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The Artemis Accords: Repeating the Mistakes of the Age of Exploration

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“Space is a warfighting domain. . . . It is not enough to have an American presence in space; we must have American dominance in space.”- U.S. Vice-President Mike Pence, 20181

In the spring of 1493, the King and Queen of Spain sent an envoy to the Pope in Rome. Along with Portugal, Spain had just used its advanced sailing and navigation technology to reach “new worlds”, areas of the Earth that had not been previously discovered by Europeans. But they had a problem: they wanted to establish sovereign property rights in the lands they had discovered, but they weren’t sure they could do so under their own authority. So they turned to the only international authority in Europe at that time, the Catholic Church, which held sway over governments from Portugal to Poland, from the Arctic to the Mediterranean. If the Church would establish a legal framework that granted them sovereignty, then those nations would be bound to recognize it.2

This is the first lesson that the current governments of the world can learn from the Age of Exploration & Empire that began five centuries ago. Even then, the most powerful nation in Europe, with the largest army and most advanced technology, realized that it could not unilaterally establish property rights or any other kind of sovereignty without the approval of an international authority. After the Church granted that authority, Spain was able to create one of the greatest empires in history. Spain and Portugal formalized the arrangement with a binding international agreement, the Treaty of Tordesillas, whose purpose was to ensure peaceful cooperation between their nations, primarily by establishing a line of demarcation that separated their areas of activity.3

Unfortunately, the legal framework so established was based on national dominance, not multilateral international cooperation. The grant of sovereignty was exclusive, made only to Spain and Portugal, and it required them to subjugate the “savages” in the lands they discovered by taking along Church missionaries.This exclusivity did not sit well with other nations as they also developed the technologies of exploration; it was one of the reasons many northern European nations joined the Protestant Reformation and rejected the authority of the Pope in Rome. Without a fair and equitable international agreement that honored the interests of emerging states, the Church lost its ability to act as an arbiter between nations.

Even worse, the dominance model set up centuries of conflict among the major powers in Europe. Militant nationalism and economic colonialism became the principles guiding national policy. The result was centuries of war, suffering, and neglect among the major powers and the nations they subjugated. This pattern did not end until the 20th century, when the major powers fought two world wars and finally dismantled their colonial empires, sometimes peacefully, sometimes by force.

By the mid-1960’s, most countries on Earth were independent or on their way to becoming so. But a new conflict had started, one that threatened to repeat the mistakes of five centuries earlier. The great powers were once again using their advanced technology to explore new worlds, and the race was on to plant their flag on the Moon first. Under the ancient traditions, the country that did so would have a claim against all others for possession and use of the territory. The Cold War was about to expand into outer space.

But then something wonderful happened. In 1967, the United Nations proposed, and the world’s space powers accepted, an international agreement known as the Outer Space Treaty.4The Treaty was an intentional effort to avoid the mistakes of the Age of Exploration & Empire. Article I states that “The exploration and use of outer space, including the moon and other celestial bodies, shall be carried out for the benefit and in the interests of all countries, irrespective of their degree of economic or scientific development, and shall be the province of all mankind.” Article II is even more specific: “Outer space, including the moon and other celestial bodies, is not subject to national appropriation by claim of sovereignty, by means of use or occupation, or by any other means.” Because of this Treaty, the United States carried a plaque to the Moon that said, “We came in peace for all mankind”.5 When the Apollo 11 astronauts planted the U.S. flag, they did so out of pride, but did not establish any claim or national priority.

This legal framework worked well initially, but people soon started wondering about what to do when countries and/or private entities wanted to start commercial activity on the Moon, or build settlements. The solution was the Moon Treaty, proposed by the United Nations and adopted by enough nations to come into force in 1984.6 But it has not yet been adopted by any space-faring nation. The United States, by a recent executive order, has specifically renounced the Treaty and stated its intentions to extract materials from the Moon without any international agreement.7

The newly announced Artemis Accords go even further. Although the actual Accords have not been released pending consultation with possible partners, the summary provided by NASA8indicates that the United States will unilaterally interpret the Outer Space Treaty to allow “space resource extraction”, despite the prohibition against appropriation in Article II of the Treaty. There will also be “safety zones” to avoid “harmful interference” with such operations. The effect is to establish exclusive economic zones, especially if “harmful interference” is defined to include economic harm, not just safety. Will the new Space Force be used to protect such economic interests? Will other nations be excluded if they support the Moon Treaty?9Will private actors be required to follow the same rules as states, as recommended in the recently-drafted Moon Village Principles?10This is the slippery slope of using unilateral action to establish economic rights rather than an international agreement.

The Artemis Accords acknowledge many beneficial agreements and policies: The Outer Space Treaty, Rescue Agreement, and Registration Convention (though not the Liability Convention); peace, transparency, interoperability, protecting heritage sites and sharing scientific information. But its unilateral authorization of space mining is a continuation of the Trump Administration’s underlying foreign policy strategy: unilateral dominance over international cooperation. The United States has withdrawn from the Paris Accords, the Iranian nuclear deal, and, in the middle of a pandemic, the World Health Organization. Dominance has even become the theme of the Administration’s domestic policy, with President Trump recently telling governors, “If you don’t dominate, you’re wasting your time. . . . You have to dominate.”11That core philosophy is now being applied to outer space, as Vice-President Mike Pence proudly announced (above). Despite the lessons of history, the United States is going full speed ahead with the “dominance” model of space development rather than working with the nations of the world to develop a “cooperation” model. Outer space, which so far has been preserved for peace and cooperation, is about to be spoiled, perhaps forever.

