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The 21st Century: The Century of Reforming The UN Security Council

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Reforming the UN SC with the veto power only of the UN Secretary General and a new article of the UN Charter “On the Rights of Nations to Self-Determination” will eliminate the aggressive fervor of the USA, Russia and China on inciting regional and world wars on our Planet.

On July 19, 2017, at the meeting of the UN General Assembly devoted to the reform of the UN SC, the Deputy Permanent Mission of Russia to the UN V. Safronov raised the issue of the reform of the UNSC. He proposes to expand the composition of the Security Council at the expense of only the countries of Asia and Africa, which is a formal attitude towards the UN, as the most important organ in the fate of the countries of the world in maintaining international peace and security on our planet.

In my opinion, the expansion of the UN SC should cover the most important countries from all continents of our Planet. At the same time, in the absence of members rights to the veto, which will allow discussing in the UN SC the most important problems of the countries of the world with relevant resolutions for the reality of their execution.

Below I cite my draft reform of the UN SC, which differs radically from the proposal of the representative of the Russian Federation, the United States and other countries to the United Nations.

REFORMING THE UN SC WITH THE RIGHT OF THE VETO OF THE UNSC

Mankind is at the forefront of a direct collision between the United States and Russia or China on the basis of their geopolitical and geostrategic interests in their regions and countries of the world. As a fact, the UN SC has long been in the position of a “Chinese observer” – a passive observer of the aggressive actions of the leading empires with their invasions into the countries of the world, beginning in the middle of the XX century to this day in Asia, Europe and the Middle East.

And as the consequences of these invasions, there is complete ruin of the regions and the infrastructure of countries, the massive death of civilians and the flow of refugees, which, in turn, leads to global problems in Europe and the USA.

This bloody large-scale process continues to this day since 2000 year, where, finally, from 2015 year, the interests of the powers of the USA and Russia collided directly with their heads in the Middle East in order to display their monopolistic geostrategic positions in specific regions of the world. In turn, the confrontation between the US and Russia is urgently needed by the time of the shaky regime of President Vladimir Putin, when the material condition of the population and the country’s infrastructure is cracking along all the seams with a weak economy.

A rhetorical question arises: what is the leading role of the UN and its main body of the Security Council, as an international organization of all countries of the world? The UN was created, on the one hand, to prevent world and regional wars with disastrous consequences due to Man’s fault, as heads of leading empires and countries of the world. On the other hand, to prevent natural disasters and disasters for the population of the Planet, such as nuclear power plant explosions, tsunamis, earthquakes, meteorite falls, landslides, tectonic collisions and much more.

The creation of the UN in 1945 pursued international cooperation of the countries of the world in political, economic, scientific, cultural, sports and other types of relations, regardless of their political, social, national and religious conditions.

The basis of the UN SC is the primary responsibility for maintaining peace and security in the countries of the world, suppressing not only regional and world wars, but also separatism on interethnic and interreligious soil. At the same time, all UN members are obliged to obey the decisions of the UN SC and their implementation.

A rhetorical question arises: why does the UN SC, from the date of its emergence to this day more than 70 years, fail to fulfill its direct responsibilities for maintaining peace and security, against the background of the regional wars in the world? Why does the UN SC not consider the causes of the emergence of aggressive bloody wars at the level of civilian deaths, mass refugees and the devastation of their cities by major powers? Why does the UN SC not give a proper assessment of the actions of countries like the USA, the former USSR, its successor to Russia and other specific countries of the world? Why does the UN SC not control over the years the course of action of the resolutions on specific countries, which it adopted, and does not put forward at the same time sanctions? Who and why is interested in this when the bill for these wars is no longer in millions and billions of dollars, but in the end in trillions? Whereas the US debt is $ 23 trillion, when the largest historical power of the USSR disappears, and the economy of its successor to Russia today is not detached from the muddy bottom.

According to the UN Charter, countries of the world have authorized the UN SC to “investigate any dispute or situation that may lead to international friction or cause a dispute to determine whether the continuation of this dispute or situation could not threaten the maintenance of international peace and security.” However, even today, the UN SC ignores all bloody events in the countries of the world. What is the reason for not fulfilling the duties of the UN SC?

