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A Change To The Current World Order?

There are any number of possible scenarios in which the current conflict in Ukraine could play out but will it bring about major change to the current world order?

One of the major advances to come about following World War Two was ‘showcased’ in the’ Nuremburg Trials’; when a large number of those responsible for the crimes committed in the name of the ‘Nazi regime’, were held individually to account.

Previously under international law, crimes committed by a state could not be prosecuted; the state was above the law.

The concept of ‘Crimes Against Humanity’, first used at Nuremburg, was largely the brain child of Hersch Lauterpacht, a Ukrainian Jew, who lost most of his extended family during the Holocaust.  An international lawyer who taught at Cambridge University and was a member of the UK prosecution team at Nuremberg. The concept of genocide was also envisioned at this time by Rafael Lemkin another Jewish lawyer from Eastern Europe.

Out of the Second World War a new world order was established which saw the founding of the United Nations and later the ‘Universal Declaration of Human rights.’

Since then, we have seen individuals, including heads of states, from numerous conflicts, brought to account and you might think that the prospect of the death penalty or life imprisonment would deter such rash actions as the invasion of sovereign states, like Ukraine? But there’s the rub.

The permanent members of the UN Security Council have a veto and as international law stands, there is little or no chance of Putin being held to account. Of course, it is not just Putin who has benefitted from this device. So too did Tony Blair and George Bush when they invaded Iraq, a war which, even the then UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, said was illegal.

While the current word order has suited the purposes of the permanent members, it has not suited the interests of smaller countries when their geo-political interests have not aligned with the ‘big-5’, who have continued to assert influence and act as the world’s policemen, in much the same way as the world’s empires did before them.

And it’s not only small countries that feel disenfranchised; is it reasonable that the UK and France, with populations of just under 70 million each, are permanent members of the UN Security Council, when India, with a population of 1.4 billion, is not?

Arguably the only remaining justification for the status quo to remain is to prevent nuclear proliferation, but when one of the permanent members cuts fast and loose, threatening to use their vast nuclear arsenal, is that any longer valid?

So can we expect a new world order to emerge from the current conflict? Will the war be seen as a warning sign, even amongst the other permanent members, that the current status quo is too fragile and does not equally represent the interests of the majority of the world population?

As we have seen in some of the new democracies in Eastern Europe and as we saw in 1930s Germany and as we could easily have seen a year ago with the attempt to storm the capital in Washington, freedoms and rights, often fought long and hard for and once taken for granted, can easily be taken away.