Posts Tagged ‘North Korea’

REPRISE — Imagine: The Collapse of International Order, Syria, and Berlin in 1945

Thursday, May 30th, 2013

REPRISE — Imagine: The Collapse of International Order, Syria, and Berlin in 1945

Originally published February 20, 2013

 

There is nothing inevitable about international order.

The lessons of two world wars which informed the creation of the United Nations in 1945, and the maintenance of international peace and security for over 60 years, can be forgotten.

It is entirely conceivable that without decisive leadership from either Europe or the United States, the international order that has existed for many decades could start to wobble and even collapse.

And it is nearly impossible to conceive of such leadership emerging any time soon.

The rubble in Syria resembles the rubble in Berlin and the destruction in Germany in 1945, which occurred the last time the international order collapsed.

How bad could it get?

You could have wars like the one in Syria devastating countries in Africa, a nuclear attack on Los Angeles from North Korea, Iran with nuclear weapons and delivery systems within 5-10 years, and Israel surrounded by hostile Islamist states.

Things could fall apart.

Imagine a world without law, without international law governing the use of force which is generally observed and which states seek to uphold when it is violated.

Imagine true anarchy unleashed upon the world.

Imagine a  world in which states use force without acknowledging they have acted, and without any obligation to publicly justify the legitimacy of their actions by reference to international law.

That is the direction in which we are heading.

The Trenchant Observer

U.N. Security Council should meet urgently to deal with North Korea’s nuclear threats

Friday, April 12th, 2013

The United Nations Charter is the only constitution we have for governance of the planet. It is not likely that it is going to be changed signficantly or that we are going to get a new one.

Therefore, we need to use it to deal with grave threats to international peace and security such as North Korea’s recent threats to attack neighboring countries, perhaps with nuclear weapons.

No one can deny that a grave threat to international peace and security exists.

See, e.g., Jethro Mullen, “North Korea issues new threat to U.S. bases,” CNN, March 26, 2013 (updated 7:38 PM EDT).

Unless we are to go back to the system of the great powers in 19th century, we need to use the international law and institutions that we have, which were created following World War II.

Chapter VII of the U.N. Charter provides in part:

CHAPTER VII: ACTION WITH RESPECT TO THREATS TO THE PEACE, BREACHES OF THE PEACE, AND ACTS OF AGGRESSION

Article 39
The Security Council shall determine the existence of any threat to the peace, breach of the peace, or act of aggression and shall make recommendations, or decide what measures shall be taken in accordance with Articles 41 and 42, to maintain or restore international peace and security.

Article 41
The Security Council may decide what measures not involving the use of armed force are to be employed to give effect to its decisions, and it may call upon the Members of the United Nations to apply such measures. These may include complete or partial interruption of economic relations and of rail, sea, air, postal, telegraphic, radio, and other means of communication, and the severance of diplomatic relations.

Article 42
Should the Security Council consider that measures provided for in Article 41 would be inadequate or have proved to be inadequate, it may take such action by air, sea, or land forces as may be necessary to maintain or restore international peace and security. Such action may include demonstrations, blockade, and other operations by air, sea, or land forces of Members of the United Nations.

The “threat to the peace” consists of North Korea’s threats to attack its neighbors, in violation of Article 2 paragrpahs 3 and 4 of the U.N. Charter, which provide:

Article 2
The Organization and its Members, in pursuit of the Purposes stated in Article 1, shall act in accordance with the following Principles.

1.The Organization is based on the principle of the sovereign equality of all its Members.
2.All Members, in order to ensure to all of them the rights and benefits resulting from membership, shall fulfill in good faith the obligations assumed by them in accordance with the present Charter.
3.All Members shall settle their international disputes by peaceful means in such a manner that international peace and security, and justice, are not endangered.
4.All Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the Purposes of the United Nations.

It is time that the Security Council assume its responsibilities for the maintenance of international peace and security under the terms of the United Nations Charter.

This is the world’s constiution. It cannot be taken for granted. Great Powers may think they know what North Korea is going to do. But the time for the Security Council to act is now, not after Seoul or another city has been wiped off the map.

New and additional sanctions should be imposed against North Korea for its recent behavior of actively threatening to launch nuclear attacks on other countries.

If such threats are not sanctioned now, will they become commonplace in the future? And if they do, who can assure the world that they will never be carried out?

The Trenchant Observer

Imagine: The Collapse of International Order, Syria, and Berlin in 1945

Wednesday, February 20th, 2013

There is nothing inevitable about international order.

The lessons of two world wars which informed the creation of the United Nations in 1945, and the maintenance of international peace and security for over 60 years, can be forgotten.

It is entirely conceivable that without decisive leadership from either Europe or the United States, the international order that has existed for many decades could start to wobble and even collapse.

And it is nearly impossible to conceive of such leadership emerging any time soon.

The rubble in Syria resembles the rubble in Berlin and the destruction in Germany in 1945, which occurred the last time the international order collapsed.

How bad could it get?

You could have wars like the one in Syria devastating countries in Africa, a nuclear attack on Los Angeles from North Korea, Iran with nuclear weapons and delivery systems within 5-10 years, and Israel surrounded by hostile Islamist states.

Things could fall apart.

Imagine a world without law, without international law governing the use of force which is generally observed and which states seek to uphold when it is violated.

Imagine a  world in which states use force without acknowledging they have acted, and without any obligation to publicly justify the legitimacy of their actions by reference to international law.

That is the direction in which we are heading.

The Trenchant Observer

U.S. State Department Releases “Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2011″ (with video)

Thursday, May 24th, 2012

Today, May 24, 2012, three months after the statutory deadline of February 25, the State Department finally released its annual report on the human rights situations in the countries of the world.

