Author’s: Tanaya Thakur and Amit Kumar*
The office of United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) has sought permission from the Supreme Court of India to intervene as amicus curiae in the writ petition dealing with the constitutional validity of Sections 2 and 6 of the Indian Citizenship Amendment Act 2019. No official confirmation of the petition having being filed is available as of yet; but an intervention application is widely being circulated on the internet. The Government of India through the Ministry of External Affairs condemned the OHCHR for interfering in its internal matter, stating that any foreign party does not have any locus standi on matters relating to state sovereignty.
The OHCHR has been established under the mandate of the United Nations General Assembly pursuant to UNGA Resolution 48/141. This resolution mandates that the OHCHR shall work towards promotion and protection of the effective enjoyment of all civil, cultural, economic, political and social rights by all individuals. The OHCHR is bound to respect the sovereignty, territorial integrity and domestic jurisdictions of the state. At the same time, it is also the duty of OHCHR to ensure that state’s fulfill their duty to protect human rights- by playing an active role in removing the obstacles in the way of full realization of human rights and preventing the continuation of human rights violations throughout the world; and by engaging in dialogue with Governments of all states for implementing the OHCHR’s mandate designed to secure respect for human rights.
The submissions made by the OHCHR in its amicus brief regarding questions of equality before law, non-discrimination, permissible differentiation, hold merit and should be given due weight age by the Apex Court. The concept of Public Interest Litigation is a dilution of locus standi; and the question of locus should not arise when sensitive matters of human rights, with international implications are at hand. Allowing the OHCR to act as amicus curiae in the petition would add a much needed dimension to the concept of public interest litigations. It has been through trials and errors that the Apex Court has realized the need for public interest petitions and a diluted understanding of locus has hence developed. Amicus curiae (literally, friend of the court) is a person or body which although not a party to a litigation; assists the court by furnishing information regarding any point of law or fact. As an international body working towards securing human rights obligations around the globe, the OHCHR could provide with expert opinions and insights on questions of human rights; that are allegedly being violated by the CAA. The opinion of an independent body may provide the Court with a fresh perspective to determine whether the CAA is violating international obligations undertaken by India or not. The involvement of OHCHR becomes all the more relevant in the present scenario considering that the CAA deals with issues of international migration from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh. Thus, the Act could not only be potentially violating the human rights concepts of equality and non-discrimination; but also the arguably customary international law principles of non-refoulment.
The OHCHR works in close contact with the Human Rights Council, an inter-governmental body within the United Nations responsible for promotion and protection of human rights around the globe. Under the Council’s mandate all UN member states are to participate in a universal periodic review (UPR), where the human rights records of these states are assessed – providing states with an opportunity to improve the implementation of human rights. The OHCHR’s relationship with the HRC gives it an opportunity to study the human rights situations in various nations. Coupled with the fact that it has been established to enhance human rights protection, co-ordinate between international and regional human rights bodies, and engage with states to develop human rights; the OHCHR has the responsibility to ensure that state actions do not result in human rights violations. Under international law, the judiciary is considered to be an organ of the state. Hence, the OHCHR does not exceed its mandate by petitioning to act as amicus curiae in a human rights related matter before the Supreme Court.
The fundamental argument by India against OHCHR is that the Citizenship Amendment Act is a domestic matter and hence should not be interfered with. Ironically, through the Act India could itself be said to violate the principles of non-interference in sovereign matters of other states. The reason provided in the Act for differential treatment to members of certain religious communities from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh is that these are minority communities in Islamic states and are often faced with religious persecution. Going by the argument of internal matter; India should not have passed an Act in light of the prosecution of religious minorities in foreign states. However, the question of protection of human rights superseded the issue of non-interference in domestic matters. Similarly, OHCHR’s application for submission of amicus brief should not be considered interference in domestic matter of a sovereign state; rather should be welcomed as a step in enhancing the human rights discourse in the state.
It should also be kept in mind that when a state becomes party to an international agreement, it cedes some part of its sovereignty. As held by the Permanent Court of International Justice (PCIJ) in the SS Wimbledon case; the nature of international law is such that it imposes certain limitations on state sovereignty. What also needs to be appreciated is that the limitation placed on the exercise of sovereign rights is in itself a manifestation of sovereignty. Thus, when India became a party to the United Nations and a signatory to international instruments on human rights, such as, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), its covenants, Convention against Torture, and others; it willingly agreed to abide by the principles laid down in them. If any legislation violates these instruments and has the potential of affecting a large number of people, as in the case of CAA, states cannot claim internal sovereignty as a defence. Moreover, OHCHR’s intervention has been made in India’s domestic forum and the Supreme Court has every right to hear the petition and then decide on merits. Mere intervention as amicus does not bind the Supreme Court to accept each argument put forth by OHCHR. However, an opportunity to be heard should be given to OHCHR considering the gravity of the issue at hand.
