The International Court of Justice is mandated by signatory states to resolve disputes on international law. However, the reality remains that unless the states agree to be under their jurisdiction, the ICJ can do little. Worse, a state may unilaterally withdraw its acceptance of this jurisdiction if they feel they are being mishandled. A classic example of this is the Contra Case or US vs. Nicaragua . In that case, the Nicaraguan government accused the US of funding and training the Contra movement that was plaguing the Nicaraguans at that time. The court found in favour of the Nicaraguan claim, saying that the U.
S. exercised command responsibility over the Contras. After the decision was rendered, the U. S. withdrew its acceptance of ICJ jurisdiction. The International Criminal Court, with its duty to prosecute international criminals as empowered by the Rome Statue, suffers the same weakness. Unless a state agrees to ratify the treaty and be bound by it, the ICC has no jurisdiction over the State’s citizens. This has become a bone of contention for the U. S. and the European Union. The U. S. has refused to ratify the Rome Statute and has instead chosen to sign bilateral treaties with states where their soldiers are located.
In other words, the ICC will have no power over their soldiers if they are found to have committed crimes in their host states. Simply put, the arbiters of international justice, the ICC and ICJ, are powerless in situations where the offending state refuses to recognize their authority. Furthermore, the ICJ must render fair and just decisions which are often Solomonic because they must render them in a way that addressed the offended party’s concern but at the same time does not unjustly punish the offending state.
The same is true for the ICC because the citizens of a state are also representatives of a state and unjust rulings may discredit the state and convince it to withdraw from ICC jurisdiction. A balance must also be achieved because the ICC and ICJ are dealing with independent sovereign states. They must strike a balance between performing their mandate of resolving international disputes and not overly interfering with the internal workings of a state. International Trade and Peace International trade and commerce promotes peace because peace is a necessary requirement for such activities to flourish.
Peace is precursor of international trade. After all, if the two states are in a state of belligerency there is little hope of them exchanging goods. Therefore, the desire for trade and commerce promotes peace. In fact, denying international trade is an excellent means of promoting war and international strife. By way of example, we can cite the Continental system imposed by Napoleon upon Europe during his reign as emperor of France in the 1800s. He directed the vassal states of France, such as Prussia and Denmark , not to trade with England in the hope that breaking the commercial power of England would force it to sue for peace.
However, not only did the embargo fail to cripple England (its smugglers continued to ship goods to eager European ports) it also caused hardships and drove public opinion against Napoleon. This is one of the reasons frequently cited for Napoleon’s downfall Another more recent example is the U. S. Oil Embargo on Japan prior to World War II. The U. S. exerted its influence to deprive Japan of vital goods for its war industries. This move was done as means of punishing Japan for it aggression against China and other Asian states . The move was supported by the European powers active in Asia.
Since one of the original reasons for the expansionist policy of Japan was to obtain additional raw materials for its rapidly expanding industrial strength , the Japanese found their backs against the wall. Despite their unwillingness to challenge the vast industrial and military might of the U. S. , they eventually developed an ill-conceived plan to try and quickly defeat the U. S. in Asia and force it out of the war. The plan ultimately failed and Japan was defeated in World War II. Recent European history is an example, of how trade and commerce promotes peace.
The European Union is a powerful alliance of European states which, among others, aspires to promote free trade among member states. One of the positive results of the European Union is the Euro, the single currency for all Europe . The Euro will greatly assist in helping the E. U. achieve its goal of 0% tariffs among members. Given the current emphasis on today’s globalized economies, few if any states can now operate alone. The U. S. has, for instance, moved to outsource many business processes offshore and in the process achieved significant cost savings but at the price of causing some unemployment in America.
China’s colossal economy is now producing goods at a prodigious rate but these goods are in need of a market. War has become an extremely expensive proposition. Nations that still resort to military power and war as means of prosecuting foreign policy are now in the gutters of world affairs. Peace is vital to international trade and commerce; those who desire to trade goods with each other must promote peace to make it possible and ultimately help their people prosper. What Stands in the Way of Universal Human Rights? The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was promulgated on 10 December 1948.
Given than an overwhelming majority of nations have ratified the UDHR, it has taken the force of international law to make it truly universal. The UDHR is considered a Magna Carta of all men in the world because of its nature. However, many human rights issues remain unresolved because of three major reasons; the non-binding nature of the UDHR upon states, the lack of political will in enforcing its provisions and religious objections by some states. The UDHR is not a binding document under international law. There are many commentators who claim that it has achieved the level of custom in International Law.
