As the clamour for war grows louder, much conjecture has arisen about how the
West will respond to Russia's invasion of Ukraine. The majority of suggestions
have focused on implementing sanctions, such as shutting Russia out of the
international banking system and declaring it a pariah economy. The vocabulary
used is almost exclusively that of a realpolitik geopolitical confrontation
between a growing Russia and a defensive West - and how the latter might prevent
the former from succeeding.
As members of the legal profession, we are concerned that the international
legal framework governing the use of force is conspicuously absent from public
debate on Russia's invasion. In a pre-dawn TV broadcast on February 24,
President Putin warned that Russia could not feel "secure, develop, or exist"
because of what he saw as a continuing threat from contemporary Ukraine.
Tanks and troops from Russia, Russian-annexed Crimea, and its ally Belarus
attacked airports and military headquarters right away. Cities have been bombed,
communities have been destroyed, and millions of Ukrainians have fled their
homes. Despite this, Russia prohibits the use of the terms war and
invasion, and threatens journalists who use them with imprisonment.
According to President Putin, this is a special military operation.
Many of his arguments for war were incorrect or irrational. He declared that his
purpose was to "emilitarise and de-Nazify Ukraine, as well as to defend
those who had been bullied and subjected to genocide. In Ukraine, which is a
functioning democracy run by a Jewish president, there has been no genocide.
How could I be a Nazi? says the narrator. compared Russia's invasion to Nazi
Germany's invasion during World War II, said Volodymyr Zelensky. The senior
rabbi of Ukraine and the Auschwitz Memorial both condemned Russia's falsehood.
The United Nations General Assembly reaffirms the importance of the United
States Charter in strengthening international law.
Recalling all States' commitments under Article 2 of the Charter to refrain from
threatening or employing force against another country's territorial integrity
or political independence, or in any other way that is contrary to the United
Nations' goals, and to settle international disputes peacefully.
Recalling also that all Members have a duty under Article 2 (2) of the Charter
to fulfil in good faith the commitments they have accepted in line with the
Charter in order to ensure that all Members have access to the rights and
benefits that come with membership.
Taking note of Security Council Resolution 2623 (2022) of February 27, 2022, in
which the Council asked that the General Assembly hold an emergency special
session to discuss the issue highlighted in document S/Agenda/8979. Recalling
General Assembly Resolution 377 A (V) of 3 November 1950, "Uniting for Peace,"
and noting that the Security Council's lack of unanimity during its 8979th
meeting precluded it from carrying out its basic responsibility for
international peace and security.
Recalling also its resolution 2625 (XXV) of 24 October 1970, in which it
approved the Declaration on Principles of International Law Concerning Friendly
Relations and Cooperation Among States in accordance with the United Nations
Charter, and reaffirming the principles contained therein that a State's
territory shall not be acquired by another State as a result of the threat or
use of force, and that any attempt aimed at the partial or total annexation of a
State's territory by another State shall not Recalling its decision 3314 (XXIX)
of December 14, 1974, which defines aggression as the use of armed force by one
state against the sovereignty, territorial integrity, or political independence
of another state, or in any other way that is in violation of the Charter.
Taking into consideration the need of sustaining and building international
peace based on freedom, equality, justice, and respect for human rights, as well
as creating cordial ties among nations regardless of their political, economic,
and social systems or degrees of development.
Recalling the Helsinki Final Act of the Conference on Security and Cooperation
in Europe, signed on August 1, 1975, and the Budapest Memorandum on Security
Assurances in Connection with Ukraine's Accession to the Nuclear
Non-Proliferation Treaty, signed on December 5, 1994.
Condemning the Russian Federation's announcement on February 24, 2022 of a
"special military operation" in Ukraine. Reaffirming that no territorial gain
can be justified by the threat or use of force. Concerned about reports of
strikes on civilian targets like as homes, schools, and hospitals, as well as
civilian deaths, including women, the elderly, disabled persons, and children.
Recognizing that Russia's military operations in Ukraine's sovereign land are
unprecedented in Europe, and that prompt action is essential to protect this
generation from the scourge of war. Endorsing the Secretary-statement Generals
of February 24, 2022, in which he remembered that using force against another
country is a repudiation of the principles that every nation has committed to
preserve, and that the Russian Federation's present military offensive is a
violation of the Charter.
Condemning the Russian Federation's plan to beef up its nuclear-weapons
readiness. Concerned about the worsening humanitarian situation in and around
Ukraine, with an increasing number of internally displaced persons and refugees
in need of help. Concerns have also been demonstrated about the conflict's
potential effects on world food insecurity, as Ukraine and the geographic area
are one of the world's most important areas for grain and agricultural exports,
at a time when millions of people are facing famine or the imminent threat of
famine, or are experiencing severe food insecurity in several parts of the
world, including on energy security.
Acknowledging the Secretary-efforts, General's as well as those of the
Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe and other international and
regional organisations, to assist de-escalate the situation in Ukraine, and
advocating continued dialogue.
"India has ties to countries embroiled in the conflict - economically,
security-wise, educationally, and politically; India's many requirements are
linked to these countries," Prime Minister Narendra Modi said during a speech in
New Delhi. He went on to explain that India is always calling for peace and
dialogue because of its ties to both countries. "The continuous violence affects
every country on the earth." "India is committed to peace and believes that all
conflicts can be handled through dialogue," the Prime Minister stated.
India and 34 other countries had previously voted against a UN General Assembly
resolution denouncing Russia's military actions in Ukraine. In a UN Security
Council procedural motion, India voted against summoning a General Assembly
session on the Ukraine crisis.
Nearly 22,000 Indians, mostly students, have been evacuated from the most
vulnerable districts of Ukraine, including Kharkiv and Sumy. "It is reported
that there was talk of shattering the morale of the country even while hundreds
of Indian students and citizens were stranded in Ukraine," Prime Minister
Narendra Modi said. More than 50 Russian-speaking officials from the Ministry of
External Affairs have been dispatched to Ukraine to carry out Operation Ganga.
On-the-ground decisions on evacuation within war-torn areas will be made by a
special team led by a joint secretary. Ukraine departed from New Delhi as well.
It's now or never to take action. International law is significant not just in
terms of how it leads to punishment, but also in terms of how it prevents
violations from occurring in the first place. Irrespective of whether anyone is
charged, some authority - whether the ICC, Ukraine, or even the United Nations
General Assembly - should explicitly and openly warn Russia that an act of
aggression is a serious breach of and a crime under international law.
Written by: Shashwata Sahu, Advocate, LL.M., KIIT School of Law