In the early hours of January 3, missiles launched by a USAF MQ9 Reaper slammed into a convoy exiting the Baghdad International Airport, killing Iranian Major General Qassem Soleimani and Abu Mahdi al-Mohandes, deputy commander of an Iraqi militia. General Soleimani was the leader of the elite Quds Force within Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. The top general was an icon in Iran, close to the Supreme Leader Khamenei, commanded a vast public following and was tipped to be a future political leader.
This airstrike ordered by President Trump signifies an escalation in deteriorating US-Iran relations ever since break down of the JCAP nuclear deal and imposition of sanctions. As the situation in middle east threatens to spin out of control, doubts about the legality of the strike arise both at home and abroad.
This article, thus seeks to analyse the issue from an international law perspective, a pertinent question now that Iran has denounced the killing as an act of international terrorism and announced its intention to resort to international legal measures “to hold the United States to account for the assassination of Qassem Soleimani”.
Legality of the attack
In light of the 1976 Executive order banning assassinations by any US agency, and the 1973 Wars Resolution of the congress, restricting the president’s authority to introduce US forces into hostilities, the legality of the strike with respect to domestic US law is questionable in the first place. The manner in which the issue is decided will have implications on whether the Trump administration had acted as ‘rogue actor’ in conducting these attacks.
The January 3 attack happened a day after US Secretary of Defence Mark Esper warned in a press conference that ‘the game had changed’ and stated the govt.’s willingness to take pre-emptive action to protect American forces, in case of some indication of attacks.
In April 2019, US designated Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps, the country’s most powerful security organisation as a foreign terrorist organisation, an unprecedented move marking the first time when the US designated the entire military of another nation as a terror group. The designation laid the groundwork to engage its members outside the confines of conventional warfare between state armed forces. Yet, this unilateral designation by a state is of little value in justifying use of force in the international arena. For that matter, Iran too has designated USA as a state sponsor of terrorism, in response. Does that allow them to target American Generals and claim self-defence?
In the past, Presidents Obama and Trump both ordered the killings of Osama bin Laden and the Isis leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi respectively. However, the situation was radically different, the former’s ‘terrorist’ designation was universally acknowledged and Baghdadi’s death on the other hand took place in an active warzone in an ungoverned territory.
Targeted killing of specific commanders has been generally prohibited by the law of armed conflict dating from the Hague Conventions of 1907, and the Geneva Convention in 1949.
There are 2 possible ways in which an assassination can be justified as per international law – Firstly, if a formal state of war exists, in which case a foreign leader exercising command authority becomes a legitimate target. Secondly, exercising the right to self-defence under Article 51 of the UN Charter. The first ground is inapplicable as no formal authorisation from the US congress exists to wage war against Iran. Although the countries have been fighting proxy conflicts in the region, the same does not amount to a declared ‘state of war’ so as to justify the targeted killing of a high military official by surprise attack.
The United States seems to be leaning towards the second ground. Shortly after the attack, the Pentagon released a statement terming the strikes as a ‘defensive action’ undertaken at the president’s direction ‘to protect US personnel abroad’. It accused General Soleimani of planning to attack American diplomats and service members in the region and held him and the Quds Force ‘responsible for the deaths of American and coalition service members’ in past attacks including the rocket strike on a US facility on December 27th and the storming of the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad last week.
Historically, under customary International Law, even the right to self-defence is limited by necessity and proportionality, as per the Caroline Test(endorsed in the Nuremberg Trials in which USA was participant). It is understood to be used only in a ‘proportionate manner’ against an ‘imminent threat’. ‘Imminent’ is understood to be overwhelming and instant, leaving no other alternative.
Whether the criteria was fulfilled in the present case is a question of fact. As per the facts available till now, neither is fulfilled. The attack was disproportionate to the extent that it claimed the lives of up to 6 other people in the convoy. The nature of the threat posed by the General as his convoy was leaving the airport is unclear at this point. Secretary Pompeo till now has just dropped vague hints of pre-empting some ‘big action’. The strike may be justified if say the general was about to sign off on an attack against US personnel, but not if say he was going to a routine meeting as a representative of his state. The accusation of the general being responsible for past attacks is irrelevant to an ‘imminent threat’. It can even be argued that those attacks don’t meet the threshold of gravity to justify such open confrontation.