As a vivid example, the outcome of the Second World War in early 1945 was predetermined by the defeat of Nazi Germany, and at the same time aggressive Japan, and does not give a proper assessment of these US nuclear strikes with the massive deaths of more than 200 thousand people and the complete devastation of two cities in Japan. And this, in turn, allows the former USSR in 1961 to provoke the Cuban nuclear crisis with the United States, and then its successor Russia to threaten nuclear ashes for the United States and European countries.

There was also no assessment of the actions of the authorities of England, which led to the ruins, like Stalingrad in 1943, the beautiful city of Dresden with historical museums just for the fact that the world criminal of Nazi Germany Adolf Hitler steadily bombed and destroyed their cities.

So, with the tacit consent of the UN SC, the wars since 1945 have not only stopped, but, on the contrary, have become more frequent in the regions of the world due to the following, in my opinion, reasons. These include the achievement of priorities of the geopolitical and geostrategic interests of the nuclear superpowers in the regions of the world; dividing the world with the destruction of contradictory social systems, capitalist or formerly communist, and today simply Putin’s; intervention in dictatorial and authoritarian countries with their centuries – old Muslim orders and traditions in order to introduce the “democratic values” of Europe; the implementation of “historical justice” with the aim of reviving the centuries – old imperial territories like Tsarist Russia; the emergence of two or more sovereign states for the same nation in the absence of an article in the UN Charter “On the Rights of Nations to Self-Determination” with the dual policy of the countries.

With the collapse of the USSR, the hegemony of the one polar world politics of the United States over the countries of the West and the world is established. And this, in turn, allows the United States to pursue an independent foreign policy in the world, ignoring their consideration and the consent of the UN SC itself.

As two vivid examples of this, on the one hand, the United States, using the tragedy of September 11, 2001 in New York, killed about three thousand civilians in the skyscrapers at the hands of the terrorist organization Al Qaeda. On the other hand, the former USSR in 1979, without the resolutions of the UN Security Council, they sent their troops into Afghanistan under the slogan of creating “democratic institutions” in the ancient Muslim country. And this process continues to this day at the level of the civil war in the country of Afghanistan.

Without the relevant resolutions of the UN SC, the US in alliance with the countries of Europe has been waging an aggressive war from 2003 to this day in the countries of the Middle East – Iraq, Libya and Syria, with Russia joining in 2015. As a result, a self-proclaimed state of ISIL is born at the level of the ancient laws; complete devastation of cities with a massive death of the population and refugees in millions of people in the countries of the world.

All this speaks of the real viability of the UN regulator and the UN SC itself.

It follows that the Third World Nuclear War has not yet erupted with disastrous consequences for all of Mankind with its possible disappearance, it is necessary to reform the UN SC. At the same time, with all the discussions and resolutions adopted by him, the UN Secretary General should actively participate personally with the sole voting right granted to the UN SC resolutions. For he represents a responsible person for the destinies of the countries of the world – all the UN members, with the goal of actually protecting them the international rights of the countries of the world, regardless of their social systems, as dictatorial, authoritarian or democratic regimes.

The UN SC has the right to “determine the existence of any threat to peace, any violation of peace or an act of aggression and make recommendations or decide what measures should be taken to maintain or restore international peace and security.” The Security Council has the right to impose coercive measures on States violating peace and security, including the use of armed forces and certain sanctions, in accordance with Article 25 of the UN Charter. However, the UN SC cannot really use this right, because its members, like the United States and Russia, pursue a policy of double standard, using the veto right when they need it.

INCREASE IN THE NUMBER OF UNSC UN MEMBERS RIGHT TO VETO

All of the above on the aggressive actions of the powers and countries of the world is explained, in my opinion, on the one hand, by the existence of the rights of the five permanent members of the UN SC to vote, veto for consideration, discussion and adoption of resolutions contradicting their foreign or domestic policy, promoting this geostrategic and geopolitical interests that go against the protection of the rights of civilians and the preservation of their places of residence. On the other hand, the five permanent members of the UN SC are not able to cover and specifically find out the pressing problems in the countries of the world with their solutions.