The petition not only brings forth pertinent legal issues; but has also presented us with a chance to introspect our own domestic human rights organizations. The arguments put forth in the petition should have come from the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) which has been mandated to intervene in court proceeding relating to any allegation of violation of human rights. NHRC’s non-intervention in the matter after repeated requests by civil societies and non-governmental bodies symbolizes the failure of domestic machineries placed to secure protection of human rights. Had the domestic machineries been successful in fulfilling their functions, the question of international intervention would not have arisen.
This is not the first time that the OHCHR has intervened in a human rights issue before domestic or regional courts. Previously, the Office has intervened in the Supreme Court of US, UK, Korea, and the European Court of Human Rights in matters of human rights. Intervening as amicus has gradually become a mechanism for communicating the international aspects of human rights to states. The interventions have also at times helped in furthering human rights discourse. Through the petition, OHCHR has done nothing more than remind India of its international obligations. The Indian Constitution through Article 51 itself directs India to foster respect for international law and treaty obligations. By accepting the application and considering it on merits, the Supreme Court has an opportunity to analyze international human rights dimensions that could otherwise have gone ignored. The question of locus standi should not stand in the way of developing a better human rights protection mechanism in the country and the Supreme Court as the custodian of the Constitution should not shy away from developing a more inclusive human rights jurisprudence.
*Authors are Research Scholars at, IIT Kharagpur (RGSOIPL). They have completed their masters in international law from South Asian University, New Delhi.
The Relevance of International Relations Theory in Community Policing
Community policing in general refers to adopting such measures by law enforcement agencies specifically police where closer ties between the community and the police tends to prevent crime rather than police responding to the incidents of crime once it has taken place. Community policing as a concept implies its meaning in the realm of ‘’public good’’. This concept of public good in itself is shadowed by another broad concept of ‘’order’’. These two concepts go hand in hand so that so peace is achieved as an end. Both ‘’public good’’ and ‘’order’’ lies at the center of community policing.
As identified above, one of the central tenants of community policing which is ‘’Order’’ or ‘’Structure’’ is a concept embedded in the theoretical approach of ‘’Neo-Realism’’ as well. The relevance of this approach of Neo-Realism in the study of community policing is validated by the fact that Police as an institution functions with obligations to its institutional structure. Therefore, the role of police is molded by its presumed authority. It is here where the point of convergence is established between the idea of community policing and neo-realism. Neo-realism which is also called structural realism contends that it is the architecture of the international system that determines state behavior. So that so, in whatever manner the structure of the international system is designed, state’s actions will be in accordance to that structure.
The approach adopted in this paper is to debate the concept of community policing from two different lenses. One such approach as mentioned above is Neo-realism and another one can be Realism as a general theoretical perspective. These two approaches are debated in such a manner that it complements the study of community policing. The reason to incorporate these two concepts is to evaluate community policing from a specific to a general lens. In a theoretical frame of reference this means that it to debate this concept from the level of analysis perspective of international relations.
In the general frame of ideas, the fundamental aim on which community policing is predicated is ‘’prevention of crime’’. The outlook of the practices taken upon by the police personnel are all in alignment of this aim which may include building better relations with the community and developing trust between and among all the stakeholders. It is in this sense that the theoretical framework of international relations theories is worth exploring in accordance with the concept of community policing. In any inquiry of social sciences, the basic purpose of incorporating theory is because theory is what explains the practice and helps to build a better understanding of the social circumstances which affects the lives of people.
Community policing as a concept when deconstructed consists of two major ideas. At the core of it exists the idea of ‘’public good’’ and another one is the idea of ‘’order’’. Public good remains the end goal, whereas the idea of ‘’order’’ is the function of its structure. It is therefore necessary to understand the function of this concept in order to draw justifiable conclusions.
Neo-Realist Perspective on Community Policing
The neo-realist perspective of international relations builds upon the premise that the structure of the international order is the primary determinant of state’s actions. That is to say that if the dilemma of threat exists between two states, and one state is compelled to act in accordance to that to take up measures which ensures its survival then this is due to the prevalent structure or environment of the international order. In this case, state’s actions in a way becomes subservient to the structure. On the other hand, in a community of people, where police personnel are as credible actors as a state is in the international system, his/her actions also are subservient to the prevalent structure of the institution of police as whole. The liberty to exercise power is informed by the institutional obligations which exists upon the personnel. Therefore, the principle of ‘’order’’ which can also be referred to as ‘’structure’’ can determine the extent of prevention of crime rate in a certain community. The structure then has direct effects on behavior of the police personnel.
