UN Impasse in the Western Sahara

by Fatemeh Ziai
published in MER199

In his January 1996 report on the UN operation in the Western Sahara, Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali expressed the Security Council’s “frustration...at the absence of even a reasonably clear indication of when the [referendum] process might come to an end.” This was one of Boutros-Ghali’s most candid official statements about an operation that, by most accounts, has gone awry. With a mandate to organize and conduct a referendum asking Sahrawis to choose either independence or integration into Morocco, the most important issue now confronting the UN mission is whether the referendum process, which began in September 1991, has already been so compromised that it no longer offers a realistic means for resolving the conflict.

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Legalism and Realism in the Gulf

by Sheila Carapico
published in MER206

In his State of the Union address in January 1998, President Clinton won thunderous applause for threatening to force Iraq “to comply with the UNSCOM regime and the will of the United Nations.” Stopping UN chemical and biological weapons inspectors from “completing their mission,” declared the president, defies “the will of the world.” In the next three weeks, the White House ordered a massive show of force in the Gulf. Even traditional hawks, however, realized that a bombing mission could undermine American hegemonic interests in the Gulf that are served by a continuation of the sanctions regime.

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The Rise and Fall of the "Rogue Doctrine"

The Pentagon's Quest for a Post-Cold War Military Strategy

by Michael Klare
published in MER208

Since 1990, US military policy has been governed by one overarching premise that US and international security is primarily threatened by the “rogue states” of the Third World. These states -- assumed to include Iran, Iraq, Libya, North Korea and Syria -- are said to threaten US interests because of their large and relatively modern militaries, their pursuit of weapons of mass destruction (WMD), and their hostile stance toward the United States and its allies. To counter this threat, current American strategy requires the maintenance of sufficient military strength to conduct (and prevail in) two Desert Storm-like operations simultaneously.

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Alternatives to an International Criminal Court

by Lisa Hajjar
published in MER207

A scene toward the end of the documentary film Calling the Ghosts shows two Muslim women from Bosnia, survivors of the Serbian concentration camp of Omarska, looking through a rack of postcards. They have come to The Hague to testify about their experiences at the war crimes tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. The voiceover is one of the women reading what they wrote to their former Serbian colleagues in the now Muslim-free city of Prijedor: “Greetings from The Hague. Hope to see you here soon.” Those two short sentences speak volumes about modern ethnic hatred, genocidal violence and war crimes such as rape and torture, as well as the survivor spirit and demands for justice.

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Constructing an International Criminal Court

by Joe Stork
published in MER207

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Of Principle and Peril

by The Editors | published March 22, 2011

Reasonable, principled people can disagree about whether, in an ideal world, Western military intervention in Libya’s internal war would be a moral imperative. With Saddam Hussein dead and gone, there is arguably no more capricious and overbearing dictator in the Arab world than Col. Muammar al-Qaddafi. The uprising of the Libyan people against him, beginning on February 17, was courageous beyond measure. It seems certain that, absent outside help, the subsequent armed insurrection would have been doomed to sputter amidst the colonel’s bloody reprisals. 

"Sanctions Have an Impact on All of Us"

by Denis Halliday
published in MER209

The following comments are excerpted from a speech delivered on Capitol Hill on October 6, 1998 by Denis Halliday, former UN humanitarian coordinator for Iraq, shortly after he resigned his post in protest over the sanctions’ devastating impact on the Iraqi people.

Palestine at the UN: An Alternative Strategy

by Mouin Rabbani | published November 19, 2010

As Israeli-Palestinian negotiations lurch from crisis to crisis, Palestinian Authority (PA) leaders have been suggesting they may go to the United Nations to seek resolutions confirming the illegality of Israel’s settlements in the Occupied Territories and recognizing a reality of Palestinian statehood.

Interventions

Interventions is a feature in Middle East Report Online offering critical reviews of important Middle East-related books, films and other cultural production. Click here for past Interventions articles.

The UN Rises Above Its Origins

by Ian Williams | published August 2010

Mark Mazower, No Enchanted Palace: The End Of Empire and the Ideological Origins of the United Nations (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2010)

Stephen Schlesinger, Act of Creation: The Founding of the United Nations (Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 2003)

Support for Wall Mocks International law

by Richard Falk | published July 20, 2004

What is most remarkable about the International Court of Justice decision on Israel’s “security barrier” in the West Bank is the strength of the consensus behind it. By a vote of 14-1, the 15 distinguished jurists who make up the highest judicial body on the planet found that the barrier is illegal under international law and that Israel must dismantle it, as well as compensate Palestinians for damage to their property resulting from the barrier’s construction.

The International Court of Justice has very rarely reached this degree of unanimity in big cases. The July 9 decision was even supported by the generally conservative British judge Rosalyn Higgins, whose intellectual force is widely admired in the United States.