THU 2 April 2009 ACTION DAY against NATO
Start mobilising now to join the European anti-Nato demonstration
The Strasbourg protest will begin with a counter-summit bringing together anti-war activists, writers and politicians from around the world. It will start on Thursday 2 April.
Friday 3 April will be a day of civil disobedience and Saturday 4 April will be the day of the international demonstration.
The counter-summit will come to a climax on Sunday 5 April when Noam Chomsky will be one of the key speakers.
The Stop the War Coalition is calling for the biggest possible mobilisation from Britain.
Every Stop the War group around the country should start mobilising now.
Stop the War is encouraging groups to set up mobilising committees to bring in new networks and new activists.
The aim should be to get delegations from every college, workplace and campaign group in the area. There is a four-page brochure about the protests which can be downloaded from the Stop the War website. It contains a model resolution for trade unions and student unions.
Information on transport and accommodation for the event will be posted as it comes in. Coaches are being organised from London and all Stop the War groups are being encouraged to book transport.
The following should be read alongside this article:
» Unite against Nato expansion and war
The NATO bombing of Yugoslavia took place during the Kosovo War. Its legality and legitimacy was and is highly disputed.
A few critics like Noam Chomsky, have condemned NATO's military campaign in Yugoslavia in general, and its bombing campaign in particular, which included the bombing of electricity and water supplies and television stations as well as military targets.
Supporters maintain that it brought to an end Serbian repression of Kosovo's Albanian population. They argue that the bombing campaign hastened (or caused) the downfall of Slobodan Miloševic''s Yugoslav government, which they see as responsible for the international isolation of Yugoslavia, many war crimes and gross human rights violations.
NATO's argument for the bombing's legitimacy
1. NATO perceived the conditions in Kosovo as posing a risk to regional stability.
NATO and the international community have a legitimate interest in developments in Kosovo, inter alia because of their impact on the stability of the whole region which is of concern to the Alliance. -- NATO Council Statement, March 5th 1998.
2. NATO was justified in acting to maintain regional stability under Articles 2 and 4 of the NATO charter.
3. The use of force by NATO would not be inconsistent with UN resolutions on the matter: Resolution 1160 and Resolution 1199.
The UN Charter
The prohibition against the use of force in the UN Charter can be found in article 2(4):
All Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the Purposes of the United Nations.
There are two specific exceptions against this prohibition provided for in the Charter.
The first is in Chapter VII, where the Security Council has been given power in order to fulfil its responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security. Article 42 states (emphasis added):
Should the Security Council consider that measures provided for in Article 41 would be inadequate or have proved to be inadequate, it may take such action by air, sea, or land forces as may be necessary to maintain or restore international peace and security. Such action may include demonstrations, blockade, and other operations by air, sea, or land forces of Members of the United Nations.
The second specific exception is found in article 51, regarding the right to self-defence (emphasis added):
Nothing in the present Charter shall impair the inherent right of individual or collective self-defence if an armed attack occurs against a Member of the United Nations, until the Security Council has taken measures necessary to maintain international peace and security . . .
While NATO did not have the backing of the United Nations Security Council to use force in Yugoslavia, nor claims an armed attack occurred against another state, its advocates contend that its actions were consistent with the United Nations Charter. Additionally, as NATO is an international organization itself (and not a member state of the United Nations), NATO itself is not subject to limitations which would apply to members of the UN. The principal issue however remains whether the member states of NATO, the U.S. and the European powers, violated the UN Charter by attacking a fellow UN member state in the absence of an attack or a threat of imminent attack on them and in the absence of UN Security Council authorization.
The United Nations considers NATO to be a regional arrangement under UN Article 52, which states (emphasis added):
1. Nothing in the present Charter precludes the existence of regional arrangements or agencies for dealing with such matters relating to the maintenance of international peace and security as are appropriate for regional action provided that such arrangements or agencies and their activities are consistent with the Purposes and Principles of the United Nations.
However, the UN policy on military intervention by regional arrangements is contained in UN Article 53, which states (emphasis added):
1. The Security Council shall, where appropriate, utilize such regional arrangements or agencies for enforcement action under its authority. But no enforcement action shall be taken under regional arrangements or by regional agencies without the authorization of the Security Council . . .
It has been argued that NATO's actions were in violation of the charter of NATO itself. Proponents of this viewpoint argue that Article 5 of NATO's charter restricts NATO's use of force to situations where a NATO member has been attacked. Critics of this theory argue that the purpose of Article 5 is to require all NATO members to respond when any NATO member is attacked, not to restrict the circumstances under which NATO will choose to use force.
NATO itself justified the actions in Kosovo under its Article 4, which states:
The Parties will consult together whenever, in the opinion of any of them, the territorial integrity, political independence or security of any of the Parties is threatened.
Because the NATO actions in Kosovo were taken after consultation with all members, were approved by a NATO vote, and were undertaken by several NATO members, NATO contends that its actions were in accordance with its charter. However, opponents of NATO's involvement contend that the situation in Serbia and Yugoslavia posed no threat to any of the NATO members.
The Vienna Convention
It has also been argued that the treaties signed by Serbia are void because the signatories were forced to sign them. Article 52 of the U.N Convention on the Law of Treaties at Vienna (the Vienna Convention) states:
A treaty is void if its conclusion has been procured by the threat or use of force in violation of the principles of international law embodied in the Charter of the United Nations.
Since many treaties are signed while the use (or threat) of force is in effect, most scholars agree that Article 52 refers only to force that is in violation of the principles of international law embodied in the Charter of the United Nations. Therefore, the question of whether the treaties are void depends on the question of whether NATO's use of force was in violation of the principles of the United Nations.
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