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Effectiveness of the Law in Promoting Peace and Resolving Conflict

In: Social Issues

Submitted By ram125
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How effective has the law been in responding to contemporary issues in promoting peace and resolving conflict between nation states? In your response refer to the success of global cooperation in achieving world order.
Coined at the end of the Cold War, World Order is a term describing the interactions of nation states as they strive for global peace and security. The cooperation of nations is essential in the modern world because of the interdependency of states due to globalisation through political and economic ties. A negative of this is that events such as the Global Financial Crisis which began in the US, can affect the majority of the world due to widespread economic relations. As well as this events that threated peace and security such as terrorist attacks, mass illness and war also have a large global impact.
The United Nations is a primary body in aiding the resolution of conflicts and promoting peace on a global scale. Its main purposes include; maintaining peace and security, and developing friendly relations between states (Article 1 UN Charter) through its five main organs including the General Assembly and the UNSC. The UN’s effectiveness in modern times varies hugely depending on time and conditions as evident in many contemporary conflicts such as the success in the East Timor Conflict, and the failures in the Rwanda Genocide.
The Eastern Timor conflict dates back to 1975 in which Indonesia illegal invaded East Timor. Over the next 25 years under the dictatorship of Suharto, many mass atrocity crimes were committed and covered up, resulting in over 100,000 deaths. The UN intervention, starting in 1999 can be seen as a successful application of the law in restoring peace and resolving conflict.
The UN involvement began with the downfall of the Suharto dictatorship in 1998 and the call for independence from East Timor. Under the UNSC’s Resolution 1246, the UNSC established UNAMET to supervise a referendum for independence. This involvement was severely limited as Indonesia still had sovereignty over East Timor (Article 2(7) UN Charter), which gave Indonesia the right to make laws and govern without interference. This meant only 280 civilian police and 50 military liaison officers were permitted to enter East Timor by the Indonesian government. In complying with the UN charter, the UNAMET force was weak, highly limiting the effectiveness of this operation. The referendum led to violent anti-independence militia action, supported by the Indonesian Army (TNI).
The UN responded, exemplifying the success of global cooperation, through Resolution 1264, establishing the International Force for East Timor (INTERFET) through unanimous decision of the UNSC. Acting under the UNSC’s Chapter VII powers, the violence in East Timor was condemned, and a multinational force led by Australia was established to restore order. This was very successful due to the compliance from Indonesia and the TNI left East Timor peacefully and led to the establishment of the UN Transitional Administration in East Timor, which paved the grounds for a new, independent, democratic government. This was then supported by the UNMISET set up by Resolution 1410 to support the new government.
Therefore, the East Timor conflict exemplifies how law, through the UN can very successfully restore peace and resolve conflict under the right conditions, including strong support from Australia, compliance from Indonesia, unanimous action by the UNSC and long term commitment by the UN.
Contrary to this, the Rwanda Genocide’s illustrate how the UN can fail on an appalling level, with lethal consequences. Leading up to the massacres, the UN were warned of an upcoming mass slaughter by United Nation’s observers, but intervention was refused due to state sovereignty, and the denial of genocide occurring, even though radio broadcasts specifically called for the execution Tutsi race. The United Nations Assistance Mission in Rwanda (UNAMIR) was one of the few taskforces that were able to achieve mild success in the conflict, despite the UN’s mandate severely limiting their effectiveness. The withdrawal of Belgium forces and the Resolution 912 limited the UNAMIR to a mere 270 men, indicating the lack of global cooperation and the ineffectiveness of the international legal system in protecting citizens. With its limited effectiveness the UNAMIR was able to save approximately 32,000 lives, though with the 5,500 man force requested by General Dallaire of the UNAMIR prior to the massacres, it is estimated around 500,000 live may have been saved.
Individually, the French established safe zone in the southern area of Rwanda, named “Zone Turquoise”. This aided in the preventing some killings in the area, and helped refugee’s cross into neighbouring Zaire. Unfortunately, the refugees in Zaire were catalysts in causing the First and Second Congo Wars; further destabilizing world order and contributing to the ineffectiveness of the UN in the Rwandan Genocide.
As a result of the genocide, approximately one million lives were lost and many more in the aftermath due to widespread disease, and further conflict in Zaire. During the events, the law was appallingly ineffective in promoting peace and security, and these deaths were a direct result of the inaction of the international community. As a result, the concept of Responsibility to Protect (R2P) was conceived as a preventative for future failure, to bridge the gap between state sovereignty, and responsibility to maintain peace and security. This placed and onus on states to protect populations from mass atrocities, and led to positive interventions in the Syria and Cote d’Ivoire conflicts.
In response to the atrocities, the ad hoc tribunal; International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) was established in November 1994 under the UNSC in Resolution 955 to relieve the strain on the overwhelmed Rwandan legal system and has been successful in dealing with 50 cases so far.
Overall, the events in Rwanda are an example of how the law’s failings due to the limitations of the UN can have extreme consequences. It came as a result of poor recognition from the international community, unwillingness to help and a lack of international cooperation, highlighting the ineffective nature of the law under certain circumstances. The establishment of R2P and ad hoc tribunals in light of the genocide show how the law is effective in adapting to situations to prevent repetition of failures such as this as show in the conflicts in Libya and Cote d’Ivoire.
While less brutal, the threat of nuclear war is the largest threat to the world as proved in the Cuban Missile Crisis, where the world was close to Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD). Nuclear attacks have the potential to affect the entire world due to fallout so any nuclear threats, such as the recent Iranian nuclear issue, are considered to be of paramount importance and must be dealt with accordingly.
Following the Cuban Missile Crisis, Iran signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (1970), though reports in 2003 by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) found Iran to be in non-compliance with this treaty. This shows there are no effective legal measures that can enforce a treaty. After two years of diplomacy by the European Union (EU), Iran temporarily suspended their nuclear programs, but as the UNSC passed Resolution 1696 in 2006, ordering Iran to suspend nuclear activity under its Chapter VII powers, Iran instead resumed the programs. Over the next four years, the Permanent 5 (P5) of the UNSC along with Germany imposed four separate resolutions on Iran along with two to strengthen previous ones, which placed sanctions on individuals and the state, from a complete arms embargo to various bans and seizures.
The persistence from the P5, Germany and the EU has recently led to the “Joint Action Plan” (23/11/13), under consent from Iran, in which further uranium enrichment by Iran will be capped at 5%, and inspections of enrichment programs will be allowed. In return, sanctions will be suspended and no new ones will be created for a period of 6 months. Though it is still an ongoing process, the response to the nuclear threat of Iran shows through global cooperation, threats to peace and security can be dealt with effectively by the law, though it shows flaws in the legal system, as Iran was able to be in non-compliance with the NPT for a number of years.
From these three conflicts, it is apparent that the effectiveness of the law on a global scale is wholly dependent on the conditions which will either limit or bolster its effectiveness, mainly the compliance from the opposing states, and the global cooperation which will decide whether the conflict will be resolved peacefully as shown in East Timor, or escalate to the disastrous levels of the Rwanda Genocide. These conflicts have shown though, that the law improves from these events, increasing its effectiveness for the future as demonstrated with the implementation of Responsibility to Protect.

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