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AMBASSADOR'S ARTICLES

07.09.2013

Push for peace and Road to Damascus (by Alexander Yakovenko, Russian Ambassador to UK, for RIA Novosti)

The G-20 Summit in Saint-Petersburg became the scene of debate on the Syrian crisis by leaders of major nations of the world. It was an opportunity not to be missed, at such a critical juncture in world politics, to push for a political settlement in Syria. Political process, though talked about for the past two years, has been and still is the key missing piece of this conflict’s puzzle. The cumulative effect of the past experience, in particular over the last two decades, be it in Iraq, Afghanistan or Libya, explains the lack of enthusiasm in many countries, the Euro-Atlantic making no exception, for unilateral use of force, i.e. outside international law. Moreover, the Syrian situation, not that much different from the previous cases, puts spotlight on the fundamental issues involved. They are two, but both of them pertain to the very foundation of the existing post-WWII international order.

First, use of force is only allowed in self-defence or by explicit decision of the UN Security Council. Otherwise it is illegal. The UN is the unique source of international legitimacy. Those who decide to act on their own not only do so at their own risk and expense, they undermine the very UN-centered system that benefit the entire international community, big states or small ones, strong or weak. This is an international projection of the national rule of law. True, certain actions may be outsourced to groups of countries, but upon express mandate of the UN Security Council.

That is the point, American scholars Oona Hathaway and Scott Shapiro make in their recent article in IHT. In their view, on Syria a UN vote isn’t optional. Acting outside UN “will endanger the fragile international order which is World War IPs most significant legacy”. It wasn't disposed of in the Cold War. It must not now that a multipolar world is emerging. That is why giving peace a chance in Syria and, consequently, to the entire region is not only the position of Russia and other BRICS, but also of the EU, UN Secretary-General and many others.

Secondly, meddling in domestic affairs of sovereign states. Yes, it is a Westphalian principle, but it has served the world well, including the case of the Civil War in America. IHT of today cites Sir William Harcourt’s opinion of the time. According to him, military intervention is like revolution: “its essence is illegality and its justification is its success”.

One may juggle with words, resort to all sorts of euphemisms, like the ones the financial sector used over the last 30 years, but it is impossible to defy laws of nature. That is why it is difficult to believe in a “limited” or “surgical” strike. It will still be fraught with unintended consequences for which everybody will have to pay. My hunch, as that of many people, is that things are not simple, and if they are presented as such, it provides grounds for suspicion. People may give the benefit of the doubt to their government, but internationally, especially given Iraq and Libya, there exists due process that ought to be followed and it leads to New-York.

So, it may well be not by chance that the road to Damascus presents itself as an opportunity for conversion into the faith of international rule of law. Primus inter pares is compatible with it. Better to convert before using force of arms rather than in its wake.




LATEST EVENTS

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According to the latest Afghanistan Opium Survey released by the Afghan Ministry of Counter Narcotics and United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), in 2017 opium production in Afghanistan increased by 87 per cent to a record level of 9,000 metric tons. The area under opium poppy cultivation also grew by 63 per cent to its highest level of 328,000 hectares. Afghanistan is the world's top cultivator of the poppy from which opium and heroin are produced. The 2017 record levels of opium production and poppy cultivation create multiple challenges for the country, its neighbours and many other countries that serve as a transit for or a destination of Afghan opiates. The significant levels of opium poppy cultivation and illicit trafficking of opiates fuel instability, insurgency and increase funding to terrorist groups in Afghanistan.


19.10.2017 - Why to fight with memorials (by Ambassador Yakovenko for RT)

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05.10.2017 - What You Have to Know about Status of Crimea (by Ambassador Yakovenko for RT)

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30.09.2017 - Russia’s initiative on protecting SMM OSCE in South-East of Ukraine (by Ambassador Yakovenko for RT)

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25.09.2017 - Eurasian Economic Union today (by Ambassador Yakovenko for RT)

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25.09.2017 - IX BRICS Summit – turning into a global organisation (by Ambassador Yakovenko for RT)

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