Challenges of the peaceful settlement of conflicts
1. Although by its very nature the international legal order is evolutionary, it is now necessary for international law to generate new rules and mechanisms to ensure an effective response to the new phenomenon of the threat to state security by terrorism which some describe as worse than the wars of the past.
2. The new forms of terrorism cause massive damage to human life and property aim their attacks on centres of political and economic power of global society and in some cases their actions actually receive the support of certain States.
3. New technologies have placed in the hands of small groups a destructive potential previously only available to some States. This new form of terrorism can be described as “the privatisation of war.”
4. Based on the nature of international crime that is represented by global terrorism and the uniqueness of the international responsibility that combating it entails, it can be inferred that fighting it will require adaptation of the international legal system to the new situation. This is urgently necessary since there are still significant aspects of law not covered by the international legal instruments governing the prosecution of perpetrators and supporters of global terrorism.
5. Without doubt, the international legal order established in San Francisco in 1945 has changed. The Charter of the United Nations continues to be the regulatory framework with which the use of force in modern times is applied by the international community. But it should be noted that the principle of prohibiting the use of force as enshrined in the Charter does not provide an effective response against this new threat of global terrorism.
6. One of the great challenges of the international community has been and still is today, to achieve by peaceful means the effective resolution of conflicts or disputes that frequently arise between States. In this regard, in the present international legal order the use of weapons is permitted only for self-defence, individually or collectively – that is to say that war has “no reserve” in the current international legal order.
7. The UN Charter has established the most desirable methods of peaceful settlement of international conflicts, while authorising its member States to choose the system that they feel are most appropriate. There are two kinds of arrangements: the “diplomatic-political” and legal. In the first, which is the oldest, the methods of solution most frequently used are: direct negotiation or settlement, the good offices, mediation and conciliation, commissions and research. On the other hand, the legal means are arbitration and judicial settlement.
8. According to Article 39 of the United Nations Charter, the Security Council is the body responsible for taking measures to remove threats to peace, breach of it, or qualify an act of aggression.
9. If all peaceful methods are exhausted, the situation opens the possibility of using coercive means. Methods that have been established as coercive in nature and based on collective decision include: retaliation, foreclosure, closing of borders, boycott, the rupture of diplomatic relations, and retaliation.
10. Advances in the field of peaceful settlement have been augmented with advances in related fields, such as disarmament and collective security. Furthermore, a State’s recognition and respect for fundamental human rights assists in this process.
11. The methods of peaceful settlement, in general, are proposed to solve the problem or dispute before it causes major consequences for the affected States and to world peace. Based on the fact that the fundamental mission of international law is to establish order and justice in international relations, it is essential that international law preserves the tendency to subordinate a State or a group of States that threaten world peace to the political power and force of the international community.
Editor’s Note: Credits to Amb. Manuel Morales Lama