reservations to analogous provisions in other human rights treaties. A number of states enter reservations to particular articles on the ground that national law, tradition, religion or culture are not congruent with Convention principles, and purport to justify the reservation on that basis. (Reservations to CEDAW, Available at: http://www.un.org/womenwatch/daw/cedaw/reservations.htm, accessed on 6/10/2019).Article 28 (2) of the Convention adopts the impermissibility principle contained in art. 19 (c) of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties. The impermissibility principle states that any reservation which is incompatible with the object and purpose of the treaty shall be invalid. The CEDAW Committee considers art. 2 as the core provision of the Convention. The Committee holds the view that art. 2 central to the objects and purpose of the Convention and as a consequence its importance cannot be neglected. States parties which ratify the Convention do so because there exists an agreement between all the states that any form of discrimination against women in all its forms should be condemned and that strategies set out in art. 2, should be implemented by States parties to eliminate it. How far the traditional, religious or cultural practice, incompatible domestic laws or other policies can justify violations of the Convention, needs some thorough scrutiny.
Fundamental Rights under the Constitution of Bangladesh
Article 7 of the Constitution of Bangladesh, 1972 refers to Supremacy of Constitution and all powers to be exercised in consonance with the same, as it manifests the will of the people of the Republic. The Constitution also guarantees various fundamental rights to its citizens and explicitly states than any law inconsistent with the Fundamental Rights shall be void. The Constitution also promotes equality (art. 27, Constitution of Bangladesh) and prohibits any form of discrimination against women in all spheres of state and in the public life (art. 28(2) Constitution of Bangladesh). Despite these provisions proclaiming equality and non-discrimination against women in the law of the land, Bangladesh holds reservations against art. 2 of the Convention, which, as already discussed above is crucial for the objects and purposes of the Convention. The ground, as repeatedly claimed by Bangladesh, for such reservation is that these provisions contradict the Sharia Law based on Holy Quran and Sunnah. As a response to this, neither the Committee nor any State party has belaboured the issue. Bangladesh withdrew the reservations to Articles 13(a) and 16 (1) (f) of the Convention in 1997 but has not withdrawn the Article 2 and Article 16 (1) (c). The Committee has continued to press on the question of withdrawing the remaining reservations, however mostly unsuccessfully.
Periodic Committee Reports at a glance
Soon after the ratification of the treaty, in 1996 the Ministry of Women and Children’s Affair constituted an inter-ministerial committee to review the reservations to the Convention. The report of the Committee reaffirmed the supremacy of the law, and stated that Bangladesh doesn’t have Sharia Law as such rather certain provisions have been codified into legislation. Also, the report suggested that the provisions of Sharia are not immutable and hence can be reinterpreted as per need of time. (Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, Third and Fourth Report of State Parties: Bangladesh, CEDAW/C/BGD/3-4 p 26 (April 1, 1997)).
Again in 2004, during the 31st session of the CEDAW, in its fifth report the Bangladeshi representative asserted their intention to withdraw all the reservations. The Committee was gratified to hear that Bangladesh intended to withdraw its reservations to the Convention in the near future. In doing so, it would ensure the effective implementation of the Convention and send a significant message to other Muslim nations. (Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, Fifth Report (Continued), Summary Record of 654 Meeting, CEDAW/C/BGD/5, para 61, (July 9, 2004))
Regarding the optional protocol, Dubravka Šimonović, Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women, observed, although Bangladesh had ratified the Optional Protocol to the Convention, its reservations to articles 2 and 16.1 (c) effectively meant that the Optional Protocol was not applicable regarding certain rights provided for in the Convention. She remarked that the Bangladeshi delegation had stated that the Government was gradually taking steps to implement the equal rights guaranteed to men and women under the Constitution, and she would appreciate knowing why that was the case, since those rights should be granted, not on a gradual basis, but immediately. (Convention on Elimination of All forms of Discrimination Against Women, 5th Periodic Report: Bangladesh, Summary Records CEDAW/5/SR.653 (12th August 2004)) The fifth periodic report also focused on the ongoing role of NGOs and other Civil Societies stating their lobbying efforts and advocacy attempts to remove reservations from the Article 2 and 16.1 (c).