But if the Moon Treaty is the key to peaceful cooperation in outer space, why haven’t more nations adopted it? The reason appears to be that the Treaty is incomplete, and thus flawed. Article 11 requires an implementation agreement to create the legal framework for private activity. Without that agreement in place, some states fear the worst, that they will lose their sovereignty if they adopt the Treaty, especially since it refers to outer space as the “common heritage of mankind”. Private mining interests are afraid that their profits will be taxed for redistribution to less-developed countries. As one space law scholar put it:

“Some would say the biggest challenge for the implementation of the Moon Agreement are four little words found in Article 11 . . . the “common heritage of [hu]mankind”. . . . At first glance, it appears that to implement the concept of common heritage of humankind, an international body must be created to redistribute wealth and technology among nations.”12

Some even wonder if they will be able to market the materials they extract. As recently explained by an attorney for the mining industry:

Here’s the issue on the security of tenure [the right to extract materials] and the fiscal regime: there’s an Outer Space Treaty that was signed by a lot of countries when the moon exploration was going on, and the treaty includes a provision that says you can’t appropriate celestial bodies, that would include the moon.

The question is — what happens if I go to the moon? I set up shop, and I extract ice and rocks and start making things, do I own the rocks that I’ve extracted? I’m not saying that I own the moon, but if I put in the effort, do I own the resources? Same thing with asteroids,if I send a robot to the asteroid, it sets up shop and starts extracting things and using them, do you own the extracted mineral? And that’s the legal issue, that’s the unsettled question.13

Until the rule of law is extended to the Moon by such an international agreement, there will be great uncertainty as to the viability of commercial activities. It is an axiom of economics that businesses and investors hate uncertainty, as it makes it impossible to analyze risk and estimate the return on investment.

The solution is to create an implementation agreement that addresses these concerns and can be adopted along with the Moon Treaty. To that end, a Model Implementation Agreement has been drafted by The Space Treaty Project. It was first distributed for comment in 2018 and made its public debut at the 2019 Shanghai Advanced Space Technology conference. It has recently undergone peer review and was published in the Journal of Advances in Astronautics Science and Technology.14

The Model Implementation Agreement has only 10 paragraphs and is based on four organizational principles:

1) The Agreement must be comprehensive and support all private activity;

2) The Grand Bargain: Trade private property rights for public policy obligations;

3) Defer issues currently at impasse (e.g., monetary sharing of benefits) by creating a governance process for making future decisions;

4) Integrate and build upon current institutions and processes.

The Model Agreement supports all private activity by defining the “use of resources” to include the use of any location on the Moon for any purpose, much the same way that real estate and property rights are considered resources on Earth. Any use would be supported if the private activity is authorized/supervised by a country that has adopted the Moon Treaty and the implementation agreement, because any country that has done so has agreed to the public policy obligations therein and to require that their nationals abide by them.

What are the obligations of the Moon Treaty that the countries and their nationals must accept? They are summarized in paragraph 4 of the Model Agreement:

4. Public Policy Obligations

The States Parties agree that the public policy obligations of the Treaty and this Agreement include the following:

1. Use outer space exclusively for peaceful purposes (Article 3.1);

2. Provide co-operation and mutual assistance (4.2); 

3. Honor the Registration Convention and inform the public of:

– Activities (5.1)

– Scientific discoveries (5.1)

– Any phenomena which could endanger human life or health (5.3)

– Any indication of organic life (5.3)

– The discovery of resources (11.6)

– Any change of status, harmful impacts of activities, use of nuclear power, and links to websites for specific objects/activities [COPUOS recommendations]

4. Protect the environment and preserve areas of “special scientific interest” such as historic landing sites (7.1-7.3);

5. Allow free access to all areas by other parties (9.2);

6. Honor the Rescue Treaty (10.1)

7. Share technology as part of sharing the benefits of outer space with less technologically advanced countries (4.1-4.2)

The full Agreement [follows this article] or [is available at http://spacetreaty.org/modelimplementationagreement.pdf]:

Most of these obligations are already established in other widely adopted treaties, i.e., the Outer Space Treaty, the Rescue Agreement, the Registration Convention, and the Liability Convention. Even the Artemis Accords acknowledge many of them (see above).But there are some that are not acknowledged, such as sharing the discovery of resources, protecting the natural environment, and sharing technology. The Accords are also silent as to whether its obligations will apply to private parties.

Sharing technology is not specified in the Moon Treaty, but some view it as included in Article 4:“The exploration and use of the moon shall be the province of all mankind and shall be carried out for the benefit and in the interests of all countries, irrespective of their degree of economic or scientific development.”The “Building Blocks” of The Hague Spaces Resources International Working Group call for sharing technology on a “mutually-accepted basis”.15The Working Group members were “stakeholders of space resource activities and represent consortium partners, industry, States, international organizations, academia and NGOs.”16It is significant that stakeholders from the private sector are willing to consider the sharing of technology. If a “mutually-accepted basis” for sharing cannot be found, the Model Agreement would require the licensing of technology at fair market value.

