Aggression and International Law
الاعتداء والقانون الدولي
Dr. Younes BENMAHAMMED, faculty of humanities and social sciences, M’sila University
الدكتور يونس بن محمد ، كلية العلوم الإنسانية والاجتماعية ، جامعة المسيلة
ورقة منشورة في كتاب أعمال الملتقى تداعيات الأزمات الدولية الراهنة على الوطن العربي الصفحة 141.
نعالج في ورقتنا هاته قضية احترام القانون الدولي في عصرنا الحالي. لأن القوى العظمى تحاول دوما صياغة نظام عالمي جديد، وصراعاتها لا تتبدد حتى تنتهي في آخر المطاف إلى عنف وصدام. وما حالة اجتياح روسيا لأكرانيا غزوا عسكريا إلا خير مثال على الاعتداء وانتهاك القانون الدولي بالتنكر لوحدة الأراضي والحدود ولسيادة الأمم والدول. وبالتالي، فالعالم يسعى إلى تحقيق قدر أدنى من مراعاة حقوق الإنسان أفرادا ودولا كما ينص عليها القانون الدولي.
الكلمات المفتاحية : الاعتداء، العنف، حقوق الإنسان، روسيا، أكرانيا.
We deal in our present paper with the respect issue of international law in our contemporary era. Superpowers always try to shape a new order worldwide. Their conflicts never end finishing in violent clashes. The case of Russian invasion of Ukraine gives us a good example of aggression and violation of international law by denying territorial integrity of sovereign nations and countries. Thus, we search a minimum observance of human rights as they appear in international law.
Keywords: Aggression, violence, human rights, Russia, Ukraine.
Questions like human dignity are essential to the equilibrium of society and balance between nations and countries. By this means, human rights exposition will be crucial to help understand reality in the frame of principles. At the international stage, Law represents the corner stone of every real construction of Civilisation. We have taken a flagrant example of aggression in the XXIst century, which is Russian invasion of Ukraine. Then, reactions (those of superpowers of course) to such inhuman actions by sanctions in both sides, along with human and material casualties, economic sanctions and double standard at a global angle will constitute our development of the subject.
- Retaliation & reaction
Every action provokes a reaction! In practice people executes thus this principle. The Ukrainian crisis with Russia offers a precious case where we can find a nice example of ideological thinking by powerful leaders (that aren’t in fact, for they are poor intellectually and ethically). So, the European countries, the UK and the US have sanctioned Russia partially financially (SWIFT) and commercially with an ultimate goal of cutting, by curbing progressively, gas and oil importations. Whereas the US were ferocious vis-à-vis Russia thanks to their independence –partially- of the oil and gas of Russia. In that way, sanctions against the Russian interests of high officials as well as the rich oligarchs employed indeed by Putin since his accession to presidency in 1999-2000. The force of Union has undoubtedly effects in the long run, and some impacts in the near future. Russians oriented and run by their president Putin, have retaliated by dressing a list of enemies of the Nation having in fact small implications on the ground because of the international condemnation of the abhorrent aggression of Russia (by) invading Ukraine. But, reaction is a canon of existence in nature and human condition. Excepting China remaining neutral in continuous abstention –which could nevertheless change with time- and though joining compelled the worldwide community in sanctions touching its exports to Russia and less –perhaps null- its imports from Russia. It’s a fact of real politics that power on (one) side or the other imposes. Moreover, the most important is the unified front to resist to the military action adopted in complete impunity, tightening the rope on the neck of Russia as an aggressor, on one hand, and preventing by all means the madness of an escalation that could produce a Third World War, one the other hand. Multilateralism is not a choice in our current times, but represents actually a necessity in order to equilibrate the forces and the powers in the world theatre. In this manner, natural interests, with the condition of a minimum of reasonable thinking and acting, make their way(s) normally balancing benefits, sharing interests by weighing well situations. Over all, nothing is above International Law learned generally in its outlines by Human Rights, in its turn, rooted in Universal Values (they are the same, except some particularities!). We must manifest aid and endorsement to these Principles with a interest of avoiding war, unless it’s a defence one, lawful and legitimate in duty and right of defending and shielding one’s possessions and belongings.
