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Trump’s Golan Heights Declaration: The Message to Azerbaijan

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On March 21, 2019, United States President Trump tweeted, “After 52 years it is time for the United States to fully recognize Israel’s Sovereignty over the Golan Heights, which is of critical strategic and security importance to the State of Israel and Regional Stability!”

Regardless of one’s position within the spectrum of persuasions about whose sovereignty should be respected in the Golan Heights or the arguments used to justify its annexation to Israel, Trump’s declaration is unprecedented, post-WWII. Trump’s statement does not appear to be the official United States government policy yet. However, the die is cast. Trump has undermined the manifest inadmissibility of states acquiring territory by force. Lest we forget, the first Gulf war over the Iraqi attempt at annexing Kuwait by force.

Trump also dismisses United Nations Security Council Resolution 497, which states, “…the Israeli Golan Heights Law, which effectively annexed the Golan Heights, is “null and void and without international legal effect.” The same United Nations, with Resolution 181, mandating the partition of Palestine, recognized the State of Israel. Rather than to expose yet another hypocritical move in international relations, what message is Israeli support for Trump’s unilateral declaration sending to conflicting sides in territorial conflicts? What about Indian-administered Kashmir? What about Azerbaijan’s territorial claim over the Armenian-administered region of Nagorno-Karabakh? Not a very good message for the interests of Azerbaijan.

A relative comparison of arguments used and issues raised concerning the Armenian-administered region of Nagorno-Karabakh and the Israeli annexation of the Golan Heights is seen here. Of more importance to Azerbaijan is how Trump has just trampled on the concept of internationally recognized borders. Syria had recognized borders until violated by Trump; the same Trump who wants a border wall of his own from Texas to San Diego. Azerbaijan’s articulated basis upon which they demand that the Armenian region of Nagorno-Karabakh relinquish its sovereignty to them is their claim of territorial integrity. The Azerbaijan press is full of article quoting states that reiterate the concept of territorial integrity.

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe’s (OSCE) Minsk Group was established to help negotiate a peaceful settlement, between Armenia and Azerbaijan, of the still-simmering Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. Its members include the United States, Russia, and France. Russia annexed Crimea, although with nearly no force, it acquired Georgian territory, and the United States president declared support for the inclusion of the Syrian Golan Heights into the State of Israel. From Baku’s viewpoint, the OSCE Minsk Group does not appear to represent neutral facilitators when two of its three members represent states that ignore both territorial integrity and selective United Nations resolutions. The OSCE’s Minsk Group is making itself less relevant to both Armenia and Azerbaijan.

Armenian negotiators could use Trump’s declaration to pull out of OSCE-sponsored negotiations and Armenia could directly annex the region of Nagorno-Karabakh, considering Nagorno-Karabakh “… is of critical strategic and security importance to the State of” [Armenia] “and Regional Stability!”. Azerbaijan would be outraged by such an Armenian move, but curiously official Baku appears rather silent about Trump’s Golan Heights declaration. Why?

Israel supports Azerbaijan’s public relations campaign against the Armenian lobbies and Armenian-administered Nagorno-Karabakh. This support is demonstrated in some of today’s Israeli and Jewish publications, and publicly stated during a September 2015 Israeli Knesset visit to Baku. Why would Israel even care about Azerbaijan? Israel buys half its crude oil from Azerbaijan and Azerbaijan has purchased on the order of $5B of advanced Israeli weapons over the past decade. This is a relationship of convenience and Azerbaijan has a border with Iran.

Will Turkey now annex northern Cyprus, which was also acquired by force? Turkish jets frequently buzz Greek islands also claimed by Ankara. If southwestern Syria is up for the taking, why not other parts. Since 1920 Turkey has eyed the northern Syrian landmass stretching from the Western Thrace to Mosul in Iraq. Conveniently, Turkey currently claims its soldiers are in northern Syria for security reasons.

There are consequences to what United States Presidents declare.

David Davidian is a Lecturer at the American University of Armenia. He has spent over a decade in technical intelligence analysis at major high technology firms.

