UN Involvement in Afghanistan
By: Reza Hojjati
Teacher: Mr. Hopkins
Date: May 21, 2010
Did the United Nations follow international law involving the damaged country of Afghanistan? Afghanistan has been a country full of violence and insecurity since late 1970’s. It is viewed and labelled as one of the world’s most underdeveloped countries. The United Nations had the power and authority to help this nation and grant it peace and security. Since then, the United Nations did not follow international law in solving conflicts and maintaining its goals in Afghanistan. In 1979, the Soviet Union supported the Marxist government of the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan and were against the Mujahedeen Resistance. The Afghan government, which had secured a treaty in 1978 that allowed them to call upon Soviet troops, made multiple requests in the summer of 1979. The requests were for assistance in the fight against the Mujahedeen rebels. The Afghan government requested for military weapons, tanks, aircrafts, specialists, etc. On December 24, 1979, the Soviet forces invaded Afghanistan. But the Mujahedeen were able to gain support from the United States. On July 3, 1979, US President Jimmy Carter signed an executive order authorizing the CIA to start an operation against the communist group.
The United Nations, United States, and other Muslim countries were extremely concerned over this invasion by the Soviet Union. This invasion was clearly a violation of international law. But nothing was merely done about this violation of international law by the United Nations. Another conflict in Afghanistan was the U.S invasion of Afghanistan. The United States invaded Afghanistan on the October of 2001, in retaliation of the September 11 tragedy. At that time period, Afghanistan had been ruled by the Taliban, who had been supporting a terrorist based group called Al-Qaeda. Al-Qaeda had taken responsibility for the September 11 attacks on the United States. With no legal justification for their military aggression against Afghanistan, the United States is in violation of the UN Charter, and has therefore committed a crime against world peace through an unprovoked attack. Even though this violation is clear, the United States is currently continuing their crime against Afghanistan and the United Nations has done nothing to stop these attacks. The United Nations did not follow international law through the wars of Afghanistan and this is not only a bad example of equality between sovereign nations, but it also proves that the United Nations will at times break international law for its own benefits.
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The Soviet Union clearly broken the rules of international law as they violated articles 2(4) and 51 of UN Charter. Article 2(4) of the UN charter clearly states: “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.” (UN Charter).
The Soviet Union clearly violated this article by using force against the territorial integrity of Afghanistan. Article 51 of the UN charter clearly states: “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. Measures taken by Members in the exercise of this right of self-defence shall be immediately reported to the Security Council and shall not in any way affect the authority and responsibility of the Security Council under the present Charter to take at any time such action as it deems necessary in order to maintain or restore international peace and security.” (UN Charter).
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Clearly the Soviet Union violated this article since they did not have the authority of the UN. The United Nations’ first step in attempting to solve the conflict of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan was through the General Assembly which passed a resolution protesting the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan by a lob-sided vote of 104-18. Most Islamic nations were also very concerned over this invasion. “Foreign ministers from 34 Islamic nations adopted a resolution which condemned the Soviet intervention and demanded the immediate and unconditional withdrawal of Soviet troops from the Muslim nation of Afghanistan.” (www.afghana.com).
But this was the only action the United Nations took in regards of meddling into this clear violation of international law. The United Nations should have peacefully forced the Soviet troops out of Afghanistan by isolating the country and therefore damaging their economy status. If this action had failed, the next correct move should have been to use force and clear the Soviet troops in Afghanistan. These steps were not taken by the United Nations and therefore they have not followed international law.
The United States clearly broke the rules of international law by violating articles 2(4), 41, and 51 of UN Charter. They violated article 2(4) by using force against the territorial integrity of Afghanistan. They violated article 42 of the UN charter by taking the responsibility of Security Council. They violated article 51 since they did not have the authority of the UN to invade as their 2 requests had already been rejected. Unprovoked military aggression, according to the Nuremberg Trial, is a supreme international crime which contains within it any other crimes of war that it may follow. But the legal basis for the United States military engagement in Afghanistan is UN Security Council Resolution 1386. With that resolution, the Security Council therefore abandoned its responsibility to protect the sovereignty of Afghanistan and they abdicated its rights and authority over international law to the United States. Therefore the United States could do whatever it wants to the sovereign nation of Afghanistan, who no longer has rights. But even though it is very clear that the United States violated international law, it still has the backing of the United Nations. NATO has also been very much involved with the United States in terms of invading Afghanistan. They too have violated international law by bombing civilian areas, invading large numbers of villages, arresting Afghan citizens without evidence, torturing detainees, causing deaths in custody, and even shooting into crowds.
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Article 2(1) of the UN Charter: “The Organization is based on the principle of the sovereign equality of all its Members.” (UN Charter).
This article has clearly been violated by the United Nations in regards to Afghanistan. The United Nations has treated nations such as the members of NATO much more in favour then other nations. The United Nations did not mediate when the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan. The United Nations did not properly protest the United States invasion of Afghanistan. These two points suggest that the United Nations has not always followed international law and has not treated all sovereign nations with equality. Afghanistan is now a country which has violence in every corner of the streets. Security is no longer involved with this nation as result of the United Nations not reacting correctly to the invasion of the United States. David Scheffer, a former US Ambassador at Large for War Crimes Issues stated: “At no point has the Security Council sought to impose occupation law constraints on the various military forces operating in Afghanistan that have been authorized by the Council. To have done so would have undermined, indeed prohibited, the transformational objectives of the international community in that country.” (Interview with David Scheffer).
Article 2 of the UN Charter states that “The Organization is based on the principle of the sovereign equality of all its Members.” By allowing these foreign forces to occupy Afghanistan without imposing any occupation law constraints, the Security Council has now effectively been able to erased Afghanistan’s right of sovereign equality. Afghanistan therefore, has no defence, protection or any recourse under our international law.
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Since late 1970’s, Afghanistan has been a country in need of support from the United Nations. But during this time period, the United Nations did not follow international law in solving conflicts and maintaining its goals in Afghanistan. The Soviet Union did not follow international law when they invaded Afghanistan. They violated articles 2(4) and 51 of UN Charter. The United States also broke the rules of international law through their invasion of Afghanistan. They violated articles 2(4), 41, and 51 of UN Charter. The United Nations never gave Afghanistan, a sovereign nation, its share of equality. The United Nations always ruled in favour of two of the biggest leaders of its own system, Soviet Union and the United States. These two countries have taken advantage of their veto as they have been breaking international law without being punished. This is the clear reason why the United Nations didn’t mediate through the Soviet Union and the United States invasions. Their unwillingness to mediate when international law has clearly been violated, and their violations of article 2(1), is clear evidence that they have not followed international law involving the damaged country of Afghanistan.
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