Accepting the obligations of the Moon Treaty is the trade-off for private property rights, the “Grand Bargain” in the organizational principles. They are no more onerous or burdensome than the obligations that property owners must accept on Earth. Here, property owners must always consider what effect activity on their own property will have on others. Property on Earth is subject to regulation (e.g., zoning, permits, safety) and can be taken (with compensation) for public policy reasons. It is unreasonable to expect that the use of property on the Moon will not be subject to similar regulation.

The Model Agreement contains other provisions, such as controlling law, dispute resolution, and future governance for substantive decisions. It also protects the rights of individuals and those wanting to establish private settlements: “Nothing in this Agreement or in the Treaty shall be interpreted as denying or limiting the rights guaranteed to individuals by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, or the right of settlements to seek autonomy and/or recognition as sovereign nations.” (Paragraph 10). By providing legal support for all private activity, protecting individual rights, and maintaining essential public policies, the Model Implementation Agreement satisfies all concerns about the Moon Treaty and creates a practical, cooperative alternative to the unilateral and exclusive dominance model being proposed by the United States.

The current Model Agreement is the product of consultation with many individuals and organizations over the past three years. It now being presented for consideration as a reasonable alternative to the Artemis Accords. If adopted, the Agreement will have a significant advantage over the Accords in that, like all treaties, it will be an enforceable international agreement that is binding on the States Parties, not just a unilateral action by one country with a few activity partners. It will also be comprehensive, supporting all private activity, not just materials extraction like the Accords. And it will include an overall framework for international cooperation, including controlling law and dispute resolution, none of which are included in the Accords.

We have become familiar with the Overview Effect, that fundamental change in attitude that comes from viewing the Earth from space, as with the picture of Earthrise taken from the Moon in 1968. We must now take an overview through time. Humanity is on the verge of leaving the home planet. It is the greatest adventure and opportunity in our history, but it will be an opportunity lost if we repeat the mistakes of the last Age of Exploration. We can continue to preserve outer space for peaceful cooperation, or we can extend the pattern of domination and conflict that for too long has controlled our destiny on Earth.

At this most pivotal moment in history, the choice is ours.

Many thanks to Vidvuds Beldavs and the International Lunar Decade (https://ildwg.wordpress.com/) for assistance in researching this article.

References

1. Washington Post, videos of U.S. Vice-President Mike Pence: “Space is a warfighting domain”, October 23, 2018. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0LtLNp4nde0“We must have American dominance in space”, August 9, 2018. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9xEkyT7XrxQ

2. Bulls of Donation (1493), Wikipedia (Three papal “Bulls of Donation”- Inter Caetera,Eximiae Devotionis,and Inter Caetera (2)- were issued May 3-4, 1493, and a fourth – Dudum Siquidem– on September 26, defining the terms of the “donation” of lands to each country). https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bulls_of_Donation#cite_note-verzijl-1

3. The Treaty of Tordesillas (1494), Wikipedia.https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Treaty_of_Tordesillas

4. Treaty on Principles Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space, including the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies (The Outer Space Treaty, 1967), United Nations Office of Outer Space Activities (UNOOSA).http://www.unoosa.org/oosa/en/ourwork/spacelaw/treaties/introouterspacetreaty.html

5. Lunar Plaque, Wikipedia.https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lunar_plaque#cite_note-Moon_Flag-1

6. Agreement Governing the Activities of States on the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies (The Moon Treaty, 1984), UNOOSA.http://www.unoosa.org/oosa/en/ourwork/spacelaw/treaties/intromoon-agreement.html

7. Executive Order on Encouraging International Support for the Recovery and Use of Space Resources, The White House, April 6, 2020.

https://www.whitehouse.gov/presidential-actions/executive-order-encouraging-international-support-recovery-use-space-resources/

8.NASA, The Artemis Accords (2020).https://www.nasa.gov/specials/artemis-accords/index.html

9. “Australia would be obliged to withdraw from the Moon Treaty if it accepts an offer to join the Accords.” Mark Whittington, How the United States plans to make space exploration pay, The Hill, April 26, 2020.https://thehill.com/opinion/technology/494730-how-the-united-states-plans-to-make-space-exploration-pay?fbclid=IwAR3lwrIV43fPX6T7lMDFC9tilnzZiBdidgUEAVLzNsTl6FLBnGtInT1xWMI

10. “States shall authorize and continually supervise all lunar activities of their nationals in order to ensure compliance with international law.” Moon Village Association,Moon Village Principles Issue 2 (draft), March 5, 2020. https://moonvillageassociation.org/moon-village-principles-mvp-issue-2-draft-public-consultation-opens/

11. David Choi, ‘Exactly what President Trump wants’: Democratic governors are shunning Trump’s calls to ‘dominate’ protests using military forces, Business Insider, June 1, 2020. https://www.businessinsider.com/state-leaders-shun-trumps-calls-to-dominate-protests-using-military-2020-6

12. Michelle Hanlon, What is the Moon Treaty and is it still useful?,Filling Space, May 14, 2020.https://filling-space.com/2020/01/17/what-is-the-moon-treaty-and-is-it-still-useful/?fbclid=IwAR2HHd5x6hPQQf7AsuLuVoy5JpY98LxsWEbYofRCjiRwTIqKn8gkMP5tDGc

13. Stutt, Amanda, How Earth-bound Mining Lawyers Think About Space Mining (interview with Scot Anderson, attorney and Global Head of Energy & Natural Resources with the law firm Hogan Lovells in Denver, Colorado),Mining.Com, Jan. 3, 2020.https://www.mining.com/how-earth-bound-mining-lawyers-think-about-space-mining/?fbclid=IwAR0pbCwO20c9W_uEd1Rve0ME_6Aw5Z4XMcqr_MdTSrYr-L-VkB_TkKD5JrI

