By Kypros Chrysostomides
At the end of disastrous World War II, the charter of the United Nations was signed in 1945. Its aim was to streamline the behaviour of its “equal” member nations and to avoid a repetition of the atrocities and calamities of war.
Articles 1 and 2 of the charter, particularly 2(4), constitute, along with the rest of the articles, 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 Article 2(4) has become rather obsolete. Smaller nations now believe that the charter 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 charter’s provisions. 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 charter, the UN secretary-general 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 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 provided that their own area of hegemony is not threatened.
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 weaker nations in 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.
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 does not exercise a balancing influence but is still looking for an orientation and desperately seeks to acquire a world role. For the time being, it appears to tolerate unashamed gross violations of the established world order as formed after World War II, limiting their intervention to only general expressions of disagreement and effectively only seeking “negative peace”.
It is evident, however, that popular dissatisfaction against the UN’s organs is growing internationally, particularly given the 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.
Equality or the charter’s mention of “the principle of equal rights” does not mean equal distribution of wealth or the resources of all states, small or large. It means the equal rights of small states when it comes to their integrity, respect of their sovereignty, equal votes at the UN’s General Assembly 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 since 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 proclaimed by US president, George W Bush, in 1991 during the Iraq-Kuwait crisis?
Kypros Chrysostomides is a former government spokesman and justice minister