The United States is acutely aware of the intricacies of this legal argument, having already unsuccessfully used it in the case of Nicaragua v. United States, in which the ICJ ended up ordering it to pay compensation for assisting rebel forces and violating the sovereignty of Nicaragua.
Another perspective is that of Iraq, the attack took place in its sovereign territory, the capital itself, and resulted in the death of its citizens. Around 5000 US troops are already stationed in the country, as per a 2008 strategic framework agreement, acting in mostly advisory capacity in the war against ISIL. However, permission to station troops does not extend to a cart-blanche on use of force. In fact, the agreement expressly prohibits the United States from using Iraq’s territory as a launching point for attacks on other countries. The attack in question has no nexus with the purpose for which Iraq gave permission to station US troops, absence of its consent make legal justification even more difficult.
The legality of the strike is therefore entirely questionable as per international law in light of available facts. It is in the interests of all stakeholders that hostilities be undertaken in a measured manner within the confines of legality and proportionality. The precedent that was set on January 3rd is dangerous and opens an entirely new avenue in the spectrum of warfare with unpredictable consequences.
The coming days may end up being a time of reckoning for international legal institutions. The issue will continue to dodge the United States in the near future. Should open conflict erupt in the region, this questionable legality may make it difficult for the United States in obtaining UN Security Council backing or invoking Casus foe deris obligations under the NATO treaty for assistance by the alliance members.
The Exclusive Maritime Economic Zones in the Mediterranean
Nowadays all coastal countries are taking action at maritime level by creating Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZs) and this happens also in the already crowded Mediterranean, thus redesigning power projections, possible future agreements and future alliances.
It is Turkey, however, which has currently allied with al-Sarraj’s Tripolitania to avoid the harsh conditions that Cyprus and Greece have long imposed on its EEZ.
In principle, Turkey wants economic equality in Cyprus between the two ethnic groups, namely the Greek and the Turkish ones.
Therefore it forces -often manu militari – the external exploration ships to move away from the Cypriot sea, which is an excellent future extraction area.
Turkey’s idea – which has so far proved effective – serves to separate the Greek contact and continuity with the neighbouring maritime areas of Cyprus and Egypt, so as to avoid the Greek control of the EastMed gas pipeline and hence break the continuity line between Southern Europe and Africa, which is needed mainly by Italy.
It is useless to resort to more or less universal lawyers and courts of justice. We need to “carry the sword”, as Our Lord Jesus Christ also advises.
The new Turkish EEZ stretches from the Kas-Marmaris line, on the edge of the Kastellorizo island to the south of Crete, with a triangle that enters the maritime area between the EEZs of Greece, Cyprus and Egypt.
Clearly the aim is to isolate the Greek EEZ from the Cypriot and East and South Mediterranean ones, which have already been classified as particularly rich in oil and gas.
So far Turkey has not specified the precise geographical and geo-mathematical boundaries of its new EEZ, but Egypt has also dismissed it as “illegal” and Greece has branded it as “absurd”.
A possible strategic calculation is what makes us think that Turkey still regards al-Sarraj in Tripolitania as a card to play for a possible future victory against Khalifa Haftar. It is likely, however, that President Erdogan simply considers al-Sarraj the safest card to play anyway, thanks to his Westernist affiliations.
Westerners will not abandon al-Sarraj and his Tripolitania full of jihadists and Muslim Brothers. This is music to Erdogan’s ears, since he does not want to be left alone to hold the bag of a failed State, namely Tripolitania.
Either you are smart on your own – and Erdogan certainly is, besides being an expert strategist – or you trust other people’s stupidity and, in this case, nothing is better than Westerners’ foreign policy.
In principle, however, what is an EEZ? According to the 1982 Convention on the Law of the Sea, which fully entered into force on November 16, 1994, it is the largest sea area – which, however, cannot exceed 200 miles – in which a coastal State exercises its sovereign rights on the body of water for managing natural resources, such as fishing or the extraction of oil, gas or other substances, as well as for the ecological and biological protection of the marine environment. We should not overlook also scientific research into the sea environment, which is currently essential for technological evolution.
Unless otherwise provided for, theEEZ outer limit coincides with that of the continental shelf in which the State under consideration has the right to exploit mineral resources.
In this case, the EEZ may not even be proclaimed officially , but the coastal State has always exclusive and original rights on the continental shelf.