14. O’Brien, D. Legal Support for the Private Sector: An Implementation Agreement for the Moon Treaty. Adv. Astronaut. Sci. Technol. (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s42423-020-00059-w

15. The Hague International Space Resources Governance Working Group, Building Blocks For The Development Of An International Framework On Space Resource Activities (13. Sharing of benefits arising out of the utilization of space resources),November 2019.https://www.universiteitleiden.nl/binaries/content/assets/rechtsgeleerdheid/instituut-voor-publiekrecht/lucht–en-ruimterecht/space-resources/bb-thissrwg–cover.pdf

16.The Hague International Space Resources Governance Working Group, International Institute of Air and Space Law, Leiden University (2019)https://www.universiteitleiden.nl/en/law/institute-of-public-law/institute-of-air-space-law/the-hague-space-resources-governance-working-group

Model Implementation Agreementfor the Moon Treaty (May 2020)

Preface

The provisions of this Agreement and the underlying Treaty shall be interpreted and applied together as a single instrument. In the event of any inconsistency between the Agreement and the Treaty, the provisions of the Agreement shall prevail. After the adoption of the Agreement, any instrument of ratification or formal confirmation of or accession to the Treaty shall also represent consent to be bound by theAgreement. No State or entity may establish its consent to be bound by the Agreement unless it has previously established or establishes at the same time its consent to be bound by the Treaty.

1. Administration; Creation of Agency

The States Parties agree to create as soon as is practicable an agency (“Agency”) to administer the provisions of the Agreement Governing The Activities Of States On The Moon And Other Celestial Bodies (“Treaty”) and this Implementation Agreement (“Agreement”).

2. Licenses for Private Activity; Exploitation of Resources

The States Parties agree to authorize the Agency to issue licenses to non-governmental entities (“NGE”) for the priority exploitation of resources. Exploitation of resources shall include but is not limited to: (a) the extraction of materials, (b) the use of a location for any other commercial activity [e.g., tourism], and (c) the use of a location for non commercial private activity [e.g., science, settlements]. Licenses shall describe the extent, duration, and nature of the activity and shall maximize free access for all in accordance with Article I of the Treaty On Principles Governing The Activities Of States In The Exploration And Use Of Outer Space, Including The Moon And Other Celestial Bodies [the Outer Space Treaty]. Activity by governments is authorized under Treaty Articles 8 and 9.

3. Requirements for License; Adoption of Obligations

The States Parties agree that the Agency shall issue a license for any NGE activity that is authorized and supervised by a State Party to this agreement. The States Parties further agree to require that their nationals (a) accept the public policy obligations of the Treaty as mandated by Treaty Article 14, and (b) share technology as described in Paragraph 5 of this Agreement. The license shall be revoked if, at any time, a licensed NGE fails to comply with its obligations.

4. Public Policy Obligations

The States Parties agree that the public policy obligations of the Treaty and this Agreement include the following:

1. Use outer space exclusively for peaceful purposes (Treaty Article 3.1);

2. Provide co-operation and mutual assistance (4.2); 

3. Honor the Convention On Registration Of Objects Launched Into Outer Space (“Registration Convention”) and inform the public of:

– Activities (5.1)

– Scientific discoveries (5.1)

– Any phenomena which could endanger human life or health (5.3)

– Any indication of organic life (5.3)

– The discovery of resources (11.6)

– Any change of status, harmful impacts of activities, use of nuclear power, and links to websites for specific objects/activities [COPUOS recommendations]

4. Protect the environment and preserve areas of “special scientific interest” such as historic landing sites (7.1-7.3);

5. Allow free access to all areas by other parties (9.2);

6. Honor the Agreement On The Rescue Of Astronauts, The Return Of Astronauts And The Return Of Objects Launched Into Outer Space(“Rescue Treaty”) (10.1)

7. Share technology as part of sharing the benefits of outer space with less technologically advanced countries (4.1-4.2)

5. Sharing Technology; Exclusions

In accordance with Treaty Article 4, the States Parties agree to develop a process for sharing technology on a mutually acceptable basis. Until or in the absence of such a process, the States Parties agree to require their nationals to license technology at no more than fair market value. Technology that is subject to export controls shall be excluded from these requirements.

6. Standards and Recommended Practices; Registry

The States Parties, in consultation with non-governmental entities, agree to develop technology standards and recommended practices for the safe use and development of space resources. Such standards or practices shall not require technology that is subject to export controls. The Agency and/or other designated entities shall maintain the registry of such information and any information relevant to activities on the Moon that is not included in the registry for the Registration Convention that is maintained by the United Nations.

7. Protected Sites; Designation

The States Parties agree to prohibit the use or disturbance of any location on the Moon or other celestial body that is the site of a historical mission that occurred more than 20 years prior to the authorization of new activity pending a final determination of the site’s status as a Cultural Heritage Site. This prohibition applies to the location of any equipment and any evidence of presence (e.g., footprints, tracks). The States Parties agree to develop standards and recommended practices for determining what historical, cultural, or scientific sites should be protected or to designate another entity/process for making such determinations that will be binding on the States Parties.

