Sunday, September 7, 2008

What ought we to do when one nation illegally sends troops into another?

On September 2nd, the New York Times reported that during the course of a four-hour meeting in Brussels, European leaders had criticized Moscow's military offensive in Georgia but yet had failed to settle on concrete measures that might deter Russia from similar action in the future. 

Indeed, one would think that with the magnificent achievements of the human race in so many fields, including some complex scientific and technological ones, our community of nations would have been able to figure out by now what to do when one country breached the territorial integrity of its neighbor.  

Isn't it time for us as an international community to come together and agree upon some firm rules about the consequences that are to follow if one nation takes the belligerent step of sending troops into another?  Should not such an action be viewed as a "threat to the peace" in the language of the United Nations Charter (Ch. VII, art. 39), giving the Security Council the right and indeed imposing on it the obligation to take steps to maintain or restore the peace, up to and including the use of force, if necessary?  Perhaps if our system were more rule-based, with all nations being on notice of the rules in advance along with the consequences for their breach, it would be easier for our international institutions tasked with maintaining the peace to act swiftly and decisively.  

In addition to establishing a set of clear rules and consequences, the world community would also need to create an international standing force that would operate at the beck and call of the Security Council and on behalf of a unified community of nations.  With such an enforcement mechanism in place, individual nations would be less tempted about acting with impunity, knowing that they would have to face a unified international response.  

No comments: