Friday, August 1, 2014

Inefficiency of International Mechanisms

For those of us who believe in the equal creation of all humans, for all those who believe in justice for all, for all those who believe in multilateralism, the current situation in many areas of the world is intolerable and unjustifiable. A serious mismanagement of world affairs by major powers who wield the financial, military and media strongholds has been underway now for several decades. The UN system is weak and incompetent in face of those forces, it has not been able to establish peace among nations or peace with the world's precious ecosystems,both existential threats to life on earth. 
Dr. Mosaffa has done an excellent article on the role of multilateral mechanisms in dealing with crises such as that in the Middle East today. I would like to share her academic view points here. Hope you enjoy.

Iran Review.Org

Gaza Crisis Mirrors Inefficiency of International Law
Sunday, July 27, 2014

Nasrin Mosaffa
Professor of Tehran University & UN Expert

International human rights movement came into being with the formulation
of the Charter of the United Nations and through frequent references to
the horrendous nature of crimes committed against ordinary people during
the World War II. By and by, this movement made efforts to bolster its
legitimacy by issuing statements and approving binding documents in order
to formulate norms, pass regulations, and establish new organs and
institutions both inside and outside the United Nations. However, in
addition to concerns and questions that have consistently existed about
political, social, cultural and economic capabilities of this huge body of
laws, whose activities are aimed at protecting human beings, it is
currently facing major challenges for the realization of its goals,
especially under emergency circumstances and conditions of hostile

Despite all efforts that have been made so far, global mechanisms have not
been actually able to deal effectively with blatant cases in which human
rights and humanitarian law, which are totally intermingled in view of the
realities of the contemporary world, have been violated. Apart from all
clear cases that have taken place during the past decades, a striking
instance of the violation of human rights is the current situation and
acute conditions of people in the Gaza Strip, which are, of course, not
limited to the ongoing crisis. Recent remarks by Navi Pillay, the United
Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, addressed to a Special Session
of the UN Human Rights Council on July 23, 2014, was good evidence to
inability of international mechanisms in dealing with such crises. Pillay
clearly noted that she and her predecessors only relied on facts, laws,
and common sense judgments, adding that they had done this so far and will
continue to do the same in the future, though they have frequently come
under fire for such efforts. The High Commissioner also noted that Gazan
children and women accounted for the main part of the Israeli attack’s
victims, adding that “All the dead and maimed civilians should weigh
heavily on all consciences, as all efforts to protect them had been abject
failures.” She also urged “more powerful entities, such as the Security
Council, and individual States with serious leverage over the parties to
this dreadful and interminable conflict,” to “do far more than they had
done so far to bring the conflict to an end once and for all.”

The remarks by Navi Pillay, as the highest ranking US human rights
official, in addition to what UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian
Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator Valerie Amos said in the same
meeting when explaining the human catastrophe and the rising civilian
casualties in the ongoing Gaza crisis, will be hard to tolerate for any
conscientious person. Over 1000 Palestinians, including more than 200
children and many women have been so far killed in Gaza and the death toll
keeps rising with every hour passing.

Hundreds of Palestinians homes have been destroyed by the invading Israeli
military and more than 140,000 Palestinians have been seeking refuge in
other places. Schools, hospitals, and various installations, including
facilities and buildings run by the United Nations have been razed to the
ground. On average, one Palestinian child loses his/her life every hour.
Disabled women are torn to pieces on their wheelchairs. Killer Israeli
drones continue to bomb various parts of the General Assembly. All these
catastrophic events are taking place on top of a crippling siege on the
coastal enclave, which has already blocked Gaza people’s access to such
essential and primary needs as potable water, foodstuff, fuel, electricity
and first aid. As admitted by Pillay, Israel has even ignored and violated
international obligations and responsibilities of an occupying force. Long
occupation of Palestinian lands, which has brought them nothing but
insecurity, and ignoring the right of the Palestinian people to survive
and determine their own destiny, among other rights, are major breaches of
international obligations by Israel.

Such remarks by international authorities all attest to blatant violations
of human rights and the norms of international humanitarian law,
especially with regard to such principles as proportion between a threat
and the response given to it, the need to differentiate between the
military and civilian population, and the need to exercise cautious in
case of any military undertaking. In fact, the ongoing crisis in Gaza is a
clear manifestation of the inefficiency of international law, especially
international humanitarian law. Of course, this may be a very pessimistic
conclusion. A large part of the pressure that has been currently put on
Israel is a result of the crimes perpetrated by the Tel Aviv regime and
blatant violation of customary rules of international law. This is why
even the staunchest supporters of Israel have been forced to avoid
defending Israel’s onslaught on the Gaza Strip and highlight Tel Aviv’s
violations of primary principles of international law and human rights.

After the establishment of Israel and political crises that followed it,
the UN has frequently repeated the measures that it usually takes in such
cases: holding international conferences and meetings, dispatching
peacekeeping forces, establishing UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine
Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), sending special envoys, organizing
fact-finding groups, choosing special rapporteurs, adopting resolutions
and so forth. However, all these measures lack the necessary political
will and guarantees that are embedded in the Security Council’s decisions
and this is why Pillay has urged the member states of the Security Council
to “do far more than they had done so far to bring the conflict to an end
once and for all.”

Perhaps, she thinks that the unprecedented candor in her latest remarks,
now that her tenure is coming to an end, may reduce the heavy burden that
weighs on her conscience and of which she has talked at the end of her
speech. The former UN human rights commissioner, Mary Robinson, lost her
second term in office after she prepared a report on Israel’s crimes at
Jenin refugee camp, which evoked harsh opposition of the United States.
Unlike her, Mrs. Pillay has plucked up her courage in the later months of
her second term, which is her last term in office, and has now decided to
deal with the situation in Palestine on the basis of her professional
requirements in accordance with Paragraph (a), Article 2 of the UN General
Assembly Resolution 141 (adopted on December 20, 1993). According to that
article, “…the High Commissioner for Human Rights shall be a person of
high moral standing and personal integrity and shall possess expertise,
including in the field of human rights, and the general knowledge and
understanding of diverse cultures necessary for impartial, objective,
non-selective and effective performance of the duties of the High

Now, we must wait and see how her Jordanian successor, who should be
practically familiar with the problems and suffering of Palestinians,
would remain committed to the aforesaid professional requirements and
human obligations. The consequence of the UN decision to establish Israel
is war crimes that have been committed frequently by this regime. Although
it is the bodies of Palestinian people that are washed in their blood,
those crimes have also greatly weighed down on the conscience and human
spirit of the world and have dealt drastic blows to international human
rights movement, which had promised to protect human dignity of all

Perhaps, UN officials believe that expression of sympathy and mere
condemnation will make up for the aforesaid blows to human rights
movement. However, the undeniable reality of the modern world beyond all
expressions of sympathy is that the UN has failed in making sure about
fulfilling what has been said in the Preamble to the Charter of the United
Nations about the world body’s obligation “to save succeeding generations
from the scourge of war, which twice in our lifetime has brought untold
sorrow to mankind.” If a six-year Gazan child has not already died of
hunger, or if they have not already experienced injury and disability, and
have not faced dire problems with regard to essential needs of their life,
they have, at least, seen three bouts of war and bloodshed in the besieged
territory and have spent all their life under siege. In the meantime, the
entire world has been, of course, expressing its sympathy with them!!!

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