8. Governance; Fees

The States Parties agree to create a process of governance for making substantive decisions as authorized under Articles 11 and 18 of the Treaty. The States Parties are financially responsible for the Agency, which shall be operated in a cost-effective manner. The collection and use of fees for administration or any other purpose is a substantive decision to be made by the governance process.

9. Dispute Resolution

The States Parties agree that any dispute concerning this Agreement or the Treaty shall be addressed using the consultation process detailed in Treaty Article 15. As an alternative, the States Parties hereby authorize the voluntary use of binding arbitration in accordance with the 2011 Permanent Court of Arbitration Optional Rules for Arbitration of Disputes Relating to Outer Space Activities. The results of such arbitration shall be enforceable underThe Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards(“New York Convention”).  The Agency shall facilitate and inform the arbitration.

10. Controlling Law; Rights of Individuals, Settlements

In accordance with Treaty Article 12, the States Parties agree that the controlling law at any location shall be the law of the country that authorized/supervises the activity at that location, subject to this Agreement and Treaty. Relations between locations of different nationalities will be governed by current international law, including theConvention On International Liability For Damage Caused By Space Objects(“Liability Convention”), until such time as new substantive rules are created under the governance process in Agreement Paragraph 8, as authorized by Treaty Article 18. Nothing in this Agreement or in the Treaty shall be interpreted as denying or limiting the rights guaranteed to individuals by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, or the right of settlements to seek autonomy and/or recognition as sovereign nations.

Dennis O’Brien is a member of the International Institute of Space Law and founder of The Space Treaty Project (www.spacetreaty.org). The Project is a member of the Moon Village Association; Mr. O’Brien sits on their Coordination & Cooperation workgroup

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International Law

Refugees In The Outbreak Of The Pandemic

Parismita Goswami

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Rohingya refugees fleeing conflict and persecution in Myanmar (file photo). IOM/Mohammed

The COVID-19 today is having an adverse impact on our lives although it has brought exceptional changes in climate and human behavior. The increasing number of refugees and internally displaced persons in the 21st century explains the intensified global scenario. The refugee crisis is the greatest humanitarian crisis the world has ever seen where most of them are internally displaced persons. Yet, they are humans with unique life experiences; they had dreams, children who are dwelling hopes of normal life, and a better tomorrow. The mothers are longing to return home, fathers yearning to work again, and an identity. Leaving behind their homes, being prosecuted from the country, and losing their loved ones; refugees had gone through the worst of time. Refugees are the worst sufferers in this 21st century. Around 80 million homeless people in the world most of them are from Syria, Afghanistan, South Sudan, Myanmar, and Somalia. The Syrian crisis reported being the greatest refugee crisis in the world. The United Nations also estimated the women and children to be the worst sufferers.

The refugees were tormented by years of poverty, poor health, and lack of basic infrastructures like education, food, health care, sanitation, social security, and etc. Humanitarian organizations have stretched beyond their capacity to help millions of refugees over the years. The WHO and UN Refugee Agency have signed new agreements to provide health services and benefits to the displaced and vulnerable population around the world. Among the 79.5 million forcibly displaced individuals lacks access to clean water or soap. Despite social and economic setbacks due to the pandemic, health is still the paramount factor affecting the poor and homeless. During the COVID-19 situation around the world food, medicine or sanitary products and even clean water have become inaccessible for many refugees. Social distancing has become a major concern in the refugee camps.

Challenges Upfront

The COVID -19  is severely affecting the education of the children in the refugee camps. In the refugee camps only 63% of refugees are enrolled in primary school and 24% in secondary education where most of the children are left out. The limit in pursuing education continues potentially in the refugee camps and its worsening due to the pandemic. There is a growing possibility of discrimination and xenophobia is affecting the process of socialization in their host country. Nevertheless, an unequal world with challenges to achieve education and skill training for self-development must be ceased.

In Yemen, more than 3 million people have been displaced and approximately 17 million require food. Yemen’s health facilities have either been destroyed or damaged in the conflict and with the unbridled transmission of COVID‑19 in Aden; Yemenis are living through the worst humanitarian crisis. Only a few health centers are operational in Yemen where the numbers of patients suffering from malnutrition, cholera, dengue fever, and injuries of war are very high.

In India almost 18,000 Rohingya refugees are taking shelter where thousands of them live in densely populated settlements in preposterous conditions; a third world country with the second-highest population in the world. India can hardly feed its population and especially it hosts a huge number of Refugees. Tibetan and Sri Lankan refugees have access to certain rights as assisted by the government, while the Rohingyas are still struggling for it. But, in Bangladesh, the WHO is working with governments to secure the health of nearly one million Rohingya refugees against the multiple threats of the pandemic and including natural disasters in the upcoming monsoon season.

The COVID-19 is increasing the needs and vulnerabilities of the Refugees. The United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) is concerned about the collateral effects of the pandemic among the Refugees. According to the UNHCR’s Assistant High Commissioner for Protection, due to the degrading socio-economic plight of the forcibly displaced people and poverty among them has made them a target to several traffickers that are immorally exploiting and profiteering from their culpability. The adolescent girls and children have become the victims of sexual exploitation, forced labor, slavery, and organ removal, forced recruitment into armed groups, forced marriages, or forced begging. The COVID-19-related impacts on restricted movements, closures, or availability of proper help, support services are put to constrain. The pandemic has limited the opportunity for the refugees, particularly women to seek legal support for sexual and gender-based violence.

