Crass failures of the international system

Recently I wrote an assignment on how States are obliged to obey the standards and rules of the international legal system as a result of the very nature of International Law itself. I was asked to what I extent did I agree with this premise or whether I disagreed completely. My hypothesis was that yes, to a certain extent, a great number of States do feel compelled to align themselves with the purposes and principles incorporated in the Charter of the United Nations. I argued that in essence, it is much more beneficial for the State to work in unison with other States to maintain international peace and security whilst maintaining its right to self-determination and sovreignty. States are perhaps naturally compelled to strengthen their vital interests but in an ideal world they would only do so in conformity with the true spirit of International Law and respect for humanity.

But unfortunately, some States, whilst not necessarily considered a threat to other States take things to the extreme and squander the supposed inalienable rights of their own populations or of minorities in their territory. Others, usually considered a grave threat, may resort to the use of nuclear weaponry and fearmongering in a bid to instill terror and make a point that they are not to be trifled with. On such States the powers that be (and supposed champions of Democracy) will barely think twice before severing diplomatic relations, imposing economic sanctions, resort to the use of force to keep them in check, try their leaders in Court and execute them. Do not get me wrong, I do not support these 'rogue' States either. But I cannot but question the most damning of realities. Why is it, that with some States, who act in the same manner and worse, the world does absolutely...NOTHING?

The USA, which outgoing (at long last) President George W. Bush personifies as the 'good' that triumphs over 'evil', has in fact turned out to be one of the largest rogue States in modern times, hellbent on pursuing an imperialistic hegemony self-catered solely for its twisted interests. To use a quote by renowned British comedian Bill Bailey, 'America's like the bully of the world going up to countries an saying "give us your sweets or I'll smash your face in!'"America, the bully of the world, and the UN is powerless. The comedian continues '...and Britain leans round the back and goes yeahhhhh'. UK, America's licensed sidekick endorsing and aiding the bullying of the world, and the UN is powerless. The European Union, certainly one of the largest international communities in the world coming closest to representing the ideals of democracy and internationalism but sometimes silent when it matters most and active when it shouldn't be, and we accept it. There is another State which to me represents nothing less than the failure of the international system. That State is Israel.

According to Professor Richard Falk, the United Nations special rapporteur for human rights in the occupied terrirtories, Israel is currently committing serious war crimes in its military assault on Gaza and the Palestinian people (see Statement by Prof. Richard Falk). Some are quick to argue that Israel has the right to self-defense and to maintain security for its people and thus the war is justified because Palestine broke the peace (ceasefire) first by lauching rockets into Israel. Let us for a moment assume that Palestine did break the ceasefire. Proffessor Falk rightly points out that the Palestinian people cannot suffer collective punishment because 'the actions of a few militants' - but that is what is Israel is doing - and in so doing it is targetting and killing civilians ,thus outrageously violating the Fourth Geneva Convention. But according to a CNN Newsreport it has become quesitonable as to who really broke the ceasefire. Regardless, the mass killing of innocent civilians - many of them children, is not only disproportionate, but undignified and severely unjust. Such attrocities and brutal agression should not be allowed to happen in the world, but Israel it seems, has a free licence to kill.

Where is Barak Obama, the man who holds that "all men are created equal; that they are endowned by the creator by certain inalianble rights; that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness," which rights are "self-evident"? Are Palestinians considered inferior to man, are they not created equal? Is the EU taking an affirmative stance? Unfortunately it is disunited, confused and weak. Why is the UN so powerless?

The international legal system created 68 years ago in San Francisco is at the face of it extremely admirable but rotten at the core. Perhaps it was even intended to grant a sense of legitimacy to those with ruthless intentions. But he who surrenders so readily to despair shall only aid those who want to keep him so.

I dream of a Palestine that is free.

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