- Refugees, victims and casualties
War brings always in its luggage tears, fears and blood! Humanitarian crisis follows, military one. And, the moral, physical and material damage is huge, forcing then entire families to leave their own country to a stranger one. Even though generosity of multiple nations and the bounty of several countries are giant and large where refugees are welcomed, the victims resent nevertheless sorrow, humiliation and injustice due to the despot actions of some leaders in power. We are here pointing a flagrant fact but with a different style by making more profound our analysis with some reminder of acts. Destruction has no face and notably in the mind and hands of tyrants rendering Peace rehabilitation and then reconstruction more difficult spread in time. In the Ukraine situation, more than 3 million refugees fled the countries after almost 25 days of the barbaric invasion under continuing shelling and constant bombardment of civilians in hospitals, schools and theatres. There was no discernment in hurt and no discrimination in harm! This is, tell us dictators and autocrats, the rule of war! Additionally, the Chernobyl nuclear plant wants spared in this crazy war putting at stake the whole world security. In a matter of fact, destroyers never mind about/of casualties cause by their own undertaking. Blood, a lot of blood, on hands they are cynical neglecting and despising dignity of human beings. Poland, has received the majority of these refugees (over 2 million) assisted by Romania and Slovakia. Europe of course in its élan and burst of solidarity has carried its lot of the war burden by welcoming on its soil tens of thousands of these victims. That circumstances appeal in our minds the grim conditions of the Nazis deportation of Jews into the concentration camps in Auschwitz-Birkenau and Sobibor, etc. Damage has no discrimination between loses in human capital especially and also in material apocalypse. Really, it’s scenes of Apocalypse far from exaggeration and excess. It’s reality and facts! This is why war and aggression must be not the last resort but the exception and best the banned word from Human vocabulary. Saying that with force and conviction does not signifies pacifism all the time, for the compulsory character of resistance and defence of persons, land and principles, in head Dear Liberty and valuable Freedom. Furthermore, the pedagogical repetition in a rooting aim in hearts and souls, spirits and Reasons finds its profit in such cases. One mustn’t not be bored, nor tired nor wearied by the sacred effort of defending, preserving and conserving human condition. In consequence, aid and relief must be brought to le needy in place and a hot and warm reception is booked for victims of war and refugees fleeing their lands, cherished lands, despite the barking of some racist and xenophobic personalities here and there, trying to select misery. The authentic sense of ethical politics is to open doors in the possible way of available capabilities –as much as we can-, for not missing rendezvous with History, Big History of braves. Vigilance is preponderant but solidarity and open heart in lucidity are the precious rule of human condition, especially if it is harmed and injured. This is real politics based on and in Reason!
- People and governors
Good judgment is always a fair way of regarding issues! In war times, as in peace ones, leaders are different from their people, or at least, and for a just and exact method of determining things, a part of them is not like them. Peoples are not leaders, their leaders, despite the fact that the majority either in democratic regimes (West and Japan) or in despotic systems (Russia as excellent and symbolic example), is responsible of the installation of presidents and parliaments in power, at the head of States. We try to insist here on the aptitude of criticism that one must has in discussing such intertwined questions and knotted problems. We cite then three examples in our contemporary History: Israel in Palestine, America in Iraq (and in part in Afghanistan) and Russia in Ukraine. In spite of the support of the majority of The Israeli entity s for their army and government violating all human rights of Palestinians, a small group manifest and demonstrate in every occasion where dignity of Palestinians is touched and crackdown. In America (US), a great deal of society refused the invasion of Iraq in 2003, although the strong sentiments of patriotism in this free country. Finally, in Russia, we attend contestation recently of the aggression against Ukraine, under fire of new laws deterring people from demonstrating and refraining them from describing and speaking out freely to explicit their opinion. In the same context, Afghanistan of the late URSS (till 1979) resembles Chechnya of 2000 whose capital Grozny was destroyed and annihilated by the same Putin, without mercy, to put in place then a puppet government of the father of Kadiroff, inheriting power from his died father, thanks to Putin, once again. People of Russia, we are aware of the small number or at least the limited number of opponents to this catastrophe, was not comfortable with this action. We must say though that the will of separatism of Chechens was badly defended and orchestrated by them. They transformed their frustration to an aggression of innocent hostages in Russia land, and the malice of Putin has also intelligently turned this situation in his favour. Then, pseudo-explosions in Moscow were attributed by the Kremlin of course to Chechen separatists. Reason teaches us just middle avoiding faults and stupidity from either side!