Italy – which is now the country of Farinelli and of the ancient tradition of the castratoopera singers – is also very cautious about the issue of the Turkish-Libyan EEZ. However, at the Cairo Summit held on January 8 last, Italy declared null and void the claims of Turkey and Tripolitania to oppose the claims of Greece, Cyprus and France.
As to Tripoli alone, however, an EEZ has already existed since 2009.
It unilaterally incorporates the Fisheries Protection Zone, established in 2005, but the Libyan capital of the West, namely Tripoli, has also declared it has held negotiations only with Greece. As Tripoli claims, said negotiations have ended due to the Greek claim to include in its EEZ a small island below Crete, namely Gaudo, which would have changed – to its benefit – the equidistance line between the Greek EEZ and Tripoli’s Exclusive Economic Zone.
In the discussion on the Mediterranean EEZs, however, Greece demands a rigid geographical equidistance enhancing its many islands while, currently, in maritime law there is a tendency to use a principle of proportionality between sea surfaces and length of coasts.
Hence Turkey has proposed to Tripoli a new border further north than the one accepted by Greece. This greatly enhances the coasts of Cyrenaica and Anatolia, but severely harms the rights of Crete and the Greek Dodecanese.
Greece, in fact, wants to establish its EEZ not in the Aegean Sea – which would be geographically and politically obvious, although it here clashes with a whole range of conflicting interests of Italy, Cyprus, Turkey, Egypt, Lebanon and Israel – but in the East Mediterranean.
For its Exclusive Economic Zone, Greece has long been seeking agreements with Italy and Albania, but Italy considers only the protection of its fisheries to be a priority, while Albania regards the 2009 Treaty as severely unfair to Albanian maritime interests.
After the harsh darkness of German financial operations against its small economy, Greece is now rebuilding its maritime policy and its modest, but intelligent power projection.
It is by no mere coincidence that Greece immediately wanted to take part in the European Maritime Awareness in the Strait of Hormuz (EMASOH), which would monitor commercial and non-commercial transit in the Strait of Hormuz.
EMASOH is led by France, which now has a close relationship with Greece against Turkey, and sees the participation of Belgium, Denmark, Greece, Italy, Germany, Holland and Portugal.
For the time being Greece has exploited the Cypriot harshness vis-à-vis Turkey, especially by granting exploration permits in areas delimited and bordered by the EEZs of Israel, Egypt and Cyprus.
Turkey strongly challenges this Greek maritime autonomy, supporting the right of the Turkish Cypriot community to collect their share of royalties and, in any case, considering part of the Greek EEZ – the one in which prospections have been authorized – to absolutely belong to Turkey.
The East-Med Gas Forum organized by Cyprus has so far stabilized relations between Crete, Israel and Egypt. The solution reached at the Forum, however, is inevitably written in the sand.
The real problem for Turkey, however, is the route of the new EastMed gas pipeline, which excludes the Turkish territory and part of the European market from the next gas pipeline planned by Turkey together with the Russian Federation.
So far the EU has not shown it accepts the document for the Turkish-Libyan EEZ.
In fact, however, the European Union cannot effectively oppose the Mediterranean countries that want to have a clearly excessive EEZ in relation to their coasts and economic weight.
As mentioned above, Italy has not signed the Memorandum of January 8 last in Cairo.
There are many reasons explaining this attitude: Italy does not like Turkey’s excessive autonomy, but it is not even happy with the Greek and Cypriot maritime projects, while France well protects its Total and hence also the agreement between Totaland ENI, between Cyprus and the Lebanese and Egyptian coasts.
Italy’s energy policy, which has never viewed the EastMed pipeline favourably, appreciates and enhances instead the Green stream pipeline from the Libyan (and Tunisian) coasts but, on the other hand, does not even effectively protect its own immediate interests in Libya or Tunisia.
The strategic link between Turkey’s and Tripoli’s policy, however, is based on a proven fact: the strenuous defense by the EU, Great Britain, Israel and the United States of the gas fields identified south and east of Cyprus.
Therefore Turkey must look elsewhere to certify its hegemony over oil and gas, which is a right of passage and not a right of production.
Also Colonel Gaddafi, however, had a very personal and sometimes imaginative idea of international maritime law.
