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05/09/2011 | Opinion: The Law of the global jungle

Editorial

President Bharrat Jagdeo of Guyana is famous for his vitriolic fulminations about anything that he does not like or does not get. Indeed, we would not be surprised that when he demits office later this year his colleague Caricom Heads of Government will not miss his long addresses and will welcome the opportunity to complete their own speeches without his frequent interruptions.

 

He is often wide of the mark, but he does have a point when he recently lambasted developed countries for their double standards in international relations.

Specifically, President Jagdeo was speaking to the position taken by some powerful developed countries, including the United States, Britain and France regarding the violent civil unrest in Libya and Syria which has left thousands dead and massive destruction.

In the eyes of these developed countries, armed persons using violence to overthrow a government are, in some circumstances, characterised as terrorists or rioters undermining law and order, while in other situations they are regarded as liberation fighters.

If the government responds with maximum force, in the former case, its is deemed to be justified — saving lives and property. In the latter case, however, the government is seen as violently suppressing the people.

Such decisions, we hold, should be taken by the global community acting in concert through international institutions and on the basis of international law which respects the right of national self-determination.

Large developed countries, which are global powers, have a long disreputable tradition and a well-documented history of abusing the rights of less powerful states, whether these are economically poorer or physically smaller or militarily weaker.

It is to the credit of the global community that after the devastation of two world wars, leaders realised the folly of international affairs on the basis of the "law of the jungle" and created the United Nations (UN).

The UN was to execute two functions — the formulation of international law based on multilateral dialogue and consensus, and to monitor, and if possible, superintend the application of international law in global affairs. However, the global powers control the UN Security Council and have unfortunately emasculated or bypassed it whenever it is convenient.

While the UN has formulated some important conventions, such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the global powers have abrogated to themselves the function of interpreting the application of international law.

In many instances we have seen where the intervention by global powers into other states is driven by religious intolerance, desire to process the forbidden fruit of nuclear weapons, traditional ethnic prejudice, insistence on sovereignty over strategic land or waterways, or seeking to control vital national resources, in particular oil.

The cold, hard fact is that might is right in the global jungle and hence the powerful thrive by ruling the weak who, for their own survival, would best avoid annoying the global powers in word or deed.

For as we have seen in the past, those who do otherwise are punished in the name of peace, democracy and human rights.

That is the law of the global jungle.



Jamaica Observer (Jamaica)

 


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ver + notas
 
Center for the Study of the Presidency
Freedom House