International law needs urgent reforms: Ansari

SansadTV Bureau
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File Photo(PTI)

International law is at the crossroads and needs a new direction to deal with emerging issues like military interventions and radicalisation of non-state actors, Vice President Hamid Ansari said on Friday.

“Non-state actors, of different ideological persuasions, have violated borders and sovereignty at will. Some of these transgressions have received support from other powers and nation states,” Ansari said in his inaugural address at the World Congress on International Law.

He said parts of international law remain highly contested, especially those on warfare, concept of state sovereignty, and “to a full range of self serving interests of the powerful who wish to use international law to further their political, economic and security interests”.

He said that there was an urgent need of reforms in the UN as the world has changed and new power realities have emerged. He said several new regional and trans-regional groupings have come into being, but the United Nation remains largely unaltered.

Ansari said although international laws and the institutions created to further its influence and application have grown significantly over the last six decades, but it needed new direction to deal with emerging issues which are no more confined to interstate relations.

“Its (international law) ambit has grown from interstate relations, to individual rights and now covers civil society and corporations apart from State conduct. It extends to the Global Commons and attempts to address new challenges being posed by new technologies, non-state actors, unhindered information and financial flows.

“While it is trying to cope with transnational concerns relating to pandemics, narcotics, illegal trafficking in human beings and arms, it cannot escape addressing some fundamental issues,” he said, adding several parts of the world are engulfed by crises of “identity, political control and stability”.

The “nation-state system is under strain, prompted by geo-political, short term strategic compulsions and radicalised non-state actors. Colonial geographies have begun to dismantle”.

Ansari said that the United Nations has its own limitations.

It is a voluntary association of sovereign nation states. These states have their own aspirations and had sought membership of the UN in their perceived self-interest.

“For this reason, some parts of international law remain highly contested. These relate to the laws of warfare, to the concept of state sovereignty, and to a full range of self serving interests of the powerful who wish to use international law to further their political, economic and security interests,” he said.

Globalisation has not only increased the importance of international law but also the complexity of international legal issues, he said.

The Vice President said, “the International law has grown to encompass a wide variety of fields including the prohibition of the use of force, human rights, protection of individuals during wars and armed conflicts, fight against terrorism, trafficking in drugs and other serious crimes, environment, trade and development, telecommunication and transport.”

International Court of Justice President Peter Tomka and its justices Abdulqawi Ahmed Yusuf and Dalveer Bhandari are among those who attended the World Congress organised by the Indian Society of International Law.

International Court of Justice president Judge Peter Tomka said that several Asian states including India have richly contributed in upholding international law but still more needs to be done to increase the presence of principal judicial organ of the UN.