In 1973 the Raìs included the entire Gulf of Sirte in the Libyan inland waters. In 2005 there was the proclamation of the Fishing Protection Zone 62 miles from the coasts of Gaddafi’s Jamahiriya. In 2009, however, there was also the new Libyan EEZ which stretched up to “what international law permitted”, as the Colonel of Sirte used to say, but it was a rather subjective interpretation of maritime law.
Cyprus, the real punctum dolens of Turkish maritime policy, already established its EEZs with Egypt (in 2003), the Lebanon (in 2007) and Israel (in 2010).
It should be recalled that Turkey has not yet its own EEZ, except for the one defined between Turkey and the Turkish Cypriot Republic, and it accepts the proposal of EEZ with al-Sarraj, while it actively opposes all oil operations in the East of Cyprus.
Greece has always been bound by NATO’s obligation not to exacerbate tensions with Turkey. It has therefore stopped the establishment of its own EEZ, but Turkey’s activism with Tripoli has changed the situation and hence also Greece’s geopolitical choices.
Certainly every State is anyway free to define its own EEZs, but it should ultimately be a right limited by binding international treaties. Currently, however, the legal-practical criteria are clear and sufficiently common: the first principle is geometric equidistance, while the median line is – almost always – the result of a free agreement between the Parties.
Moreover, the classic approach of equidistance was taken for delimiting the Turkish-Libyan EEZ. As mentioned above, a line was drawn from the waters directly behind Kastellorizo up to the Marmaris peninsula just in front of Rhodes, while the Libyan area of this EEZ goes from the geographical border of Cyrenaica with Egypt up to Derna.
The Greek islands, apart from Kharpatos, have been completely neglected by the Turkish EEZ, but certainly Greece cannot and does not want to deal directly with Cyrenaica or Tripoli.
Hence what can be done? Greece could immediately extend its territorial waters – which are currently still limited to 6 miles – to 12 miles. However, also Italy is involved since, following the 1985 decision of the European Court of Justice, it must set up its EEZ. The Court of Justice ruled that, while establishing their EEZs, both Malta and Libya should stop at meridian 15°10′, which is the one where the zone of interest of third countries begins – hence precisely Italy.
Among these issues there is the extension – wanted by the Algerian government – of its EEZ to the Central-Western Sea of Sardinia, overlapping the Italian Ecological Protection Zone and the Italian-Spanish continental shelf.
There is long-standing tension between Spain and Algeria, due to the role of the new post-Franco Spain in the Spanish Sahara and its never denied support to the Frente Polisario y del Rio de Oro, as well as to a vast sequence of old and new conflicts.
The political meaning of the Algerian operation is obvious: as from now Algeria wants to consider itself a frontline State compared to France, which, moreover, has extended its territorial waters up to Ventimiglia and Menton, with an agreement signed secretly in 2015 between Italy and France – an agreement which, strangely enough, grants to France the fishy areas of Cimitero, Fuori Sanremo, Ossobuchi, Vapore and Banco.
“Sanremo’s red prawns are a dream”, as the Genoese Paolo Conte sang in Genova per noi.
The agreement is not yet operational, but France has already involved the EU for its implementation.
Hence the Italian masochism does not only concern the Libyan coast.
However, there has been a sequence of creations of Mediterranean EEZs. Israel has defined its Exclusive Economic Zone by excluding the sea in front of Gaza, also for obvious security reasons, thus integrating its areas with those of Cyprus and Greece.
This has immediately led to Turkey’s reaction and it is well-known that Turkey is now the main point of reference for Hamas, the organization of the Muslim Brotherhood, in the Gaza Strip and in Sinai where Hamas also operates as a thorn in the flesh of the harshest enemy of the Muslim Ikhwan, namely Al Sisi’s Egypt.
In February 2018 units of the Turkish Navy blocked – rather harshly – a Saipem ship which was to explore and probably drill an underwater area off Cyprus, where Turkey had unilaterally declared the universal blockade of seabed exploration activities.
Moreover, in October 2019, Turkey started its oil and gas exploration in Block 7, which – as established by the Cypriot government – falls within the joint competence of Total and ENI.
Total – a French company re-founded after the Second World War by the former French intelligence agent Guillermet -was given 20% of the Cypriot Blocks 2 and 9 (the same amount previously held by the Cypriot company Kogas), and 30% of Block 3 – with ENI down to 50% – and also 40% of Block 8, previously totally in ENI’s hands.
