Tag: <span>World Law</span>

Protecting Cultural Heritage. Appeals

Protecting Cultural Heritage in Time of War.

Featured Image: World Heritage flag, Stortorget, Karlskrona. By Henrik Sendelbach, CC BY-SA 2.5 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5, via Wikimedia Commons.

War and armed violence are highly destructive of the lives of persons, but also of works of art and elements of cultural heritage. The war in Ukraine has highlighted the destructive power of war in a dramatic way. Thus, this May 18, “International Museum Day”, we outline some of the ways in which UNESCO is working to protect the cultural heritage in Ukraine in time of war.

International Museum Day.

May 18 has been designated by UNESCO as the International Day of Museums to highlight the role that museums play in preserving beauty, culture, and history. Museums come in all sizes and are often related to institutions of learning and libraries. Increasingly, churches and centers of worship have taken on the character of museums as people visit them for their artistic value, even they do not share the faith of those who built them.

Knowledge and understanding of a people’s past can help current inhabitants to develop and sustain identity and to appreciate the value of their own culture and heritage. This knowledge and understanding enriches their lives. It enables them to manage contemporary problems more successfully.

Graphic identity for International Museum Day 2020. By Justine Navarro, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons.

The Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict.

It is widely believed in Ukraine that one of the chief aims of the Russian armed intervention is to eliminate all traces of a separate Ukrainian culture, to highlight a common Russian motherland. In order to do this, there is a deliberate destruction of cultural heritage and a looting of museums, churches, and libraries in areas when under Russian military control. Museums, libraries, and churches elsewhere in Ukraine have been targeted by Russian artillery attacks.

After the Second World War, UNESCO had developed international conventions on the protection of cultural and educational bodies in times of conflict. The most important of these is the 1954 Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict. The Hague Convention has been signed by a large number of States including the USSR to which both the Russian Federation and Ukraine are bound.

UNESCO has designed a Blue Shield as a symbol of a protected site. Audrey Azoulay, Director-General of UNESCO, has brought a number of these Blue Shields herself to Ukraine to highlight UNESCO’s vital efforts.

Audrey Azoulay, Director General, UNESCO at the Global Conference for Media Freedom in London (2019).Foreign and Commonwealth Office, CC BY 2.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

The Roerich Peace Pact.

The 1954 Hague Convention builds on the efforts of the Roerich Peace Pact signed on April 15, 1935 by 21 States in a Pan-American Union ceremony at the White House in Washington, D.C. In addition to the Latin American States of the Pan American Union, the following States also signed: Kingdom of Albania, Kingdom of Belgium, Republic of China, Republic of Czechoslovakia, Republic of Greece, Irish Free State, Empire of Japan, Republic of Lithuania, Kingdom of Persia, Republic of Poland, Republic of Portugal, Republic of Spain, Confederation of Switzerland, Kingdom of Yugoslavia.

At the signing, Henry A. Wallace, then U.S. Secretary of Agriculture and later Vice-President, said:

“At no time has such an ideal been more needed. It is high time for the idealists who make the reality of tomorrow, to rally around such a symbol of international cultural unity. It is time that we appeal to that appreciation of beauty, science, education which runs across all national boundaries to strengthen all that we hold dear in our particular governments and customs. Its acceptance signifies the approach of a time when those who truly love their own nation will appreciate in addition the unique contributions of other nations and also do reverence to that common spiritual enterprise which draws together in one fellowship all artists, scientists, educators and truly religious of whatever faith. Thus we build a world civilization which places that which is fine in humanity above that which is low, sordid and mean, that which is hateful and grabbing.”

We still have efforts to make so that what is fine in humanity is above what is hateful and grabbing. However, the road signs set out the direction clearly.

Globally-used UNESCO World Heritage logo. By UNESCO; Designer: Michel Olyff.Uploaded by Siyuwj, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Prof. René Wadlow is President of the Association of World Citizens.

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World Refugee Day.

