Crimea: A War Fought With International Law
Published: April 10, 2014 (Issue # 1805)
International law is the weapon of choice in the Crimea conflict, with adversaries using sections of the United Nations Charter like artillery to bolster their own defenses and target their opponents’ weaknesses.
But who will end up on the right side of history?
The fact that the international community has found itself gripped in a battle for legal supremacy might suggest that UN Charter drafters left the world with high hopes for enduring peace but without the means to achieve it.
But, at the same time, legal controversies, as vicious as they may be, can inspire sorely needed progress and modernization within the sphere of international law.
“The different sides to the [Crimea] dispute have armed themselves with legal justifications — a sign that the law is taken seriously and cannot be ignored,” said Joseph Davids, a lawyer with Studio Legale Ghia in Italy and consultant for the UN Food and Agriculture Organization.
The legacy left by the Crimea crisis could prove either beneficial or detrimental. History is rich with examples of the good that can come from diplomatic discord. At the same time, some analysts warn that the actions of powerful countries in cases such as this one can prove catastrophic. Good or bad, the conflict will have a crucial impact on the development of international law.
Amid the ongoing devastation of World War II, the leaders of the Allied forces compromised on a solution that they dreamed would spare future generations the catastrophic losses they were enduring.
Stalin, Churchill, and Roosevelt met in Tehran in late 1943 with the primary purpose of forging wartime agreements that would enhance their fight against the Axis powers.
At the culmination of the four-day conference, the three leaders signed a declaration vowing on behalf of themselves and “all the United Nations” to build a peace that would “banish the scourge and terror of war for many generations.”
Two years later, as the world came to terms with its losses, the delegates of 50 nations convened in San Francisco to formally breathe life into the UN.
Addressing the final session of the San Francisco Conference, U.S. President Harry Truman lauded the initiative as “a solid structure upon which we can build a better world.”
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