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United Nations Security Council’s failure to redress the Rohingya refugee crisis

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Authors: Tanaya Thakur and Amit Kumar*

The issue of violence against Rohingya muslims in the Rakhine state of Myanmar has been a cause for global as well as regional concern for the past many years. Rohingya Muslims have been allegedly facing violence and discriminatory practice in the Buddhist dominated state since 1970s; on the grounds of ethnicity, language, and religion. The matter has however gained global prominence only in 2015; when mass exodus of the Rohingya muslim population happened from Myanmar to nearby South-Asian states. The migration was a result of clash between Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) and the Myanmar army. Post the clash, Myanmar military launched a clearance campaign against them which resulted in burning down of several Rohingya villages and forcing around seven hundred thousand to flee and settle in other states. The Rohingya crisis has been dubbed by the international community and academic commentators as border lining the heinous offence of genocide.  The matter has been debated in the United Nations, regional forums, within domestic jurisdictions of south Asian states, and also in international courts, namely the International Court of Justice (ICJ) and the International Criminal Court (ICC).

On 23rd January 2020, the ICJ pronounced certain provisional measures to be adopted with respect to the Rohingya refugees; holding that Myanmar should take all possible measures to prevent the commission of acts falling within the scope of the definition of genocide (Article II of the Genocide Convention); ensure that its military and any organizations or persons subject to its control, direction or influence do not commit acts of genocide and any ancillary offence, take effective measures to preserve any evidence related to allegations of genocidal acts; and submit a report to the Court on all measures taken to give effect to the Order within four months and thereafter every six months until a final decision on the case is rendered. The order was then communicated to the Security Council by the Secretary General; who also expressed hope that Myanmar would ensure compliance of the ICJ’s order.

Due to the difference in their structure from domestic judicial bodies, international courts such as ICJ do not have the means to ensure the enforcement of their judgments. For this purpose they have to rely on state machineries themselves or on organizations such as the United Nations (Articles 94, 98, 99 of the UN Charter). In most cases the Security Council (UNSC) is vested with the responsibility to enforce ICJ judgments, even though the General Assembly has the power to work towards enforcement. Pursuant to this, a meeting of the UNSC members was called for to work out a method to ensure compliance of the ICJ provisional measures. The meeting was however vetoed by China and Russia and hence a conclusive plan of action could not be achieved.

China and Russia have time and again expressed that it is a bilateral issue between Myanmar and Bangladesh and should not be discussed at international forums. This view was also previously expressed at a meeting between UN and ASEAN to discuss provisional measures’ compliance and role of UN-ASEAN co-operation for the same. In another instance, China and Russia along with Equatorial Guinea voiced opposition when Marzuki Darusman, Chairperson of the United Nations Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar was supposed to address the council as to its finding on the refugee crisis. They stated that the mission’s mandate was not to brief the Security Council. It was also asserted that the UNSC’s duty was limited to protect international peace and security it should not get involved in country-specific human rights violations. It was the UN General Assembly which then on the basis of findings of the same commission adopted a resolution that condemned the violence and discrimination towards Rohingyas and called on Myanmar’s government to combat provocation of hatred against the Rohingya and other minorities in the states of Rakhine, Kachin, and Shan.

This is not the first time that the Security Council is failing to take any action in a crisis situation due to usage of veto power. In the case of Rohingya refugee crisis, the veto has been used by China and Russia; in other matters of UNSC interest it has been some other nation to use the power. The veto power vested with the Security Council to ensure maintenance of world peace through co-operation and coordination has in fact played a counter-effective role with overuse and misuse to achieve the five permanent nations’ own agendas.

The Rohingya crisis has been acknowledged as an international concern by majority states. The independent fact-finding mission by United Nations in its report presented evidence of gross human rights violations driven by the Myanmar military against the Rohingya population. Evidence of systematic cleansing through killings, violence, rampage, sexual assault and rapes were discovered by the mission and presented in its detailed report. The mission confirmed ‘genocidal intent’ on part of higher official’s in the Myanmar army and recommended prosecution. The government of Myanmar has however continued to deny any form of genocide and has maintained that at most it is a war crime that would be dealt domestically by the state. Apart from denying any form of systematic cleansing, the Myanmar government has also, with its passive approach in the issue, failed to ensure safe return of Rohingyas from other states. Most of the Rohingya population has been rendered stateless and is reduced to a situation of abject poverty. They lack basic amenities like food, water and education and have been refused refugee status in states like India, Thailand and Indonesia where they are considered illegal immigrants. When evidence of state supported violations of human rights are available in Myanmar; gruesome enough to create heavy displacement in the region – it can no longer be said to be internal matter of the state.