June 20 is the United Nations (UN)-designated World Refugee Day;  marking the signing in 1951 of the Convention on Refugees. The condition of refugees and migrants has become a “hot”…

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Louis B. Sohn Rapprochement of Cultures.

Louis B. Sohn, A World Citizen Pioneer for World…

Featured Image: Professor Louis B. Sohn in his office at Harvard University Law School, as it appears in the book Harvard Law School 1965. By Murray Tarr, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons.

By Dr. Rene Wadlow.

Professor Louis B. Sohn was a great international legal scholar whose teachings continue to contribute to the development of world law. Louis B. Sohn whose birth anniversary we note on 1 March was born in Lwów, Poland (now Lviv, Ukraine) in 1914. Lwów was a strategic point in east-west trade, industry, and history. Possession of the city had shifted from Poland to Austria in 1772, to Poland in 1919, to the U.S.S.R. just after Sohn escaped in 1939, to Poland again after 1945, and finally since 1991 to Ukraine.

Young Sohn received diplomacy and law degrees from John Casimir University in 1935. He continued research in the library, but as a Jew, his movements were restricted. Later, both his parents, Isaak and Fredericka, who were medical doctors, perished in the Holocaust. A Harvard professor saw one of Sohn’s papers and invited him to study in America. Sohn caught the last boat out of Poland two weeks before the Nazi invasion. These formative experiences contributed to his hatred of war and racism and to his determination to extend the rule of law from within States to relations among States.

 The University was founded on January 20, 1661, when the King John II Casimir of Poland issued the diploma-granting the city’s Jesuit Collegium, founded in 1608, “the honor of the Academy and the title of the University”. By MARELBU, CC BY 3.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

Sociological Jurisprudence.

At Harvard, Sohn learned that the professor who had invited him died. But the dean helped the young, multilingual Pole, found him a room and a job in the cafeteria. Soon Sohn began to work with Prof. Manley O. Hudson, a former American judge on the World Court, even though the U.S.A. was not officially a member. Harvard Law was then much under the influence of former dean Roscoe Pound, whose “sociological jurisprudence” emphasized adapting the law to new social circumstances. Sohn applied this doctrine to the customary and treaty law among States in the current age.

Description: Meeting the Permanent Court of International Justice. Last session before the abolition led by President Guerrero. fltr. Hudson (USA), Jhr W. van Eysinga (Holland) Sir Cecil Hurst (England), Erich (Finland), Guerrero (El Salvador, president), Negulesco (Romania, ), Cheng (China), De Visscher (Belgium), Olivan (Spain) Members of the International Court of Justice. Standing the three secretaries. By Meijer, […] / Anefo, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons.

Sohn earned his LL.M master’s degree at Harvard in 1940. He accompanied Judge Hudson to the San Francisco conference on the United Nations Organization, where they worked on the Statute of the International Court of Justice, which is part of the U.N. Charter.  Sohn began teaching at Harvard Law School in 1947, publishing case books first on “World Law” (1950) and then on “United Nations Law” (1956). He won his S.J.D. doctorate in law and succeeded Hudson as Bemis Professor of International Law in 1961. He taught there for twenty years.  He then accepted an offer from former U.S. Secretary of State Dean Rusk to teach at the University of Georgia Law School, where Sohn became a Woodruff professor.

Dean Rusk, Secretary of State of the United States 1961–1969. By U.S. Department of State, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

The Sea Convention.

 Sohn was a close consultant to the negotiations for the Third Law of the Sea Convention, which was signed in 1982, and he proposed its elaborate provisions for binding arbitration of complex maritime disputes. It was during the decade-long negotiations on the Law of the Sea that I worked with Sohn as I was an NGO observer for the World Citizens, and he was an official member of the U.S. delegation.

Photo by Alice Mourou on Unsplash.

We recommend you read: Our Common Oceans and Seas.

Today, with the conflicting claims over the South China Sea as well as other delimitation conflicts as well as fisheries, pollution, and deep-sea mining issues, I appreciate the vision of Sohn on creating an institution for arbitration for the Law of the Sea.

“An authoritative and generally binding methods of establishing procedures are needed, and only an international body with sufficient trust might be able to do it”. He explained.