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International Law

Covid-19: China Under The Scanner

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The COVID-19 pandemic has overtaken the world by deathly awe. With a whopping 1,015,667 confirmed cases, 53,200 deaths and around 204 countries affected as on April 3, 2020, the virus rages across the world as the governments, public health organisations and WHO scramble to enhance their response to deal with the challenge. As the epidemiological situation changes dramatically, we need to revisit the basic principles of International law and assess the role of country of origin. The virus had its origin in Wuhan’s Huanan Seafood Wholesale Markets and was kept under wraps for months by China.

A Timeline of Neglect

The first case of the virus was reported on December 10, 2019. The timeline shows that China’s cover-up of the virus and delay in taking measures to contain it lasted around three weeks. The world is all too familiar with Wuhan’s Dr. Li Wenliang, who forewarned the world about the SARS-like virus on December 30th and how he was silenced by the government. Later, his death from the virus crystallised the anger and frustration over the cover-up. The Chinese attempt to suppress information regarding the virus has inflicted incalculable damage and stymied global efforts to fight it.

US’ National Security Adviser, Robert O’Brien remarked on 15th March, 2020 that the cover up by China “…probably cost the world community two months to respond. And…. if we had those…..I think we could have dramatically curtailed what happened in China and what is now happening across the world.”

Questions on responsibility and reparations ought to arise. With a disaster of this scale and the ever-increasing loss of lives, one needs to look at the International Framework which can be used to make China pay for its negligence and the action can, thus, act as a deterrent for the States in future.

International Legal Framework for fixing Responsibility

The Legal framework for determining responsibility can be traced to Law of Responsibility. Article 1 of the Draft Articles on State Responsibility adopted by the International Law Commission in 2001 provides that every internationally wrongful act of the State entails State responsibility. Article 2 specifies two conditions required to establish the existence of an internationally wrongful act. Firstly, the conduct in question must be attributable to the State under International law. Secondly, for the responsibility to be affixed as an act of the State, the conduct must constitute a breach of an international legal obligation in force for that State at that time. However, a State can also be held responsible to the extent it fails to take necessary measures to prevent harm, imposing a standard of due diligence. The ICJ, in the Corfu Channel case, held that it was a sufficient basis for Albanian responsibility that it knew, or must have known, of the presence of the mines in its territorial waters and did nothing to warn other States of their presence.

Article 31 contains obligations to make reparations. Consequent upon the commission of wrongful act, there is an obligation on the part of the State to make reparations for the damages. Thus, China is liable to make reparations for its failure to inform the world and WHO.

China and International Health Regulations

The primary international mechanism for regulating public health diseases is the International Health Regulations of 2005 established under the auspices of WHO to which China is also a party. Considered the sole binding legal instrument for controlling the spread of pandemic, the regulations “prevent, protect against, control and provide a public health response to the international spread of disease . . . .”

The IHR places obligations on Nation-States to provide adequate information to the World Health Organisation (WHO) to prevent the spread of pandemics. Arts. 6 and 7 of IHR (2005) required China to inform the WHO within 24 hours of determining the nature of the virus, using a prescribed checklist, as well as any measure it had deployed to deal with its outbreak. China, unfortunately, failed its obligations.

China’s delays and attempts at cover-up violate Human Rights Treaties

International Covenant on Economic Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) provides the most comprehensive protection regarding Right to Health of individuals. Article 12 of the Covenant provides that ‘States Parties…..recognize the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health.’ Article 12(2) enumerates the steps to be undertaken by States to achieve full realization of this right.

According to General Comment 14 of Committee on Economic Social and Cultural rights, which enforces the Treaty, violations of the Right to Health can occur through direct action of States and through omission or failure of the States to take necessary measures arising from legal obligations. China, in this case, has clearly violated its treaty obligations under ICESCR.

Security Council and Its Role

Since Pandemics have a security dimension too, the role of Security Council in the COVID -19 fight can be streamlined to bolster the world’s response. The Security Council has, on earlier occasions, addressed public health emergencies and passed resolutions pertaining to them. In July 2000, the UN Security Council passed Resolution 1308, recognizing “the importance of a coordinated international response to the HIV/AIDS pandemic…” In September 2014, it passed yet another milestone resolution 2177, designating the Ebola outbreak in West Africa as a threat to international peace and security. It enabled Secretary General Ban-ki-moon to constitute U.N. Mission for Ebola Emergency Response (UNMEER), the first U.N. emergency mission directed at a public health crisis. In the extant matter, the role of Security Council is conspicuous by its silence.