The United Nations was established with the primary purpose of maintaining world peace and security (Preamble and Article 1(1)). It has the obligation to take effective collective measures for the prevention and removal of threats to the peace, and for the suppression of acts of aggression or other breaches of the peace. The Preamble to the Charter also mentions that the Charter reaffirms faith in fundamental human rights, and in the dignity and worth of the human person. The UN Security Council has been conferred with the primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security in accordance with the principles and purposes of the UN Charter. Thus, an issue of the magnitude of Rohingya crisis falls into the ambit of the United Nation’s goals. The UNSC taking action on the matter in no way oversteps boundaries and in fact would be a step forward in realizing its objectives.

Considering the facts, question arises as to why permanent members such as China and Russia have been using their veto powers to stop the UNSC from discussing the issue. There are a number of reasons that explain China’s position. First, China has several multi-million dollars economic projects lined up in Myanmar as part of the China-Myanmar Economic Corridor (CMEC) under China’s Belt and Road Initiative. Myanmar has already been cautious about China’s investment plans and has treaded with more caution than any other developing nation regarding the project. If China speaks up against the Chinese government in an international forum or becomes party to any debate on the matter – it would lose Myanmar’s faith which has taken years to develop. Second, with USA receding from the international economic market; China has found an opportunity to position itself as the new global power-center.

Establishing itself as the regional power-center is a stepping stone in achieving that objective. Securing Myanmar’s trust by using it powers in the UNSC could be one way to protect this objective. Third, China has maintained that its general international policy is one of non-intervention and non-alignment. It has stated that it shall work in the international forums only on issues of extremism, terrorism and separatism. It also maintains that ‘westernized’ ideas of human rights should not be imposed on states and they should be allowed to develop their own rights. It further argues in favour of internal safety and security. Intervening in the Rohingya crisis would go counter to China’s international relation policies (for further understanding reference can be made to Shanghai Cooperation Organization). This is also one reason why it speaks in favour of an internal arrangement in Myanmar on the Rohingya issue. Fourth, discussion on the Rohingya crisis in the UNSC could act as a catalyst in opening the floodgates to similar problems of violence been discussed. This could potentially lead to trouble for China which itself is accused of behaving similar to Myanmar in the case of Uyghur muslims. Last, Russia has been a close ally to China for some time and has similar international policies; which would explain its veto in the Rohingya case. Russia also has a history of alleged genocidal acts and persecution against its muslim population.

In the Rohingya issue there were several steps that the Security Council could have otherwise taken to ensure that the situation was brought under control and the human rights violations were stopped. It was not necessary that the persecutors of Rohingya’s were prosecuted internationally. The UNSC could have over the period pressurized the government into conducting a fairer domestic trial of those involved. Rohingya muslim’s safe return to Myanmar and a domestic settlement between the parties could have been ensured through a threat of sanction from the UNSC. Had personal interests been kept aside by UNSC members, the UN Charter could have been used to find means of settlement between the Rohingya muslims, Myanmar and Bangladesh – which has borne the maximum burnt of the crisis. Though, individual efforts have been taken by certain countries, like the USA which has imposed sanctions upon certain military officials from Myanmar for the extrajudicial killings of Rohingya Muslims – barring them from entry to the United States; a collective action from the UNSC has been missing.

The Myanmar army which is being accused of perpetrating the alleged genocide of Rohingya muslims, is vastly funded from the revenues generated by two companies owned by it, apart from funding from the state. These military owned firms were found to be a “risk contributing to, or being linked to, violations of international human rights and humanitarian law” by the UN fact finding mission. The UNSC could have imposed an embargo upon those companies which have trade relations with military owned companies in Myanmar.

Apart from these options, the council could have either set up a criminal tribunal or referred the matter to the International Criminal Court (ICC). The council has previously resorted to the mechanism of setting up tribunals to try and punish those individuals who were accused of committing grave breaches of Geneva Convention, genocide or crimes against humanity in case of conflict in Rwanda and Yugoslavia. In case of South Sudan (Darfur), the UNSC had referred the situation to ICC. The Rome Statute gives power to the UNSC to refer any situation to the ICC for investigation of war crimes, genocide, crimes against humanity and crimes of aggression. The UN mission had identified involvement of military and police officials in the commission of these crimes in Myanmar. Even though the matter reached ICC; it came as a reference not from the Security Council but from Bangladesh. The Court relied on an expansive interpretation of the Statute to establish its jurisdiction on the issue, as Myanmar was not a party to it. Had a UNSC reference been made, it would have been easier for the Court to answer the question of jurisdiction.

