By Vivek Pattanayak in Bhubaneswar, October 12, 2021: From many centuries human endeavour has been unceasing to bring an order among the nations, countries, kingdoms, empires and States through international law, otherwise known as law of nations for settlement of disputes and for avoidance of conflicts. The law has evolved by way of customs, treaties, judicial decisions, and writings of eminent jurists and guided by principles of natural justice to conduct relations among countries.

Wars nevertheless have taken place from many millennia breaching peace around the world causing loss of lives, injuries, migrations, and miseries whether the wars were fought between two countries or group of countries, locally or regionally.

In the beginning of 20th century, a much wider war was fought involving many countries in Europe and Asia and also America. This was called a World War known in history as World War I. At the end of this war realizing the devastation it caused, an international body was created called the League of Nations based on a multilateral treaty to promote peace and end wars.

In spite of this effort, another war took place more devastating than the previous one. After six years of destruction of countries, huge loss of lives and use of atom bombs peace was established and new international organization was created called United Nations (UN). It is an international organization based on a multilateral treaty called the Charter of United Nations. Under the Charter, General Assembly, Security Council, ECOSOC, etc. and International Court of Justice (ICJ) were established.

In addition, many other international organizations emerged some before and some after constitution of UN. ITU, UPU, ILO, ICAO, WHO, IMO, WMO, UNESCO etc., to name a few, called as part of UN system are also public international organizations based on multilateral treaties.Since then, a host of regional institutions have come up like EU, Organization of American States, Organization of African Unity, SAARC, Arab League etc.

This was followed by Bretton Wood Institutions knownas International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank (IBRD, IFC, MIGA).Regional Banks like Asian Development Bank, African Development Bank, Latin American Development and European Bank of Reconstruction and Development have come into existence. World Trade Organization has been established for facilitating international trade and commerce with global regulatory mechanism.

Further, a number of economic cooperation arrangements have been formed like ASEAN MURCOSUR, RCEP, APEC, NAFTA, SCO, and BRICS etc.

Transcending these bodies, the world is witnessing a new type of groupings.Since 2008 global financial crisis G-20 has become active although exclusivity of G-7 continues. There was formation of G-8 for a certain period when there was bonhomie between USA and Russia.

Role of Security Council in maintaining peace and security is primary. Permanent members, USA, UK, France, Russia, and China have veto power in the decision-making process in the Security Council.

UN is not world government. It is a public international organization. Each member is a sovereign State with its own constitution and governing architecture. UN is dependent upon contributions made by its members. The basis of contribution is on an agreed formula which heavily relies on National Income. US makes highest contribution(25%) and followed by Japan, Germany, Russia, UK and France. China’s contribution has increased in recent years.

Pacific settlement of international disputes as envisaged under the Charter of the United Nations include negotiation, enquiry, mediation, conciliation, arbitration, judicial settlement etc.

Action with respect to threats to peace also include use of armed forces and actions like interruption, complete or partial of economic relations, rail, sea, air, postal, telegraphic, radio
, and other means of communication.

With the evolutions of public international organizations international law has grown even further through multilateral treaties, conventions, covenants etc. in different disciplines and domain covering international air transport, maritime transport, telecommunication, atomic energy, human rights, rights of women, children, people with disabilities and minorities etc.

International Criminal Court is an epoch-making development in the world with authority to take punitive action against erring political and military leaders responsible for human rights violations and committing atrocities. President Milosevic of Yugoslavia,and some Serbian Generals have been prosecuted in the Court. President Bashir of Sudan also was summoned and so was President Gadhafi of Libya .

While Bashir evaded the summon Gadhafi was killed by rebels before any coercive action could be taken. Bashirhas been ousted by military coup.One wonders whether or not he would be handed over to the Court now by the new regime.Whether anyone involved in the Afghanistan war crimes would be prosecuted or not one has to watch and see. International Criminal Court has sought clarification from UN as to who constitutes government in Afghanistan for the purpose of this international law.

Since UN came into beingwars, conflicts and hostilities have not ceased. In last seventy five years wars which have been fought include the Korean war, Indo-China War, Vietnam war, Sino- Indian War 1962, Indo-Pak Wars of 1948, 1965, 1971 and the Kargil war, Arab Israel War of 1948-1967, Israel and Egypt War of 1973, the Suez Canal conflict in 1956, Iran-Iraq War, First Gulf war, and Second Gulf war. In Afghanistan the war was fought between the years 1979 to 1989 where the Soviet Union was involved followed by twenty year war between 2001-2021 where US and NATO were involved after terrorist acts of 9/11.

In addition, there were armed hostilities and wars in Yugoslavia which led to break-up of the country into Croatia, Slovenia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Macedonia, Serbia and Montenegro and NATO led war against Yugoslavia created Kosovo as a separate country. There have been wars between Ethiopia and Eritrea, War in Syria, Yemen and Libya, internal war in Sri Lanka involving LTTE bringing IPKF from India,and wars between Armenia and Azerbaijanin early nineties and also recently.

Drug war in Colombia and Mexico in Latin America, terrorist acts by Al Qaeda, Taliban, Al Sabah, Boko Haram, ISIS, JEM and LOT have caused heavy loss of lives, refugee crisis and forced migrations. In addition, there have been armed hostilities in many parts of the world through Irish Republican Army (IRA) in Northern Ireland, armed Nagas, hostile Mizos, separatist Assamese and Naxalites or Maoists in India and insurgency of Shining Path consisting of indigenous people in Peru.

Apart from conventional wars among countries, loss of lives, deadly injuries, migrations, and other forms of miseries have been caused by civil wars, armed insurgency, and terrorist acts. In other words, non-State actors are also cause of cross-border threats to peace in global society.

Non-State actors have been also hosted and encouraged by many countries who are members of international organizations. Some are called as rogue States for their uncivilized conduct in promoting cross-border threats.

In some cases, due to complete failure of orderly governance, causing lawlessness giving scope for creation of multiple centres of power not accountable to any accepted civilized system, the State there has completely failed as State in the conventional and civilized sense. They are called failed States like Somalia, Yemen, and Libya.

In these wars UN has played diverse kinds of role. Directly it was involved inthe Korean War. It has played peace keeping role by way of deployment of UN Peace Keeping Force. In the early sixties UN force was instrumental in suppressing insurgency in Congo. Secession of Katanga in Congo was dealt by UN Peace Keeping Force. India has contributed to peace keeping function. Funding of peace keeping force has been a sore point.

All these developments reflect that in the growth of world order under UN and its system for more than seven decades there is also continuance of disorder.


Leave a Reply

Be the First to Comment!

Notify of