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International Law

UN Convention on the Law of Non-Navigational Uses of International Watercourses (1997)

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On May 21, 1997, the United Nations General Assembly issued Resolution 51/229, approving the International Convention on the Use of Watercourses for Non-Navigational Purposes. One hundred and three countries voted in favour of the agreement, and only three (Burundi, Turkey and China) voted against it, with twenty-seven abstentions.

The Convention is divided into seven chapters, consisting of 37 articles. The main areas covered by the Convention include the definition of the term watercourse, watercourse agreements, equitable and reasonable utilization, the obligation not to cause significant harm, notification of planned measures, protection, conservation and management, and the settlement of disputes can arise.

Since the United Nations General Assembly passed its resolution, this convention has governed the use, protection and management of international watercourses. In May 2014, the required thirty-five instruments of ratification, acceptance and approval of the Convention were completed.

This study touches on some of the new concepts in this agreement that came to light after many years of delicate and complex discussions between the various parties that drafted it. It will be pointed out how Lebanon can benefit from this agreement.

The history of the agreement and its main features

There were no specific laws in the field of states’ rights to water, but rather a set of principles and norms that later became a source for resolving disputes related to the water issue.

The absence of a clear and accurate international legal source has led to a lack of progress in negotiations regarding the outstanding water issues in the Middle East. In every problem, the parties refer to the norms that are in their favour. For example, the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, where the Arab countries considered these rivers as international rivers whose water must be shared, while Turkey was arguing with the logic of national sovereignty because it is the country of the source, and it considered the two rivers to cross the border.

The United Nations International Law Commission adopted a reading of a draft international convention on the use of international watercourses for non-navigational purposes in 1994. It was made up of more than 20 articles whose objectives were to define and clarify some points that were not clear in the purely legal sense in international agreements.

The International Law Commission had difficulty in drafting the law and this was evident in the long period of time to reach a final draft of the Convention. The Committee faced difficulties in defining the terms international watercourses, trans-boundary groundwater, existing watercourse agreements and their relation to this international agreement, and the relationship between the principle of fair and reasonable use and the principle of the obligation not to cause any harm.

The definition of the international watercourse has been established and the principle of notification has been defined when projects are to be implemented on the watercourse in the event that they may result in harm to other watercourse countries, and in the event of opposition by one of these countries, they enter into negotiations with the aim of reaching an agreement.

The agreement is considered complementary to the bilateral or regional agreements that regulate the uses of shared waters, and it is not a substitute for it.

It can be considered a framework agreement because it deals with some basic procedural aspects and a few substantive aspects. As for the small details, it is left to the riparian states to formulate them in bilateral agreements that take into account the specific characteristics of the watercourse.

The Convention aims to ensure the use, development, conservation, management and protection of international watercourses and to promote their optimal and sustainable use.

Article 3 indicates that the Convention does not affect the rights or obligations of a watercourse state arising from agreements in force. However, the article requires the parties to consider, when necessary, how these agreements conform to the basic principles of the international agreement. In addition, the article states that if some, but not all, of a particular international watercourse state are parties to an agreement, nothing in such agreement shall affect the rights and obligations of watercourse states that are not parties to it under this agreement.

Thus, the Convention attempts to reconcile the right of states to conclude agreements with the equality of the right of other riparian states to the common watercourse.

Article 5 of the Convention states the right of each watercourse state to make use of the international watercourse in its territory in an equitable and reasonable manner. States are obligated to use and develop an international watercourse with a view to optimizing and obtaining benefits from it, taking into account the interests of the watercourse States concerned, in a manner consistent with its adequate protection.

Article 6 explains specific factors and circumstances that should be taken into account in determining the concept of equitable and reasonable utilization. The Convention also addresses, in Article 7, the issue of the obligation not to cause significant harm to other watercourse States.

It is difficult to agree on which of the two rules (equitable and reasonable utilization or not causing significant harm). This preoccupied the International Law Commission throughout its work on the Convention, and each rapporteur dealt with this issue differently, either by equating the two principles or by subordinating one to the other. The lower riparian states tend to prefer the no-harm rule, because this rule protects existing uses from the effects of the activities of the upstream states. In contrast, the upper riparian states tend to prefer the principle of equitable and reasonable utilization, because it allows more room for states to benefit from their share of the watercourse through activities that may affect the states located downstream.