On the World Day against Trafficking, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, UNHCR proposed for support in the prevention of trafficking and response efforts globally. The Governments and humanitarian actors together must ensure and assist the victims of trafficking

mostly among the displaced people where they are in immediate need of protection. A major initiative was taken by the WHO Eastern Mediterranean Regional Office (EMRO) to monitor the events and trend of COVID-19 among displaced populations in camps and non-camps settings for their safety.

Conclusion

 Resources are available in scanty, refugee camps and settlements are becoming overcrowded and many are being forced to sleep outside in freezing temperatures during the winters. For those living in refugee camps or camp-like situations, they also face an increased risk of COVID-19. In refugee camps, it is difficult to practice public health measures like frequent hand washing or social distancing. Therefore, it is also the responsibility of the host government to provide aid and essentials to the refugees living in their country. But in many cases, the host governments don’t have enough financial capability but can arrange testing services in certain regions, regardless of whether an individual is a national or a refugee. Secondly, even though high-income countries are currently most affected, they need to assist low- and middle-income countries because those countries don’t have the means to deal with COVID-19. The outbreak of the pandemic in populous and poor countries will put the rest of the world at continued risk.

It’s true of the fact that the world was not prepared for a pandemic and COVID-19 does not respect any boundaries. But, the governments should not use pandemic as an excuse for applying repressive policies. Efforts should be made spread information in every camp that have limited source to reliable information about COVID-19 and measures of protection.

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International Law

Understanding the unlawfulness of the Law of Armed Conflict

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The contravention of rules outlined in the Law of Armed Conflict has created an environment of exploitative exceptions in the understanding, and applicability of human rights and security in theatres of modern warfare. As these exceptions pave way for the proliferation of national might in the name of national security, and combatant safety, the human suffering for non-combatants also witnesses a proportionally massive upsurge. The changing (mis)understanding of these regulations calls for a review on the accountability and necessity of jus in bello, and its weakened importance under the ambit of the law of armed conflict, and the greater International Humanitarian Law.

More than often, man-made conflicts have been responsible for the decimation of life and property around the globe. Even though human casualty stands divided between conventional and non-conventional threats in a modern world, the protraction of man-made conflict is mainly responsible for loosening up tides after tides of bloodshed for physical or territorial gains. However, with the advent of the prospect of domestic/international accountability, and a fool-proof system of checks and balances, mankind’s warfare is held by tighter strings of transparency and justifiability, adorned by rules and regulations. Nonetheless, it is very important to analyse and understand if its techniques of armed conflicts and subsequent regulation are stringed by laws of conduct to create a policy of accountability and fairness equally amongst participating parties or are riddled with discriminatory practices, apropos to an obscure understanding of who is sacred and who is profane. Rather unsettling, the horrors of war have time and again been governed with a rather small yet informative account of jus in bello (justice in war) or the law which governs how warfare is conducted, centred in the Law of Armed Conflict.

Jus in bello falls within the ambit of the International Humanitarian Law (IHL), and as the semantics suggest, it indeed is purely humanitarian in its objective to limit human suffering in modern warfare through a strict set of pre-decided rules. Jus in bello is independent of the questions about the reason for war, or its basic rules, which in turn is explained by jus ad bellum(the law of waging war). Jus in bello, if we analyse through its literary content, consists of two parts. The first part explains principle determinants for a proper quantum of force required in armed warfare if limiting warfare is ever the case in humanitarian laws. The second part guides us through limitations and prohibitions in warfare if not complete cessation, which reminds of the old age tradition of centripetal discussions around international peace and security, albeit to no practical effect. In contrast to the humanitarian nature of the IHL, the first part of jus in bello aims to indulge the parties in conflict with a categorised, and diverse set of paradigms for use of violence. In a dubious exception, it can also encourage the parties to use toolkits of violence on adversaries, if it is justified with international/domestic military necessity, regardless of the means of interpretation, e.g. Turkey’s raid over Syria. Nonetheless, the rule of active distinction in IHL between combatants and non-combatants aims to impose limits on destruction and suffering in armed conflicts. However, the interpretation of the exceptional military necessity, proportionality, and distinction (MNPD) principles in IHL makes the death and injury of non-combatants casual, by emphasising on the miscued understanding that any unintentional attack with extreme unaccountability on non-combatants can, and will be classified as “collateral damage”. It ends up giving a sense of irresponsibility, justifiability, and immunity to the unprejudiced actions of the armed combatants since their actions are no longer a criminal or civil liability.

Fortunately, the second part of jus in bello adheres to the responsibilities in humanitarian law and imposes strict, absolute limits on certain instruments and modes of violence which can most certainly, if given a free hand, increase human casualty and suffering. These rules are extremely significant and cannot be exploited for potential military advantages. It is extremely altruistic to non-combatants. Nevertheless, a major limitation of the second part, as a general exception concerns the legality of warfare in the treatment and torture of prisoners of war by nation-states, regardless of the combatant and non-combatant status. One such example of that exploited limitation is the question on the authorization of torture, and indignation by US Personnel in the infamous Abu Ghraib prisons, which is backed by a textbook excuse that under US military commissions, information acquired through torture, generally inadmissible in domestic US civil/military courts will be considered as evidence for the sake of its internal security, and can ignore international laws and declarations. Fundamentally, even though this rule is in contrast with The Military Commission Act of 2006 section 6 (c)(1), the international organisations, honouring their commitment to the UN Charter Chapter 1, Article 2(7), limit their intervention in the matter. This is even though the US has ratified UNCAT Convention against Torture, and stands in clear violation of international decrees.