Sohn was troubled by the guarded avoidance of international law by national policymakers toward the end of the violent 20th century. He died in 2006 near Washington, D.C., at age 92. Our continuing efforts to develop world law for a fast-changing world society owe much to the knowledge and vision of Louis Sohn.

The USS John S. McCain conducts a routine patrol in the South China Sea, Jan. 22, 2017. The guided-missile destroyer is supporting security and stability in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region. Navy photo by Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class James Vazquez. By Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class James Vazquez, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

We recommend you read: Saber Rattling in the South China Sea.

Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens.

Here are other publications that may be of interest to you.

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The Hazara Appeals

We Must Protect the Rights of the Hazara Population…

Featured Image: Hazara people in the streets of Kabul, Afghanistan 2020. By Shaah-Sultaan, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons.

The Association of World Citizens (AWC) is strongly concerned by possible repression against the Hazara population in Afghanistan, repression of such an extent that it could be considered genocide. While it is still too early to know what the policies and practice of the Taliban toward minorities will be now, during the past Taliban rule (1996-2001) there was systematic discrimination against the Hazara and a number of massacres.

There are some three million Hazara whose home area is in the central mountainous core of Afghanistan, but a good number have migrated to Kabul, most holding unskilled labor positions in the city. The Hazara are largely Shi’a in religion but are considered as non-Muslim heretics or infidels by the Taliban as well as by members of the Islamic State in Khorasan (ISIS-K), now also an armed presence in Afghanistan.

In the past there was a genocidal period under the rule of Abdur Rahman Khan. During the 1891-1893 period, it is estimated that 60 percent of the Hazara were killed, and many others put into slavery-like conditions.

To understand fully the concern of the AWC for the Hazara, it is useful to recall Article II of the 1948 Convention against Genocide.

In the present Convention, genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group, as such:

  • Killing members of the group;
  • Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;
  • Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about the physical destruction in whole or in part;
  • Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;
  • Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.

Abdur Rahman Khan

Abdur Rahman Khan, King of Afghanistan from 1880 to 1901. By Frank A. Martin, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

There have been repeated appeals to make the 1948 Genocide Convention operative as world law. The then United Nations Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, said in an address at UNESCO on December 8, 1998:

“Many thought, no doubt, that the horrors of the Second World War – the camps, the cruelty, the exterminations, the Holocaust – could not happen again. And yet they have. In Cambodia, in Bosnia and Herzegovina, In Rwanda. Our time – this decade even – has shown us that man’s capacity for evil knows no limits. Genocide – the destruction of an entire people on the basis of ethnic or national origins – is now a word our out time too, a stark and haunting reminder of why our vigilance but be eternal.”

The 1948 Convention has an action article, Article VIII:

Any Contracting Party may call upon the competent organs of the United Nations to take such action under the Charter of the United Nations as they consider appropriate for the prevention and suppression of acts of genocide […]

Despite factual evidence of mass killings, some with the intent to destroy “in whole or in part”, no Contracting Party has ever called for any action under Article VIII. (1)

The criteria for mass killings to be considered genocide does not depend on the number of people killed or the percentage of the group destroyed but on the possibility of the destruction of the identity of a group. It is the identity of the Hazara and their religious base which is the key issue. Events need to be watched closely, and nongovernmental organizations must be prepared to take appropriate action.

Kofi Annan

Joint Special Envoy Kofi Annan spoke with the media at the United Nations Office at Geneva following the June 30, 2012 Meeting of the Action Group for Syria. By US Mission in Geneva, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

 

Note.

(1) For a detailed study of the 1948 Convention and subsequent normative development see: William A. Schabas, Genocide in International Law (Cambridge University Press, 2000, 624 pp.)

 

Prof. René Wadlow is President of the Association of World Citizens.

Here are other publications that may be of interest to you.

World Refugee Day.

June 20 is the United Nations (UN)-designated World Refugee Day;  marking the signing in 1951 of the Convention on Refugees. The condition of refugees and migrants has become a “hot”…

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