Sachs argues in favor of "international law"
"As frightening as the Ukraine crisis is, the more general disregard of international law in recent years must not be overlooked," Jeffrey Sachs writes.Source: Beta
Warning about "skeptics of international law who believe that it can never prevail over the national interests of major powers" and that maintaining a balance of power among competitors is all that can be done to keep the peace, he noted that "without some scaffolding of law, open conflict is all too likely."
"This is especially true today, as countries jostle for oil and other vital resources. It is no coincidence that most of the deadly wars of recent years have taken place in regions rich in valuable and contested natural resources," Sachs, a Columbia University professor and special adviser to the UN secretary-general on the Millennium Development Goals, noted.
In an analysis published at the Project Syndicate website and carried by Spain's El Pais newspaper, Sachs stated that "Russia’s actions in Ukraine constitute a serious and dangerous violation of international law."
He believes that respecting the UN system and the Security Council's decision is the only way to preserve peace in the world and prevent serious disturbances in the world economy.
"As frightening as the Ukraine crisis is, the more general disregard of international law in recent years must not be overlooked," he wrote, and added:
"Without diminishing the seriousness of Russia’s recent actions, we should note that they come in the context of repeated violations of international law by the U.S., the EU, and NATO. Every such violation undermines the fragile edifice of international law, and risks throwing the world into a lawless war of all against all."
Sachs noted that the United States and its allies "launched a series of military interventions in recent years in contravention of the United Nations Charter and without the support of the UN Security Council."
"The U.S.-led NATO bombing of Serbia in 1999 lacked the sanction of international law, and occurred despite the strong objections of Russia, a Serbian ally. Kosovo’s subsequent declaration of independence from Serbia, recognized by the U.S. and most EU members, is a precedent that Russia eagerly cites for its actions in Crimea. The ironies are obvious."
The Kosovo war was followed by the U.S.-led wars in Afghanistan and Iraq which also lacked the support of the Security Council, he noted, and added that "the results for both Afghanistan and Iraq have been utterly devastating."
Sachs was also critical of the intervention in Libya:
"NATO’s actions in Libya in 2011 to topple Muammar el-Qaddafi constituted another such violation of international law. After the Security Council approved a resolution to institute a no-fly zone and take other actions ostensibly to protect Libyan civilians, NATO used the resolution as a pretext to overthrow Qaddafi’s regime through aerial bombardment. Russia and China strenuously objected, stating then and now that NATO seriously exceeded its mandate. Libya remains unstable and violent, without an effective national government, to this day."
As for Syria, the protests launched there in 2011 were peaceful but met with President Bashar al-Assad violent crackdown, "leading some military units to revolt," Sachs noted, and added:
"At that point, in the summer of 2011, the US began to back the military insurrection, with President Barack Obama declaring that Assad must 'step aside'. Since then, the U.S., Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and others have provided logistical, financial, and military support to the insurrection, in violation of Syria’s sovereignty and international law. "