The U.S. Department of State “Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2011″ are found here.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s remarks at the presentation of the reports are found here.

A video of Secretary Clinton’s remarks and the following briefing and question and answer session with Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, Michael H. Posner, is found on C-Span here.

In her written preface to the reports, Secretary Clinton stated the following:

Secretary’s Preface

The world changed immeasurably over the course of 2011. Across the Middle East, North Africa, and far beyond, citizens stood up to demand respect for human dignity, more promising economic opportunities, greater political liberties, and a say in their own future. Often they faced tremendous odds and endured violent responses from their governments. The resulting upheavals are still unfolding today in places like Syria, where the regime has brutalized its own people. In Burma, after years of repression, the government has taken preliminary steps to allow reforms to begin. This year’s Country Reports on Human Rights Practices chronicle these dramatic changes and the stories of the people defending human rights in almost 200 countries around the world.

Congress mandated these country reports more than three decades ago to help guide lawmakers’ decisions on foreign military and economic aid, but they have evolved into something more. Today, governments, intergovernmental organizations, scholars, journalists, activists, and others around the world rely on these reports as an essential update on human rights conditions around the world – where we have seen progress, where progress has come too slowly or at great cost, and all too often, where it has been rolled back.

Our reports are founded on the simple truth at the heart of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights – that all people are born free and equal in dignity and rights. Respect for human rights is not a western construct or a uniquely American ideal; it is the foundation for peace and stability everywhere. Universal human rights include the right of citizens to assemble peacefully and to seek to reform or change their governments, a central theme around the world in 2011. As President Obama has said, “History offers a clear verdict: Governments that respect the will of their own people, that govern by consent and not coercion, are more prosperous, they are more stable, and more successful than governments that do not.”

In my travels around the world as Secretary of State, I have met many individuals who put their lives on the line to advance the cause of human rights and justice. In ways small and large, they hold their governments accountable for upholding universal human rights. Their courage and commitment to peaceful reform are an inspiration. This report recognizes their bravery and should serve as a reminder: The United States stands with all those who seek to advance human dignity, and we will continue to shine the light of international attention on their efforts.

These reports are part of our broad commitment to promote human rights. Every day, officials from the State Department, the U.S. Agency for International Development, and many other government agencies devote themselves to advancing human rights as a priority of U.S. foreign policy. They champion our values in every country of the world and stand up for the inherent rights and freedoms of all people. I am honored to work alongside them, and I thank them for their contributions to this report.

On behalf of all of them, and everyone around the world working to protect human rights, I hereby transmit the Department of State’s Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2011 to the United States Congress.

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State

Following her remarks, Secretary Clinton introduced Michael H. Posner, Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, who then conducted a special briefing on the reports prepared under the supervision of his office. His remarks, and the transcript of the question and answer session which followed them, are found here.

A video containing Secretary Clinton’s remarks, Assistant Secretary Michael H. Posner remarks and his question and answer session is found on C-SPAN here.

The individual country reports are available on the State Department website.

The report covers 199 countries and territories, according to Assistant Secretary Posner.

The Trenchant Observer

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U. N. General Assembly condemns Syria by by vote of 137 to 12, with 17 abstentions (text of resolution and updated vote breakdown)—Syria Update #6

Thursday, February 16th, 2012

Today, February 16, 2012, the United Nations General Assembly approved by an overwhelming margin (137 in favor, 12 against, with 17 abstentions) a resolution (Doc.A/66/L.36) strongly condemning “widespread and systematic human rights violations by Syrian authorities.”

A press release summarizing the resolution and the interventions by various delegations is found here.

The text of the resolution, which has been made available by the Los Angeles Times, is found here.

The Washington Post provided one of the earliest reports on the vote tally.  Colum Lynch has provided a more complete breakdownn of the vote. See Colum Lynch, “The Syria List of Shame”, Turtle Bay: Reporting from Within the United Nations (Foreign Policy blog), February 17, 2012.

For some reason, the United Nations appears to not yet have published the official vote tally. In the meantime, Lynch’s breakdown of the vote, including the “no shows” is the most authoritative the Observer has ben able to find. That breadkdown is as follows:

Voting Against

Belarus
Bolivia
Cuba
China
Ecuador
Iran
Nicaragua
North Korea
Russia
Syria
Venezuela
Zimbabwe

Abstaining

Algeria
Angola
Armenia
Cameroon
Comoros
Fiji
Lebanon
Myanmar
Namibia
Nepal
Sri Lanka
St. Vincent and Grenadines
Suriname
Tanzania
Tuvalu
Uganda
Vietnam

No Shows (Not Present)

Burundi
Cambodia
Cape Verde
Dominica
Dominican Republic
Equatorial Guinea
Eritrea
Ethiopia
Gabon
Gambia
Guinea-Bissau
Kiribati
Kyrgyzstan
Laos
Madagascar
Mali
Palau
Philippines
San Tome Principe
Sierra Leon
Swaziland
Tajikistan
Tonga
Turkmenistan
Uzbekistan
Vanuatu
Yemen

Melissa Bell of the Washington Post observes, “It’s striking to note that aside from Syria and Iran, no other Middle East country voted no. Two, however, did abstain: Lebanon and Algeria.

Five countries from the Western Hemisphere voted against the resolution:

Bolivia
Cuba
Ecuador
Nicaragua
Venezuela

Two additional countries from the region abstained:

St. Vincent
Suriname

From Africa, one country voted against the resolution:

Zimbabwe

In addition, the following 6 African countries abstained:

Angola
Cameroon
Comoros
Namibia
Tanzania
Uganda

***

Hopefully, the official vote break-down should become available from the United Nations within a few more days.

The Trenchant Observer

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