Some experts in international water law believe that the Convention has made the obligation not to cause significant harm subject to equitable and reasonable utilization.

The agreement also addressed the principle of prior notification, and detailed in several articles the duties of the state that intends to establish the project to notify the rest of the riparian states and provide them with information related to the project, including the environmental assessment report. It must be clarified that the obligation to notify applies to all states, whether they are downstream or upstream. The agreement also dealt with the issue of protecting the environment of the international watercourse and preventing, reducing and combating pollution.

The agreement concluded with a lengthy article on the methods of settling disputes. It includes negotiation at the request of one of the parties, or the good offices, mediation or conciliation of a third party, or the use by those parties of any institutions of a common watercourse that the parties have established, or they agree to submit the dispute to arbitration, or to the International Court of Justice.

These are all methods up to the parties to the conflict to choose between them. However, the agreement obliges the parties in the event of their failure to agree on a means of resolving the dispute, such as submitting that dispute, at the request of any party, to an impartial fact-finding committee. The agreement details the work procedures of the impartial committee, and the committee decides to adopt its report by a majority of votes.

At first, the majority of Arab countries agreed to the agreement, while five countries were absent: Iraq, Lebanon, Mauritania, Somalia and Comoros. Egypt abstained from voting, and it was the only Arab country to take that position because it believed that the agreement did not clearly protect historical rights because of its focus on the principle of equitable and reasonable utilization.

How Lebanon can benefit from the international agreement

The agreement will help protect Lebanon’s rights from attempts by Israel (which abstained from voting in favour of the agreement) to control as much of waters as possible.

Based on the figure shown, Israel has water ambitions, especially since the majority of its water use goes to agriculture (more than 2 billion m3).

Before diving into the details of Lebanon benefiting from the international agreement, we have to take a look at some striking numbers.

These figures are issued by the Lebanese Ministry of Water Resources. The amount of rain and snow falling on Lebanese territory is 9700 million cubic meters per year, and the following is lost from this amount of rain:

5070 million m3 by evaporation

600 million m3 seepage into the ground

415 million m3 to Syria through the Orontes (Assi) River

95 million m3 to Syria through the Nahr al-Kabir al-Shamali

140 million m3 to Palestine through the Hasbani River

Thus, the net amount that Lebanon can use

9700-(5070 +600+415+95+140) = 3375 million m3

With regard to Lebanon’s right to the quantity of water, there is no text in international law that gives countries a specific percentage of water. Rather, the law sets general principles that all countries benefiting from a single watercourse must observe, and leave it to the experts, whether they are from the countries directly concerned or from the United Nations, in order to reach a common understanding, just as it is proposed on the Wazzani River issue, because the armistice agreement governs the relationship between Lebanon and Israel.

The dispute over water has existed for a long time between Palestine and its neighboring countries, and it is based on how to exploit the Jordan River. In 1953, the United Nations put in place a project to share the waters of the Jordan River, but unfortunately it did not give Lebanon a drop of it, and then the Arab League responded to it with another project, Lebanon participated in its development, taking a share of 35 million cubic meters from the waters of the Hasbani River, while Syria got 132 million m3 from the Banias rivers and the waters of Al-Wadaya and Yarmouk.

Israel responded to this project with another third, in which it introduced the Litani River into the Jordan River system and gave Lebanon 450 million m3, knowing that the Litani alone gives about 800 million m3 and 140 million m3 from Hasbani, thus Israel has given Lebanon half of the share to take the largest share.

This project aims at economic and political normalization with Israel, and recognition of the Zionist entity and its rights in Arab waters.

Legally, there is no treaty between Lebanon and Israel that determines the amount of water for each party. Lebanon only took its right to water in the Johnston project, which is 35 million m3. The Arab countries rejected Johnson’s project, which the Israelis also rejected.

Based on the Convention’s definition of the term watercourse, I will present some information regarding the Jordan River or the so-called Jordan Basin.

Its length is 252 km and its basin area is 40,000 km2, which is four times the area of Lebanon. 60% of this basin is located in the Kingdom of Jordan. Although the area of the Jordan River Basin, which is located in Syria and Lebanon, is small and does not exceed 5% of the area of its basin, it receives the largest amount of water from the basin. In the area where the Allenby Bridge is located, and until the end of the basin in Lebanon, it receives about 13 billion m3 of rain annually. It is in this region that the main tributaries of the Jordan River are located.