It goes on to demonstrate how the Security Council has been unsuccessful in performing its responsibilities because two of the permanent members used their veto power to further their interests. Veto power has been used by the permanent five as a tool for manipulation, rather than as the shield it was meant to be. If the Security Council is to work towards its goal, the veto power needs to be re-imagined. With the sword of veto hanging over, important decisions which require the Security Council’s intervention will fail to get due attention. However, due appreciation should here be meted out to other international organs – the UNGA and ICC, which stepped up when the UNSC failed and worked towards restoring faith in international law.

*Authors are Research Scholars at, IIT Kharagpur (RGSOIPL). They have completed their masters in international law from South Asian University, New Delhi.

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International Law

Looking for safety in security studies: Is it relevant to discuss climate change’s impact on UNSC?

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In December 2021, Security Council failed to adopt the draft resolution to integrate the climate security-related threat into the United Nations conflict-prevention strategies. The resolution was aimed to help the forum facing the risk of conflict that will escalate because of social issues affected by climate change such as, drought, flood, soil degradation, and sea level rising that create social-security problems such as water and food scarcity and large-scale people displacement (United Nations, December 2021).

               Through that resolution, it is expected that the concern of climate change and social-security issues that are affected by it would start to be seen as intersectional and contributing to conflict and affecting the security itself. As can be observed in the displacement and refugees issue in South Sudan that pushed 500.000 Dinka ethnic people from their homes and escalated the ethnic conflict between Dinka and Nuer. Other phenomena such as sea level rising also affect island state and their neighbor state which will get affected by refugees that try to get into their country.

               Even though the climate-related threat is classified as a multiplier factor, its impact on the social security issue is real and has the potential to escalate the conflict that risks the security of thousands of citizens. Nevertheless, by the rejection of those draft resolutions from India and Russia, and abstain from China, Security Council then must reject the resolution because of the votes of a permanent member. India, as the member that rejects the draft, bases its rejection on the functionality of the Security Council which is to deescalate the conflict and discuss the climate impact is not a proper forum because there is another forum that has focused on that issue already (Security Council Report, 2021). But, is it necessary to discuss climate change and its impact on Security Council? Is it relevant for climate issues to be discussed in a security forum?

Why should it be UNSC, as a security Forum, to discussed it?

               As a forum and institution in the UN that has been mandated to keep the security and peace, the advocacy of climate adaptation policy the have several urgencies to be integrated into UNSC talks. First, quoting from the UNSC mandate in chapter IV, “The Security Council may investigate any dispute, or any situation which might lead to international friction or give rise to a dispute, in order to determine whether the continuance of the dispute or situation is likely to endanger the maintenance of international peace and security (United Nations, n.d.). Even though that mandate is written in the ‘Pacific Settlement of Disputes’ section, those article is not referring to clauses that limit the situation contribute to the conflict on human activities directly, such as the impact of climate change. Therefore, the impact of climate change should be addressed by the Security Council forum to prevent disputes from escalating into a real conflict that threatened the social-security issue.

               Second, regarding the hierarchical decision-making in United Nations, Security Council has the authority to enforce more binding and interventionist resolutions than other forums such as General Assembly that the socio-economy issues with more loose output. Connecting the dots, the conditions which have been faced by climate change issue in international meetings is slower than what should be expected in creating an assertive and ambitious response, especially when the issues are in intersection with other issues such as conflict escalation. Regarding this situation, the Security council, as the dominant institution that establishes the dominant discourse on international security, has a central role in directing the climate change urgency in international society, since the security discourse is always paramount in international relations.

UNSC as a dominant discourse-maker in security studies

               It can not be denied that United Nations is an organization characterized by monolithic production of power in the implementation of its agenda, with human rights and human security as the dominant narrative in its every decision-making process (Shepherd, 2008, p. 392). This character could be seen through the UN Charter in 1945, particular in article 24.1, “Members confer on the Security Council primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security, and agree that in carrying out its duties under this responsibility the Security Council acts on their behalf” (UN 1945, Article 24.1). Those article referring Security Council as the highest authority institutionally and legislative in the UN through its resolutions. And in the name of security, Security Council has extensive authority in drawing the objective of every resolution and mission. Even though it needs to be questioned on what purposes those objectives are being directed.

