INTERNATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF DEMOCRATIC LAWYERS (IADL) STATEMENT REGARDING THE ONGOING ESCALATION OF THE WAR IN UKRAINE. IADL DEMANDS THE INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY FIND THE ROAD TO PEACE
At the outset of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, IADL issued a statement which recognized that there have been many provocations of Russia from the West, but despite such provocations there was no legal justification under Article 51 of the UN Charter for the military actions Russia has taken against Ukraine. IADL stated that since there is no basis to claim self-defense, the actions by the Russian military represent an illegal aggression against the territorial integrity of Ukraine.
IADL demanded an immediate cessation of military actions. IADL demanded immediate negotiations to end the conflict consistent with international law and the UN Charter. Failure to do so risks massive loss of life and destruction of the country, as well a wider war which the UN Charter was written to prevent.
IADL notes that the UN Security Council failed to pass a resolution which ordered the cessation of military actions. The resolution that the Security Council sent to the General Assembly under the Uniting for Peace resolution [GA resolution 377A(V)] was aimed primarily at condemning Russia for its aggression and demanded Russia end its actions and withdraw its troops.
IADL issues this subsequent statement in light of the continued escalations of the war including the attack on a nuclear facility and to follow up on our demands that all parties cease military actions and enter into negotiations consistent with international law and the UN Charter.
IADL condemns the continued escalation in military actions, especially missile strikes and bombings which fail to adhere to the principle of distinction between military and civilian objects as required under International Humanitarian Law, exposing leaders of the Russian Federation to prosecution for war crimes.
In furtherance of IADL’s prior statement, IADL demands:
AN IMMEDIATE CEASE FIRE LEADING TO A CESSATION OF MILITARY ACTIVITIES
The current situation is extremely dangerous. The continued escalations could trigger a broader war with all NATO countries and/or a global thermonuclear war between Russia and NATO leading to the destruction of all humanity. It has already triggered a humanitarian crisis among the 1.5 million displaced persons who have fled Ukraine.
Russia should agree to an immediate and durable cease fire and begin to withdraw its troops from Ukraine, and in the interim create humanitarian corridors for those fleeing to leave, and provide humanitarian aid. IADL opposes the racial discrimination against those fleeing Ukraine who are from Africa or South Asia.
But at the same time, NATO must immediately cease its provocations, including any action that might lead to direct NATO intervention. Further military build-up in NATO states at the Russian border is provocative. This build-up includes the new U.S. military base under construction in Poland that could deploy US nuclear armed missiles only 100 miles from the Russian border. This base should not be opened.
The Security Council should take up a resolution which calls for a cease fire, and if unanimity cannot be achieved, another emergency session of the General Assembly should be convened under Uniting for Peace. Accordingly, a new General Assembly resolution should be passed which recognizes Russia’s violation of the Charter and calls for a durable step-by-step cease fire, de-escalation, removal of troops, and negotiations to end the conflict.
Uniting for Peace allows the General Assembly to make recommendations for collective measures in the case of a breach of the peace or act of aggression. Those measures could include the use of armed force when necessary “to maintain or restore international peace and security, which could be undertaken by a UN peacekeeping force.
The General Assembly can also recommend an immediate ceasefire, a withdrawal of Russian troops from Ukraine, and the immediate opening of negotiations on the establishment of one or more treaties that can lead to a stable, legally binding mechanism of collective security in Europe, based on the UN Charter and international law. Preferably, this procedure should be initiated by non-aligned or neutral states of Europe.
AN END TO PROVOCATIONS BY THE WEST
The United States and NATO have behaved in extremely provocative ways towards the Russian Federation for more than a decade. In 2014, the US government was very involved in the internal affairs of Ukraine by supporting the Maidan movement which included significant ultra nationalist and neo-Nazi forces.