In the upper river basin, where Lake Hula was formerly (and was drained by the Israelis), the important tributaries of the river come from Jabal al-Sheikh and the Golan. These rivers are: Al-Hasbani, its capacity is about 150 million m3 and it originates in Lebanon, then Banias, and it originates from Jabal al-Sheikh in Syria, and it feeds Jordan with about 160 million m3. In this area of ​​the upper basin of the river, the Al-Baragheth River flows with a capacity of 20 million m3, and the Hula springs feed the river with about 130 million m3. That is, the river is fed in this range by a total of 820 million m3.

These previously mentioned quantities flow into Lake Tiberias, which is the largest reservoir in Palestine to collect fresh water and distribute it on Palestinian lands up to the Negev. After the river exits Lake Tiberias and for a short distance it meets with its most important tributary, the Yarmouk River, in which water collects from the Hauran plains, the Golan Heights, and the northwestern Jordan, where it feeds the Jordan River by about 490 million m3. The Jordan River continues its flow until it flows into the Dead Sea. Meanwhile, its tributaries meet in the East Bank, which feeds it with about 270 million m3, the most important of which are in Jordan: Wadi Al-Arab, Wadi Al-Yabis, Zarqa River and Wadi Shuaib, and from the streams of the occupied West Bank, the river feeds in its course with about 250 million m3.

Thus, the water revenue of the Jordan River consists of about 1900 million m3, mostly from Syria, Jordan, and then Lebanon.

What is the area occupied by Al-Wazzani in the Jordan River network, and what Al-Hasbani constitutes for Jordan, and Al-Wazzani for Al-Hasbani:

The Hasbani River is one of the upper tributaries of the Jordan River, in which there are more than one tributary, and it is the “head” of the Jordan River – if it is correct to say – or its beginning. Al-Hasbani starts from the upper part of eastern Lebanon in the Rashaya region (Yanta and Aita al-Fakhr), and penetrates Lebanon with a length of 55 km and 21 km from the Hasbani spring. The average rate of this river (ie its annual level or discharge) varies from one reference to another, with 138 and 140 million m3.

As for the springs that flow into this river, they are:

  1. Al-Hasbani Spring, which gives it 31 million m3
  2. Sareed Spring 20 million m3
  3. Two springs that come from Shebaa, namely the Jouz spring and the Maghara spring, and they give it 10 m3
  4. Al-Wazzani sprin gives it 4.61 million m3

As for the remaining 18 m3, it comes from valleys, small springs, and a torrent.

International law defines in its articles the principles on which the rights of states in international waters are determined, which are seven. Based on Article VI of the Convention, which relates to factors related to equitable and reasonable utilization, which are:

  1. Geographical, hydrological, climatic and ecological factors and other factors that have a natural character.
  2. The social and economic needs of the concerned watercourse states.
  3. The population that depends on the watercourse in each watercourse country.
  4. Effects of the use or uses of a watercourse in one of the watercourse countries on other watercourse countries.
  5. Existing and potential uses of the watercourse.
  6. Preserving, protecting, developing and economizing the water resources of the watercourse and the costs of the measures taken in this regard.
  7. The availability of alternatives of comparable value for a specific intended or existing use.

In the case of Wazzani, Lebanon is the country of the source, which means that the head of the Jordan River is the Hasbani, and it is known that the country of the source is able to control if it has the capabilities, which is a set of geographical, hydrographic (watercourses), hydrological (water characteristics), climatic and ecological factors, and all these mentioned factors are available.

In addition, the water is fresh, but it becomes saline by an increase of 20 per cent when it flows into Lake Tiberias, so this water is strategic because it mitigates the nature of the salty water, especially the springs adjacent to the Sea of ​​Galilee. It is worth noting that the lake’s water evaporates, as it is located 210 meters below sea level, which leads to a loss of about 270 million m3 of its water.

Paragraph “e” supports Lebanon’s position in terms of restoring the Wazzani water, which stipulates the existing and various uses in terms of Lebanon’s compelling to implement agricultural projects along the river in the presence of about 4,000 hectares suitable for agriculture, in addition to Lebanon having to build a dam to generate electricity provided that the water is not cut off about Israel.

