Israel, Russia and international law

International law – the recognized rules of conduct between countries, based on customary practices and treaties, including the Charter of the United Nations and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights – has been agreed upon by countries large and small. To implement this law, the nations of the world established a UN Security Council (to maintain international peace and security) and a variety of international courts, including the UN International Court of Justice (which settles disputes between nations and provides advice deals with international conflicts). legal issues) and the International Criminal Court (which prosecutes individuals for crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and the crime of aggression).

Yet countries continue to defy international law.

In the ongoing Gaza crisis, the Israeli government has failed to uphold international law by refusing calls from international organizations to end the mass slaughter of Palestinian civilians. The US government has facilitated this behavior by vetoing three UN Security Council resolutions calling for a ceasefire, while the Israeli government has ignored an International Court of Justice ruling that it must end genocide in Gaza prevented by guaranteeing sufficient humanitarian aid to the Palestinian population. The Israeli government has also refused to comply with an International Court of Justice order to halt its offensive in Rafah and has denounced the International Criminal Court’s request for arrest warrants for its top officials.

The Russian military attack on Ukraine is another example of ignoring international law. Considering the UN Charter’s prohibition on the use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state when Russian forces seized and annexed Crimea and launched military operations to swallow eastern Ukraine in early 2014, the issue came before the UN. Security Council, where condemnation of the Russian action was promptly vetoed by Russia. Similarly, in February 2022, when the Russian government began a full-scale invasion of Ukraine, Russia again vetoed the Security Council’s action. In March, the International Court of Justice overwhelmingly ordered Russia to halt its invasion of Ukraine – but as usual to no avail.

Unfortunately, these violations of international law are not uncommon, as countless countries have ignored recognized rules of international conduct for decades.

What is missing is not international law, but rather its consistent and universal enforcement. For decades, the five permanent members of the UN Security Council (the United States, Russia, China, Britain and France) have repeatedly used their veto power in that entity to block UN action to maintain international peace and security. Moreover, almost two-thirds of the world’s countries do not accept the mandatory jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice, while (including some of the largest countries, such as Russia, the United States, China and India) have resisted becoming parties to the International Court of Justice . International Criminal Court.

Despite such obstacles, these organizations have sometimes played a very useful role in resolving international disputes. The UN Security Council has deployed numerous peacekeeping missions around the world – including 60 in the years since the dissolution of the Soviet Union alone – helping to defuse crises in conflict-ridden areas.

In turn, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) paved the way for the Central American peace agreements in the 1980s by ruling in Nicaragua v United Stateswhile his pronunciation in the Nuclear testing case helped end nuclear weapons testing in the Pacific. Moreover, the ruling of the International Court of Justice is in Chad vs Libya resolved a territorial dispute between these two nations and ended their military conflict.

Although the International Criminal Court has only been in operation since 2002, it has so far convicted ten individuals for heinous crimes, and issued or requested arrest warrants for prominent figures accused of war crimes (including Vladimir Putin, Benjamin Netanyahu and the leaders of the International Criminal Court ). Hamas), and conducted or initiated investigations into other notorious individuals.

But of course, as evidenced by the ongoing wars of aggression and massive human rights violations, the enforcement of international law remains a major problem in the contemporary world.

If the world is to overcome national impunity – if it is to finally abolish the long and shameful tradition among nations of ‘might makes right’ – it is necessary to empower the world’s major international organizations to enforce the international law to which the nations have agreed. respect.

This strengthening of global governance is certainly possible.

Although provisions in the UN Charter make the outright abolition of the UN Security Council veto very difficult, there are other means available to reduce the veto’s pernicious effects. In many cases – including those of the conflicts in Ukraine and Gaza – simply invoking Article 27(3) of the UN Charter would be sufficient, which requires a party to a dispute before the Security Council to abstain from voting in connection with that dispute. . Moreover, 124 UN countries have already adopted a proposal to waive the veto when taking action against genocide, crimes against humanity and mass atrocities. Furthermore, the UN General Assembly has occasionally used ‘Uniting for Peace’ resolutions to take action, while the Security Council has failed to do so.

Improving the effectiveness of the international legal system has also received attention in recent years. The LAW Not War campaign, championed by organizations committed to improving global governance, calls for strengthening the International Court of Justice, primarily by increasing the number of countries that accept the Court’s mandatory jurisdiction. Similarly, the Coalition for the International Criminal Court, which represents numerous organizations, calls on all countries to ratify the ICC’s founding statute and thereby “expand the ICC’s reach and narrow the impunity gap.”

National impunity is not inevitable, at least if the people and governments of the world are willing to take the necessary actions. Are they? Or will they continue to talk about a “rules-based international order” while avoiding enforcing the rules?