On the one hand, in June 2018 ENI discovered the large Egyptian underwater field, namely Noor, which is already the most important one in the Mediterranean and could radically change Egypt’s economy and power projection.
Hence, on the other hand, Turkey is holding tight the whole underwater oil and gas area of the sea around Cyprus- even extending it to the coasts of Cyrenaica – so as to maintain its status as a global oil hub between East and West and counterbalance the oil expansion of Egypt, Israel, the Greek part of Cyprus and the Lebanon.
As already mentioned, the issue of the Algerian EEZ is particularly interesting, if only our governments had any idea of what the national interest.
It should be recalled that Algeria established its new EEZ on March 20, 2018.
As is well known, the border applies also to the seabed: the Algerian area partly overlaps the Hispanic-Italian continental shelf and the Italian Ecological Protection Zone, to the west of Sardinia, with the Algerian EEZ stretching north-westwards, in the Gulf of Oristano, up to reaching the waters of Portovesme, Sant’Antioco, Carloforte (the area where the best Italian tunafish is produced), Oristano, Bosa and Alghero.
The cusp of the Algerian area (coordinates 40°21’31” N and 06°50’35” E) is about 60 miles from the coast of Sardinia, but 196 miles from the Algerian coast.
The Algerian EEZ replaces the old Fisheries Protection Zone (FPZ) established in 1994, which had a maximum distance of 40 miles from the Algerian coast of Ras Tenes and, as things stand now, seems a clear imitation of the new Turkish-Libyan EEZ – to Italy’s detriment, of course.
We should also recall the proposals for maritime expansion by some States in the East. The Levantine Sea is very rich in oil, as well as the Ionian Sea, where Greece is supposed to have designs on its oil and gas.
There is also the sea south of Crete, now seized and requisitioned by Turkey, but also the Adriatic Sea, which is currently exploited for natural gas by Croatia and Montenegro.
The proposal for establishing an Italian EEZ was submitted to the Chamber of Deputies on December 20, 2019, while the proposal for the establishment of a Ministry of the Sea lies idle in the Senate.
Certainly, Turkey has recently granted to al-Sarraj’s Libya a very “generous” loan of 2.7 billion US dollars, but – as noted above – Turkey wants to become the one and only energy hub of the whole Mediterranean, both for the lines coming from Russia and the Caucasus and for those originating from the Mare Nostrum.
Blue Stream, South Caucasus Pipeline, Southern Gas Corridor, TANAP and the Turkish Stream are all elements of a future Turkish hegemony in the energy world, which is Erdogan’s top priority.
Italy cannot be excluded from all these sectors and, regardless of the government in office, it shall anyway not leave ENI alone and finally conceive an Italian geopolitics in the Mediterranean, which is clearly missing today.
Financial Action Task Force (FATF)
FATF is an independent and inter-governmental organization, which was established in 1989 by G7 countries (UK, France, United States, Germany, Canada, Italy, and Japan) .It is formed by the governments for the governments. This organization develops and promote policies to protect the global financial system against money laundering and terrorist financing and the financing of proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. This organization have total 39 member countries and headquarter is in Paris, France(International Standard/FATF/Combating terrorism, 2012-2019)This organization observing all the countries of the world regarding money laundering, terrorist financing and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction according to its own standards and rules. Whenever a country found involved in one of these type of activities FATF takes very strong steps against that country. FATF have two types of lists, one is “Gray list” and another is “Blacklist”. Whenever a country pushed in one of these list so its economy suffer a lot. Now recently Pakistan is in the Gray list. According to Foreign of Pakistan, “Sha Muhammad Qureshi”, Pakistan losses annually $10 billion due to its existence in the Gray list. Now Iran and North Korea are in the Black list of FATF. In collaboration with other international stakeholders, the FATF also works to identify the national-level vulnerabilities with the aim of protecting the international finance system from misuse.
