The Observation Of International Law Is Essential for Maintaining Peace In A Sustainable World

The observation of International law is a must if all members of the international community are to develop and flourish in conditions of peace. International Law acts to instil, maintain and protect the security of countless millions who might otherwise be denied the " Right to life, liberty and security of person ", as expressed in the Declaration of Human Rights.

Without United Nations, organs such as the International Court of Justice and the International Law Commission, amongst others, individual nations within the international community would be able to act strictly and solely in their own nationalistic self-interests, and confront or wage war on any nation who would openly challenge or question their aims and ambitions.

International agreements and treaties, such as the Kyoto Protocol, the Rio Principles, the ABM Treaty and the Millennium Declaration represent areas of mutual understanding between implicated parties on matters of international import, serving not only to safeguard national security but also the wider security concerns of the global community at large.

These agreements are unavoidable, for as Swami Nirliptananda explains , " In every society there are laws-social, civil, criminal law and so on. If we examine carefully we will find that these laws are made on the basis of co-existence". (Share International July/august 2002).

Once such common concerns are threatened i.e. the depleting of the ecological resources, the occurrence of large-scale drought and the creation of a new arms' race, conditions of peace simply hang in the balance and existing security concerns risk becoming exacerbated.

When nations who are party to these international laws feel that such laws are being contravened to their detriment, it is natural that certain of its members will feel justified in initiating and engaging in acts of conflict. For them, the example of other, perhaps more powerful, nations repeatedly ignoring international trade, environmental and military legislation, arouses within them a cynicism towards "International Law". One example might be the arms trade, which is largely propelled and supported by the P-5 within the United Nations Security Council. These countries who are charged with maintaining and overseeing the security of the world!, are actively manufacture and export weapons and armaments to mainly poorer and indebted countries, and yet are only now acting to "Root out" the "Terrorists" whom in many cases they themselves armed and funded.

Such hypocrisy flies in the face of the UN Charter as Denis Haliday, former Assistant Secretary-General for UN Human Resources explains, " Security Council failure to respect the provisions of international law, flowing from the charter itself, now sadly serves to embarrass the united nations, and its member states."

The arms trade vividly illustrates the double standards prevalent within the P-5 as they wittingly participate in a viscous circle where they fund and support wars and conflicts which they purportedly are trying to prevent.

The results of this inevitably hits the innocent hardest as is clear with the military campaign in Afghanistan which as well as ignoring articles 26 and 51 of the UN Charter, stunted the essential development of one of the most unsustainable places in the world.

International Financial and Trade Institutions have perhaps the greatest responsibility to legislate towards a peaceful and sustainable world. International Trade rules will either accelerate and aid or reduce and hinder a particular nation's development and path to a sustainable future.

Where there is a scarcity of natural resources, there is also a scarcity of opportunities for economic growth and hence civil unrest productive of conflict.

Julius Nyerere, ex President of Tanzania picked up on this when he said " The fight for power is mainly a fight for economic resources".

Such resources have had to come at a high price for many developing countries as trade barriers, strict lending conditions and disadvantageous agricultural conditions, have sadly served to stall development and keep the costs of living high and the standards of living low. International financial organisations and their subsequent interest groups must share some of the blame for this as the market, which they would regulate, is explicitly fuelled by speculation, commercial interests and simple competitive one-upmanship.

With such regulations and legislation presently holding sway is it any wonder that daily millions suffer from the brutal indifference of those who see life as some kind of competitive game.

 What Can We Do ?

" There is such a thing as violence exercised through toleration, intimidation through inactivity, threats through passivity, manslaughter committed by a failure to act. "

Willy Brandt, ex Chairman of the North-South Commission.

Fidel Asante UNA