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Tag Archives | UN

What is Pyongyang’s goal

As the UN Security Council condemns the North Korean act of aggression, several countries including South Korea, United States have condemned this dastardly action. North Korea on several occasions had committed to abandon its nuclear programme. But despite the commitment North Korea has continued to keep the international community on tender hooks.

North Korea nuclear test

There seems to be clear cut violation of North Korea’s commitment to abandon its Nuclear programme. The recent launch of missile which North Korea claims as peace observation satellite has sparked several questions as to how much has  Pyongyang developed its ballistic missile programme. So far each of its test Unha, Taepodong and Nodong Ballistic missiles seems to hasten the development of Inter Continental Ballistic Missiles (ICBM) and the test on Sunday resulted in Kwangmyongsong 4 satellite entering the polar orbit. The Sunday’s testing further intensifies the rate of missile testing. Has this test boosted North Korea’s nuclear capability.

North Korea after its test in early January this year and had made claims to test in the future.  The international community had clamped North Korea’s test as a dastardly act and breach of its commitment to abandon its nuclear weapon testing. What is the reaction of United States and China. China has advocated dialogue with North Korea as an act would further provocative and add tension to the stability of the region. China is very clear that the region has to be denuclearised and nuclear proliferation to be stalled to bring order and peace in North East Asia.

Despite severe condemnation and calling the act as breach of security, North Korea is clear in its mission and intends to continue rocket carrying satellite to space. Committed to its vision and mission North Korea is bent on launching more man made satellite into the space. US claims that this is an tacit approach to develop North Korea’s capability to attack United States. A reality check is often required, North Korea continues unswervingly in building its capability targeting the United states.

Series of testings have been carried by the North Korean Government over a period of time. North Korea claims this as a peaceful purpose but with the clandestine approach there seems to be a major ambiguity in what it is claiming. Is this just the right to develop a peaceful program or boosting its power capability and equation is something that has to be carefully watched. North Korea’s move remains very speculative and unsure, what would Kim Jung-un do, remains a big question and challenge.

Priya Suresh is a Research Scholar at the Takshashila Institute. She tweets @priyamanassa.

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North Korean Nuclear Detonation: China’s Reaction

 

The recent thermonuclear detonation by North Korea has evoked a great concern amongst the international community and with no exception China has firmly opposed the nuclear test. This nuclear  explosion has brought the reclusive country to a diplomatic limelight whilst generating skepticism over the test. The fourth North Korean test after 2013, probably could be a modus operandi to showcase its ability to destabilize the region, and an effort to strengthen its nuclear status before the US Presidential election. Probably an impending demand for the withdrawal of US military alliance from South Korea which is envisioned as a threat to the sovereignty of the region. The North Korean test has not left anyone surprised but lots of speculations run high as there is no conclusive reason why this  test has been conducted despite Kim Jong-un’s assurance to stop the future testing.

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Geographical proximity, cultural and ideological affinity have defined China-North Korea relations. Tracing the past history, China had signed a Treaty of Friendship and alliance with North Korea in 1961 which is intact even today. In 1990 the King Jong II regime adopted the so called first military policy driving the economy to shambles. China economically and diplomatically supported North Korea. For China, North Korea acted as a valuable buffer between South Korea where US soldiers were stationed. Thus almost for a decade survival of North Korea was in the imminent interest of China.  China apparently during Kim Jong Ils period was committed to safeguarding and protecting North Korea. Thus China waded Kim Jong-un of North Korea to consolidation of power.

During Hu Jintao’s leadership, China prioritized the survival of the new regime in North Korea.   The changing approach of Kim Jong-un’s regime and his defiant action such as testing of ballistic missiles created a lot of apprehension for China thus changing its friendly overtures towards North Korea. China is becoming more firm in its approach towards North Korea. The honeymoon retro no longer continues between the two countries.  China’s strong signal hs displeased North Korea. Tough stand by the UN followed by the UN Security Council Resolution 2087 which was well supported by United states and China. This resolution and action testified a strong signal to Pyongyang not to conduct another nuclear test. In spite of the brewing tension in the region, it looks like China is far from ready to abandon North Korea. China is committed to seeking a solution through dialogue probably an attempt to return to the Six Party talks rather than punishing North Korea.

Despite global opprobrium, North Korea continues its act of aggression. These events is making China slowly drift  from apart its one  time socialist ally North Korea.  The traditional ‘lip and teeth’ relation as pronounced by Mao is possibly loosing its relevance. However caution is restrained by China on its  approach towards North Korea, as there is an alluring fear that the collapse of the regime in North Korea could get US to China’s border, testifying US government’s foreign policy pivot to Asia.

