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
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.
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.
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:
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