               The power that Security Council had in concepting how security will be achieved in international relations could be reflected to what Buzan (1998) wrote as the process of securitization. Regarding Buzan, the creation of the security concept is the key to legitimizing the use of force, mobilizing international society, and using the special means to intervene in other states’ business in the name of handling existential threats which threaten the existence of states and their sovereignty (Buzzan, 1998). To put it simply, labeling a situation as security will frame that situation as emergency and apolitical. As the implication, issue that had been labeled as a security threat will get punctuation and urgency to exterminate the threat at the institution level, such as the different perspectives of the member which will get in the way of its agenda realization. In this process of securitization, the problem of climate change creates a great leap in its progress to meet its drives the securitization process.

               Nevertheless, the discourse-making of security above is still limited to traditional security conception which refers to the military aspect of security. This limitation can be seen through the articulation of security and its threat by permanent members of the Security Council. India, Russia, and China reject the discussion of the draft resolution because they are afraid that international society will intervene their sovereignty, as what could have happened in Chapter VII (Security Council Report, 2021). In addition, the uncertainty of scientific research about climate and the connection with security means also become another narrative from the three countries to reject the draft.

               The traditional security approach that still dominates shows the failure Security Council, as a security forum for states, to recognize the issue to create a safe environment for its people. All this is due to, first, traditional security studies, on the basic level, are not trying to solve the root of the disputes and war, however, it only focuses on how to avoid the damage that could be achieved by parties involved in the disputes (Walt, 1991, p. 212). Second, the traditional security studies too focused on keeping the concept of the states and its existence, so that it becomes oblivious about the people within the states as the constituent of the state also gives the legitimacy to the state’s sovereignty (Waltz, 1991, p. 213). Those two characteristics of traditional security studies show how security is too limited in the military aspect and lost its ability and orientation to keep the people feel safe.

Stepping out of the old conception

               It can not be denied that the impact of climate change is getting worst every day, even if it is affected the most in several conflicts and disputes in international relations. The urgency for the Security Council to discuss the impact of climate change on conflict escalation is the embodiment of awareness of the need for safety than the conception of security itself.

               As a disclaimer, of course, there is risk and compromise in states’ sovereignty when we try to securitize the climate issue in a security forum. Last time, when international society try to securitize human right issue, US used those narratives to disarm and intervene in the oil field of Iran in 2002. This threat is evident and inevitable because security is the paramount issue in international relations, and every issue that is labeled as a threat of it will expand the authority of states’ to get rid of it, even if it violates others’ sovereignty.

               The only way for security studies to avoid the worsening failure in addressing the issue of security that have been affected by climate issue is to step out of the traditional conception of security, and its rigidity in the game of tough-man through its war-game strategies, while failed to see the essence of the states and the security that we try to create and establish, is the safety of people within the states.

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Treaty on Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons as New Instrument in Nuclear Disarmament Process

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On June 21–23, Vienna will host a historic event in the field of nuclear disarmament – ​​the First Meeting of the States Parties to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW).

The entry into force of this treaty in January 2021 became a long-awaited signal that demonstrated the determination of the UN member states to take concrete measures to outlaw nuclear weapons.

This was a significant moment for Kazakhstan, which in the past experienced detrimental consequences of nuclear tests. As President of Kazakhstan Kassym-Jomart Tokayev noted in his speech at the 75th session of the UN General Assembly, “today Kazakhstan is an example and a role model for the whole world as a responsible state that voluntarily abandoned its nuclear-missile arsenal and closed the world’s largest nuclear test site.”

For half a century, our land suffered atmospheric, ground, and underground tests. This impacted the health of about 1.5 million Kazakhs living near the test site with an area of ​​​​more than 18,000 square kilometres. The consequences of radiation are felt to this day.

On the initiative of Kazakhstan, the closing date of the Semipalatinsk test site – August 29 – was declared in 2009 by the UN General Assembly the International Day against Nuclear Tests. Emphasizing the symbolism of this date, in 2019 Kazakhstan submitted to the UN Secretariat an instrument for ratifying the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW).

Kazakhstan voluntarily abandoned the 4th largest nuclear arsenal in the world, which it inherited after the collapse of the Soviet Union, and in 1993 joined the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) as a state that does not possess nuclear weapons. Let me note, that the TPNW was developed in support of the NPT and fully complements its objective of strengthening the nuclear non-proliferation regime, the peaceful use of atomic energy and wider international security.

In fact, TPNW reflects the dissatisfaction of most UN member states with the disregard by nuclear countries of their obligations on nuclear disarmament, enshrined in several international treaties and documents, including Article VI of the NPT. For this reason, we believe that the treaty should be mentioned in the Final Document of the forthcoming NPT Review Conference in August 2022.