That is why since 1991, the United States used the veto more than 14 times, and Russia more than 13 times, which resulted in catastrophic consequences in the world, in the examples of the countries of the Middle East, Afghanistan, Ukraine, Azerbaijan, Georgia.

Countries around the world, including personally former UN SG Kofi Annan, made repeated statements on reforming the UN SC with the goal of increasing the number of permanent members, but without making any reservation about eliminating the veto power, which allows imperial countries to manifest geostrategic and geopolitical countries, at the root of their rights interests in the regions of the world.

In my opinion, in view of the above, the reform of the UN SC should be in the following order:

1. increasing the number of permanent members of the UN SC to 15 at the level of strategic and solvent countries – representatives of all continents of our Planet;

2. increasing the number of non-permanent members of the UN SC to 10, periodically replaced after 3 years, taking into account their solvency and significance in the regions of the continents of the Planet;

3. exclusion of the right to vote of the veto of all members of the UN SC;

4. all the issues discussed and the resolutions of the UNSC are adopted taking into account the majority of their votes and

5. oblige active participation in the activities of the UN SC by the UN SG, precisely with his right to vote in veto on questions and UN Security Council resolutions.

The current UN SC permanent members, as the countries of the anti-Hitler and Japanese-Chinese coalitions where the world wars took place, should remain on the UN SC list.

Further, we should take into account countries with their geographical location and importance in the regions of the continents of the Planet by the number of their population, religiosity, the power of their economy and armed forces.

Based on the foregoing, in my opinion:

A. permanent members of the UN Security Council should be: the United States, Russia, China, England, France, Germany, Italy, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, India, Indonesia, Turkey, Egypt, Brazil, Argentina; that is, there are 15 of them, and

B. non-permanent of the UN SC — periodically replaced every three years: Greece (Belgium, Bulgaria, Holland); Poland (Switzerland, Czech Republic, Romania); Denmark (Sweden, Norway, Finland); Azerbaijan (Belarus, Georgia, Armenia); Uzbekistan (Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan); Japan (Philippines, Malaysia, Australia, South Korea); Pakistan (Iran, Saudi Arabia, Iraq); Israel (South Africa, Nigeria, Algeria, Tanzania); Chile (Colombia, Venezuela, Peru); Mexico (Canada. Paraguay); i.e. there are 10 of them.

Thus, in my opinion, the composition of the UN SC should consist of 15 permanent members and 10 non-permanent members. All of them do not have veto power.

In my opinion, a neutral person in the UN should have the right to vote the veto on the topics proposed for discussion and resolutions adopted on them by a majority of the UN SC votes. And this person, who will bear all responsibility for the activities and decisions taken by the UN SC, is none other than the UN Secretary General. This is similar to how in all countries of the world the final solution of the problem of war and peace is provided to the first person of the country – the President or the Premier. And this is my answer to the newly elected 45th President of the United States Donald Trump, who in one of his speeches of December 13, 2016, said: “As for the UN, from January 20, 2017, the organization will be different.” And in his inaugural address, he noted his US vision for the future: “America is first and foremost.” It is his concept of tensile and double meaning. At the same time, he did not mention about the countries of cooperation, including NATO, where the United States plays the leading role. Thus, the EU countries should realize that they can no longer hope for close cooperation and patronage from US.

We must look for ways to strengthen our role, at least in Europe, while not forgetting that it is precisely the reform of the UN SC and with the majority and solidarity of members that will allow them to influence the politics of the world.

It should be recalled that in 2000, the administration of former US President Bill Clinton agreed to expand the UN SC to more than 23 members. However, with the right to vote only to the permanent five members of the UN SC. Since the inception of the UN, the UN SC has been criticized to this day because of the voting rights of its five permanent members to decisions that could harm both their country and others in the world.

I graduated from the energy department of the Azerbaijan Institute of Oil and Chemistry in Baku in 1960. I taught in technical universities of the countries, I have a scientific degree and a title, as well as three author's inventions with certificates of the former USSR.