Background of the FATF
Related threats to the integrity of the international financial system FATF was established in 1989 by the ministers of its member jurisdiction. The only purpose was to keep and control money laundering, terrorist financing and financing for the weapons of mass destruction. In the early stages FATF was only for the black money-those money which was producing from drugs and other illegal activities then the 9/11 attacks changed its priorities and dimensions. FATF jurisdiction extended over other types of activities also, like Terrorist financing, money laundering and financing for weapon of mass destruction. The threat posed to the banking system, G-7 Heads of the states or government and European commission convened the Task Force from the G-7 member states, the European commission and eight other countries (FATF.org.history, 1989-2019).
Recommendation of FATF
In order to combat money laundering, terrorist financing and financing for weapons of mass destruction FATF have set up a comprehensive recommendations and consistent framework of measures which countries should implement. Every country have diverse legal, administrative and operational frameworks and different financial system and so cannot take all identical measures to counter these threats. The FATF Recommendations, therefore, set an international standards, which countries should implement through measures adapted to their particular circumstances. The FATF Recommendations set out the essential measures that countries should have in place to:
-Identify the risks, and develop policies and domestic coordination;
-Pursue the money laundering, terrorist financing and the financing of proliferation;
-Apply preventive measures for the financial sector and other designated sectors;
-Establish powers and responsibilities for the competent authorities ( e.g., investigative, law enforcement and supervisory authorities ) and other institutions measures;
-Enhance the transparency and availability of beneficial ownership information of legal persons and arrangements; and
-Facilitate international cooperation.
Pakistan on FATF Gray List
The international watchdog against money laundering and financing of terrorism, the “Financial Action Task Force” has put Pakistan on a list of “jurisdiction with strategic deficiencies”, also known as the gray-list. The Financial Action Task Force has decided in principle that Pakistan will remain on its gray list till next February and directed Islamabad to take ‘extra measures’ for complete elimination of terror financing and money laundering. The reason is according to “FATF” Pakistan have structural deficiencies in anti-money laundering (AML) and combating financing of terrorism. There are also countries in the FATF’s gray-list: Ethiopia, Serbia, Sir Lanka, Syria, Trinidad, and Tobago, Tunisia and Yemen. This is not the first time Pakistan has found itself on one of FATF’s list- the country was there in 2008 and from 2012 to 2015 and now again in 2018 (Khan, 2019).
It is “highly probable” that Pakistan will be formally black listed by global terror funding and money laundering watchdog FATF if it does not swiftly act against terror funding by February 2020. The Paris based FATF took the decision after its five day plenary, which concluded in the French capital.
“FATF” Implications on Pakistan
Financial Action Task Force (FATF) may put at risk the impending $6 billion IMF bailout- because this organization have very strong coordination with the economic institution like, IMF, World Bank etc. whenever a country don’t comply and don’t take cautious and precious steps regarding terrorist financing, money laundering and financing for weapons of mass destruction according to the FATF recommendations and FATF international standards so that country could involve in economic difficulties. The same case is with Pakistan, Iran, North Korea, Sri Lanka, Ethiopia, Serbia etc (Dhawan, jun 20, 2019).
Pakistan would get loans costlier, with higher interest and with strict conditions. Because “FATF” have very strong coordination with other Economic institutions, they tell them that this country is not safe for loans. May be your loans go in the wrong hands. Whenever a trust-deficit creates between the FATF and a country that’s creates a lot of economic problems to that country. This is the institution that give advises and recommendations to other economic institutions regarding a country economic situation and circumstances. This is very influential inter-governmental organization.
When a country come in “FATF” gray list that country couldn’t take loans easily, the rating and borrowing capacity goes down. The most important thing that investors don’t come to that country which happens in “FATF” gray list. Those countries if want international transactions it takes long time and scrutiny also increase and it does business loss. According to Foreign Minister of Pakistan “Sha Muhammad Qureshi” that due to the existence of Pakistan in gray list of “FATF” Pakistan annually loses $6 billion.
There is also another list with “FATF” that is called “Blacklist”, this very crucial and danger list. If Pakistan were pushed in the Blacklist so the $6 billion “IMF” bailout package would be cancelled and the government of Pakistan would more suffer from economic problems and will get corner on international level. With this inflation would increase, unemployment etc. The proposal was put by the United State of States of America, UK, and France against Pakistan. They claimed that Pakistan should put in the FATF blacklist but so far they didn’t succeed because of Turkey, and Malaysia support in the voting the request was rejected.