The Treaty establishes several mandatory legal initiatives in the field of nuclear disarmament. For example, nuclear weapons are considered illegal for the first time in human history. Secondly, the production, testing, acquisition, transfer, storage and deployment of nuclear weapons or nuclear explosive devices, as well as the use of threats to use them, are prohibited.

A nuclear-weapon country can join the TPNW if it agrees to destroy its nuclear weapons in accordance with legally binding, verifiable, time-specific plans. Similarly, a country hosting nuclear weapons can join if it agrees to remove them. The Treaty does not prescribe specific timeframes or disarmament measures, as they are planned to be approved by the member states following the First Conference of the TPNW.

Kazakhstan’s active participation gave impetus to the organisation of the First Conference of the TPNW. The most important contribution of our country to this process was acting as a facilitator of substantive solutions. In particular, at the initiative of Kazakhstan and Kiribati (which suffered 39 American and British nuclear weapon test), a working group was created to develop proposals on the issue of positive obligations in accordance with Articles 6 and 7 of the Treaty related to providing support for victims of nuclear testing and use of nuclear weapons, as well as environmental rehabilitation.

The positive obligations under the TPNW refer to the nodal aspects and are focused on eliminating damage from the use and testing of nuclear weapons in the past, as well as preventing possible damage in the future.

The medium-term goal of this initiative on the adoption of positive obligations is to establish an International Trust Fund to finance projects related to victim assistance and environmental restoration.

A specific mechanism is being discussed for identifying sources of funding (from TPNW member-states and non-member states, NGOs, philanthropists, and individuals) for work that requires special knowledge, materials, and equipment. It is important to note that this proposal has found support among the expert community and academic circles.

I would like to note that with the financial support of Kazakhstan and the UN Office for Disarmament Affairs, Kazakh people affected by nuclear testing and the youth representatives from Pacific Island countries will be able to participate in the First Conference of the TPNW and share their stories from a high international rostrum to draw attention to how deplorable the consequences of the use/testing of nuclear weapons can be.

The TPNW positive obligations are of practical value for Central Asia. In accordance with Article 7 of the TPNW, states may request the assistance of other parties to the Treaty and international structures to implement the abovementioned provisions. Considering the existing problem of uranium tailing ponds in several countries of our region, this initiative would help to attract donor funds from other states and international organisations for the reclamation of tailing ponds and the implementation of preventive measures to help the population near uranium mines.

Therefore, Kazakhstan, as the only state in the CIS region that has acceded to the TPNW, is conducting systematic work in accordance with Article 12 on the universalisation of the document to expand the membership of its participants, primarily from among the countries of the Central Asian Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone (CANWFZ).

Let me remind that CANWFZ, established by Kazakhstan jointly with its regional neighbours through the 2006 Semipalatinsk Treaty, is the first and currently the only such zone in the Northern Hemisphere. A key addition to it was the Protocol, containing negative security assurances, which stipulates that countries possessing nuclear weapons undertake not to use them on the parties to the Treaty. In this regard, we are grateful to the United Kingdom, China, Russia, and France for completing the ratification of this important document. Last year, the foreign ministers of the states that are parties to the Treaty – Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan – made a joint statement on its 15th anniversary, in which they reaffirmed their unshakable commitment to its provisions and called on the United States to ratify the above-mentioned Protocol as soon as possible.

The members of nuclear-weapon-free zones around the world are at the forefront of the nuclear disarmament process. The main goals and objectives of establishing these zones are in line with the principles of the TPNW. This means that a state party to the Semipalatinsk Treaty can accede to the TPNW without assuming additional obligations. Besides, if a state that is party to the Semipalatinsk Treaty has already adopted relevant national regulatory legal acts to implement the provisions of the Semipalatinsk Treaty, then this will probably be sufficient to fulfil the obligations that the state will assume by joining the TPNW. This is confirmed by leading international NGOs and experts in the field of nuclear disarmament.

It should also be emphasized that the TPNW is gaining global popularity thanks to the efforts of civil society, which encourages governments and parliamentarians of their respective countries to accede to the Treaty. Kazakhstan welcomes the decision of several European countries (Switzerland, Sweden, and Finland), including the declared intention of NATO members (Germany and Norway), to participate as observers in the First Conference of the States Parties to the TPNW.

The Treaty is another effective platform for our efforts to build a world without nuclear weapons. Kazakhstan will continue to show an example of high responsibility to the present and future generations of humankind.