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International Law

Omicron and Vaccine Nationalism: How Rich Countries Have Contributed to Pandemic’s Longevity

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In a global pandemic, “Nobody is safe until everyone is safe”, – it is more of true with respect to the current globalized world system. It is said that crisis strikes the conscience and forces the ‘commonality of purpose’ on one another- and a major one in magnanimous scale. But the current Covid-19 crisis seems to have emerged in oddity with this very axiom, of course, due to self-serving, in WHO’s words- ‘self-defeating’ and ‘immoral’, approaches to dealing the pandemic by wealthy countries.

 A new and potentially more transmissible variant of Covid-19 virus, named Omicron by WHO, has been detected in South Africa. With scientists yet to be confirmed about new variant’s epicenter and its likely implication on human immune system, the emergence of Omicron has brought the long-warned case of ‘vaccine nationalism’– a phenomenon in which each nation prioritizes securing ample doses without considering impact on poor ones- to light.

Unheeded to the repeated warnings by scientists and pandemic specialists, many of the world’s richest countries had embarked on a vaccine-acquisition frenzy and hoarded jabs more than their requirements. Some countries have even gone to the extent that they had acquired up to four times what their population needed. Thereby, it has left majority of poor and developing countries, particularly those in global south, unvaccinated, with further risk of the virus being muted into more virulent variants, as in the case of Omicron.

A simple numerical data over vaccination rate across the world exposes the grotesques picture of pandemic recovery divide among the countries and immoral hoarding and hedging efforts on vaccine supplies by wealthy countries. As of now, whereas only 3% of people in low income countries have fully been vaccinated, the figure exceeds 60% in both high-income and upper-middle –income countries. In Africa, the most under-vaccinated and the epicenter of ominous Omicron, only some 7% of its 1.3 billion people are fully immunized.

Given the 9.1bn vaccines already manufactured and 12bn expected by the end of this year, the question is- why does vaccination effort remain so discriminatory and dividing across the regions? The answer, in most part, lies in the ‘pervasive economic inequity’ inherent in initial vaccine-acquisition process. With their enormous capacity to pay out, rich countries, even before pandemic took devastating hold, had pursued a ‘portfolio-approach’ in investing on vaccine development research by pharmaceutical companies- simultaneous investment on multiple ones. In exchange, those countries stroke bilateral deal with each drag company to secure enough prospective vaccine doses to inoculate their respective population several times over.

This absolutist vaccine-acquisition drive of wealthy nations had substantially thwarted the holistic approach taken up by World Health Organization(WHO) under the platform of COVAX, a vaccine sharing program. With the aim of reducing the delay in vaccine allocation to poor and developing countries, and thus ensuring vaccine equity, the multilateral platform didn’t get enough incentives from wealthy ones, since started its journey in April 2020. Both investment and acquisition by well-off countries, having bypassed the COVAX, kept them into the front of manufacturing line, thereby, contributed to the distributional injustice.

‘What starts wrong ends wrong’- initial absolutist approaches in vaccine acquisition started to be manifested in discriminatory distribution of vaccines. Thereby, an amazing scientific breakthrough, development of vaccine in record time, has been offset by awful political policy. In mid-2021, when one portion of world were almost on the track of carefree normalcy, people in bigger portion were struggling to breath. Today, problem is not in production of vaccines, as 2 billion doses of vaccines are being manufactured in every month, rather in the ‘unfairness of distribution’.

Early monopolistic exercise by G20 on acquisition and subsequent stockpile of vaccines has resulted in such galling situation that they have commandeered over 89% of vaccines already produced and over 71% of future deliveries. Consequently, the global inoculation drive, since started, is so unjust that for every vaccine delivered to the poorest countries, six times as many doses are being administered as third and booster vaccines in the richest countries. Adding further to the crisis being escalated, while more than 100 countries, for past one year, have desperately demanded emergency waiver on TRIPs related regulatory restriction on Technologies crucial to pandemic recovery, it has repeatedly been blocked by UK and EU.