Most recently, the 8th Periodic Report submitted in 2016, recalled the importance of Law Commission (hereinafter, LC) reports, which is a statutory body empowered to recommend enactment, amendment or repealing of laws relating to fundamental rights and values of society. Since 2009, the LC has suggested reform of laws for the promotion of human rights, including prevention of sexual harassment in educational institutions and workplaces, prevention of violence against women, protection of victims and witnesses to grave offences, reform of Hindu family laws and the withdrawal of reservation on the two Articles (2 and 16.1(c) of CEDAW. (Convention on Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, 8th Periodic Report: Bangladesh, May 2015) In the report, the Bangladeshi representative submitted that the Government is aware about the potential movements by the Islamic fundamentalist groups against the withdrawal of the reservations. Therefore, cautious steps are being taken so as not to jeopardize application of the principles of CEDAW. Partnership and cooperation with civil society is essential to create a positive environment for the withdrawal of reservation.
The abovementioned constitutional provisions and periodic reports show that despite being an equal society, at least constitutionally, the abovementioned reservations appear highly mis-founded as they can essentially have only two understandings- first, Sharia is inherently discriminatory against women; Second, Bangladesh has wrongly appreciated and understood Sharia, which has misguided such reservations. While the first one could not be agreed for most of its part, as 29 out of 57 members of Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), with Sharia law in force, have ratified the treaty without any reservations. When it comes to Second observation, then it can be affirmatively said that the Bangladeshi reservation is rooted in the wrong conception of its own religious conceptions and practices. Various reports suggest that the Sharia is not immutable and such changes can be made as per the needs of time. This can be regarded as one of the most important times where call for such amendments in the Bangladeshi understanding and interpretation of Sharia Law as the crime against women in the South Asian region is on all-time high. (See Media Report)
In light of the above-mentioned facts it becomes imperative to understand the prospects of such reservations both in law and in practice along with the methods of tackling the existing obstacles in the implementation of women centric legislations. While Bangladesh has accepted the irregularity of its reservations to the CEDAW in every periodic report submitted to the CEDAW, yet any action for the withdrawal of the same is still an implausible idea because of the pressure on the Government exerted by fundamentalist groups active in Bangladesh. As the reservation contradicts various provisions of the Constitution of Bangladesh like Articles 26, 27, 28, 29, etc, they are inherently invalid. But despite the vehement oppositions from various NGOs and civil societies to the reservations, no such remark has yet been made by the judiciary of Bangladesh. Along with reiteration of supremacy of constitution over sharia law, it is necessary for the courts to remove the divide between public and private spaces. While private spaces are completely untouched by the State, it is imperative that the manifestations of such personal practices which become social factors should be regulated. Alternatively, reading the reservation invalid within the purview of Sharia Law can be another plausible task that the Government can undertake. Taking into consideration the examples of other Islamic nations, which have no reservations against the CEDAW, can also be beneficial to the withdrawing of reservation procedure. These exemplified and exalted examples of law in other Islamic nations which don’t have reservations can help Bangladesh cope up with the resistance to the withdrawal by the fundamentalist forces.
Regarding reservations of Bangladesh, it can be concluded that they are highly misplaced because of inherent problem in their conception. States are required to be proactive in adopting laws and policies to eliminate discrimination against women and in attempting to modify or abolish discriminatory “customs and practices.” As the article lays out the fundamental requirement to comply with all articles of the Convention in the State party’s constitution, statutes, and policies, it is imperative for Bangladesh to withdraw the same.
Schweitzer’s ‘Reverence for Life’ In the Age of Trump and Modi
Forever known by his phrase ‘reverence for life’, Albert Schweitzer was a theologian, moral philosopher, physician and missionary. He was born in Alsace when it was German, and became a French citizen when it reverted back to France after the First World War.
To him this reverence implied regard for and a duty to all human beings, not “confined to blood relations or tribe” (The Teaching of Reverence for Life, Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1965, p. 9). It is an inspiring thought for it leads naturally to peace and the end of wars. He did not claim originality for the idea, noting that Lao-Tse and Confucius among others had already preceded him in espousing it (pp. 9-10). He merely promoted it.
In this he was also of like mind with the 18th century Scottish philosopher, David Hume, who reminded us of conscience and the ability to distinguish between good and evil. We are strings, he said, “that vibrate in sympathy with others”, endowed with a natural good that propels us to help our neighbors or the distressed (p. 20). I am reminded of my father who always said, “You don’t treat a disease; you treat a patient.”
