U.N. Charter

Ukraine War, August 2, 2022 (I): Pelosi’s reckless visit to Taiwan, and Biden’s failure of foreign policy leadership

em>Developing. We are publishing this article as it is being written. Please check back for updates. To see a list of previous articles, enter “Ukraine”…


European and international security after the Ukraine Crisis

We may be in the gravest military crisis since the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962… How will it all end? It could all end in…


Ukraine Crisis, February 1, 2022: Security Council meeting on January 31 a welcome success; tripartite security pact between Ukraine, Poland, and Britain reportedly in preparation

Stefanie Bolzen reports on what could be a dramatic development, “At the same time, it was reported in Kiev (‘verlautete aus Kiew’) that Great Britain, Poland, and Ukraine are preparing a tripartite security pact.
A triparite security pact, depending on its provisions, could lead Poland to come to the defense of Ukraine if Russia invades the country. Should that then lead further to a Russian attack on Poland, the mutual defense obligation in Article 5 of the NATO Treaty could come into play, requiring all NATO members to come to the defense of Poland in repelling the Russian attack.

At that point, the world would be facing a direct nuclear confrontation between Russia, on the one hand, and the U.S., Great Britain, anf France, on the other.
The new U.S. Ambassador to the U.N., Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield, did an outstanding job in presenting the case against Russia and in defending fundamental principles of the U.N. Charter and international law. 10 members of the Council supported the holding of a public meeting, and implicitly the position of the U.S. NATO, and EU countries. Only Russia and China voted on a procedual motion not to hold the meeting. India, Kenya, and Gabon abstained.


U.N. Security Council meets on Ukraine; U.N. Web TV provides no English interpretation in video recording for Russia, China, UAE, France, Mexico, and Gabon interventions (with links to video and Press Release)

I once knew an American international lawyer who had worked at the International Postal Union (a U.N. Specialized Agency), at the height of the Cold War, when the U.N. and its specialized agencies were battlefields, and where influence could be gained by controlling the machinery and key appointments of the corresponding organization.

He explained that while Soviets didn’t necessarily have controlling majorities in the voting bodies, they were very adept at gaining control of key machinery within the secretariat of the organization. At the IPO, he recounted, they did have something of immense value: control of the minutes and documentation of the meetings, and of the printing presses.
Instead of the English interpretation, the original language was playing on the “English” channel.

This was a highly significant “mistake” by U.N. Web TV, because it meant that the Russian representative’s outrageous comments were not available for review by English-speaking journalists.
It seems like the Russians still have influence over the printing presses, or their modern-day equivalents.

But it also appears that international law, and the mobilization of shame, can still be used as a powerful weapon in international relations.

Nor could the Russian’s abrupt departure just before the Ukrainian representative spoke be appreciated by listening to the English interpretation of his remarks. The Russian ambassador, suddenly and without previous warning, ended his intervention and left the meeting on the pretext that he had a meeting with the Secretary General.

It was a remarkable moment. He just got up and left, immediately before the Ukrainian representative proceeded to detail the facts of the Russian mobilization and military threat which were the reason the meeting had been called. Obviously, the Russian ambassador had no response to offer to any of the charges.


Biden’s defeatist approach to Ukraine: “If Putin invades Ukraine, we will sanction every clerk in his office.” In the meantime, U.S. clerks will go through the motions at the U.N. Significant risk of nuclear war exists.

The U.S. has called for an “open” meeting of the U.N. Security Council for Monday, January 31, the last possible day before Russia takes over the rotating Presidency of the Council for the month of February. It is not clear if this call was for an “Emergency Meeting” of the Security Council. If it wasn’t, it should have been.

The call for a meeting on Monday and not Friday reveals the total lack of urgency which seems to animate the Biden Administration’s actions.

Having not heard any serious international law arguments criticizing Russia’s actions and threats against Ukraine, one must assume that the call for a Security Council meeting is just a perfunctory gesture. Someone must have woken up and realized that the Russians were assuming the Presidency of the Council on Tuesday, which could make convening a meeting more difficult.

John F. Kennedy read The Guns of August by Barbara Tuchman in 1962. We should all be reading it now. And another of her books which which is highly relevant, The March of Folly (1984).

The Guns of August, which was published only months before the Cuban Missile crisis, appears to have had a deep impact on John F. Kennedy and his approach to decision-making during the Cuban Missile Crisis. Given how dicey that U.S.-Soviet nuclear confrontation was, it could be that one reason we are all here is that he read that book.

If you see international lawyers and diplomats on television talking about international law, there may be some hope for diplomacy.

If you see generals talking about military capabilities and deployments, we may be headed toward a major ground war in Europe, and the attendant risks of escalation to a limited nuclear conflict or to an all-out nuclear war.


Why won’t Biden use law in fighting Trump and Putin?

What can you say of a would-be statesman who refuses to use some of the strongest weapons in his arsenal in a life-and-death struggle to save American democracy, or a life-and-death struggle to maintain the existing international legal order, and the prohibition against the international use of force?

Why is Biden afraid to use law as a weapon in the war to defend American democracy, and in the war to defend the existing international legal order, i.e., international law and the U.N. Charter?

With law, as with many things, the old maxim holds: Use it or lose it.


REPRISE: The fatal flaws in U.S. thinking about responses to Russian aggression against Ukraine–UPDATED January 20, 2022

(Ignatius) reported that American military advisors and policy makers were discussing how to provide assistance to Ukrainian “insurgents” or a Ukrainian “insurgency”. Ignatius on January 6 and David E. Sanger and Eric Schmitt on January 8 report that policymakers are still using the same terminology.

In doing so they have framed the question in a way which naively fails to take international law into account, much less to use it actively to achieve American deterrence goals, while employing a conceptual framework that assumes Ukrainian defeat. They are talking in terms of providing military assistance to “insurgents” after Russia has taken over Ukraine.

The conceptual framework assumes defeat, while completely ignoring international law and the U.N. Charter.


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REPRISE: Russia’s utter and continuing violation of international law in the Ukraine: U.N. General Assembly Resolution A/RES/25/2625 (1970) on Principles of International Law and Friendly Relations Among States

In 1970, at the height of the Cold War and only two years after the invasion of Czechoslovakia by the Soviet Union and its Warsaw…