Then paragraph “f”, which stipulates the preservation, protection, development and economy of the water resources of the watercourse, and of course Lebanon, will preserve them as it is its only wealth.

In addition to that, Article 7 refers to the issue of the obligation not to cause significant harm to other watercourse states, and this protects Lebanon from any action that Israel might take to harm its waters.

Previously, the practical response by the Lebanese government to Israeli ambitions was the construction of the Qaraoun Dam and related projects. This response is not without a political dimension. Now it is expected to complete the second phase of the Litani project, construct the Khardali Dam, and distribute the river’s water to the land and people of the south.

By reviewing the terms of the agreement, Lebanon, for example, alone or in cooperation with Syria and Turkey, since there is more than one common river (the Orontes ‘Assi’ with Syria and Turkey, and the Great River with Syria), based on Article 19 and 20, can take measures to prevent pollution and protect the sewage ecosystem aquatic. Through these measures, the environment is preserved, and this is a benefit to Lebanon.

I note that Article 24 relating to management has a clause related to cooperation between the states of the same watercourse for the sustainable development of the watercourse. Thus, through sustainable development, future generations can benefit from this watercourse, and this certainly has a benefit for Lebanon.

Article 26 emphasizes that the stream states must cooperate to maintain the facilities connected to the stream, and this is another benefit for Lebanon in the event that it requests Syria’s assistance in maintenance work in the event that the Lebanese state is not able to carry out these works alone.

Watercourse states shall develop plans to confront a natural emergency (earthquakes, floods) or as a result of industrial action, to ensure facing the dangers that may occur and may affect the watercourse states. These steps are binding according to Article 28.

With regard to waterways in times of armed conflict, they enjoy a kind of protection guaranteed by the principles of international law, provided that these waterways are not used to violate these international rules. Lebanon benefits from this immunity, especially in the Wazzani area, which has long threatened the Israelis to take measures hostile to the Lebanese sovereignty. I recall that the Israeli army built dirt roads near the Wazzani resort that are suitable for military use to cross the vehicles in order to do any aggressive act. In addition, this army penetrated the technical strip at the Wazzani point and repeatedly threatened the owners of the tourist resort there, as long as Lebanon does not use that area in a way that contradicts the principles of international law, then Lebanon benefits from the international protection of the Wazzani watercourse.

With regard to national security, Lebanon is not obligated to provide vital information related to its national security to Israel as stipulated by Term 31.

As we have seen, Lebanon can benefit from the agreement that suits its interests in a number of matters, and thus proves its right before the international community and has a legal basis in the face of Israeli ambitions.


The States that acceded to the Convention affirmed their conviction of the necessity of cooperation and collective action in the field of international watercourses in order to protect them and to promote the optimal use of international watercourses.

The entry into force of the United Nations Convention on International Watercourses is a major achievement of international law. It is also a confirmation of the principle of cooperation on international watercourses, and the theory of equitable and reasonable utilization.

The international law of water is the law of cooperation. Cooperation is the only way to make the most of, manage and protect a shared watercourse.

The Lebanese state must be alert to all the points that serve its interests and that harm it, in order to face all the upcoming challenges. It should not be overlooked that international law obliges states to announce their projects to the countries concerned, and to the United Nations in the event of hostility, as is the case between Lebanon and Israel, so that the relationship between them is governed by the armistice agreement.

Israel’s failure to sign the agreement does not absolve it from its non-compliance with the principles of international law, because the latter is customary law.

Finally, Lebanon and the Arabs have a binding legal text that is considered a strong card in their hands, but unfortunately regional and global conditions or pressures will remain the strongest in the process of determining sharing water between countries.

Mohamad Zreik is an independent researcher, doctor of international relations. His areas of research interests are related to the Foreign Policy of China, Belt and Road Initiative, Middle Eastern Studies, China-Arab relations, East Asian Affairs, Geopolitics of Eurasia, and Political Economy. Mohamad has many studies and articles published in high ranked journals and well-known international newspapers. His writings have been translated into many languages, including French, Arabic, Spanish, German, Albanian, Russian, Bosnian, Bulgarian, etc.

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Why International Institutions Survive: An Afterword to the G20 Summit

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Media Center G20 Indonesia/Prastyo Utomo/wsj/hd/22.