Picture is not all-about gloomy with respect to vaccine collaboration but it is quite tiny to the scale of requirements. Rich countries could not deliver on the commitments they did to help poor countries immunize their population. For instance, WHO’s target of having 40% of global population vaccinated by end of this year, through COVAX, seems certainly to fall short largely due to the rich countries failing to deliver on their promise to use their surplus vaccines to immunize the under-vaccinated countries. Far from near, the G7 countries had drastically failed to deliver on their promises made on G7 summit in June. As of last week, USA has delivered only 25%, with further embarrassing arithmetic of EU only 19%, UK 11% and Canada just 5%.

Given the frightening predictions from WHO that another 5 million could be added to the already 5 million death tolls across the world, in the next year or more, it is high time starting a collective endeavor with herculean efforts to inoculate large swaths of unvaccinated people in un-protected areas. Keeping large portion out of vaccination will only make the pandemic endure with no time to end, as virus continues to persist through mutating in un-protected area into a more menacing variant. If so, then again someone else may say, after next the worst wave-We were forewarned- and yet here we are.             

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International Law

The Nuclear Weapons Ban Treaty (TPNW): Wishful daydream or historic milestone?

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The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW), adopted in 2017, has entered into force on the 22nd of January of this year and the number of ratifying states continues to grow, with Mongolia being the latest to announce its accession. This positive trend is certainly welcomed with enthusiasm by the Civil Society campaigners and growing number of supporters of this treaty that represents a huge step forward for the global movement to draw attention to the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of any use of nuclear weapons. It would certainly be dishonest to ignore the fact that this new international legal instrument remains controversial, to say the least, for most of the members of the so-called nuclear deterrence community. As preparations are ongoing for the first Meeting of States Parties, scheduled to take place in Vienna on 22-24 March 2022, it is useful to address some of the main doubts and arguments against the treaty.

In this regard, the main criticism is that it makes no sense to support a treaty on nuclear weapons if those states that possess them have not joined nor any intention to join it.  

In order to address this claim, it may be useful to recall that in the case of the Mine Ban and the Cluster Munition treaties, its main promoters and supporters were also states that did not possess those weapons, and that those international instruments also received some harsh criticism for this reason. Despite of this, there is no doubt now that both of those treaties have become remarkable success stories, not only by achieving the goal of approaching universalization, but also by consolidating a general moral condemnation of those categories of weapons. Therefore, the argument that a treaty necessarily needs to be joined by the possessors of the weapons can easily be rebutted. Despite of the current position of the nuclear weapons states, each new ratification of the treaty is not meaningless: on the contrary, it provides the treaty more authority and contributes to the growing pressure on nuclear weapons states to adopt further steps towards nuclear disarmament.

The other major contribution of the TPNW is that it facilitates the process of delegitimisation of nuclear weapons, necessary to finally amend the well-established foundations of nuclear deterrence doctrines. The humanitarian principles that are underlying the treaty are totally incompatible with those doctrines, and therefore are having an impact on them by highlighting the inherent immorality and illegitimacy of nuclear weapons.   

Another argument for the case of ratification is that it provides states the opportunity to support the process of democratization of the global debate on nuclear weapons, as this new treaty has been the result of a very open discussion with active engagement of delegations from all geographic regions and, in particular, of representatives of Civil Society. This is not a minor aspect of this process, but a key element. Indeed, unlike in negotiations of previous international legal instruments, in this era of growing complexity and interlinkages, the main challenges faced by humankind are being addressed by a diverse group of citizens, from all walks of life and regions. Traditional diplomacy is certainly not enough, and in the case of the TPNW, the positive results would clearly not have been possible without the decisive boost provided by the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), which was able to mobilize Civil Society and likeminded governments towards the goal of negotiating a nuclear weapons ban treaty. 

While it would be naïve to expect the establishment of the nuclear weapons states to be convinced by the humanitarian narrative and in a foreseeable future to amend its defence and security policies base on nuclear deterrence, the TPNW and its focus on the security of the human being instead of the traditional notion of the security of the state, are already having an impact on the academic and public debates in those states.