And then one wonders if these instincts have been consciously suppressed in some human beings. One can think of two current leaders in particular: Donald Trump and Narendra Modi. Trump’s assertion, “he died like a dog” grates even if one violently disagrees with al-Baghdadi’s methods, wrenched as he was from the normal course of his life by a US invasion predicated on false charges.
Then there is Modi and his drumbeat of upper caste Hindu supremacy. As US Representative Ro Khanna noted forcefully in a tweet, “It is the duty of every American politician of Hindu faith to stand for pluralism, reject Hindutva, and speak for equal rights for Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Buddhists and Christians.”
It was only a few days ago in India that a 27-year old Dalit man was beaten mercilessly and tossed in the river to die. He had been fishing. His crime: a refusal to give his catch to a nearby Brahmin who wanted an equal share. If it needs reminding, a Brahmin belongs to the highest caste, a Dalit or Untouchable to the lowest — someone who is frequently not allowed to use the village well. The Dalit man killed was the sole support of his family.
For the people of Kashmir there is little respite. A beautiful valley that could attract tourist dollars, instead is invaded by Indian troops. When the Kashmiris protest their humiliation through demonstrations, even children are blinded by pellet guns. Photos show decaying towns where empty streets are patrolled by sullen soldiers.
Then there are Palestinians, frequent casualties of the Israeli military, living the daily humiliations and frustrations of life between checkpoints — a life in prison in the case of Gaza where the soccer team is denied travel permits to play in a local tournament against a West Bank team. I
Gaza’s native son Dr. Ramzy Baroud shines a frequent light on the dark horror of three-quarters of a century of occupation. Frequent articles and four books including the latest “These Chains Will be Broken” published this year– keep the world informed.
Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish is a peace activist. His moving memoir I Shall not Hate followed a tragedy. During the 2008 – 2009 Gaza invasion, a tank stationed itself outside his home (well known to the Israelis) and fired a shell killing three of his daughters aged 13, 15 and 21, and seriously injuring another who was 17. In that war one of his nieces also died and another niece was grievously injured.
Who was it who said, “Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” The good doctor’s book is subtitled, “A Gaza Doctor’s Journey on the Road to Peace and Dignity.” It is a common quest across the world.
In Chile, protesters show no let-up and the country is unable to host the COP 25 climate change meeting. Spain has offered to step in, despite its own Catalan independence movement problems.
The Chile protests have so far resulted in 20 deaths and thousands injured. Starting with a student protest on October 18 over a rise in Metro fares, they have ballooned to a million at one demonstration, the largest in the country’s history. Vandalism, looting, bus burning are often a consequence and clashes with security forces follow. President Sebastian Pinera has been obliged to reverse the fare increase, and is also promising higher taxes on the wealthy as well as an increase in the minimum wage.
Examples of human strife do not end here. Yet in the present era there is a common goal for humanity when it faces the existential threat of climate change. Surely then we can form a common bond, extend Schweitzer’s reverence to include all life, and strive to save our one and only home. As Schweitzer observes (p. 31), “Reverence for life, arising when intelligence operates upon the will to live, contains within itself affirmation of the universe and of life.”
Author’s note: This article appeared first on Counterpunch.org
Salvaging international law: The best of bad options
These are uncertain times with trade wars, regional conflicts and increased abuse of human and minority rights pockmarking the transition from a unipolar to a multipolar world. What may be potentially the most dangerous casualty of the transition is the abandonment of even a pretence to the adherence to international law.
Violations of international law and abuse of human and minority rights dominate news cycles in a world in which leaders, that think in exclusive civilizational rather than inclusive national terms, rule supreme.
Examples are too many to comprehensively recount.
They include semi-permanent paralysis of the United Nations Security Council as a result of big power rivalry; last month’s Turkish military incursion into northern Syria in a bid to change the region’s demography; ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya in Myanmar; disenfranchisement of millions, predominantly Muslims, in India; and a Chinese effort to fundamentally alter the belief system of Turkic Muslims in the troubled north-western province of Xinjiang.
It’s not that international law was adhered to prior to the rise of presidents like Donald J. Trump, Vladimir Putin, Xi Jinping, Victor Orban of Hungary, and Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey or Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
It wasn’t. Witness, as just one instance, widespread condemnation of the 2003 US invasion of Iraq as a violation of international law.