We, of course, are extremely critical of the very idea of global institutions and the prospects for their survival amid the emergence of a qualitatively new international order. Basic ideas about how such organisations appear and why they work, as well as the practical experience of the past decades, constantly demonstrate how unprepared such forms of interaction between states turn out to be to solve their most important hypothetical task — limiting selfish manifestations in the behaviour of their own creators. However, the institutions persist and, moreover, their number is increasing due to the formation of new specific regional platforms and global gatherings of powers, which is happening both formally and informally.

Just a few days ago, another G20 summit took place in Indonesia — a meeting of the 20 supposedly most developed powers. These economies first convened 13 years ago to discuss the fight against the global consequences of the financial crisis in Western countries. This association is not a formal international organisation, unlike the UN or the World Trade Organization, and does not have its own secretariat or specialised agencies. However, in its composition, the G20 has turned out to be one of the most promising institutional undertakings of the entire post-Cold War period.

The reason is that the G20, first, is quite objective in terms of participation criteria and, second, is completely non-democratic in terms of the formation of its membership. In the simplest terms, it was created by the leading powers of the West — the G7 countries — at a historical moment when they felt the need to make their decisions more legitimate, to gain a new way to influence growing economies, and, finally, share some of their own economic difficulties with the rest of the world not only in fact, but also organisationally.

Other countries of the world included in the G20 list compiled by the USA and Britain were glad to accept this invitation. First of all, because they saw an opportunity to limit the West’s monopoly on making the most important decisions, or, at least, to get new chances to reflect some of their interests there. Thus, both groups of participants made a very pragmatic choice amid circumstances where the West was still strong enough that no one could expect to survive without its consent.

The G20, as we can see, was created for special purposes in special circumstances, which, by the way, also applies to any international institution set up during the second half of the 20th and early 21st century. Even the United Nations (UN) was an intellectual creation of the United States and Britain, aimed to preserve and strengthen their influence on international affairs after the World War II. Another thing is that the UN still tried to live its own life, and now the presence of Russia and China in its “Areopagus”, i.e. among the permanent members of the Security Council, creates the appearance that the hypothetical pinnacle of world governance relatively adequately reflects the distribution of aggregate power capabilities. However, during the Cold War, as now, we see that all really important issues regarding war and peace are decided by the great powers among themselves.

As for the impact on the main processes in the world that emerged after the end of the Cold War, here it was the G20 that was considered a suitable palliative solution juxtaposed between the omnipotence of the West and the desire of the rest to get at least a part of the “pie” of the global distribution of goods. Moreover, 14 years ago, when the G20 began to meet, none of the major countries of the modern World Majority imagined a direct confrontation with the West and all sought to integrate into the globalisation led by it, even without a special revision of the rules and norms that existed there before. This fully applies to Russia, which quite sensibly assessed its strength. There were still five years left before the ambitious Xi Jingping came to power in China, when most observers considered the strengthening of Beijing’s economic and political proximity to be the most plausible scenario for Sino-American relations.

However, it was the financial crisis of 2008-2013 that turned out to be a turning point, from which everyone seemed to have realised that it is not necessary to count on the existing model of globalisation to solve the basic problems of development and economic growth. The cyclicality of economic development and the accumulated imbalances in trade, global finance and everything else made it clear that a return to sustainable growth in the US and Europe was unrealistic, and saving what had already been created would require a much tougher policy in relation to the distribution of benefits on a global scale. The emerging economies, of which China quickly took the lead, could expect a more sustainable position, but also doubted the West’s ability to act as a benevolent engine of the global economy. In other words, it was at the very moment when the G20 emerged as an institution that the leading states realised that it was no longer possible to save globalisation in its previous form, and economic shocks would very likely lead to violent geopolitical clashes.

Therefore, the extremely informal and, at the same time, representative G20 arose precisely as a mechanism for a “civilised divorce” of countries actively involved in globalisation on the eve of its inevitable crisis.

In this respect, it was indeed the pinnacle of the institutional approach to problem-solving that marked the entire 20th century. What follows should be either the formation of a new balance of power and the adaptation of institutions to it, or their complete disintegration with an unclear prospect for states going beyond bilateral agreements or relatively narrow regional associations and forums.

