2012/11/30

Palestine joined the U.N. as observer and I'm appalled

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The news is that the U.N. general assembly has accepted Palestina as observer, and thus apparently / kind of recognised it as a state.

The result is that I'm appalled and could generally puke a lot right now.

The reason isn't the General Assembly's vote, though - it's what happened around said vote. It's the talking point spewed by far too many people, including the German and U.S. ministers of foreign affairs.
This talking point is very well summarised by Clinton herself:

Supporters of the Jewish state both in the United States and Israeli fear that the upgrade in United Nations status could open the door for Palestinians to bring war crimes charges against Israeli leaders in the International Criminal Court.
"it places further obstacles in the path of peace," Clinton said.
"We have been clear that only through direct negotiations between the parties can the Palestinians and the Israelis achieve the peace that they deserve," Clinton said.


Just as a reminder; why is it that if a foreign army invades your country you can shoot its soldiers without being a criminal or evil person because of it? Killing people is outlawed, after all.
The reason is your country's sovereignty. Said sovereignty is to be respected. An invasion would disrespect it.
Sovereignty doesn't come out of hot air, though. It's not made up directly. Instead, it's derived from the right of nations to self-determination:

The right of nations to self-determination (from German: Selbstbestimmungsrecht der Völker), or in short form, the right to self-determination is the cardinal principle in modern international law principles of international law (jus cogens), binding, as such, on the United Nations as authoritative interpretation of the Charter’s norms. It states that nations based on respect for the principle of equal rights and fair equality of opportunity have the right to freely choose their sovereignty and international political status with no external compulsion or interference

Now make no mistake; this right is also meant to apply to nations not having sovereignty yet:

On 14 December 1960, the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted United Nations General Assembly Resolution 1514 (XV) under titled Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples provided for the granting of independence to colonial countries and peoples in providing an inevitable legal linkage between self-determination and its goal of decolonisation, and a postulated new international law-based right of freedom also in economic self-determination.

So basically, what the Palestinians (or Arabs living in Palestine) have is the right to self-determination. This is a most fundamental right; the basis of national freedom. It's been strongly advocated by a U.S. president a while ago and others ever since.


Now what do Mr. Westerwelle, Mrs. Clinton and all the others who subordinate recognition of the right to self-determination to diplomatic tactics or strategy? They disrespect said right, quite equal to disrespecting the sovereignty of an already established state in my opinion.
This is in my eyes a 100% immediate disqualification for a job in anything resembling foreign affairs or a national-level cabinet.

The right of nations to self-determination is a foundation of the civilised world, it's THE foundation of international law since we don't ascribe this right to monarchs and princes any more.

Nobody should ever rate such a fundamental principle lower than one's own tactics or strategy. This is most disrespectful.
I'm fine with Germany not voting on the issue in the General Assembly, that's always an option. Yet Mr. Westerwelle should have shut up and not let such poison out. German foreign policy has been about strengthening international law for all its benefits. Now he needlessly sided with those who treat international law as nice to have if it helps you and to be disregarded if it's an obstacle to anything substantial you want to do.
That's a horrible mistake, sadly not our first one; the 1999 Kosovo Air War participation was quite tainting as well.


The whole topic is close to my indignation about the frequent nonsensical accusations of Germany in regard to Slovenia and Croatia gaining independence and getting internationally recognised. The common and utterly idiotic story is that Germany supposedly is guilty of promoting the bloody war in Croatia and possibly Bosnia by recognising Croatia early. 
For starters, we weren't even the first, not alone and many Western countries considered to recognise these nations' right to self-determination. The war in Croatia had begun in March 1991, including some early ethnic cleansing actions by Serbians while Croatia was recognised by Germany (together with Iceland as 3rd European country doing so) as late as December 1991. Still, Germany was made a scapegoat in the anglophone world.

More fundamentally: How dare these people to assert we should decline this right to self-determination to other nations? That's the exact same crap as happened these days!

A nation's right to self-determination is not up for debate or bartering. What's up for debate is merely whether the group in question is a nation.
There's no doubt the Slovenians were and are a nation, and the Croatians were and are as well (their Krajina border wasn't optimal, though; yet no worse than the status quo ante). Furthermore, the Palestinian Arabs are no doubt not the same nation as Israelis, albeit some of them are a not fully equal minority within Israel's U.N-recognised borders of 1966.
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The treatment of the right of nations to self-determination and the whole independence recognition thing shows how too many leading Western foreign politicians and too many people offering (in my opinion idiotic) comments on foreign policy are still very much devoid of principles. Principles which the Western world has created, officially established, vowed to respect and can claim as one of its great civilisation advances.

I don't care about walls, pyramids or even stuff like moving letters or the number zero much in comparison; international law is the great civilisation advance which brings peace, cooperation and the respect that's necessary for both from the village and region level up to the continental and global level.
Respect for international law, its basics and foreign people is our best hope for avoiding the Fourth World War as described by Einstein:

I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones.
Albert Einstein US (German-born) physicist (1879 - 1955) (quotationspage)

I'm trying to stay civil here, so I won't extend this into a more detailed appraisal of the mind of Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Westerwelle and what I'd love to do with their heads right now.



S Ortmann
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5 comments:

  1. Tell that to India who is openly defying UN Resolutions for plebiscite in Kashmir while paying lip service to upholding international laws to get a permanent seat on the Security Council. Both India and Pakistan should respect Kashmir's right to self determination.

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  2. I agree.

    If there is any hope of progress on any of civilization's fundamental problems (like avoiding nuclear war or climate change), we need a strong tradition of everyone obeying international law.

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  3. I agree with you, but we are wrong.

    Self Determination is *explicitly* held BELOW territorial integrity, not above.

    Not that thats entirely relevent, because Israel doesnt claim either Gaza or West Bank.

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    Replies
    1. The United Nations is a United States; the correct title was merely already occupied. There is a substantial UN bias in favour of the status quo including the survival of existing member states.
      This bias is eroding, as you have certainly registered as well. The Russians and Chinese are pushing back against this erosion, but they cannot veto in public opinion or the UN General Assembly.

      I included the thing about decolonisation (which, oddly, seems rather relevant to the West bank case at least) in order to point out where the UN general Assembly already made a stand in regard to the dissonance between state sovereignty and the nations right to self-determination.


      It's my impression that the decision in favour of status quo ante instead of in favour of popular secession movements is usually not rooted in IL or its underlying principles, but in foreign political gaming and relationships.

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    2. I forgot to mention the real issue: I'm appalled by politicians valueing their foreign political preferences (such as for a totally ineffectual "peace process") higher than the right to national self-determination.

      The latter vs. territorial sovereignty is actually another matter.

      Delete

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