- Economic repercussions (positive and negative)
Indeed, life entails sacrifices! That’s leads inevitably to happiness and success! In war, the situation is not different where “give” and “take” are more than “receive” and “benefit”. The context demands efforts, tears and blood. They are the economic repercussions which translate the general grim mood. Russia invading Ukraine ha lunged the world into a deep depression containing refugees’ crisis, material destruction and energy shortage. Europe and America facing the arrogance of Putin by violating and despising international law in the integrity of Nations, are making powerful decisions. These latter have so to speak consequences on both Russia and the West. The first in curbing or cutting progressively revenues of oil and gas, avoiding refuelling war by dollars and Euros of free countries (even relatively). The second, expose themselves to risks of penury in energy (oil and gas). They gain though their independence by collective solidarity and mutualising use of energy. But, they also lose purchase power by seeing prices soar. Petrol and gas especially in winter become in these circumstances rare and the merchandise like wheat expansive because unavailable. Nevertheless, when we have principles, solid ones, we must prepare ourselves to critic situations notably in war. Only, the calculations must and should be reasonable in strength without intrepidity to secure peace and human dignity by the appropriate means and adequate methods. So, the war is an instrument of devastation in regard to big losses it causes in both sides. But, the moral duty claims movement and dynamics towards installing durable peace and enduring prosperity. This goal will be met by bold actions and audacious resolutions regardless, except the minimum when duty appeals, of the price that it takes. Idealism supervises realism and this later takes its place in the first. The two are complementary serving the same objective. As a result, economics effects behind war confronted by proportionate decisions accompanies good plans endorsed by sane view of the entire picture (the Big Picture). Money is the fuel of war. Isolation politically economically is the efficient arm against cynic acts and aggression. Furthermore, the more we protect peace by going away from military confrontation, the more we face courageously the enemy of humanity. There is no excess in legitimate defence and Human Value in the hands of free and brave’s people! (Even though, the just middle is the safe way!
- Firms and companies
In the same sphere, we find the dilemma of expatriated companies in “a hostile land”. Of course, the war in this case is not direct because it is a matter of sanctions from public governments and private firms. We have said a word about public policy and here we address the private question in companies rooted in the aggressing country of another country, for instance Russia invading Ukraine. Then we see the repercussions of a possible boycott of this violator by economic sanctions, one again at the public and private level(s). So, really the issue is problematic when it is question of private companies in regard with their employees without naturally omitting the pecuniary profits of the firm, legitimately. Business is an instinctive sentiment pushing nobly to genuine creation and innovative undertaking to meet double gaol, namely benefits for the owners (included public ones like governments possessing shares), on one hand, and jobs for people, on the other. It’s Nature (human Nature) continuing its road of construction by exploiting honourable emotions for honest aims. Nature in the just middle in service of Civilisation, thanks to Creativity and Discovery on all stages! After this short introduction, we can say that the private question of cutting totally relations with dictators is in peace and in war problematic, if we take the question from all angles, or at least from the maximum angle possible. This overview approach guides us to be just and moderate in our final judgment concerning dealing with criminals in financing war and blood effusion. In fact, this links is commercial respecting a certain frame of work, however saving lives of innocent people when it is possible by having the necessary force and the adequate instruments at the good time and place, it is recommended to act in consequence. Because, guarding jealously one’s interests is a personal duty guaranteeing, in turn and naturally, the profits of others, in this circumstance employees. We can not forget yet the wallet of people, simple and poor people and even middle-class people, when we are motivated by universal principles shrouded in honour and dignity, indeed. Idealistic reality and realistic Ideals are the solution, relatively in a complex and intricate world. Thus, in this special case of war, firms and companies moving in function of a just middle in affairs and business, try to curb their contacts with tyrants especially in times of war, and perhaps less in times of peace proportionally to the case-to-case behaviours of these despots, aiming at limiting to the maximum damages, hurts and harms. We think that progressivity in firmness and gradualism are the appropriate actions, as Total-Energies of does in Russia following judiciously Shell and PB of the UK. Others will adopt the same initiative of withdrawing their activities gradually from Russia regarded as the aggressor persisting in its deadly madness. Pressures like theses undermine indubitably the self-confidence and the morale of the most brutal spirits in the world. Business has its powerful force and effective influence. Hard souls understand only the power of reality not the Verb!