We see that the most successful multilateral projects of our time are either a continuation of those that have already taken place, like ASEAN or NATO, or completely new regional groupings with uncertain prospects and internal structures. The promising Shanghai Cooperation Organisation should be included among the latter. The latest SCO summit in Uzbekistan revealed that its participants were highly able to single out from the whole set of international problems of Eurasia and their own development issues those that make sense to discuss at the multilateral level. In addition, Sino-Russian leadership in the SCO leaves hope that other participating countries will be able to build their interests into the priorities and integrity limits of the two Eurasian giants. India only adds pluralism, allowing alternatives to the increasingly solidarity positions of Moscow and Beijing to be put forward.

However, the fact that the G20 is, in reality, a tool for the civilised dismantling of the existing order rather than their renewal does not mean its immediate death. After all, we already know examples where organisations created to “divorce” participants retain their vitality beyond solving the most important problems associated with this unpleasant process. The latest G20 summit was overshadowed by the desire of the Western countries, which, together with their satraps from the European Union institutions, make up the majority, to turn the political part of the meeting into a fight against Russia. However, at the same time, we saw that the Indonesian presidency used such intentions to increase its independence in world affairs and rejected all Western claims regarding Russian participation. In addition, an important personal meeting between the leaders of the United States and China took place on the sidelines of the summit, which allowed them to temporarily dispel the expectation of an inevitable clash, which seemed likely only three months ago.

Of course, we are far from thinking that China, India or other developing countries, not to mention Russia, see the G20 as a way to take global leadership away from the West. In Moscow, Beijing, New Delhi and other capitals, they know that those institutions that do not fully meet American interests are easily sacrificed to the current circumstances. However, first, such a radical US approach still has a chance to change under increasing pressure from outside and inside. Second, the G20 is still a platform that can survive as at least a club filled with contradictions, precisely amid the complete decline of formal global international institutions. And it looks like we won’t have to wait very long.

From our partner RIAC

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Cooperation in a Changing World: A Discussion on New Regionalism and Globalisation

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The two main trends that have shaped the World Economic Order are 1) multilateralism, which sets global rules for international trade without favouritism, and 2) new regionalism, which sets up several zones of regional free trade and cooperation that can apply development and economic growth more quickly and flexibly but have a limited geographic scope.

Hettne (1995) says that “new regionalism” is not a single policy but a set of policies that focus on economics or other factors. “Regionalism” refers to a complex change process involving state and non-state actors at the global, regional, and national levels. Since actors and processes interact at many different levels and their relative importance changes over time and space, it is impossible to say which level is the most important (Soderbaun, 2001).

This article highlights the discussions between the experts on regional cooperation and integration and the supporters of multilateralism and globalisation. The objective is not to extend arguments that can be endless due to rich literature, however, it is to show the major points of contention that can lead to more research and discussions.

Gilson (2002) and other scholars argue that regionalism divides the international system into different and separated competitive blocks, despite arguments to the contrary from authors and analysts like Hettne (1998, 2005), Beeson (2009), and Dent (2004). Regionalism, especially forms of closed regionalism, acts as an obstacle on the path to globalisation (Dent, 2008).

Authors in the first category argue that globalisation and regionalism are not mutually exclusive concepts. Their reasoning rests on the GATT-WTO conception of regionalism and regionalisation as integral to and predating globalisation. As of 2022, the WTO had informed about 356 Regional Trade Agreements (RTAs) in force (and its predecessor, the GATT), while several others are thought to be in effect but have yet to be reported (see: WTO, 2022 database).

 Regional trade liberalisation and cooperation arrangements have been considered important intermediate measures, enabling nations to cope with the risks and opportunities of the global market and embrace new multilateral regulations (Katzenstein, 1997). The developing tensions between economic regionalism and economic multilateralism directly result from the mutually reinforcing nature of regionalism and globalisation. As seen with the end of the Uruguay Round, when integration into the EU prompted some member states to adopt the GATT deal, and with NAFTA’s significant impact on the liberalisation of investments, regional cooperation can be a good stepping stone to an accessible international economy. According to Summers (1991), regionalism affects the multilateral international trade system and will increasingly serve as a driving factor towards liberalisation. Summers contends that regional liberalisation is the best approach towards liberalisation and globalisation.

In contrast, the second category of experts’ places greater emphasis on the notion that discriminatory regional and sub-regional accords are a response to globalisation. As an example, Bhagwati (1993) argues that protectionism, mercantilism and other regionalism delay global liberalisation and threaten the multilateral trading system. Bergsten (1997) says that the European Monetary Union (EMU) shows how it sets priorities that differ from those of the world. Furthermore, regional blocs can contribute to geo-economics conflicts, which may have political implications.