The silver lining at the time was the fact that international law was at least a reference point for norms and standards by which leaders and governments were judged. It still is, at least theoretically, but it no longer is the standard to which leaders and governments necessarily pay lip service. Today, they do so only when opportunistically convenient.
Instead, violations of territorial sovereignty, as well as human and minority rights, has become the norm.
It also is the de facto justification for the creation of a new world order, in which a critical mass of world leaders often defines the borders and national security of their countries in civilizational and/or ethnic, cultural or religious terms.
The abandonment of principles enshrined in international law, with no immediate alternative standard setter in place, raises the spectre of an era in which instability, conflict, mass migration, radicalization, outbursts of popular frustration and anger, and political violence becomes the new normal.
Last month’s killing of Kamlesh Tiwari, a Hindu nationalist politician in Uttar Pradesh, because of a defamatory comment about the Prophet Mohammed that he allegedly made four years ago, reflects the deterioration of Muslim-Hindu relations in Mr. Modi’s increasingly Hindu nationalist India.
Perhaps more alarming is the recent declaration by Oren Hazan, a Knesset member for Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s Likud party, that China’s incarceration of at least a million Muslims in re-education camps, or what Beijing calls vocational education facilities, was a model for Israel in its dispute with the Palestinians.
Equally worrisome is last month’s revocation by Mr. Putin of an additional protocol to the Geneva Conventions related to the protection of victims of international armed conflicts. Mr. Putin justified the revocation on the grounds that an international commission, set up in order to investigate war crimes against civilians, risks abuse of the commission’s power “by the states, which are acting in bad faith.”
Russia alongside Iran and the government of President Bashar al-Assad have been accused of multiple war crimes in war-ravaged Syria. So have anti-Assad rebels, irrespective of their political or religious stripe.
Russia’s withdrawal from the Geneva protocol, Mr. Hazan’s endorsement of Chinese policy and Turkey’s intervention in Syria in an environment that legitimizes abandonment of any pretext of adherence to international law as well as ultra-nationalist and supremacist worldviews are indicators of what a world would look like in which laws, rules and regulations governing war and peace and human and minority rights are no longer the standards against which countries and governments are measured.
The fact that Mr. Al-Assad, a ruthless autocrat accused of uncountable war crimes, is increasingly being perceived as Syria’s best hope after more than eight years of brutal civil war aggravated by foreign intervention, drives the point home.
“As depressing as it is to write this sentence, the best course of action today is for President Bashar al-Assad’s regime to regain control over northern Syria. Assad is a war criminal whose forces killed more than half a million of his compatriots and produced several million refugees. In a perfect world, he would be on trial at The Hague instead of ruling in Damascus. But we do not live in a perfect world, and the question we face today is how to make the best of a horrible situation,” said prominent US political scientist Stephen M. Walt.
The problem is that stabilizing Syria by restoring legitimacy to an alleged war criminal may provide temporary relief, but also sets a precedent for a world order, in which transparency and accountability fall by the wayside. It almost by definition opens the door to solutions that plant the seeds for renewed conflict and bloodshed.
International law was and is no panacea. To paraphrase Mr. Walt’s argument, it is the best of bad options.
Abandoning the standards and norms embedded in international law will only perpetuate flawed policies by various states that were destined to aggravate and escalate deep-seated grievances, discord and conflict rather than fairly and responsibly address social, cultural and political issues that would contribute to enhanced societal cohesion.
Identifying the problem is obviously easy. Solving it is not, given that the players who would need to redress the issue are the violators themselves.
Ensuring that nations and leaders respect international law in much the same way that citizens are expected to honour their country’s laws would have to entail strengthening international law itself as well as its adjudication. That would have to involve a reconceptualization of the United Nations Security Council as well as the International Court of Justice.
That may not be as delusionary as it sounds. But leaders would have to be willing to recognize that criticisms of the application of international law, like Mr. Putin’s objections to the way the Geneva protocol is implemented, have a degree of merit.
In other words, like national laws, international law will only be effective if it is universally applied. Western legal principles insist that no one is exempt from the law. The same should apply to states, governments and leaders.
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East Asia2 days ago
The Korean Peninsula needs more peace talks rather than game drills