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  • Author: Ruti Teitel
  • Publication Date: 04-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Ethics International Affairs Journal
  • Institution: Carnegie Council
  • Abstract: Whence does international law derive its normative force as law in a world that remains, in many respects, one where legitimate politics is practiced primarily at the national level? As with domestically focused legal theories, one standard answer is positivistic: the law's authority is based on its origin in agreed procedures of consent. This is certainly plausible with respect to treaty obligations and commitments that derive from the United Nations Charter, but it leaves customary international law vulnerable to legitimacy critiques-of which there is no shortage among international law skeptics. Even with respect to conventional international norms, such as treaty provisions, there is often a sense that such consent is democratically thinner than the public consent to domestic law, particularly fundamental domestic law, constitutional norms, and derivative principles of legitimate governance. State consent in international law, in this view, is often a very imperfect proxy for democratic consent to international legal norms. While it is obvious to international lawyers why (as a matter of positive law doctrine) state consent should make international norms prevail over domestic norms to which there is arguably deeper democratic consent, persistent critics of international law have questioned whether this should be so as a matter of legitimacy.
  • Political Geography: United Nations
  • Author: James W. Nickel
  • Publication Date: 08-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Ethics International Affairs Journal
  • Institution: Carnegie Council
  • Abstract: Like people born shortly after World War II, the international human rights movement recently had its sixty-fifth birthday. This could mean that retirement is at hand and that death will come in a few decades. After all, the formulations of human rights that activists, lawyers, and politicians use today mostly derive from the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the world in 1948 was very different from our world today: the cold war was about to break out, communism was a strong and optimistic political force in an expansionist phase, and Western Europe was still recovering from the war. The struggle against entrenched racism and sexism had only just begun, decolonization was in its early stages, and Asia was still poor (Japan was under military reconstruction, and Mao's heavy-handed revolution in China was still in the future). Labor unions were strong in the industrialized world, and the movement of women into work outside the home and farm was in its early stages. Farming was less technological and usually on a smaller scale, the environmental movement had not yet flowered, and human-caused climate change was present but unrecognized. Personal computers and social networking were decades away, and Earth's human population was well under three billion.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Human Rights, Human Welfare, International Law, International Political Economy, Sovereignty, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: United States, Japan, China, Europe, Asia, United Nations
  • Author: Andrew Gilmour
  • Publication Date: 08-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Ethics International Affairs Journal
  • Institution: Carnegie Council
  • Abstract: Ever since the Charter of the United Nations was signed in 1945, human rights have constituted one of its three pillars, along with peace and development. As noted in a dictum coined during the World Summit of 2005: "There can be no peace without development, no development without peace, and neither without respect for human rights." But while progress has been made in all three domains, it is with respect to human rights that the organization's performance has experienced some of its greatest shortcomings. Not coincidentally, the human rights pillar receives only a fraction of the resources enjoyed by the other two—a mere 3 percent of the general budget.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Human Rights, Human Welfare, International Law, International Political Economy, Sovereignty, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Europe, United Nations
  • Author: Antonio Franceschet
  • Publication Date: 04-2012
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Ethics International Affairs Journal
  • Institution: Carnegie Council
  • Abstract: Within a short period the International Criminal Court (ICC) has become central to world politics. The dramatic diplomatic process that produced the Rome Statute in 1998 was followed by an unexpectedly rapid succession of state ratifications and the establishment of the court in 2002. As of late 2011 the ICC has indicted twenty-six individuals related to seven official investigations, all in Africa. Proceedings against one of these individuals were dismissed. Two other indictments, including one for Libya's Muammar Qaddafi, became moot because the individuals were killed before arrest or trial. The remaining list includes a sitting head of state, Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir, as well as Kenya's sitting deputy prime minister, Uhuru Kenyatta. The United Nations Security Council referred both the Sudan and Libya situations to the court; three African states requested investigations of their own situations. The ICC prosecutor independently started an investigation in Kenya. Despite efforts by Kenyan state officials to halt ICC proceedings related to the widespread violence and killings following the 2007 national elections, opinion polls suggest that 73 percent of Kenyans want the ICC to remain involved.
  • Topic: Security
  • Political Geography: Kenya, Africa, Sudan, Libya, United Nations
  • Author: Antonio Franceschet
  • Publication Date: 04-2012
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Ethics International Affairs Journal
  • Institution: Carnegie Council
  • Abstract: The United Nations ad hoc tribunals in the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda had primacy over national judicial agents for crimes committed in these countries during the most notorious civil wars and genocide of the 1990s. The UN Charter granted the Security Council the right to establish a tribunal for Yugoslavia in the context of ongoing civil war and against the will of recalcitrant national agents. The Council used that same right to punish individuals responsible for a genocide that it failed earlier to prevent in Rwanda. In both cases the Council delegated a portion of its coercive title to independent tribunal agents, thereby overriding the default locus of punishment in the world order: sovereign states.
  • Topic: Genocide
  • Political Geography: Yugoslavia, United Nations, Lower Dir
  • Author: George A. Lopez
  • Publication Date: 04-2012
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Ethics International Affairs Journal
  • Institution: Carnegie Council
  • Abstract: In her recent article in this journal, Joy Gordon provides an astute history and critique of the evolution and application of smart sanctions within the United Nations system since the mid-1990s. Her analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of the discrete types of smart sanctions is part of a growing discussion among both academics and practitioners about the future and the utility of these measures. As always, her continued skepticism about the effectiveness and ethical dimensions of economic sanctions deserves serious consideration and evaluation. In particular, Gordon raises three central concerns: (1) smart sanctions are no more successful than traditional trade sanctions; (2) each type of targeted mechanism has serious flaws; and (3) targeted sanctions did not end the humanitarian damage or the related ethical dilemmas that are embedded into sanctions design and implementation.