Realist Perspective on Community Policing
Before dwelling into the explanation of the realist perspective and into relevance to community policing, it is essential to point out why this is being discussed after neo-realism, since realism as a theory of international relations is a broader and a more conventional concept than neo-realism. The primary reason for this is because the argument of community policing is drawn from the behavior of ‘’individual’’ which functions under an institution, therefore the approach undertaken is from specific to general. In that regard, it was essential to debate the structure of the institution which affects the behavior of the personnel first and subsequently debating the role of the broader perspective of realism.
Realism is a theory which is predicated upon the idea that the primary source of conflict in international system is prevalent because states in general seek to maximize their power. The power struggle undertaken by states then translates into security dilemma and balance of power between states. So as to ensure a position of relative advantage against each other. Applying this theory to the concept of community policing, it manifests itself in a manner where the community police is presumed as one actor and the people of the community is considered to be another actor. Both these actors, function with relative powers to each other. Where the police functions with more explicit power of ‘’force’’, the people of the community function with the mobilizing power of ‘’rights’’ and ‘’democracy’’ which is more explicitly referred to as the power of ‘’vote’’. Here the dimension of power maximization applies to both the actors in terms of conflict of interest. As it happens in the international arena, as a bargaining failure of diplomacy leads to states confronting each other by other means, similarly in a community, where both the law enforcing agencies and the people of the community diverge over a conflict of interest, such as wrongfully accusing an individual of a crime which builds a negative perception of the police in the minds of the general public leads to resentment. This, then translates into people being mobilized against the law enforcing agencies. In response to which, the police would further build its capacity to confront the rebels since they usually are in larger numbers. The concept of dilemma then in this realm does exist as enshrined in the philosophy of realism as well. Here dilemma exists where both parties, the law enforcement agencies and the people of the community understand that their relationship is regulated by the nexus of the amount of force that police can use against the people and the authority that is given to them implicitly by the people by putting their trust in the governance system. Therefore, community policing as a concept is predicated to evade the dilemma of mutual conflict and as it happens with the business of one state with the other, where they pursue diplomacy to reach any mutual point of interest; Similar is the case with community policing which aims to establish peace and harmony through public diplomatic channels.
Both these theoretical perspectives then provide insights into how they can actually be debated upon in the study of community policing. It informs the function community policing as well as analyzes its main contours.
A leader of the third world has to lead a movement for reformation of the International law
It is by no means a hyper reality that China has accelerated its geo political influence around the world this year despite the criticism of the West on China’s negligence in concealing the COVID 19 at outset. China being one of the permanent members of security council has widely contributed to the UN system. In this single modern global market, the People’s Republic of China has arguably become the manufacturing hub of the world in producing a large number of goods than any other western country, besides that it has also become the world’s second largest importer of goods. Today the realm of bargaining power in the positivistic international law is completely based in the idea of power politics and the US stands as its cradle beyond a doubt. I would mention America as leader of the first world and China as leader of the third world. As the leader of the western world, the United States relentlessly works for its political, economic and legal dominance, which it has been enjoyed for plenty of years. The third world, which is considered to be the group of states known for its extreme poverty, civil wars, unrest and unemployment, has realized that poverty would become an inevitable obstacle in the process of its development. Mohammed Bedjaoui , who had served as a judge on the International Court of Justice, clearly claimed in his great astonishing work “ Towards a New International Economic Order” that “ It is western exploitation that leads to the poverty of the third world. “The third world pays for the rest and leisure of the inhabitants of the developed world,” and that “Europe created, and the United States has appreciably aggravated, most of the problems which face the third world”.
International law governing the rights and duties of states is perpetually and predominantly being dominated by the first world and its embodiment that is the United States. In this research article, I am going to discuss two essential things which are: what China has to do to reform the west constructed International law and as well as why China should lead a movement of the third world for its reformation?
For knowing these queries, we have to note the origins of International law down and how it works in today’s world?
If we have a look at the brief history of International law, International law has its roots in diverse European civilizations. To say in simple terms, International law is Eurocentric. Natural law which is also considered as a part of International law was developed by ancient Christian thinkers whose ideas were rooted in the Greco Roman ideas on rights and justice, in the due course of time those ideas were imbued with the Catholic theological virtues. However, it was such a sense of sheer irony that ideas such as natural law venerated by the Catholic thinkers were later used to legitimize the colonial expansion in the 16th century. For instance Francesco Vittoria who has been regarded as one of pioneers of modern international law used the very concept of natural law as Spanish justification of its rights over Indian territories in America. Let us turn towards modern International law. Modern International law primarily developed based on two concepts that are the concept of State practice and International treaties.
