United Nations : India has supported a proposal to get the opinion of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on the legal consequences of nations using force against others without the approval of the Security Council as required by the UN Charter.
The proposal made by Russia and Belarus to get the World Court’s advisory opinion on the matter “may help to clarify the legal principles governing the right to and situations for the use of force under the UN Charter”, the Indian Mission’s Legal Adviser Yedla Umasankar said on Tuesday.
The Charter requires Security Council approval for the use of force when it is not an exercise of the right to self-defence.
Speaking at a meeting of the General Assembly’s Special Committee on the Charter and strengthening the UN, Umasankar said: “India strongly believes in multilateralism and peaceful settlement of disputes in accordance with international law.”
Unilateral interventions using force without the direct approval of the Council has been a contentious issue. Examples of these include the Iraq War launched by the US and its allies and their intervention in Libya.
In both cases they cited Council resolutions regarding those countries, which they said they were implementing on their own, but without getting its direct approval for the actions.
In practice, because of the veto powers that the five permanent members have, it would be almost impossible to get the Council to allow such interventions.
Russia also has acted unilaterally using force to annex Crimea from Ukraine.
On the use of sanctions by the Council, which is another contentious issue, Umasankar said that while they are “an important tool in the maintenance of peace and security, they should not be used as punitive measures”.
Sanctions should be imposed as a last resort after having tried all other options and should be in force only for as long as they are necessary and do not violate the principles of international law, he added.
Third countries can also suffer collateral damage due to sanctions.
Umasankar said the Council was now increasingly issuing targeted sanctions against individuals and entities, and as a result, according to the Secretary-General Antonio Guterres “the incidence of unintended harm to the third States or their citizens, has significantly reduced”.
However, this topic should be on the agenda of this Committee in order “to ensuring that third States are not adversely affected by the sanctions”, he added.
The US opposed the proposal for getting the World Court opinion as well as keeping the third party impact of sanctions on the agenda.
A counsellor at the US Mission, Emily Pierce, said that third country effects of sanctions “has been overtaken by events” and that since 2003 there have been no appeals from third countries on the grounds that they have been affected by sanctions.
The Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) was concerned by the Security Council’s “continuing encroachment” on the powers and functions of the General Assembly and the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), an Iranian delegate speaking on behalf of the movement said.
(Arul Louis can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)