UN Sovereignty Report Called "Outrageous

July 7, 2008 - 8:07 PM

(CNSNews.com) - A report published by the United Nations which says that countries "can temporarily forfeit sovereignty on humanitarian grounds" is drawing sharp criticism and being called "outrageous" from Washington insiders concerned that the organization has taken a shallow view on the sovereignty of individual nations.

"This is completely outrageous," one United States Senate source told CNSNews.com. "This study fails to understand reality. The United States is the world's only superpower and all this huffing and puffing about multi-lateralism is just that."

The study - actually a collection of viewpoints -- is called "Kosovo and the Challenge of Humanitarian Intervention." It is billed as "a compendium of authoritative viewpoints" on NATO's assault of Kosovo - the problems presented, the lessons learned, and follow-up steps to be taken.

According to the study conducted by the United Nations University (the organization's "think tank"), the implication of the 1999 NATO military intervention by in the Kosovo crisis is that "nations can temporarily forfeit sovereignty on humanitarian grounds."

Cato Institute's Vice President for Foreign Policy and Defense Studies, Ted Galen Carpenter, offered his concerns about the study's ramifications.

"My initial reaction is that it is an extremely pernicious document; that it's yet another trial balloon to advance the so called global governance cause," Carpenter told CNSNews.com. "It's also another trial balloon to try to dilute the veto power of the permanent members of the Security Council or eventually get rid of it entirely."

The study recommends removal of veto power in the Security Council in exceptional circumstances "so that the support of a majority of the great powers is all that is required to permit states to engage in humanitarian war."

"If these ideas ever go through, particularly if the veto power is diluted in any way, the day that happens, the United States should announce its withdrawal from the United Nations," Carpenter said. "I would hope that Congress would pass a resolution to that effect now to put the UN on notice."

Ramesh Thakur, Vice Rector of UNU and co-editor of the study said the unilateral use of force is a violation of international law and undermines world order. But Thakur added "to respect sovereignty all the time is to be complicit in human rights violations."

But Congressional sources, speaking on the condition of anonymity, gave little credence to the notion that the United Nations would take such drastic measures against Security Council member states' veto power.

"There's little chance that the UN is going to add some kind of proclamation that henceforth sovereignty is no longer the cardinal rule," a House source told CNSNews.com, adding that academics such as those who contributed to the report are offering dangerous rhetoric to international relations.

"This whole notion challenges traditional rules of international relations," the source said. "Where the paramount rule was sovereignty, now we're seeing that notion falling by the wayside, being replaced by the concept that higher laws such as human rights concerns take precedence."

Asked why the United Nations chose to conduct the study through its own university, or "think tank," Carpenter suggests it may have been a precautionary move in the event the study receives unfavorable attention.

"I would say the main motive is so that the fingerprints of the principle UN bureaucrats are not on it, so that if the trial balloon receives a lot of anti-aircraft fire they can back away from it," Carpenter said.

"If this doctrine is ever adopted, even in modified form, it will lead to more Kosovo-, Bosnia-, Somalia-style missions," Carpenter added. "That will put more American military personnel at risk, stretching the force even worse than it is now."

The study, released at UN headquarters in New York, was produced by the United Nations University (UNU) in Tokyo. UNU Press plans to publish a book based on the study later this year.