On the one hand, most of the global scholars perceive the United Nations charter as a founding International treaty of International law that contains rights and duties of states. On the other hand, the third world scholars perceive the United Nations as a founding organization of colonial imperialistic powers. There is a general perception among third world International law scholars that the Security Council of the United Nations is completely dominated and run by the colonial turned imperial powers. Four members out of the five in the Security Council were purely colonial countries who had ruled and economically exploited the world for centuries. The Security Council has also arguably been Eurocentric which is consisted of more western states embodying their own interests. Security Council is the principal organ of the United Nations, which mostly enjoys veto power. Permanent members may use the veto to defend their national interests. Over the years, in history of the Security Council, the United States has used the veto power more than other permanent member for defending west interests including Israeli interests. Most importantly, the third world has no effective role to play and to defend its interests in this globalised world. The colonial super powers met in San Francisco, to establish a predecessor to the League of Nations, have not granted independence to a number of African and Asian countries. Most of the third world countries became independent after establishing the United Nations.
Finally, we reached to the end. I would conclude this article by answering questions that I have put above. The structure of the United Nations is based on the charter of the United Nations, which is considered as a founding document of modern International law. In this way, the United Nations charter grants more absolute powers to the Security Council where third world countries do not have participation. The leader of the third world China must wage a movement for developing countries to reform the Security Council. China has to collaborate with a group of developing countries for removing global financial power that lies with the Bretton Woods Institutions. Obviously, most of the power lies with the Bretton Woods Institutions, where western nations exercise the power on the rest of the world. So far, third world was exploited. So, the rest of the world outside the west has to demand for new international economic order, which would work for developing states.
UN at 75: The Necessity of Having a Stronger & More Effective United Nations
October 24, 2020, marks the 75th anniversary of the United Nations. In this context, this article investigates the necessity of having a stronger UN for the benefits of the world’s people. In fact, if one looks at the past, the UN came up in 1945 in response to the Second World War for a more stable, secured, and peaceful world. And the UN has been successful to a larger extent to that goals and objectives, many argue. Kofi Annan, the former UN Secretary-General for instance, wrote that ‘The United Nations, with their rules and institutions, are at the heart of the international system. They encourage States to prevent or settle disputes peacefully. The United Nations speaks for the voiceless, feeds the hungry, protects the displaced, combats organized crime and terrorism, and fights disease across the globe’ (Annan 2015).
If one looks at the history, after the Second World War, there are not so many wars on a large scale or conflicts except some bilateral Wars like Vietnam War or Iraq invasion in Kuwait or US invasion in Afghanistan or Iraq or Syrian crisis or Rohingya crisis. One can claim that the present world is more stable and peaceful than the world before the Second World War. Against this backdrop, Ramesh Thakur rightly observes, ‘On balance, the world has been a better and safer place with the UN than would have been the case without it (Thakur 2009:2). And it will not be wrong to claim that the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) is playing a crucial role in this regard, focusing both on ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ security issues. Hard security issues ranges from nuclear threat to international terrorism and soft security issues include human security issues to human rights to international criminal justice and international sanctions (For details see, Thakur, 2009).
The UN is not only concerned about international peace and security but also concerned about economic and social issues. There are several UN organizations e.g. United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), World Food Programme (WFP) or the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) which is involved in socio-economic issues that impact millions of people globally.
First, one can look at the role of the UN General Assembly to understand the necessity of having a more robust UN. It is the core organ of the UN. It is the only organ in which all the member countries are represented all of the time. The role of the UN includes to pass resolutions and to create subsidiary agencies to deal with particular issues (Barkin 2006: 58). UN General Assembly works as a forum where the world’s states meet and discuss the pressing global problems. In this context, Eleanor Albert, Leo Schwartz, and Alexandra Abell write that ‘Since its inception seventy-one years ago, the United Nations General Assembly has been a forum for lofty declarations, sometimes audacious rhetoric, and rigorous debate over the world’s most vexing issues, from poverty and development to peace and security’ (Albert et al. 2016). However, in September 2015, the Assembly agreed on a set of 17 Sustainable Development Goals, contained in the outcome document of the United Nations summit for the adoption of the post-2015 development agenda (resolution 70/1). Notably, the implementation of SDG goals will have broader implications for the world’s people.
