Jun Sasamoto delivered the following address on behalf of the International Association of Democratic Lawyers at the World Peace Council in Hanoi, Vietnam on November 25, 2022.
Keynote Address in WPC of IADL
I speak on behalf of IADL, International Association of Democratic Lawyers, as a brother and sister organization of WPC. I am also a secretary general of COLAP, Confederation of Lawyers of Asia and the Pacific. IADL and COLAP work together.
IADL issued a statement in March, the IADL statement pointed out that Russia’s military aggression is against the UN Charter, art 51, and subject to the UN Uniting for Peace resolution, but at the same time, the important thing is that NATO’s eastward expansion and US’ interference in Ukraine internal affairs are provocations against Russia’s military aggression. The IADL statement was welcomed by peace movement and lawyers association in various countries as a warning of the danger of military alliances.
The influence of the Western media is particularly strong in Europe, Japan, and South Korea. The media emphasizes only on condemnation of Russia, and put little emphasis on the problems of NATO’s expansion or U.S. interference in Ukraine since the Maidan coup d’état. In such a situation, we issued the IADL statement, but we also referred to the WPC statement in our discussion, thank you.
In the legal aspect, the IADL pointed out that according to the UN Charter, NATO cannot be called a regional organization under Article 52 of the Charter. Article 52 permits only the establishment of regional organizations, do not allow military alliances. NATO is in violation of the UN Charter. The UN Charter also provides for a right to collective defense, but military blocs and alliances are contrary to the spirit of the Charter. Collective defense right in Article 51 also allows only tentative exercise of collective defense and does not admit the permanent treaty for collective self defense. So NATO and military alliance treaty is against the spirit of UN Charter.
The U.S. empire and other military alliance countries ignore the UN system which is on the basis of multinationalism. US has more than 800 U.S. military bases around the world. They aim at imperialist domination by force, not by law nor dialogue.
In response to Russia’s military aggression, Western countries has imposed economic sanctions on Russia, but not so many countries have participated, only less than 40 countries. The IADL statement suggests that economic sanctions against Russia by the US and Western countries are illegal because economic sanctions can only be imposed under Article 41 of the UN Charter. Art 41 require UN Security Council decision when there economic sanctions are needed, Illegal economic sanction are called Unilateral Coercive Measures by the UN, UN view UCM a violation of the UN Charter, and the UN Human Rights Council also established a special rapporteur on UCM.
Though the alliance’s role ended after the Cold War and the Warsaw Pact was dissolved. NATO’s military alliance has revived, NATO transformed from a defensive military alliance to an offensive one and expanded into Eastern Europe. It sent troops to Kosovo, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, and outside Europe, all illegal military attacks did not meet the requirements of Article 51 of the UN Charter.
The similar situation took place in Asia. US military alliance treaty with South Korea and Japan has continue since 1950’s. After the Cold War, US-Japan expanded the role from defense alliance against Soviet Unioin into against all of Asia. As a result US despatched the army to Afghanistan and Iraq from US military base in Japan.
Though Korean War ends, US concluded a mutual defense treaty 1950’s and UNC has stationed in the name of UNC. UNC is illegal against UN SC resolution in 1950. It only permitted US to organize the multilateral military, it is not called UN Command because it is not controlled by UN.
Military tensions between NATO and Russia intensified after Ukraine and Georgia applied for membership at NATO’s Bucharest conference in 2008, and after the United States interfered and ousted President Yanukovych in a Maidan coup in 2014. It caused a backlash from the Russian-speaking world and 8 years-civil war started. President Zelensky failed to abide by the Minsk Accords of ceasefire, which led to the current Russian invasion. Of course, Russia’s invasion must be blamed for violating international law, but NATO and the United States must also take politically responsible for bringing about this situation.
U.S. military alliances are also active in Asia, and the presence of U.S.-South Korea and US- Japan military alliances and military exercises, are now creating military tensions agaist North Korea and China and South Korean, Japan, US.
COLAP adopted the resolution in October. COLAP resolution pointed out that North Korean missile launches and China’s military hard-line attitude toward Taiwan are caused fundamentally by the U.S. military alliance treaty with South Korea and Japan.
Since President Yoon Sung-Nyeol took office in South Korea, U.S.-South Korean military exercises against DPRK have been conducted much more than before. These are aggressive exercises, including beheading operations of Kim Jong-un. Such aggressive military exercises would cause military tensions in Northeast Asia. Japan also try to militarize the country as a pretext of Ukraine war. Prime Minister Kishida tries to make the SDF more offensive. His intention is to enhance the capability of SDF to attack enemy bases and raise the defense budget to 2% of GDP at the same level as NATO. At the same time, he neglects diplomacy with dialogue with China and DPRK and takes a hostile attitude against China and North Korea.
These aggressive military exercises of US-SK-JP and enhance offensive military capabilities are also in line with the U.S. Indo-Pacific strategy. The Pentagon has announced to strengthen military alliances cooperated with Asian countries in 2019 against China, Russia and DPRK as assumed opponents. The National Security Strategy under the Biden administration also views China as an opponent and aims to increase military joint actions, containment and offensive capabilities. The military actions by Japan and South Korea are fully consistent with these U.S. strategies.
In East Asia, the U.S., Japan, and South Korea linked with two military alliance treaties with huge US military bases. And the majority of public opinion in Japan and South Korea also supports a military alliance with the U.S. in order to defense from North Korea and China. But reality is it is an offensive one. Eliminating the dangers of military alliances in Asia is our urgent task for stopping military tension and the risk of war in Asia. Now DPRK missile lauch many times, China’s military drill against Taiwan was strong. The UN Charter prioritizes the peaceful resolution of disputes and a system of collective security to deal with military threats, and military alliances and military blocs are contrary to the UN Charter’s approach.
At the same time, the Ukraine war and military tensions in Asia are conflicts between states. Conflicts will not disappear if we leave all of peace and security matters to national governments based on national interests; the Declaration on the Right to Peace, adopted by the UN in 2016, views peace from the standpoint of individual human rights. The right to live in peace has been recognized in constitutions in Japan, and in a court decision of South Korea. In both countries, the right to live in peace has been invoked against military bases of U.S. and national army.
The UN Declaration on the Right to Peace has paved the way for individual human rights to raise the issue into peace and security. IADL, along with other NGOs, has contributed to the adoption of the UN Declaration of the Right to Peace in 2016. We will continue to work hard to ensure that the right to peace is incorporated in each country.
IADL is calling for, keeping with the UN Charter, points out strives for an early resolution of the Ukraine war. At the same time, the illegal military alliances such as NATO and the US-SK-JP military treaty should be eliminated. This is the most important lesson from the Ukraine war and the most important task of our international peace movement.