International law is being eroded at the UN

International law is composed of a large number of inter-state agreements and treaties concluded over the course of many decades. One of its most important documents is without any doubt the United Nations Charter.

The UN is the union of states that was founded in 1945 at the initiative of the main forces of the anti-Hitler coalition – those states that had shouldered the largest burden for victory over the German and the Japanese fascists and their allies.  The Soviet Union, the U.S.A., Great Britain, France and China formed the nucleus of the new organization, since these were the countries that contributed most to the war against fascism.

This was the reason they have the privilege of a permanent seat and a veto power in the UN Security Council. The foundation of the UN was one of the most important achievements in international relations since World War II.

Despite its mistakes and shortcomings the UN is a place where all member states have the chance to express – largely on equal footing – their opinions about any political problem, and where on a democratic basis decisions can be taken – at least as long as the majority of the states stick to the organization’s foundation principles.

This was not always the case with the UN.

For example, after the foundation of the Peoples Republic of China in October 1949, the clique of politicians that had fled to Taiwan was allowed to continue occupy the mainland’s seat.  It took 22 years, until October 25, 1971, for the UN General Assembly to decide to recognize the Peoples Republic of China as the only legitimate representative of the Chinese people.

Other problems persist to this day. For example, several decisions concerning the foundation of the state of Israel have not been thought through very well. This led and leads again and again to military conflicts and prevents the representation on equal footing of the Palestinian people.

In 1950, the U.S. misused the absence of the Soviet representative in the Security Council to bring about a decision mandating themselves to lead a dirty war in Korea under the flag of the UN.

As a result of the activities of the most reactionary forces of the West Germany and its allies, the German Democratic Republic, or East Germany, founded in 1949, was prevented from becoming a member until 1973.

There are many more examples. The most important this year have been without any doubt the Security Council resolutions No. 1973 and 1975, allowing NATO to militarily interfere in the internal affairs of Libya and of the Ivory Coast and to help install forces friendly to the West.

The problem in these cases is not only the misuse of existing regulations, but more so the erosion and the abrogation international law. The formulations in resolutions 1973 and 1975 went far beyond general practice.

But the implementation of those resolutions by strong military forces of NATO, who translated “protection” of civilian population into regime change, means a serious danger for the existence and the reputation of the UN.

Recently it took just a few hours before a majority of countries recognized a clique of Libyans that were not democratically legitimized or elected as the “legal representatives” of the Libyan people.

On the other hand, the people of Palestine have been prevented from having a regular seat at the UN for the past 66 years. All bets are off that this situation will soon change.

Photo: Ashitaka San // CC 2.0


Uli Brockmeyer
Uli Brockmeyer

Redakteur at Zeitung vum Lëtzebuerger Vollek. Editor at Zeitung vum Lëtzebuerger Vollek.