In this context, it’s worth noting the UN Universal Declaration on the Achievement of a Nuclear-Weapon-Free World, adopted at the initiative of Kazakhstan at the 70th session of the UN General Assembly in 2015. The Universal Declaration calls for the total elimination of nuclear weapons as the only guarantee against their use or threat of use. Last year, the resolution received a record number of 141 votes from UN member states, indicating its positive momentum. Particularly noteworthy was the support from India and Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, which possess nuclear weapons, as well as from Iran, which was among the co-sponsors of the resolution.

If nuclear weapons are declared to be outside of international law, the call for nuclear-weapon states to take urgent steps in the field of nuclear disarmament will increase significantly. To this end, Kazakhstan continuously encourages dialogue between nuclear countries and the TPNW supporters in order to align their views and strengthen trust between them, which is especially important given current geopolitical conditions. Such work is also being carried out within the framework of the Stockholm Initiative for Nuclear Disarmament and specialised platforms within the UN, including the First Committee of the General Assembly, where our country will take over the chairmanship during the 77th session.

The possibility of signing the TPNW and its entry into force have given many countries additional hope for a safer and rational world, which is currently in a serious crisis. As noted by the UN Secretary-General António Guterres, with about 13,400 nuclear warheads around the world, the possibility of using nuclear weapons is more real than in the darkest days of the Cold War. The current military confrontation in Ukraine, discussions about proliferation of nuclear weapons and mutual threats to use them, raise the question about the collective vulnerability of humanity and the urgent need to ban and eliminate the deadly weapons.

The practical contribution of Kazakhstan to nuclear disarmament encourages us to continue calling on nations and governments to redouble their efforts to rid our planet of the threat of nuclear self-destruction by strengthening mutual trust. With that in mind, Kazakhstan has nominated its candidacy for the position of Vice Chair of the First Meeting of the TPNW in 2022 and Chair of the Third Meeting for 2024–2026.

We call on all states, including nuclear-weapon powers, to develop a phased plan for the complete elimination of nuclear weapons by 2045, to the centenary of the UN. The proposals and agreements to achieve this goal could be reflected in the final documents of both the First Conference of the TPNW and the NPT Review Conference.

Kazakhstan realizes that there are many political and technical obstacles on the way to achieving this noble and ambitious goal. We consider it necessary to embark on a practical work in this direction.

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Ukrainian Crisis – End of the International Order?

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Three months have already passed since the Russian ‘special operation in’ or ‘invasion of’ (depends which sources you are citing) Ukraine began. As the international community tries to grasp this ‘denazification and demilitarization’ event, its causes and consequences, much has been talked but little understood about war’s potential to fundamentally change the world order—and about the way it illustrates already ongoing shifts. Yet, every aspect of the planetary balance of power, security architecture, geo-economic and geopolitical dynamics is challenged by this looming conflict.

On May 20, the Habibie Center addressed this topical issue witin its Public Lecture Series. In an event titled ‘The Ukraine Crisis and its Implications for the Global Political Chessboard’, the Jakarta-based think tank hosted Prof. Anis H. Bajrektarevic (Vienna, Geneva, universities of) for a public lecture on the war’s repercussions, both globally, as well as for the Asian continent and its Southeastern theatre.

Prof. Anis H. Bajrektarevic framed his thorough analysis of the conflict by alluding to the usual pattern of “critical insight formation” around an international crisis. The ‘problem’ and its ‘solution’ are presented as two halves of the singular picture. Within this picture, the lights and shadows consist of the ‘costs’ associated with the problem, and their ‘cost distribution’. The multi-dimensional nature of Ukrainian crisis can be understood that way, too. Depending on where the problem’s centre of gravity is located—the rise of new threats in a multipolar order, the global energy crisis, the deterioration of European security structures—different costs can be identified for various stakeholders.

Clearing points at the entrée, professor stated: “the way we formulate the problem will inevitably determine our answer/s and lead the course of our action”. Hence, “today I will concentrate only on setting the questions we must ask to answer what this crisis is about”, explained professor before getting into a 40-minute questions elaboration.

Accordingly, the main historical drives, politico-military aspect, legal aspect, economic aspect, and Ideological aspect (deeper meanings) related to the war were briefly explained. In addition, questions from participants of the lecture were raised regarding future outcomes and implications on RI, and analytical conclusions were drawn making emphasis on being logical and reasonable in studying the case scenario closely. This article will present the details of the discussion following the above-mentioned points.