When the Soviet Union and the socialist countries in Eastern Europe collapsed, the US and NATO made a clear commitment that the former Soviet and Warsaw Pact countries would not be integrated into NATO and would have a non-aligned and neutral status. Irresponsible voices try to deny the binding nature of that commitment. But international law and especially the UN Charter required precisely what was promised at that time.
NATO is an illegal organisation that violates the UN Charter. The Charter only recognizes regional associations that may assist the UN in peaceful resolutions of disputes. NATO is not such an organization. NATO is a military alliance, whose troops have been used offensively in many instances, including Serbia, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and Syria. The use of force against another state is prohibited except in situations of self defence against an armed attack or with the approval of the Security Council.
NATO and NATO members, in particular the United States, have proven by conducting aggressive military operations that the alliance is not merely a defensive one. If NATO were indeed a defensive alliance, founded only to protect Western Europe against the Warsaw Pact, it should have been dismantled at the same time that the Soviet Union collapsed and the Warsaw Pact was dismantled.
By 1999, less than a decade after the promises not to expand NATO eastwards, Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic had all joined NATO. Romania, Bulgaria and Slovakia joined in 2004, followed by Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. By 2008, NATO pledged to offer membership to Ukraine and Georgia. The encirclement of Russia would be complete.
The United States would certainly consider its security threatened if Canada and Mexico joined an alliance with the Russian Federation and started to build up massive military capacity at the US borders. Indeed, when Russia placed a military base with nuclear missiles in Cuba in 1962, the US response led the world to the brink of war. Yet a nuclear base 100 miles from the Russian border is not considered a provocation? Russian requests to remove such weapons from Russia’s borders are not unreasonable as Russia requested in its proposed treaties.
Just as IADL views the NATO military alliance as an illegal formation under the UN Charter, IADL has consistently opposed the expansion of US and other foreign military bases around the world as provocative threats to use force, in violation of the Charter’s prohibition on the use of force or threats to use force in its international disputes. Further, in 2014 the US was very involved in the internal affairs of Ukraine supporting the Maidan movement which included significant ultra nationalist and neo-Nazi forces.
GLOBAL PEACE NEGOTIATIONS MUST ADDRESS THE ROOT CAUSES OF THE CONFLICT AND CREATE A ZONE OF PEACE IN CENTRAL EUROPE
There cannot be lasting peace in Central Europe unless the root causes of this conflict are addressed and all provocative steps taken by NATO are not only stopped but also reversed. The letter and the spirit of the UN Charter required that after the collapse of the Soviet Union and the former socialist countries in Europe, the entire area be transformed into a non-aligned, neutral and largely demilitarised zone of peace.
Negotiations toward this end could accordingly be conducted under the auspices of or in the framework of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), which grew out of the agreements between Richard Nixon and Leonid Brezhnev in 1972 in Helsinki.
The OSCE helped broker the Minsk Agreements, which although not fully implemented, provided a framework for ending hostilities.
IMPOSING UNILATERAL COERCIVE MEASURES (SANCTIONS) IS NOT DIPLOMACY,
The UN Charter empowers the Security Council to impose economic coercive measures against a Member State as a way to pressure a Member State to comply with the Charter and end offensive actions. These measures can only legally be imposed by the Security Council. The Charter does not allow Member States to unilaterally impose such coercive measures.
IADL is concerned that many government leaders consider the imposition of such sanctions to be synonymous with diplomacy as they are not direct military actions. But diplomacy requires parties to seek peaceful settlements of disputes. Article 33 of the Charter provides that parties to any dispute which is likely to endanger the maintenance of international peace and security shall, first of all, seek a solution by negotiation, enquiry, mediation, conciliation, arbitration, judicial settlement, resort to regional agencies or arrangements, or other peaceful means of their own choice. Despite attempted negotiations, Article 33 dispute resolution measures have not been fully used.
We thus maintain that such unilateral coercive measures are not only illegal but exacerbate the situation and, most importantly, will impact on the lives and welfare of civilians on the ground in the end. #