The second argument used by its critics is that the TPNW weakens the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).  Actually, this is not only incorrect, the opposite is true. In fact, the TPNW can serve as an initiative to help implement article VI of the NPT, by which parties are committed to undertake to “pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament”. This is of vital importance as the treaty clearly attaches a key role to all parties, and not only to those states that possess nuclear weapons. This commitment has also been reflected in the Final Document of the 2010 NPT Review Conference, and the TPNW can be understood as a reflection of that obligation to contribute to nuclear disarmament by non-nuclear weapons states.

Another common point is that the nuclear weapons industry is too strong and well consolidated and that it would be naïve to pretend that this treaty could actually have an impact on investment decisions.

This pessimism has also been proven wrong. In fact, in 2021, more than one hundred financial institutions are reported to have decided to stop investing in companies related to nuclear weapons production. As a result, the nuclear weapons industry is experiencing a considerable reduction and the trend towards the exclusion of this sector from investment targets is growing steadily. This is not only the consequence from the legal obligations that emanate from the TPNW but a reflection of the devaluation of the public image associated to these industries. As this public image continues to deteriorate, it is likely that this trend will continue and that the moral condemnation of these weapons of mass destruction will be absorbed into the mainstream of society.

Another common misinterpretation is that the TPNW should be understood as an instrument that is only designed to be joined exclusively by non-nuclear weapons states.

In fact, even though the treaty was developed by non-nuclear weapons states, it has been drafted and negotiated with the goal of universal adherence, including, someday, those states that still include nuclear deterrence in their national security doctrines. In particular, the TPNW establishes a clear set of steps for nuclear weapons states in order to eliminate their arsenals of nuclear weapons. Specifically, within 60 days after the entry into force of the treaty for a state party that possesses nuclear weapons, that state must submit a plan for the complete elimination of its nuclear weapons to a competent international authority that has been specially designated by states parties. The treaty also includes a process to designate a competent international authority to verify the elimination of nuclear weapons by a state before acceding to the treaty, and a process for states parties that maintain nuclear weapons in their territories for the removal of these weapons and report this action to the United Nations Secretary General.

It is also noteworthy that this treaty obliges states parties to provide adequate assistance to victims affected by the use or by testing of nuclear weapons, and to take the necessary measures for environmental rehabilitation in areas contaminated under its control. This dimension of the treaty constitutes an important contribution both to the protection of human rights of victims and to the now inescapable obligation to protect the environment, which are aspects that are not covered by the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT). This certainly does not affect the value and vital role of this key instrument of the nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation regime but complements it by addressing the fundamental issue of environmental reparation.

The main challenge now is now not only to achieve a wider universality of the TPNW, but to engage more stakeholders and create awareness on the urgency of bringing pressure on the nuclear weapons states to finally move toward nuclear disarmament. In this regard, Civil Society initiatives have been promoting engagement of members of grassroots, parliament, the media and city governments, particularly in nuclear weapons states, which has had impressive results, with hundreds of local governments expressing support for the treaty and generating discussion among the population. These initiatives serve the purpose of putting pressure on politicians and especially, to facilitate a discussion within democratic societies about the sustainability and risks involved in the possession and harboring of nuclear weapons.

Indeed, the TPNW has a long way to go and overcome many obstacles to achieve its objective, but in its first year of entry into force, it has already had an undeniable impact on the nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation debate, despite the expected skeptics and efforts to ignore its existence stemming from the still powerful nuclear deterrence establishment. Most of its technical experts, academics and government officials honestly believe that nuclear weapons have helped to guarantee peace and stability to the world and therefore should continue as the foundation of international security doctrines. These well-established ideas have been based on the questionable assumption that the deployment of these weapons have avoided war and can guarantee permanent peace for all nations. This has served as a sort of dogmatic idea for many decades, but recent research results have shown that the risks involved are significantly higher and that the humanitarian consequences would be catastrophic for every citizen of the planet. The humanitarian impact paradigm, which underlies the process that has inspired the TPNW, has provoked a tectonic shift in the nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation debate, which had been limited to the NPT review conferences with its often-frustrating results. Certainly, the persistence of the different approaches needs to be addressed in a more constructive discussion among the supporters of this treaty and the deterrence community.