The crux of the matter is that China owes an explanation and exemplary reparations for letting loose probably the deadliest pestilence on the entire world. However, in view of the extraordinary international position that China enjoys in the world community, being a permanent member of the Security Council, a dominant economic power, a number of countries already in its debt and having virtually accepted its political hegemony, it would be really intriguing to see how countries mount their claims for damages against it and how International bodies handle it.

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International Law

COVID-19: UN Security Council should urgently take a Lead

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Authors: Tan Sri Hasmy Agam and Prof. Anis H. Bajrektarevic

The COVID-19 situation is very worrying, indeed, alarming matter, not just as a global health and biosafety issue, but potentially as a global security challenge, too.

While the pandemic is being dealt with by the World Health Organisation (WHO), along with other relevant United Nation Specialised Agencies (UN SA), the situation is deteriorating rapidly and could easily get out of control. This of course, if it is not effectively contained. In such a (more and more likely) scenario, it would be engulfing the entire world, virtually akin to as the Third world war, though initially of a different kind.

We are amazed as to why the Security Council has not stepped in. It should have done so as to address the Covid-19 and surrounding scenery in the way it clearly deserves to be dealt with, given its devastating impact on the entire international community on almost every dimension, including international peace and security, which indisputably falls under its mandate under the UN Charter.

As the Council has often dealt with issues which are sometimes not ostensibly related to international or regional security, we are puzzled, indeed alarmed, as to why it has chosen not to come to grips with the pandemic as a matter of the utmost urgency.

If the members of the Council, for their own internal reasons, have not felt compelled to do so, shouldn’t the other members of the world body, individually or collectively as international or regional groupings, such as the European Union (EU), the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) – G-77,African Union (AU), or ASEAN, take the much-desired initiative to call on the Security Council to imperatively address this global pandemic, even as the WHO and other concerned UN agencies, much to their credit, are dealing with the issue from their own (narrow) perspectives – and yet rather limited mandate and resources.

In this regard, especially the EU, would be well-positioned to exert the much-need pressure on the UNSC, given the devastation that the Virus has wreaked on a number of its members, notably Italy and Spain, among others.

Such an urgent Meeting of the UN Security Council at this point in time would be greatly applauded by the entire international community as it would accord the world body the leadership role that its members expect it to play.

Gens una sumus. Concordia patria firmat

In this dire situation, the big powers should put aside their ideological and policy differences, or power play, and focus instead on galvanizing concerted international actions of ensuring the safety and wellbeing of the entire human race.

By decisively and urgently acting, the UN Secretary-General and the UN SC would be sending a bold and clear yet tranquilising signal to the entire humanity. More importantly, such a unison voice would be also welcomed and well understood as a referential (not to say a norm setting) note by other crucial agencies, such as the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCHR), International Labour Organisation (ILO), International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), World Tourism Organisation (WTO), as well as by the Red Cross (IFRC), Bretton Woods institutions, Organisation of  Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), Federation of Trade Unions, including other specialised or non-UN FORAs, most notably developmental entities such as the Inter-American Development Bank (IADB), Islamic Development Bank (IsDB), Asia Development Bank (ADB), Africa Development Bank (AfDB), etc.

In the following period – while witnessing indeed a true historical conjuncture, we need a global observance and protection of human rights, of jobs, for the benefit of economy and overall security. Recovery – which from now on require a formidable biosafety, too – will be impossible without social consensus. Clearly, it will be unsustainable if on expenses of labour or done through erosion of basic human rights – embedded in the UN Charter and accepted as essential to the very success of SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals).

Indeed, countries are not just economies, but most of all societies.

(The truth is plain to see: Planet has stopped, although the Capital remains intact. We came to a global halt because the Labour has been sent home. Hence, the recovery comes with labour. Historically, labour has never betrayed, while capital has failed us many times. By the same token, human rights never betrayed the state and its social cohesion, but the states – and much glorified markets – far too many times in history have failed humans. Therefore, there is no true exit from the crisis without strengthening the labour and human rights.)

For a grave planetary problem, our rapidly articulated global accord is badly needed. Therefore, multilateralism – as the most effective planetary tool at our disposal – is not our policy choice. It is the only way for human race to (socio-economically and politically) survive.