The first point of the discussion focused on the main historical drives attributed to the long-lasted tension between Russia and Ukraine. Starting with the concept of Competing Universalisms which rather is not Venus Vs Mars competing between the two Marses, mentioned here included the Great Schism which was in the 11th Century particularly in the year 1054 resulted in a distinction between Kyiv Russia and Rimo-Catholic Ummah and how Christianity was a tool for operationalization of religion for ideological pursue (the struggle of the center of interpretation and its peripheries. Secondly, the formation of the Political West at the age of anthropo-geographic inversion/Grand discoveries expanded and projected itself internally but also demographically. Thirdly, attributed to the Napoleonic wars, the Hitler coalition ( ‘Barbarossa’ via Ukraine) and smaller episodes such as Crimean War which lasted from 1853-56 fought between Ottomans, France, UK, and Piedmont-Sardinia Vs Russia,  European Interventionism in the years 1918-22 and the Russo-Polish humiliating war in the years 1919-21 for the Isolation of Russia as a historical constant or ad hoc policy was discussed. Finally, in this category is the three dissolutions in Eastern Europe which made Russia a last huge resource to be conquered and split.

The Second point of the discussion focused on the Politico-military aspect beginning with the astonishing lack on the side of the ‘Collective West’ critical insight about Russia’s reasons, capabilities, intentions, outreach, and lasting effects, the dangerous security experiment of conflict escalation through antagonization of Russia supported by state Adventurism univocally by European elected politicians and cheerleading intellectuals. Secondly, the ambiguity in explaining if the conflict is solely Russo-Ukraine or is it NATO and the Russian federation indirectly in addition to the periodic unclarity of the start of the tension whether it is from 2014 or 2022 supported by the question of whether it is a local conflict that escalates or global conflict that is localized? What the spillover potential or length of the extension is and notably, the US proxy war to save the Dollar’s global position or a new imperial quest of the post-soviet Russia were questions raised for a deeper analysis of the case.

Thirdly, the peculiar nature of military actions such as the historical and political background of Ukraine from Kyiv Russia to the Soviet Republic, the Ethnic, Linguistic, and Religious composite of Ukraine with the alarming GINI Index showing a high gap between the rich and poor, the increased organized crime, depopulation, regressive ta policy and poor labor and environmental standards, change of ethnic composition together with forced migration and the promise made by President Zelensky during the election on the Donbas peace reintegration pledge which had no western/US support were pointed out for further analysis. Fourthly, the huge role of media in terms of censorship, Frenzy, destruction acceleration as coined by the term ‘Pornography of number’- deeper psychologization of issues and using fear as a currency of control, boosting emotional charge, personalization, and further escalation of the conflict by feeding the negative spiral and the link between media compliance and external/sovereign national debt were mentioned.

Lastly in this section was the singularization of foreign aid to Ukraine which lacks the transparency of donors and receivers, quality and configuration of military aid, environmental hazard for fertile soils and underground waters in Ukraine, security risk for the Black Sea theatre, and Europe from diverted stockpiles were explained.

The Third point raised was the legal aspect in the eye of; firstly, the UN Charter and its spirit of collective security and indivisibility the notion of a common European home, the Geneva talks- Détente-Helsinki accord Decalogue/CSCE-(1994 Budapest summit for) OSCE in active peaceful coexistence. Secondly, the Gorbachev-Reagan talks of the 1980s disarmament and security non-expansion guarantee constant western rejection of every politico-military initiative of the post-soviet Russia, the NATO defensive alliance with the 30 years of offensive history which has 9 rounds of enlargements, the less formal but lasting partnerships with formerly neutral Eurasian states, its intervention in Europe, Asia and MENA and the continued dismissal of Russian security concerns were indicated. Thirdly, the Ukrainian neutrality and nuclear disarmament dissolution of the USSR in 1991, the Minsk accord I and II at the maidan event of 2014, and the referendum were discussed. Fourthly, the provocation of NATO/US-Ukraine Military Cooperation with equipment, training, exercises since 2014, Bio-lab activities, the presidential statement made at the Munich Security Conference in February 2022 about accession, and the credibility of ‘Unprovoked invasion of Ukraine’ Vs ‘Unprovoked invasion of Iraq’ mantra, the capacity and willingness to honor agreed international treaties. Lastly in the legal aspect was the question of war crimes which is highly selective and comprehensive.

