Bad Precedence

For a very long time, to be precise for the past over six decades, the powerful countries which form part of the United Nations Security Council (and some nations even outside of this Council), have taken unilateral defensive and sometimes offensive actions outside their countries’ territories.

They have blithely ignored the jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice, or even their own courts and legal system.

Their transgressions are the materials for many Hollywood movies, and what we see in these movies are largely true adaptations of what these governments and their secret spy organizations are capable of.

But, what shocked me were two unrelated, but similar events in past history by two powerful nations. One was Japan injecting deadly bacteria on Chinese Prisoners during their occupation of China in the first half of this century. But the even deadlier one, in terms of the image that I had of the U.S., was the recent news that the U.S. conducted Syphilis tests on unassuming Guatemala citizens between 1946 and 1948.

We only know what has been written about, what about scores of incidents such as these which would have undoubtedly happened under the guise of some stupid “scientific” experiments, which are not worth conducting on one’s own citizens. It is OK if other countries’ citizens are harmed. This shocked me to the hilt. I am not condoning any nation’s actions – even non-UNSC countries might have done something like this, in the long history of scientific research on humans.

However, when a decision is made to do something like this, an oversight body should need to be in place to avoid transgressions.

The Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, called those experiments “clearly unethical”. But they were also illegal and beyond human conscience. The President of Guatemala called them “crimes against humanity”.

The same concept of “crimes against humanity” needs to be applied when a country assassinates terrorists without due recourse to law. This has been happening too often nowadays creating big question marks in many countries around the world, which worry that the repercussions would be enormous in the future. India has proved that it does not subscribe to such views on unauthorized assassinations, by bringing the lone terrorist caught in the 26/11 terror attacks in Mumbai to proper legal trial over the past nearly two years. They could have easily eliminated him, but they applied due legal process to a terrorist who killed many ordinary citizens.

Who should be sitting at the UNSC ? According to the current members of the UNSC, India is only one of four countries that are being considered. Who are these guys to determine ? Most of them have committed serious violations of international law. Where is oversight on UNSC ? The UN General Assembly has no powers over the UNSC.

So, we can see that the largest democracy in the world is not going to be a member anytime soon. And, the bad precedence of powerful nations committing wilful violations of international law continue every day.

This is the modern world.


Vijay Srinivasan
10th Oct 2010

Author: Vijay Srinivasan

VJ lives and works in Singapore. He hails originally from Southern part of India, and has lived in Malaysia/Singapore for over 21 years. He loves networking, reading, travelling, amateurish golfing, badminton, and arguing on intellectual issues which affect mankind with his friends and colleagues. He also loves his wines and blogging !

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