Three key issues are raised by those who want complete dependence on the multilateral approach (Bhagwati and Panagariya, 1996):

  1. Trade is diverted by regional cooperation.
  2. The distraction of attention.
  3. The geopolitical consequences of regionalism.

 First, they point out that trade is diverted by regional cooperation that provides members favourable treatment over non-members. Members may also profit from favourable policies and regulations for restricted content in addition to differential tariffs. According to opponents, the disadvantage of regional liberalisation can be more than overcome by the impact of preferences, resulting in a diversion of the trade balance.

Also, they are worried that transferring tariff revenues under a preferential arrangement could hurt the way one member’s income is split. The distraction of attention is the second point raised by critics. They say that if countries get involved in regional projects, they might lose interest in the multilateral system, which could stop its growth and possibly make it less effective.

The United States’ rapid change in trade policy since the early 1980s has drawn particular attention. The international system had previously received top attention from the United States. It declined to take part in regional economic integration. The main reasons the U.S. agreed to the creation and growth of European integration were political and security issues. The U.S. wanted to keep Europe safe and out of war.

The geopolitical consequences of regionalism are the third issue. Regional trade agreements (and economic groupings more generally) may have caused political and even military conflicts between governments in former times. While modern regionalist critics do not expect such severe results, analysts are concerned that close and intense regional links may cause aggravations and even conflicts that extend beyond economics to more generalised domains of global affairs.

Regionalism proponents hold opposing viewpoints on each of these topics (Bergsten, 1996). First, they contend that regional agreements advance free trade and multilateralism in at least two ways: first, that trade expansion has typically surpassed trade contraction, and second, that regional agreements support both domestic and global dynamics that increase rather than diminish the likelihood of global liberalisation. For developing nations, the internal dynamic is particularly crucial since regional agreements, which can be negotiated considerably more quickly than global accords, lock in domestic reforms against the possibility that succeeding governments will attempt to reverse them. Internationally, regional agreements frequently set the stage for liberalisation concepts that can then be broadly applied in the multilateral system.

Second, regionalism critics pointed out that it frequently has considerable, verifiable impacts. Regional integration will likely lead to further multilateral initiatives when officials, governments, and nations adapt to the liberalisation process.

Third, proponents of regionalism argue that it has had more positive than negative political consequences. Because of trade and closer economic cooperation, a new war between Germany and France was almost unthinkable in the European Union. Argentina and Brazil have used it to end their long-running rivalry, which has recently taken on nuclear implications.

APEC’s primary objectives include establishing the United States as a stabilising power in Asia and creating institutional ties between nations that were once adversaries, like Japan, China, and the rest of East Asia. Therefore, the potential of carrying up peace through cooperation is greater than the likelihood of generating conflicts.

Defenders of regionalism point out that regional agreements are permitted explicitly by Article 24 of the GATT and, more recently, the WTO, recognising their consistency with the global trading system. Three requirements must be met for these agreements to be effective:

  1. They must substantially encompass all trade between member nations;
  2. They must not erect new barriers for outsiders;
  3. They must accomplish free trade among members by a specific date (usually to be at most ten years from the starting date).

Although it is generally acknowledged that the most significant regional agreements (the EU and NAFTA) have fully or largely met these criteria, the GATT and WTO have been largely ineffective in certifying and overseeing their implementation. Because of this, the important regions have had many reasons to say that they work well with the multilateral system.

In conclusion, regionalism and globalism are linked, but only if the major countries involved in the process manage it well. History shows they can succeed if they try to improve things for both sides. The outcome in former eras shows that this is also reasonably achievable if they desire to pursue one at the expense of the other. The process’s inherent dynamics are sufficiently balanced for the participants’ policy choices to be decisive.

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International Law

Institution’s evolution

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As the human civilization is evolving, the institutions that were once very relevant and inevitable have been becoming archaic and irrelevant and alarmingly becoming deleterious if remain enacted and rigid. Standing mass armies is one of such institutions, which is losing its relevance that it once earned through conscription of human resource and extraction natural resources. With the emergence of democracy coupled with the dilution of borders by globalization, the armies have lost their stage and much eulogized roles as the defender, protector and invaders. The yardstick to measure the strength of any nation was their military’s might which has now been replaced with other well established indicators.