  • Topic: Disaster Relief, Humanitarian Aid
  • Political Geography: United Nations
  • Author: Tom Farer
  • Publication Date: 10-2012
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Ethics International Affairs Journal
  • Institution: Carnegie Council
  • Abstract: Over the last two decades a spate of books, led by the ones cited in this essay, have illuminated and debated the bristly questions confronting contemporary “humanitarianism.” The definitional or, one might say, foundational question is whether the adjective “humanitarian” should be limited to only those independent agencies that are engaged (without reference to a political context) in the impartial delivery of emergency relief to all those in existential need—or, in the unique case of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), engaged in monitoring the application of the Geneva Conventions to armed conflict. An answer in the affirmative could be considered the “classic” position of the humanitarian, and one still championed by the ICRC. Today, however, many NGOs, such as CARE, OXFAM, and Catholic Relief Services, which certainly regard themselves as humanitarian agencies, engage in a broad range of rehabilitative and developmental activities and continue to deliver emergency relief, and they are prepared to do so under circumstances where their work has conspicuous political implications. The same is true of such UN agencies as UNICEF, UNHCR, and the World Food Programme, which are not infrequently involved in complex peace operations that have clear political goals as specified by the Security Council. Further, well-known humanitarian activists and writers, notably Bernard Kouchner and Samantha Power, also reject the ICRC's definitional canon. The unsettled boundaries of what properly constitutes humanitarianism brings a number of difficult questions to the surface, including: Should relief be provided even if it could prolong a conflict, or could indirectly assist a belligerent, or possibly identify the relief giver with a government's political ends? And should the nature of those ends influence relief efforts? Should relief agencies also assist in addressing the causes of humanitarian emergencies by joining in efforts to resolve a conflict, foster economic development, rebuild state institutions, and strengthen the protection of human rights? Should such agencies accept funds from governments where governments specify how the funds are to be used? Where necessary, should they advocate armed intervention to protect their personnel as well as the recipients of their aid? In terms of the way they organize and structure themselves, should nonprofit agencies dedicated to humanitarian relief follow private-sector models? Can organizations dedicated to the effective provision of emergency relief pursue that end without creating a culture of dependence, without discouraging local initiative, and without violating the liberal “right” to participate in life-shaping decisions? Finally, how does humanitarianism relate to human rights, the other leading expression of what I would call “the humanitarian impulse”?
  • Topic: Security
  • Political Geography: Geneva, United Nations
  • Author: Kirsten Ainley
  • Publication Date: 12-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Ethics International Affairs Journal
  • Institution: Carnegie Council
  • Abstract: The twentieth century saw the unprecedented individualization, legalization, and criminalization of responsibility in international relations. At the start of the century, if any agent was held responsible in the international sphere for harm resulting from conflict or war, it was the state, and states were held politically (rather than legally, for the most part) responsible for their acts by other states. By the end of the century individuals were held legally (often criminally) responsible for such harm, now defined as "war crimes" or "atrocities." Individuals were increasingly held responsible by international or hybrid tribunals set up under the auspices of the most powerful international institution in the post-1945 system, the UN Security Council, and with significant financial support from the world's most powerful states, foremost being the United States. Only a few years into the twenty-first century, trials of individuals were under way at an independent International Criminal Court (ICC). Our first reaction when we see news reports of war or civil conflict is frequently to ask which individuals are responsible and how they are to be punished. The drive toward individual accountability can be seen in, for instance, the 2009 report by the Goldstone Commission into alleged war crimes committed in Gaza, which led to subsequent calls for the ICC to take up the case; the 2011 report by the Panel of Experts set up by the UN secretary-general to advise on accountability in Sri Lanka; and the swift referral of the situation in Libya to the ICC in February 2011.
  • Topic: International Relations
  • Political Geography: United States, Libya, Sri Lanka, United Nations
  • Author: Toni Erskine
  • Publication Date: 09-2010
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Ethics International Affairs Journal
  • Institution: Carnegie Council
  • Abstract: The problem with trying to punish an institution that is judged to be ''delinquent''—whether a ''rogue state,'' the United Nations, BP, or the United States Army—might be understood as one of responding to an entity that (to invoke Edward, First Baron Thurlow's eighteenth-century account of the corporation) ''has no soul to be damned and no body to be kicked.'' Perhaps this seems a fairly obvious point. After all, even if one can draw some carefully qualified analogies between individual human actors and institutions (as I will attempt to do in the first part of this article), the two types of entity are different in important ways. One might thereby conclude that the corporeal—and, depending on one's beliefs, even the spiritual—nature of individual human beings renders them vulnerable to forms of punitive harm to which institutions, in the sense of formal organizations, are simply impervious. Alternatively, one might counter that such an observation has little relevance when we are talking about ''delinquent''
  • Political Geography: United States, United Nations
  • Author: Rekha Nath
  • Publication Date: 09-2010
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Ethics International Affairs Journal
  • Institution: Carnegie Council
  • Abstract: Ten years have passed since the United Nations member states committed themselves to the Millennium Development Goals, central among which are the eradication of extreme poverty and hunger worldwide by 2015. Two recent books, Gillian Brock's Global Justice: A Cosmopolitan Account and Darrel Moellendorf's Global Inequality Matters, serve as timely reminders that progress toward meeting these morally urgent goals has been minimal. Rich with empirical detail, these books bridge the gap between theory and practice in presenting carefully crafted accounts of the obligations we have to non-compatriots and by offering practical proposals for how we might get closer to meeting these obligations.
  • Topic: Poverty
  • Political Geography: United Nations