Covid-19 is a challenge that comes from the world of biology. Yet, biology and international relations share one basic rule: Comply or die. To remind us; it is not the big that eat the small, rather it is a fast which eats the slow.

It is night time to switch off the autopilot. Leadership and vision now!!

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International Law

World Governments Need Cooperation of Every Section of Society to Defeat COVID-19

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COVID-19 has wrapped the whole world in its trap because of multiple reasons in which irresponsible behaviour at the hands of states remains at the top. There were some nations such as Italy and America which were not taking the threat of coronavirus serious resultantly both the countries are now the most affected nations of the world. Even at the extent that the president of America Donald Trump was showing passive behaviour concerning the outbreak of devastating virus resultantly the US has surpassed China and reached the top by highest patients in the world which have crossed two lacs including almost five thousand deaths. In this regard, President Trump has signed the $2 trillion Coronavirus relief bill. Besides, other nations such as Italy, Spain, China, Germany, France, and Iran come respectively after the US about the patients of COVID-19. As for as Pakistan is concerned, Prime Minister Imran Khan also urged for the international as well as national cooperation to control and eliminate the threat of COVID-19. While people in Pakistan are not still taking it seriously or fully cooperating with government via looking over their immature and unserious behaviour concerning the restrictions imposed by the government through violating them. In this regard, the government has sealed various shops and other public places that were open even after lockdown. Therefore the government has taken serious steps through lodging FIR against them. Besides, various madrassas/masjids were also offering Friday congregation prayers via side-lining the guidelines given by the government therefore many people were arrested and put behind the bars by security forces of the country. While looking over the staggering and worsening condition of Pakistan which shows a fast increase in the patients of coronavirus government requires the seriousness and cooperation of people to control over fatal disease otherwise it will wipe out most of the population of the country.

Consequently, it is not only the responsibility of people within states to cooperate with the government to defeat first this global pandemic disease but it is also high time for states to cooperate even having multiple differences over numerous issues. In this regard, for defeating Coronavirus states require global cooperation via setting their enmities and differences aside for the common good. Besides, China continues international cooperation to beat COVID-19. Beijing is determined to cooperate and help other nations, therefore, it has sent aid towards 18 countries over the past month in which it has sent its team as well as tons of medical supply to various countries such as Italy, Cambodia, Pakistan, and United Kingdom. Along with this Chinese government said that those countries which are not provided aid by it were helping them through an online website. Via looking over the commitment and relentless struggle of the Chinese government as well as people particularly medical staff, they have become successful in controlling the spread of COVID-19. In the same manner, China also emphasized the global stakeholders that global cooperation is the only way to beat the coronavirus. The governments need acts with speed, scale and clear-minded determination to conquer the fast-spreading virus. Because “viruses do not respect border: neither do they distinguish between races or nations, therefore, responsible governments worldwide should stand firmly against hatred and racism and join hands to promote disease prevention and clinical treatment as well as vaccine development”.

World Health Organisation (WHO) Chief in his recent media briefing said that “This is not just a threat for individual people or individual countries. We are all in this together, and we can only save lives together”. Though preventive measures suggested by the countries which have minimized and controlled the fast spread of COVID-19 such as China, South Korea, and Sudan are social distancing, contact tracing, widespread testing, and early preparation. In the DW documentary, Dr. Alexander Edward, an Immunologist, emphasized on the usage of face masks, he also entertained that the world is running out of face mask because of its massive usage. Besides, Nature is a weekly international journal that published an article on March 9 in which emphasized over three things to eliminate coronavirus namely follow WHO advice, end secrecy in decision-making and cooperate globally which is the only way to defeat one of the worst infectious-diseases spread throughout the world. COVID-19 has left severe effects on the social, political, economic, and financial structures of the world. So, it is very difficult only for the governments of states to control and defeat this pandemic virus. In this regard, governments need the seriousness of behaviour as well as the cooperation of each section of society may it be doctor, social workers, government and private employs, common people, armed forces, businessmen, farmers along with each person who can contribute in any way to help the government to defeat the Coronavirus. This is the easiest and fast way to fight against coronavirus otherwise whole nations including governments are going to bear the brunt of this one of the most dangerous viruses of the 21st Century.

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