By Emilia KLIX
Today, the Sixth Committee of the United Nations (the Legal Committee) had their first three sessions regarding Jus ad Bellum — the Right to Go to War. So, what has happened so far?
Well, sadly, I need to inform you that the answer is: lots of talking and discussing, forming of blocks and insulting each other. But actually finding and deciding on a consensus? Not so much.
To the credit of all delegates: they do an amazing job at debating, but also repeating each other and themselves. The repetitions are necessary, because apparently there are lots and lots of misunderstandings. I guess truly listening to each other the very first time is just too boring for the delegates!
Someone who is especially present and active is the delegate of the Republic of France – not only is he a driving force in the drafting of working papers, but he also seems to be quite an expert on the topic of insults. Not only did he say that one cannot rely on the predictability of Member States, especially regarding the election of a “certain President”. (I don’t believe President Trump would think that’s a compliment, but then again…does he think at all?)
He later made some”strong” statements about China – laughing at China’s eagerness to stick to international law (as opposed to changing it) and calling the delegation out for “not [being] a credible defender of international law”. When I asked him about that even later, he remained with his position and pointed out that China’s government ignores decisions of international courts. Well if that isn’t the spirit of working together as truly united nations, then I don’t know what is!
China’s delegate, however, seems to be surprisingly relaxed. When I talked to him about the statements from France’s delegation, he told me that that “China stands for mutual respect, dignity and equality” of the Member States and that France’s statement “wasn’t well considered”. However, China nevertheless looks forward to working with all of the Member States and France’s statement will not hinder the diplomatic work.
Despite small fights like this, it appears that the Member States prefer talking about their differences in details rather than focusing on finding a consensus. At least it can be said about the discussions regarding the requirements for preemptive self-defence. As Mozambique’s delegate said it: there were hardly any differences between the two working groups in the end. Yet no solution has been properly decided on.
And what do we learn from that? Law is complicated. Definitions are complicated. Yet sometimes it is important to make amendments to your own suggestions in order to be able to produce a draft resolution within a reasonable amount of time.
I do believe that the delegates are able to do so, but maybe they need to realize that themselves. In the words of Switzerland’s delegate, “as long as we achieve this goal [of creating a consensus and legal certainty], it is worth to have this intense debate.” Let’s hope the second day this plan works out!