To shed light upon how and why the role of armies has been dwindled, we have to dive into the modern historical account of the events and reasons that once made the army inevitable and much desirable. As the raison d’etat for establishing the armies and galvanizing their influence   was to acquire the large swaths of land and the quantifiable amount of people to propel the engine of their state machine. Resultantly, the expanded territories were in dire need to be regulated and protected with the iron fist rule, which could not be done without strengthening armies.

Now the hitherto said aspirations have become obsolete and less desirable due to changing dimensions of a society as a whole thereby the military too. To give credence to these assertions it is adequate to allude towards the decline in the tendency of ragging the territorial acquisition wars specifically in the post peace era. Now there is no incentive to acquire the large latifundia or the large amount of people to be slave them as farm workers or to conscript them into armies.

As per the report of the freedom house, there were scant sixty-nine electoral democracies in 1990; today there are more than one hundred and fifteen electrical democracies, which are more than sixty percent. In recently emerged democracies, resultantly, the transition from the centrally planned economies to the economic liberalization spawned the era of entrepreneurship and innovation. Now these budding democracies have recently embarked on the journey towards more opportunities and rising incomes that remained chimera twenty years ago. To bolster this claim, the human security report is enough as it claims that state-based arm conflict has ebbed by 40 percent and which is waning the propensity of countries to wage a full-scale war.

Furthermore, well-established democratic peace theory hits the last nail in the coffin of the aspirations to reinvigorate the military might. The increasing number of democracies are less likely to wage a war with another democratic country, which in result declines the chances of war.

As initially claimed, the ab initio reasons of having standing armies have squarely been replaced; it comes naturally in mind what have replaced them. In a complex and entangled world woven with the fabric of trade, ideas, and innovations, the war-philic countries are the least fit for survival in the Darwinian sense. The countries who are doing wonders in the spheres of economy ideas, innovations inter alia services are less prone to war and aggression.

Many but naming few as the innovation, ideas, trade, and entrepreneurial tendencies have substituted the reasons, which once made the armies relevant and inevitable. Sweden, Norway, UK at the top of global innovation index 2021 and the countries deprived of bloated, mighty, and behemoth militaries, which are also circumscribed in the limited territories, are at the peak of ideas, prosperity, and innovation as compared to those who are bestowed upon with unassailable armies.

Ostensibly, after taking into account the recent shift in the reason of having large standing armies, it is now necessary to discuss about the nature of the future warfare which poses the threats, but here too while dealing with them make everyone wary of the institution of armies and militaries which are too rigid to abreast with the current dynamic nature of warfare, resultantly, they have to bear the brunt of their rigidity everywhere.

Therefore, the Character of the future warfare is dramatically changing which incorporates the novel means to materialize the desired and often mischievous aspirations. In this regard, hybrid warfare is one emerging character, which includes a diverse variety of activities and instruments to destabilize the society, which surely would be desirable for its user. These instruments are like interfering in the electoral processes in which the adversaries can influence the outcome of the electoral processes in the direction, which benefit the adversaries’ political aspirations – Putin’s interference in Trump’s election campaign and Cambridge analytica.

Other instruments are disinformation and false news, Cyber-attacks, and financial influence. Which all of them have already been employing in different dimensions and scales. In this domain, Russia is employing all of these instruments with great dexterity. To better deal with such recent emerging means and tools, it has become a need of hour to introduce the more integrated and sophisticated ways to deal with hybrid warfare and to replace the rigid, archaic and obsolete militarily solutions. In doing so, fostering democracy, inclusion of civil society investment in media literacy are few but viable solutions.

Succinctly, the justifications for raising the large armies, which were to expand the territories, to slave the people or to protect the volatile boundaries, have recently been replaced or become obsolete and irrelevant. Therefore, this institution should be abreast its pace with the dynamic and changing character of the threats posing the great dangers. Moreover, the gauge to quantify the power of any country has resultantly been changed from the strength of armies to the innovation, ideas, entrepreneurial spirit, trade, and socio economic and socio political stability. Contemporarily, it has become futile to strengthen and increase the sizes of armies, which have already lost their relevance, conversely, the changing Character of warfare or better known as hybrid warfare, demands more.

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