UNO – The disillusionment of small states

18th Feb 2020

At the end of disastrous WWII, the Charter of the United Nations was signed in 1945, aiming to streamline the behaviour of its “equal” member nations as against each other and to avoid repetition of the atrocities and calamities of war.

Articles 1 and 2 of the Charter, particularly 2(4) thereof, constitute, along with the rest of the articles of the UN Charter, the “bible” of rules governing the interaction between all “equal” state members of the Organisation.

At the time, the UN Charter was specifically aimed at prohibiting Nazi-like practices of attacking and occupying weaker neighbouring nations and to preserve their political independence and territorial integrity.

Nowadays, however, it seems that Art.2(4) has become rather obsolete. Smaller nations now believe that the Charter, including Art. 2(4) thereof, is a dead letter. Even some of the strongest members of the Security Council ignore these provisions and use force and threats of use of force which do not adhere to the provisions of the Charter. Similarly, other emerging regional powers follow suit and “terrorise” their smaller neighbours. No tangible measures are taken to prevent such flagrant violations of modern international law.

Many of us wonder whether the UN Charter, the Secretary General of the UN and the  members of the Security Council are still of  value to protect small nations from the ferocious appetites of  “hegemonic” and powerful nations that are trying to unlawfully secure their interests, to the detriment of such weaker neighbouring states. At the same time, hegemonic states are not prepared to create wars or armed conflicts against each other οn their own soil. They in fact tolerate and sometimes support each other’s ambitions of prevalence provided that their own area of “hegemony” will not be upset.

The pursuit of world or regional leadership through control of other nations creates new risks leading to wars or warlike operations. We have many examples of wars “by proxy” that have taken place or are currently in progress in third country territories, which can very easily escalate into wider armed conflicts.  “Hegemon” states aspire to retain control in the Middle East by means of military and economic might.  In the South East Mediterranean sea Turkey, another emerging regional power, is desperately trying to establish itself as a regional leader, by means of military force and threats of use of such force. It does not appear to fear the invocation of the UN Charter or international law but rather believes that its shameless display of military power will force the weaker nations of the region to submit to its wishes and surrender part of their sovereign rights to it. The other world powers seem to ignore its warlike aspirations.

As was mentioned earlier, the “hegemonistic” powers never fight between themselves but prefer to use battlefields in other countries to carry on their wars “by proxy”, while being indifferent to the catastrophic consequences their actions have and the desolation of the people of such countries. The UN do not exercise a balancing influence but are still looking for an orientation and desperately seek to acquire a world role. For the time being, they appear to tolerate unashamed gross violations of the established world order as formed after WWII, limiting their intervention to only general expressions of disagreement with such actions and effectively only seeking “negative peace”.

It is evident, however, that popular dissatisfaction against the UN organs is growing internationally, particularly given their inefficient exercise of their role as protectors of the weak nations and inability to impose order on the regional powers aspiring to acquire a supremacy over weaker nations. As such the future does not look bright, but rather, filled with regional and world disasters.

When one says “equal”, or even when the Charter speaks of “the principle of equal rights”, this does not mean equal distribution of wealth or the resources of all states, small or large. We mean the equal rights of small states when it comes to their integrity, respect of their sovereignty, equal votes at the GA of the UN and protection from the abusive use of force by stronger nations. Stronger nations cannot usurp the legitimate wealth of smaller nations, nor dismember weaker nations. As mentioned, large powerful countries avoid fighting against each other on their own soil but fight by proxies on the soil of weaker nations. Those who suffer the most are the small nations.  A flagrant example is the current behaviour of “powerful” Turkey against “Lilliputian” Cyprus which has already been its victim in 1974. Turkey once again aims to “invade” and “steal” Cyprus’ “property” by force, by targeting hydrocarbons lying within its legitimate Exclusive Economic Zone in the South Eastern Mediterranean sea, just like it did back in 1974, when it stole the properties of 200.000 Greek Cypriots.

Is this the way we perceive the “new world order” as per the proclamation of the President of the USA, G.W. Bush, in 1991 during the Iraq-Kuwait crisis?

Article by Dr. Kypros Chrysostomides

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