- Personalities and sanctions (art, economics, politics)
In principle, sanctions touch the officials responsible for political and military actions. Individuals aren’t concerned by these laws in peace and war. Surely, the intimate circle in power is targeted by potential sanctions and penalisations due to aggression like that of Russia on Ukraine. We mean here precisely actors, musicians and writers, even sport professionals. Nevertheless, one point must be defined, and well (defined), namely the difference between personal activities and collectives’ ones. That differentiation leads to (1) the exclusion of all near participation(s) in criminal and invasive acts at the summit of politics, including then politicians in various spheres of high decision, (2) the collective teams far from the decision makers, which are related by them for their defending the Nation’s flag. In other terms, only are sanctioned those who belong freely in the actions of despotic leaders individually and collectively, not those who have a national responsibility in sport for instance, military or what else. The importance resides at the liberty of choice in harming others in individual initiatives or collective endorsement. To be more explicit, we say hat the unique responsible for military endeavours are the politicians from varying levels presidents, legislators and local officials. Groups of athletes and/or musicians (comedians in general) are, in turn, attached to the decisions taken if they have the freedom of choice. On the contrary, they are not guilty of anything if they act under constraint, whatever constraints, such as simple militaries and executors. But, if the liberty of choosing is guaranteed the judgment differs largely then. Theses persons must assume the consequences of their options and resolutions without ambiguity, none. As a result, diverse layers of artists as comedians, musicians, professionals of sport individually as well as collectively are bound to respecting their support to this side or the other. Their positioning can be seen clearly! If the support is not explicit nor flagrant, by public announcement for example, everybody is protected by the global Freedom and the total Liberty. Only, some collateral damages can be noticed even though the people about whom we talk are not directly implicated. The plainer situation is that of sport professionals who can be banned and exclude from participating in international competitions. They are not responsible, if their opinions are well known or at least in neutrality, best in condemnation that’s not simple! because they are not implicated directly in these political positions promoting by their leaders on top of power (what a bottom, indeed!). Nuances in such cases are crucial, vital and decisive in the sake of Justice in theory and reflection and in practice and actions as well. Reason teaches it constantly and vigorously with softness, strength and swiftness in a calm atmosphere!
- Double standard?
East and West are Humanity! The mutual knowledge and reciprocal reconnaissance are the ultimate goal! But, real politics takes a different way! When universal values must impose their principles with their repercussions, beneficial ones, geopolitics intervene negatively often, and positively sometimes in function of conditions and circumstances on the ground. The Syrian case (2011 revolution and Russian intervention in 2015 with its atrocities in assisting Alassad, son, in his mortal enterprise against his own people aspiring to Liberty and Freedom), along with the Iraqi and the Afghan crisis (2001 and 2003), is a perfect example of duality in judgment in the West. We talk about West because it has the most important tools of progress morally and materially (democratic bases and implications of redistribution of wealth). And despite the other nations’ possession of Values, due to their humanist and universal inner character in the human Nature, one finds it difficult to live their impacts and effects in the real life of people every day. Thus, the commitment of the West in these crises was limited and timid, in spite of the multiple interests in this region of the globe. Whereas, Ukraine neighbouring Europe (Poland, Romania, Hungry, Slovakia) and NATO, offers to the observer another image and a different picture. Yes, of course and legitimately, the same home of Europe matters a lot and more than elsewhere, but humanism should assure the minimal amount of aid, practical aid by acts not lyrics, declarations and announcements! This was and is the problem and the embarrassment of the United Nations since its creation after the WWWII. Interests are natural and the defence of human rights is a duty of Free Societies in Free Nations and developed countries. Even, diplomacy was absent from the geopolitical arena when the US and Europe have abandoned the Syrian people to his fate under the mercy of chemical attacks on Eastern Ghouta in Damascus (2018) and bombardments of besieged Alep (2017). America of Bush (2003) in Iraq (without the aid of France, that’s a fact, a good fact!) and Russia of Putin are the two faces of the identical piece of money. We can additionally cite the Algerian case in 1992 coup by the Generals of the Army against the first results of the free election after the democratic opening in 1989 (new Constitution) under Chadli. The president Mitterrand has given his green light to this junta by cautioning its action to interrupt the most vital act of Civilisation, the free choice in human dignity and civic responsibility. We need from both side, minimum of balance in the just middle, far from excess and default. A reasonable behaviour is always available in (the) horizon!
After studying of the balance of power in the international arena theoretically and considering practically the case study of Russian aggression of Ukraine, we have deduced some results as conceptual as realistic:
- The importance of human rights founded in Reason.
- The useful implications of these principles on the ground.
- The negligence of such vital bases of living together leads to disaster and catastrophe for all mankind.
- The human Nature should exploit its normal instincts in sustainable edification of Peace, international Peace.
- The misuse of human aptitudes conducts inexorably to arrogance, violence and cynicism.
- Multilateralism necessity in our modern and contemporary world.
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