UN Security Council reform high on the agenda
Russia’s acting Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov made it clear once again recently that it is high time the United Nations Security Council had among permanent members representatives of India, Brazil and the African continent. Speaking at the “Raisina Dialogue” International Conference in New Delhi, Mr.Lavrov reminded the participants in the event about Moscow’s consistent appeals for the UN Security Council to clear the current uncertainty and invite representatives from developing countries as permanent members.
The UN Security Council plays a crucial role in the United Nations Organization – the world’s most authoritative forum for countries to coordinate their positions and secure their interests in nearly all spheres of human activity. Under the UN Charter, the Security Council answers for «maintaining peace and global security». Thus, revamping the United Nations and modernizing the entire architecture of global governance are hardly possible without an overhaul of this highly important international institution. One of the major issues to be addressed in the course of the UN reform «is to search for ways to ensure the interests of all regions and guarantee the appropriate representation of all countries»[i]. Given the situation, many UN member countries call for the enlargement of the UN Security Council.
At present, the UN Security Council consists of 15 member countries, five of which are permanent members – Britain, China, Russia, the United States and France. Each of the five permanent members enjoys the right of veto which blocks the adoption of a resolution if necessary. The other ten non-permanent members are elected for 2 years, so half of non-permanent members are replaced every year. The year 1992 marked the beginning of talks on the reform of the UN Security Council at the government level. The issue of Security Council enlargement has been under discussion since 1994. In the spring of 2005 UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan suggested increasing the composition of the Security Council to 24 members, including by extending the number of permanent members to embrace India, Brazil, Germany and Japan. Intergovernmental negotiations on the reform of the UN Security Council have been on since 2009, «in the format of an unofficial plenary session of the UN General Assembly». According to the Russian Foreign Ministry, the parties involved still demonstrate «substantial differences ….on all key issues».
The only time the number of UN Security Council members changed was in 1963, when the number of non-permanent members rose from six to ten, while the total number of member countries increased from 11 to 15. The law makes it possible to «radically reconsider» the UN Charter and revise the powers of the Security Council. Article 109 of the UN Charter allows for introducingchanges to the UN Charter through convening «a general conference of UN members with the support of two thirds of members of the General Assembly and nine members of the Security Council». In this case none of the permanent members of the Security Council has the right of veto.. However, no precedents of this have been reported in UN history so far. Sceptics fear that the attempt to change the Charter in such a manner may result in the elimination of the United Nations.
Sergei Lavrov has repeatedly dwelled in detail on Russia’s position on the issue of expanding the make-up of the UN Security Council. Russia is in favor of increasing the number of members of the Security Council. Meanwhile, the reform should not have a negative impact on the governance and effectiveness of the Security Council. “Efficiency in operation” is one of the key principles. Another principle is that all regions, all centers of world development should be represented. The most reasonable number of members is “a bit over 20” [ii]. In January this year, Sergei Lavrov emphasized yet again Moscow’s commitment to the principle of fair representation of all the leading regions of the world, with the mandatory participation of developing countries. In this context, the head of Russian diplomacy said, “we maintain that India and Brazil fully deserve a seat on the UN Security Council, along with a representative of Africa. We believe that the goal of the UN Security Council reform should be to ensure a better attitude to developing countries from the main body of the Organization ”[iii].
The absence of India among permanent members of the Security Council seems particularly illogical in the past few years, if not decades. At present, India is the world’s second in the number of people residing there. And by 2025, according to UN experts, it will become the most densely populated country in the world [iv]. India has nuclear weapons. Since coming to power in May 2014, India’s incumbent leadership has been pursuing a course to strengthen the country’s international standing and its status as a regional leader and “a global player to be reckoned with”. The economy of India by nominal GDP, according to the IMF, is the world’s 5th.
All major states of Greater Asia, which is steadily turning into a global political and economic hub, as well as all external powers, signal interest in close cooperation with New Delhi while pursuing both tactical and strategic, long-term agendas. However, there are grounds to believe that in the foreseeable future, India will try to maintain its commitment to yet more pragmatic than before strategy of “non-alignment”. This would mean that New Delhi will be able to play not only an increasingly prominent role in Asia, but will also become one of the main candidates to speak for a considerable number of developing countries. India will thus be among those who seek to avoid being squeezed into the rigid quasi-block structures of the new configuration of international system.