The Fourth point was the Economic aspect, starting with an observation of the World’s most traded commodities number one being Crude oil then Natural gas and wheat on the third and fifth level respectively which the cost paid for their loss are compensated over peripheral countries and social segments within them. In addition, the temporary gain of military-industrial complex but loss for the overall world stability and security, among these were dismantling the obsolete or old military weaponry on the Ukraine soil free of charge, its replacement exclusively with the western military purchases and financed by Ukraine through its new loans, donations and lend-and-lease arrangements for which the US congress already discussed a 30 billion lend-and -lease arrangements with Ukraine on January 22, was before the conflict started. Furthermore, confiscation of overseas deposits and private property and the notion of secondary sanctions versus friendly and unfriendly nations made sanctions, fragmentation of the global monetary system for with the Petro-Ruble and Russia’s Foreign currency reserves increase and the yuan perceived as a world’s reserve currency, stagflation that is inflation with decreased industrial output and the end of the debt-driven economies lead to De-dollarization. Lastly, the economic aspects of energy security in terms of the Pan Euro Mediterranean (PEM) shift and the post-Paris treaty environmental concerns, preferential prices for the friendly countries competitive on the global market, and food security in terms of widening the gap, de-urbanization, insecurity and hunger, social unrest were indicated to have a collective impact on the current situation.

 Coming to the deeper meanings was the Ideological aspect. Firstly, the crisis of capitalism if it is the west losing its intellectual capacity to offer and lead in organizational constructive ability en march towards the future self-realization metaphorically described as Instagram-isation of life and TikTok-isation of intellect. Secondly, the question of whether westernization of Eastern Europe is possible without de-anti-fascism and anti-Russian rhetoric was forwarded for analysis and in-depth thinking. Thirdly, answering the millenniums-long pattern of the history of mankind is seen as a story of eternal competition over territorial /material, all governed by the alienated ruler)i.     Bolshevik revolution (rule of 99% attempt, non-territorial principle) with the formation of the Universal Organization 1945 and the NAM (Bandung 1955/Belgrade 1961) as furthering of the egalitarian and emancipatory non-territorial idea ii. Fascism/Nazism (Imperialism optimized the idea of material and territorial, while Nazism radicalized it) iii, Glasnost/Perestroika: Dismantling of Warsaw Pact/dissolution of USSR as a triumph of the idea of non-material and non-territorial, and the significant departure from the rule traditionally governing international conduct – might make right  (Soviet Russians pulled back undefeated without a single bullet fired for over 2,000 km, dismantled its empire and recognized its former republics as sovereign states without preconditions, without any international conference nor big power written guarantees) iv, Transhumanism (Great Reset, Depopulation) – the territorial and material idea (of humans without the spiritual dimension, reduced on bio-hackable animal/Bionicle connected to a global IoT network for control and commercial end). Fourthly, the end of white man supremacy referred to the Anglo-German clash with Slaves leading to the fragmentation of the Slavic state and intra-Slavic Guernica. Lastly in this section was the western recession of democracy, its vitality, and future promise asking why the leading western intellectuals obey and the crisis of the leadership and the voters’ apathy.  

Followed by the analytical questions left for the audience to further make logical and reasonable study and researching before speaking on the surface knowledge or relying on misinformation in different social and public media, predictions of the future outcomes and Implications for the Republic of Indonesia were discussed. Among points on the future outcome, an inquiry was put if this leads to global realignment or de-coupling and three possibilities were put as follows:

a. Destruction of Ukraine and the increasing possibility of nuclear war, or the sincere Peace talks;     Statesmanship of the Metternich Concert of Europe vs. short-sightedness of the Versailles

b. Meanings for Asia-Pacific: Measuring the pan-Asia destabilizing momentum and RIC format – and outcome of its triangulation

c. Implication of Inter-Muslim debate (Islam and modernity): for the ‘core’ Muslim world MENA and Implications for the ‘peripheral’, non-Arab Muslim world.

Furthermore, the Implications for the Republic of Indonesia were tentative proposals for the MFA as to the urgent need to reform the UN, and ASEAN in aspects of neighborhood and border disputes. However, neutrality was not indicated to be a good thing as the country must always take sides according to the rule of international law, the Charter, and the Spirit of the Charter. And in the event of intra-Asian military escalation and/or other severe disruptions and asymmetric threats.

Summarized above in different aspects and future outcomes the lecture was entirely focused on showing directions and pointing out important intellectual and logical phenomena to analyze the ongoing war and the outcomes of the world order. Accordingly, a usual pattern with every crisis was discussed to follow which begins with Critical insight formation of both the problem and the answer to it. Analyzing costs of the crisis and distribution of the costs need to be sorted out to reach a conclusion and a solution.

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