However, even if it is respected as a declaration, it still lacks the force of law. Unlike the International Covenant for Civil or Political Rights (ICCPR) or the International Covenant for Economic, Social and Cultural rights, the UDHR requires implementing laws for it to take effect. It is merely a statement of principle and does not create an enforceable claim unless specific laws are created addressing it. As a result, even flagrant violations of the UDHR will create scandal in the international community but unless it runs afoul of some other international document such as the Rome Statute, it has little effect.
Another reason for the many human rights issues prevalent today is the fact that while many world leaders may pander to the UDHR, they do so with the hypocrisy of the Pharisee. For example, in the Philippines the president claims to respect human rights and tells her military and people to do the same. However, extra-judicial killings in the Philippines have been more prevalent than ever during the martial law days (or so leftist activists claim). The same holds true in the U. S. where human rights like all other liberties are lionized.
Yet thousands of Taliban and suspected terrorists are held in limbo at a U. S. naval base in Guantanamo, neither as prisoners of war nor convicts, in the name of the threat to homeland security. Simply put, there is a lack of political will to actually enforce the provisions of the UDHR unless they serve some other benefit. The OIC, under the leadership of Iran and several other predominantly Muslim states, have established their own Universal Declaration of Human Rights in the context of their Muslim faith. They hold that the UDHR is a Judeo-Christian construct and does not respect their own beliefs.
Their version is known as the Cairo Declaration on Human Rights in Islam and it is largely the same except that its provisions are tailored towards an Islamic context. With almost 1 billion Muslims in the world this means that one-sixth of the world population lives in nations which specifically do not adhere to the UDHR. Sadly, the UDHR’s lofty goals are not being achieved. There are many obstacles for the UDHR to be truly universal and in the meantime those who advocate human rights must fight for it. Human Rights in the Philippines The current case of “extra-judicial killings” (EJK) in the Philippines deserves notice.
The number of people killed there has reached levels rivaling those of the Martial Law years. Many people accuse President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo as the person who is behind the killings. If not then at least she is allowing them to happen with her tacit consent. A General Palparan has even come forward with a claim that it was indeed government policy to eliminate dangerous elements in this manner. The EJKs have come to the attention of the European Commission on Human Rights. USAID has even been cancelled until the government addresses the issue properly.
Regrettably, little has been done beyond passing the buck. Either the killings are the work of terrorist organizations such as the Maoist New People’s Army (NPA) or the secessionist Muslim International Liberation Front (MILF) or they are isolated killings done by overzealous elements of the military. However, the doctrine of Command Responsibility demands that the government address this issue and take ownership of the situation. Another unfortunate reason for the lack of economic growth is the de facto ownership of parts of the country by elements of the NPA or MILF.
The government cannot reach into these areas and economic development does take time. As a result, the on going “rebellion” of the MILF and NPA are stumbling blocks to growth. The government has been forced to respond violently to these rebellions, with particular attention to NPA or MILF agents who aim to scatter sedition to the cities and other major populated areas. According to General Palparan, the reason for some of the killings is to prevent seditious elements from spreading. The Philippines is a third world country.
Wracked by many political scandals, natural disasters and an export dependent economy, the country suffers from poverty and a lack of opportunity. In recent years, the nation has been posting a remarkable economic recovery. This is in part credited to the efforts of the former economist turned President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. Part of the economic recovery has also been attributed to the peace and order situation which has been improving over the past few years. Third party intervention in the form of a European Human rights commission was proposed late last year.
Unfortunately, when the commission did send its delegation, the delegates were only allowed to see a select number of sites and areas. Also their report was discredited by the government as biased and contrary to truth. Recently, a large amount of international aid was barred with the hope of convincing the government to improve its human rights record. At the end of the day, economic development is the only surefire way to suppress these irritants in the countryside. Rural folk wish to be allowed to go about their daily business without harm from soldiers, the NPA and the Muslim secessionists.
This is particularly true in the MILF area, one of the poorest in the country. The Maoists, on the other hand, have degenerated into extortionists with little to show for 30 years of “struggle for national liberation” except the odd assassination and internecine killings. Mao is dead, China has gone capitalist and is not above violating the human rights of its own people. The NPA old guard is dying off or is in exile, the “struggle” will go into the dustbin of history for itself committing human rights violations, and the Philippines will continue to prosper.