Moreover, the penumbra veiling the opacity of scores of military commissions, omissions and laws in this particular matter by different nation-states has threatened to unsettle various humanitarian provisions in jus in Bello, to evolve with the growing needs of armed conflict, primarily after the US’s war on terrorism. Major western nation-states like the UK and the US have called for a case by case approach into evidence gained from torture, taking a cue from Churchill’s “supreme emergency” dictum, henceforth, threatening to make torture a tool of plausible military necessity, which is unproportioned and discriminatory towards non-combatants.

Articulating the terminology change in IHL over due course of time, and an itemization of new crimes post-World War II, it is to be brought into notice the alarming plethora of provisions that have changed course in jus in bello. Regardless of the differentiation between combatants/prisoners of war, and non-combatants in Article 37(1) of Additional Protocol I and Article 44 of Protocol I of Geneva Convention, the lack of trust among state actors over doubtful logic and morality due to the inclusion of irregular fighters, non-state actors, and foreign fighters in modern warfare leads to unprecedented failure to comply with the second part prohibitions. This has resulted in the loss of a great majority of non-combatants in the conflicts of the 21st Century.

Furthermore, with the increasing reliance on tech-based warfare to minimise combatant casualty among state actors, WMDs have been the instrument of choice against the belligerent party. Unfortunately, the volatile firepower of such weapons, as well as its unprejudiced understanding between combatants, and civilians are judged under MNPD principles. Regardless of its clear military, and political danger over misuse, it is still accepted frivolously in the international community, and among state actors as a weapon of choice. The existence of nuclear weapons even after strengthened efforts towards non-proliferation, and its evolving doctrines of use among various nation-states, is an example of this effort to sham jus in bello, which is acting towards effective distinction in conflicts. The concept of the use of WMDs as a possible deterrent or a method of national self-defence is heavily prejudiced and debated in the international legal community, which openly admits that it cannot regulate the legality or illegality of such weapons by a nation-state in cases of self-defence, whatever the interpretation may be. Instead, they added this responsibility on MNPD principles, and un-verified claims of user assessment for self-defence, which technically does nothing to put a halt on the proliferation of WMD usage as an instrument of fear-mongering, e.g. the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

In the end, the lack of political will, and international compliance, marred by selfish national interests have worked more to change the law of armed conflicts, rather than strictly implementing it. The increasing reliance on the first part of jus in bello threatens to omit the second part from IHL, resulting in warfare and conflicts in modern times without a leash to save civilians from the unavoidable line of fire. It is high time that the international community takes a stand to promote and propagate the relevance of IHL to preserve the purity of conventions in place years ago, without pressure from major nation-states. These conventions find their relevance even now until mankind in its very nature of gaining more power decides to uproot it once and for all.

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International Law

How India’s Current Digital Strike Against China Is well-Protected Under article 14 Of Gats

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As the military tensions between India and China were steadily increasing due to Chinese intrusion into India territory at the Galwan valley, India on 29th June, 2020 launched a digital strike against China to counter its unwarranted territorial aggression. In a press release as issued by the Indian government, it was stated that 59 applications were decided to block as such applications are “prejudicial to sovereignty and integrity of India, defence of India, security of state and public order”.

Certainly, the digital strike has been hailed by many countries that were aware of the rising accusations of Chinese surveillance on sensitive communications. China has often been blamed for the act of stealing foreign intellectual property for its military advancement. The Chinese government has been using these applications as a medium to institutionalize a system that legally and illegally acquires the foreign technology for its domestic advantage and strategic development.

Although, as this Indian geo-political move has much significance in the ongoing debate of protecting the sovereignty of India, China, on the other hand, has threatened to sue India at WTO dispute resolution forum for potentially violating the multilateral WTO agreements. China has termed this Indian app-banning move as an abuse to national security exception. It has stated that this move is ‘selective and discriminatory’ and against ‘fair and transparent procedure requirements’ thus, violating the trade-liberalizing agreements. However, India has squared-off all the Chinese claims by terming them frivolous because India’s WTO sovereignty and national security defence argument in this incident is much stronger and infallible.

Therefore, in this article, I would be discussing that how India’s recent measure is protected under the provisions of Article XIV (a), XIV (c) (2), and XIV Bis of GATS and thus how it raises a strong stance in favour of India that can rebut the baseless Chinese WTO threat.

Article xiv and xiv bis of the gats

GATS is a multilateral agreement that is established to provide rules for trade in services with a view to the expansion of such trade while ensuring transparency and progressive liberalization in order to promote the economic growth. Although this agreement desires to achieve a higher level of liberalization, it still recognizes the right of Member-state to regulate, and to introduce new regulation, on the supply of services within their territories to meet national policy objectives.

Article XIV is one such provision articulated in the agreement that provides the Member-state to accommodate other policy goals and choices made in accordance with domestic laws and societal values. This article expresses the scope of particular matters related to national importance including privacy and public order. Moreover, Article XIV bis is another such provision that accommodates security exceptions that provide the room for implementing those actions which it considers necessary for the protection of its essential security interests.

India’s move of blocking applications is well-based on these provisions that provide the sovereign country like India to take all policy measures which protects the security of its state and thus, its recent measures are protected under these Articles.

