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Petru (not verified) August 21, 2013

The United Nations, as a champion of human rights, allow freedom of expression and dissenting opinions from Contrarians, even when, ocasionally, tenacious Contrarians might be wrong. There is no suggestion that the UN should bring us (“the peoples”) towards Paradise and Utopia, although it is not a bad idea. The declarared intention was much more modest, that is “to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war”. My generation and your generation, my country and many other countries, were indeed saved from the scourge of war. Yet, I would not mind being taken on a trip to Heaven. A journey of a thousand li starts beneath one’s feet. How could we reach the happy realm if we do not make the first step? This is the meaning of the progressive development of international law. The progress generated by the United Nations is huge. Racism, apartheid, death penalty, discrimination of all sorts, absolute deprivation of any rights of the individuals were norms of behaviour for many, including nations that called themselves “civilized”. Humanitarian law and human rights law are not the only work done by the United Nations. The law of the sea, the law of the outer space, the law of the environment brought rules, lights and indications of the right path in the jungle. Small nations can go to international courts, victims can go to regional and international courts. The predators are still there, the international humanitarian law and the human rights law are still violated, internal wars proliferate, but humankind has gone a long way from the savagery of the past and previous centuries. If “political emotionalism” or “secular opium” trigered such progress, so be it! The soft and modest action taken by the United Nations is considerably more useful than conservative skepticism and intelligent passiveness. Naive action in service of international law is better than smart inertia in service of realpolitik. Inneficient law helps people a bit more than efficient impunity. Principles of humanitarian law such “distinction, proportionality, and military necessity” preceded the justification offered by Kennedy-McNamara theory of “limited war” and even the Geneva Conventions. You may assume that the “masses” have lost faith in the Charter. I doubt that masses have been properly consulted. However, even if we admit that the masses are sick and tired of the international law, they are wrong and ignorant. Masses are sensitive to manipulation coming from cinical and manipulative politicians who try hard to discredit the international law. The Devil can cite the Bible for his purpose. On the other side, we may wish to include in our learned considerations the tens of millions of people whose lives been saved by way of feeding, immunization, educational programmes, refugee assistance, protection of civilian population etc. Maybe this soft preliminary warning about the impact of killer robots on the international humanitarian law saved already some innocent lives, before being actually utilised. One may not see the forest, but the trees are there.

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