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The system of international law, mercilessly criticized for “idealism” and “spinelessness”, seems to be such only on the outside: but we may reproach it, perhaps, only for extremely low signal velocity.
Ukrainian crisis is noticeably altering the format and algorithms of activities of international organizations. Their key members previously treated Russia and some of its “client countries” as peculiar and specific, yet adequate partners, – but now it has changed.
On April 10, 2014 the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe adopted a resolution whereby the delegation of the Russian Federation denied the right to vote in the Assembly and removed from all governing bodies by the end of the year for the annexation of Crimea. Such action is unprecedented – in fact for the first time since the Cold War Russia has been put beyond Europe and, respectively, civilization in the broadest sense.
Seemingly, the PACE is just a club for helpless bureaucrats and parliamentarians fond of tourism and shopping. However, it should be noted that the EU institutions consult with the Council of Europe on numerous different issues related to protection of human rights. Even though the bond is not as strong as with the IMF or the World Bank – but it exists. For example, this could mean that many documents issued in Russia may no longer be recognized abroad. In the field of higher education and science – that is about to happen for sure, this may prove anyone who has ever worked in specialized departments.
Taking even a wider look – Ukraine sent the skepticism about ideas of European integration to the graveyard. In such a manner, Kyiv, which at the moment is not even a full-fledged associate, spurred Brussels to greater consolidation and intelligibility. And besides the actual bodies of the European Union the role of the Council of Europe and the OSCE is increasing in this process.
With respect to the Council of Europe we may assume that the organization, traditionally fixated on protection and promotion of human rights, will experience some bias towards political and security issues (formally the CE is not involved in military and political issues).
The OSCE is repeatedly facing the challenges affecting the very foundations of its existence. Its direct historical predecessor – the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe – was convened to work out the measures of lessening military confrontation and acceptance of the Helsinki Accords, which introduced the inviolability of borders and territorial integrity of states in the Old World. The confrontation between Russia and the majority of OSCE members complicated its work in the last decade. Now, we may expect further consolidation in North America and Europe within the organization and possible disorder among its Central Asian members.
It is no secret that the most problematic international institution in terms of efficiency today are the UN and its Security Council, and such crisis has been brewing for a long time. Its essence rests on the notorious right of veto enjoyed by the permanent members of the UN Security Council: the violator of the international law among the superpowers (or their allies) can always escape punishment. We cannot say that the international community has not tried to find a solution to the problem – in the XXI century we can count on a dozen of proposals for reformation of the UNSC by introduction of some new permanent or “semi-permanent” members. But superpowers were opponents to such suggestion every time, unwilling to erode their exceptional status.
Russia’s position on the “Crimean issue” has intensified the debate. Position voiced by Ukrainian representative to the UN Yuriy Sergeyev is quite indicative: “We remember how one country vetoed Commission on peacekeeping in Syria that resulted in many thousands of people killed. I am convinced that next week we will be discussing the reform of the Security Council, and I want to remind you about the two situations. Syria and Crimea," the diplomat said. It turns out that now Ukraine is the one to boost the reform of the Security Council. And our situational allies may be such countries as Brazil, Germany, India, Japan, Indonesia, which have cherished their plans for permanent representation in the UN Security Council for a long time.
Russia’s exclusion from the G8 also initiated informal consultations on invitation of China to the group (they have been taking place since Angela Merkel’s meeting with Xi Jinping in Berlin at the end of March 2014). We would like to note that being deprived of the place in the G8, Russia does not have any genuine ally in the G20: on the Crimean issue it was not supported by any of the countries in this club.
Well, at the level of international organizations Russia is about to get the part of the world’s scapegoat – we may assume that playing the multi-polarity card, defending the right to a “special way”, its leaders are deliberately taking such a step. But let us imagine that the game was a success: cooperation with Russia within the framework of the Council of Europe and the OSCE is frozen – should those international institutions exist at all in such case?
Put it simply, is it possible to earnestly deal with security and safety issues in Europe without Russia? Or in such case the entire European continent will turn into a danger zone due to and unpredictable neighbor? Or is the Kremlin counting on it, realizing that the expulsion of Russia from the European institutions themselves would devalue these structures – so it will not go beyond the short-time sanctions.
ANNEXATION OUT OF FASHION
After Hitler it was not kosher to annex territories in Europe (the only “exception” being the annexation of an uninhabitable 27 m Rockall cliff in the North Atlantic in 1955 by the UK). Asia is a different story. In this part of the world since the end of the World War II, there was a series of annexations, some of which are quite confusing: what shall be considered an annexation, what should we call an occupation, and what was an accession of territory.
Perhaps, the most “aggressive” country on the list is India: in 1961 on the rebound of struggle against the remains of colonialism it annexed such Portuguese territories as Goa, Daman and Diu. On India’s North East border there was a tiny principality of Sikkim, a former British protectorate: its accession to India as one of the states took the years between 1949 and 1975. Those annexations were finally recognized by the world community.
Tibet is located in the same region. In 1912 – 1951 it actually existed as an independent state – but then the territory was occupied by the Communist China.
Decolonization was the reason for the annexation of East Timor by Indonesia. In 1975 a former Portuguese colony announced creation of an independent country, but then it fell victim to aggression of the Indonesian dictator Suharto. This annexation has never been recognized by the UN, although Indonesia was supported by the US and its allies. The struggle for the independence of East Timor was stretched for more than a quarter of a century up to 2002, and during that time close to 200,000 Timorese have been killed or starved to death.
During the 1967 war Israel occupied the Golan Heights and East Jerusalem, extending its legislation to them in the early 1980s. The UN did not acknowledge such annexation. The status of Western Sahara – a former Spanish colony annexed by Morocco – has also been indefinite since 1976.
And the most unsuccessful attempts of annexation are on the accounts of Iraq, which in 1991 attempted to expand its territory with Kuwait, and Argentina, which in 1982 wanted to get the Falkland Islands.