China is sending a mixed signal on its stand on North Korea. China sometimes soft pedals North Korea while at other times it is very stern in its approach. At this juncture and the aftermath of the test, the Chinese Foreign Ministry is getting tougher and   in conjecture with United States, has refused to recognize North Korea as a nuclear armed state. North Korea’s provocative detonation of thermo nuclear weapon has increased the danger of a war in the Korean Peninsula. This probably can embroil China in an unwanted war with United States and its allies. A risk averse China now does not want to get entangled in any conflict that would deter its own interest. Is  Xi Jinping recalibrating China’s policy towards North Korea moving forward or does he see North Korea as an unnecessary albatross burdening China with its poor reputation.

Priya Suresh is a Research Scholar with the Takshashila Institution. She tweets @priyamanassa.

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Three parameters for evaluating global governments

What are the parameters that can help us judge the effectiveness of supra-national political unions?

by Pranay Kotasthane (@pranaykotas)

For about a decade now, geopolitical analysts have been discussing about the emergence of a new world order. The formation (and mere formulation) of new supra-state constructs such as G-20, BRICS, SCO are an evidence for these expectations that demand a shuffle in the world order.

The call for new international institutions is exacerbated by the ineffectiveness of the dominant international governments of the day — the United Nations (UN), International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank (WB). The fundamental reason for their ineffectiveness is the divergence between the power distribution inside these institutions and the power distribution in the world at large.

Consequently, any new formation that tries to compete with the existing system will have to prove its relative superiority over the existing system. But how does one measure this? Are there any parameters that can help us evaluate the effectiveness of supra-national political unions?

Hans Morgenthau’s classic work on political realism ‘Politics of nations’ offers us some interesting answers to these questions:

With regard to each of the attempts at international governments, three questions must be asked:
1. Where is the authority to govern vested, or who is to govern?
2. By what principle of justice is the government to be guided, or what is the conception of the common good to be realised by the government, and
3. To what extent has the government been able to maintain order and peace.

World Order

Image courtesy: username: wiertz, flickr. Creative commons.

Taking these parameters as a reference point, we can observe the following about today’s world order:

Parameter 1. Authority to govern has traditionally been vested in victors of major wars. For example, victors of World War 1 took the lead in forming the League of Nations. Similarly, the current system with the UN at its apex is a direct outcome of the World War 2. The writ of the UN is effectively the writ of the UN Security Council which has the allied powers as its permanent members. The UN General Assembly on the other hand, by design has very limited role in geopolitics.

However, we are now in a world where nuclear deterrence has made wars of a global scale less likely. This means that any new organisation seeking to challenge the current system must derive its authority from a source other than war invincibility. Given that we have had several global economic depressions, and no world wars, this source of authority can well be the economic prowess of a supra state. Global governments of the new age must possess collective a economic might that can tide over the world’s tougher problems.

Moreover, authority is a function of both, power and legitimacy. While economic power is a result of several other factors, legitimacy can be enhanced by effective response in times of crisis.  For example, the initial promises made by the G-20 group following the 2008 recession made the world take notice of this organisation.

Parameter 2. The system of justice to be realised by an international government is a resultant of the justice systems of the constituent great powers. Previous experiences of international governments show that the system of justice has come to mean two things. One, to maintain the political status quo achieved as a result of the war and two, to deal a debilitating blow to the defeated.

Based on the assumption that the emerging world order will be determined primarily in the economic domain, the corresponding justice system will lay emphasis on areas such as trade and monetary flows, investments in infrastructure and so on. Seen from this perspective, it doesn’t come as a surprise that all international formations are trying to build an economic system of their own. Thus, we have China investing in Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) and One Belt One Road (OBOR), while the BRICS are attempting a New Development Bank (NDB) of their own.

Parameter 3. While averting major wars, the UN system has been found wanting in countering terrorism and mass atrocity crimes. Norms such as Responsibility to Protect (R2P) have been applied selectively at best, taking up issues of direct concern to the great powers while ignoring issues which are out of their collective conscience. As a result, we see instances of human rights violations from Balochistan to Yemen, receiving nothing but wholesale ignorance.

In this regard, the new world order will have to perform better on countering terrorism and mass atrocities. Going ahead, maintaining order and peace will not be as much about preventing conventional wars but about responding to asymmetric violence.

Having observed the parameters from the contemporary perspective, one might ask, what should be the ideal size of an effective international government? Clearly, the current number (5) is too small, and having all countries (>200) on board will only slow down the response.

Morgenthau offers a solution for that question as well:

An international organisation cannot be so universal that all members are in it but it should be universal in that all nations likely to disturb the peace are under its jurisdiction.

Pranay Kotasthane is a Research Fellow at The Takshashila Institution. He is on twitter @pranaykotas

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