Measure protected under Article XIV (A) of GATS

Article XIV (a) gives the liberty to the member-state for adopting or enforcing any measures that are necessary to protect public morals or to maintain public order. According to the Panel Report in dispute of United States –Gambling, public order has been defined as “the preservation of the fundamental interests of a society, as reflected in public policy and law.”

In the same WTO dispute, two-tier analysis of justifying the member-state measure under this specific provision has been provided. The panel states that member-state has to satisfy two elements that are firstly the measure must be one designed to “maintain public order”; and secondly the measure for which justification is claimed must be “necessary” to maintain public order.

In the present scenario, India’s measure to ban the 59 Chinese apps was necessary to maintain the public order. As India provides the primary market of digital space, there is a higher risk of exploitation of fundamental interests of the society and its citizens. According to the Ministry of Information Technology, many complaints were filed with them which summarily reports about misusing of these applications to steal and underhandedly transmitting users’ data in an illegal manner to data servers that are located outside the territory of India. Therefore, it was important for India to protect the fundamental interest and values of its citizens and thus, a necessity which is an objective standard has been evolved for India to take such WTO-consistent repressive measure which was reasonably available to protect the public order of its country after following the test of weighing and balancing a series of factors as determined by Appellate Body in WTO dispute of Korea-Beef.

Moreover, as this measure promotes the maintenance of public order, it was found by the appellate body in the dispute of US-Gambling that the member-state is not obliged to explore and exhaust all other reasonably available alternatives and there is no need for prior consultations with the counter-part before implementing such measure and thus, this measure is WTO-consistent and protected under Article XIV (a) of GATS.

Measure protected under Article XIV (C) (2) of GATS

This Article provides the liberty to the member-state like India to adopt or enforce such measure that is necessary to secure compliance with such laws and regulations that are not inconsistent with the provisions of GATS. Further, this provision provides a non-exhaustive list of those laws or regulations that are not inconsistent with WTO and clause (2)specifically provides a WTO-consistent provision that relates to “protection of the privacy of individuals in relation to the processing and dissemination of personal data and the protection.” In the WTO dispute of Mexico-Soft Drinks, the Appellate Body explained the meaning of law or regulations and held that such term is used to denote the rules including international agreements that form part of the domestic legal system of a WTO member-state.

Under this provision, it is necessary to show that the measure which is enforced was necessary and was further designed to secure compliance with the WTO-consistent law. Undeniably, the current measure which banned the Chinese apps was particularly designed to secure compliance with the Indian Constitution (WTO-consistent law) as well as other Indian legislations that accounts for protecting the privacy of its citizens as these apps were threatening and violating the privacy of its users. This measure is said to be securing the compliance as its design reveals that the certain measure protecting the right to privacy of its citizens under Article 21 of the Constitution.

The Supreme Court of India in its landmark decision held that right to privacy including the aspect of information privacy is a facet of Article 21 of the Indian Constitution and thus it is a fundamental right guaranteed to everyone. Therefore, when the Indian government was satisfied that there was a reasonable apprehension regarding the security of data and breach of privacy of its citizens due to operation of such certain apps, it became indispensably necessary for the Indian government to enforce such WTO-consistent measure to ban these applications to protect the privacy and sensitive data of its citizens from being harmed and intruded. Moreover, the Appellate Body in dispute of Dominican Republic-Import and Sale of Cigarettes held that the member-state has the whole right to determine for themselves the level of enforcement of their WTO-consistent law, thus this measure was necessarily implemented to secure compliance with the Constitutional principles of India and hence, this measure is protected under Article XIV (c) (2).

Measure protected under Article XIV BIS of GATS

This article provides for the security exceptions that allow the member-state to take any actions that are required to preserve the sovereignty and national security interests of its state in times of war or any emergency in international relations. The recent ban of these 59 apps was in regard to terminate their usage as it was reported that these apps were being engaged in activities which were prejudicial to sovereignty and integrity of India and have been acting hostile to national security and defence of India. Such threats to the pillars of democracy required emergency measures and therefore, India’s measure to disallow the usage of these applications was a result to ensure safety and sovereignty of Indian cyberspace.

Moreover, this action of India cannot be seen in isolation and there is a need to appreciate the geo-political evidence revolving around India that aggravated the situation. There was a weather of emergency created in India due to the repeated aggression shown by the Chinese government at the Line of Actual Control. Even 20 Indian soldiers were martyred during the violent face-off with the Chinese counterpart. Such incident potentially raises a situation of emergency in international relations and that further allows India to take the defence of Article XIV Bis to eclipse its digital strike under the ambit of necessary and strategic action taken to protect the security and sovereignty of India.

Conclusion

For China, the doors of WTO are ajar to try its last fling to protect its shameful diplomacy of unfair practices; however, approaching to this organization will do more harm than good for China as the case of India is strong and firm. India’s current diplomatic measure is clearly WTO-consistent and squarely falls under the Security and General exceptions provided under GATS, therefore, there is no instance of trade violation. Instead of giving a baseless threat, China should try to mediate and consult the issue with the Indian government to protect the trade market that it used to enjoy before the ban. It should also try to introduce reformative measures that ensure accountability and transparency amongst the links between the Chinese government and the Chinese economic players. The world is now aware of the dirty economic strategies that China is implementing to build a Chinese century and this time, the world would rebut back with stronger measures just like India declared a digital war against China.

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