Unlike Asia, Latin America and Africa are “nowhere” among permanent members. However, the two regions cannot come to consensus on nominating a single candidate. Among the most promising candidates from Latin America experts name Argentina, Brazil and Mexico. Brazil, according to the IMF, is currently the number one economy in Latin America, the second in the Western Hemisphere and 8th in the world. Its economic and industrial sectors, unlike most of its neighbors’, are well diversified. The country has succeeded in avoiding the “resource trap”. In terms of population, Brazil is sixth in the world. The potential of the Brazilian army among the states of the Western hemisphere is considered to be the second after America
. However, a number of Russian experts say that some of the current leadership of Brazil came to power under the slogan of criticizing “Brazil’s participation in multilateral international forums.” [vi]
In the past ten to fifteen years, Africa has been attracting ever more attention of international community. The rapid growth of the continent’s population along with an increase in the share of the working population can, under certain conditions, contribute to economic growth, Republic.ru says. A number of experts believe that the African economy is capable of as impressive an economic breakthrough as Southeast Asia made in the second half of the 20th century. This is a fact acknowledged by all the leading powers. According to the Economist, between 2010 and 2016, more than three hundred new foreign diplomatic missions opened in African countries.
At present, Africa unofficially has three seats of non-permanent members ofthe Security Councils. South Africa, Egypt and Nigeria are competing for the right to represent Africa in the Security Council on a permanent basis. In the context of the transformation of the system of international relations, the development of ties between 54 African countries promises a lot in terms of boosting geopolitical influence. The opinions of African countries will play an increasingly prominent role in many international forums and in international institutions. However, given the current situation, Africans no longer need to “take sides.” They can work effectively with different competing powers at a time. Pragmatists in the African leadership know only too well how important it is to maintain a constructive balance of interests amid competition between global powers.
Overall, it appears that a possible strengthening of the positions of India and Brazil in the UN would give a new impetus to their potential in terms of their ability to offset the influence of other powers, both regionally and globally. India and Brazil, together with Russia, China, and Africa’s second economy, South Africa, are already successfully promoting the principles of a multipolar and fair world order within BRICS. They are also developing cooperation with other leading powers in the G20. In the economic sphere, Brasilia and New Delhi are expanding cooperation with other developing countries, providing them with significant assistance in developing modern sectors of the economy, increasing their competitiveness and developing their entrepreneurship. As for Africa, as Sergei Lavrov said in an interview with Hommes d’Afrique in 2018, the appearance of an African representative in the UN Security Council alone can add “more value” to its work [vii].
Skeptics fear that any enlargement of the Security Council, quantitative or geographical, “with the preservation of the right of veto and the apparent differences among permanent members on fundamental international issues … will make the process of reaching agreements more complicated” [viii]. Indeed, as new centers of international influence become stronger, the risks of collisions and clashes of interests between parties involved are bound to increase. Under these conditions, all proposals coming from Moscow are aimed at adjusting the work of the UN Security Council so as this key United Nations body will be able to not only preserve, but also to cement its role as a top platform for resolving the inevitable world controversies.
In particular, it is necessary to overcome the dangerous trend that has emerged in recent decades. We mean that a number of states tend to bypass the Security Council, at times even trying to circumvent the entire system of international law. Sergei Lavrov pointed this out in the course of discussions under the auspices of the “Raisina Dialogue”. “If you have noticed, our Western partners are making less and less use of the language of international law. Instead, they have coined a new term, which they refer to as the “rule-based order.” “One-sided methods and the attempts to impose one’s selfish ideas on others are moving us more and more away from solving global challenges of transnational nature.” In this regard, a number of Russian observers make it clear that Brazil and India “call for a comprehensive strengthening of the system of international law” [ix].
The need for restructuring the UN Security Council, despite certain difficulties, is beyond doubt. What is also clear is the fact that there are new candidate countries worthy of taking the place of permanent members of the key United Nations body. However, an occasional feeling that the UN Security Council has chosen to “retreat” or that it has been “paralyzed”, without any doubt, does nothing to improve the reputation of either the Security Council or the United Nations as a whole. In these conditions, the international community needs to find solutions that will make the UN mechanisms better and more efficient without jeopardizing all the positive experience gained over the past decades. It is necessary to walk along the fine line that separates the continuation of constructive work in the absence of unanimity and the attempts to reach agreement at any cost.
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