In addition, the Assembly may also take action in cases of a threat to the peace, breach of peace or act of aggression, when the Security Council has failed to act owing to the negative vote of a permanent member. In such instances, according to its “Uniting for Peace” resolution of 3 November 1950, the Assembly may consider the matter immediately and recommend to its Members collective measures to maintain or restore international peace and security.
Second, one should also look at the role of the Security Council to make the case of having a stronger United Nations. The UN Security Council is the most powerful security-related organization in contemporary world politics. As the Charter of the United Nations says: ‘the Security Council has primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security (Article 24). The Security Council takes the lead in determining the existence of a threat to the peace or act of aggression. It calls upon the parties to a dispute to settle it by peaceful means and recommends methods of adjustment or terms of the settlement. In some cases, the Security Council can resort to imposing sanctions or even authorize the use of force to maintain or restore international peace and security’
In contemporary world politics, the UN Security Council is the most potent security-related organization because it is the only recognized and legitimate international organ which deals with international peace and security. In this regard, Justin Morris and Nicholas J. Wheeler claim that ‘The United Nations Security Council is at the heart of the world’s collective security system’ (Morris and Wheeler 2007: 214). The UNSC play role by passing Resolutions regarding maintaining international peace and security, determining threats to peace and security and finally undertaking peacekeeping operations.
Decisions made by the Security Council are known as the Security Council resolutions. Examples of Security Council resolutions include Resolution 794 (1992), which authorized military intervention in Somalia on humanitarian ground, or the resolution 1325 (2000), which called on states to recognize the role of women in peace, and security and post-conflict situations. In the UN Security Council Working method Handbook, it is noted that the UNSC has adopted over 2,000 resolutions relating to conflict and post-conflict situations around the globe. Another report, titled Repertoire of the Practice of the Security Council noted that between 2008 and 2009, the Security Council adopted 35 out of 65 resolutions in 2008 (53.8 %), and 22 out of 47 resolutions in 2009 under Chapter VII (46. 8 %) concerning threats to the peace, breaches of the peace or acts of aggression. The report also notes about several UN resolutions authorizing United Nations peacekeeping missions. In connection with the mission deployed in the Central African Republic and Chad, the Council approved the deployment of a United Nations military component for the first time in 2009 to follow up operations by the European Union in Chad and Central African Republic (EUFORChad/CAR). The Council continued to authorize enforcement action for United Nations peacekeeping missions in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI), Darfur/Sudan (UNAMID), the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC), Lebanon (UNIFIL) and Sudan (UNMIS). This increased number of UNSC Resolutions dealing with international peace and security reinforces its legitimacy and power as a security organization.
The critical question that comes into the forefront is how much UNSC can implement its mandates neutrally or independently in terms of maintaining world peace and security. The critiques bring the example of Iraq war (2003) where UNSC ‘faces a crisis of legitimacy because of its inability to constrain the unilaterally inclined hegemonic United States.’ (Morris and Wheeler 2007:214). Another critical question is the role of UNSC in resolving the long-standing Syrian crisis or the Rohingya refugee crisis.
It is undeniable the fact that UNSC cannot function with its full potentialities due to the challenges and limitations it faces because ‘in their pursuit of raisons d’état, states use whatever institutions are available to serve their interests’ (Weiss 2003: 151). And here comes the politics in the Security Council which is highly manifested in the past. Against this backdrop, Weiss correctly observes, ‘the politics of the UN system- not only the principal organs of UN like Security Council or General Assembly is highly politicized but even ‘technical’ organizations, for instance, World Health Organization or the Universal Postal Union continue to reflect the global division between the so-called wealthy, industrialized North and the less advantaged, developing South’ (Weiss 2009: 271).
It is, therefore, states and particularly the P5 want to use the Security Council as a means to uphold its interest. Gareth Evans rightly points out ‘for most of its history the Security Council has been a prisoner of great power manoeuvring…’ (Evans 2009:Xi). Hence, using veto by the P5 remains a significant challenge for the UNSC to work in its fullest potentials. In the recent case of the Rohingya refugee crisis, the UNSC is unable to take adequate measures due to veto power used by China and Russia. However, the UNSC is responsible for maintaining world peace and security.
The bottomline is that there is no alternative to having a stronger and more effective UN because it is the only hope for millions of people around the world. The UN is an inevitable international organization in this turbulent world despite its criticism or limitations.Thus, it becomes essential for the P5 nations to think about the broader benefits of the world’s people instead of their narrowly defined interest in the case of using veto power. And the world also needs to acknowledge that the UN reform has been a reality to ensure the neutrality and objectivity of the United Nations for a more peaceful, stable, secured world.
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