Finally, the fact that the first meeting of states parties of the TPNW will take place in Vienna is very meaningful as Austria has been one of the leading nations in this process, particularly in drafting the Humanitarian Pledge to fill the legal gap for the prohibition of nuclear weapons, which has been a decisive step towards the treaty that has already fulfilled that commitment. Despite of all the difficulties and the persistence of significant resistance, the active and committed participation of diplomats and Civil Society representatives, under the leadership of Austria, allow to envisage that this first meeting will help to strengthen the treaty and move forward in the long and burdensome road to the final objective of achieving a world free of nuclear weapons.

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International Law

Regional Mechanisms of Human Rights: The Way Forward: Case of South Asia

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Long debates have evolved since the 1948 UDHR as to whether human rights should always be perceived as universal, or whether they need to be regarded as contextual on regional and local cultures. If we look at  Art. 2 of the UDHR the rights apply “with no distinction given to their race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status”. Still in spite of this, the universality has been criticized by some, who argue that by claiming human rights are universal, we ignore and undermine the cultural differences that exist between societies in different parts of the world

Historically, the first written evidence of human rights was found in the famous universal declaration in 1215 A.D., popularly known as the ‘Magna Carta’. Along with the same, there were many thinkers like Hobbes, Locke Rousseau, Milton, and Voltaire who argued in favour of  individual rights and with passage of time and the conclusion of two world wars, the United Nations Organisation came into being on 24th October 1945 that replaced the League of Nations.

Further, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that was established in 1948 and is considered a milestone in the field of human rights whose primary aim is to protect and promote human rights. In contrast to the said aim, the critics of the UDHR label it as a Western-biased document that fails to account for the cultural norms and values which exist in the rest of the world. It is only with regard to a group of certain core rights like that are listed in the human rights treaties as ‘non-derogable rights’ or considered jus cogens such as the prohibition of the use of force, the law of genocide, the principle of racial non- discrimination, crimes against humanity, and the rules prohibiting trade in slaves and piracy that consensus among nations exist.

The core of the issue is that a group of nations are seeking to redefine the content of the term “human rights” according to their own social and cultural experiences as they argue that the principles enshrined in the Universal Declaration reflect Western values and not their own. These countries sign many international human rights treaties and conventions, but the use of reservations and internal obstacles

jeopardize their implementation. Such claims of social and cultural differences in the past have been dismissed by the western countries and the USA who dismissed such claims as being a screen behind which authoritarian governments can perpetuate abuses.

Coming to South Asian Nations, there does exist violations of human rights in India as there is an absence of any regional framework that can hold the government responsible for the acts committed or provide a forum to individuals to appeal against the decisions of the Courts like the one existing under European Court of Human Rights. To illustrate, the aspect of women’s rights needs consideration and improvement in the daily lives of women to meet the gap between formal rights and actual implementation of the same.  What this means is that there exists a necessity to focus on translating the universal values enshrined under International human rights to local contexts that is the only option available to human beings irrespective of the geographical location to the ideals of equality and freedom from discrimination

In this context, there arises a need for establishing regional and sub- regional human rights codes or conventions. This has also been recognized by the United Nations since in absence of a universal approach that the South Asian states refuse to adopt, it is through regional initiatives that the motives of human rights could be achieved. The need for a regional initiative becomes even more significant because unlike Europe, America, and Africa there is no inter-governmental regional system for human rights protection in South Asia. In practice, the reason cited is that the human rights debate revolves around the South Asian views or perspectives. Although the South Asian governments have ratified international human rights instruments, they fail to reflect in the national constitutions or laws of most governments.

The fact that human rights will enjoy certain specificity in South Asia, still to be elaborated and applied, however, does not mean less for the universality of human rights. The reason being that the international human rights do not originate from merely one homogenous European value system or culture, but from various heterogeneous sources, some of these existing in the long history of South Asia. Thus, human rights are universal not only in their applicability to all human beings in every corner of the world, but are also universal because they originated from every corner in the world.

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