Peace is a condition characterized by the absence of farce. Within an organised society, however, absolute absence of force is anarchism and not possible. The employment of force in relationship between individuals is prevented by being reserved for the community. The employment of force, in general forbidden as wrong is permitted as a reaction against wrong; that is as a sanction.
Only the individual or individuals, through whom the community acts is competent to perform a coercive act as a sanction directed against those who violate the norms of society. Thus, the social order makes the use of force a monopoly of the community and by so doing controls and pacifies the relations of its members.
In a primitive legal community, too, certain individuals only are permitted to perform coercive acts under certain circumstances. It is the individual whose rights have been violated who is authorised to employ force against the one responsible for the violation. Although in primitive law the principle of self-help prevails, the coercive act taken in the form of blood revenge, for instance, has the character of a sanction.
The modern state is the most perfect type of a social order establishing a community monopoly of force. Within the state, pacification of individual relations is attained in the highest possible degree.
In the sense that law is a coercive order and its utilization is by means of the centralization of the employment of force, international law is primitive law. Its chief coercive quality is the reliance on self-help. Although over a period of decade’s international law is getting centralized, it has not yet the force monopoly of the international community. It does not have the legal mechanism to unite all individual states into a world state and to concentrate all their means of power—their armed forces—and put them at the disposal of a world government under laws created by a world parliament.
The question, therefore, is often asked if international law is true law properly so called. Hans Kelsen, that great and distinguished jurist, answered this question by referring to Maxim Gorki’s play Submerged. In this drama Gorki pictures the ragged fringes of humanity whom society considers superfluous, men and women who are regarded as no more important than the vermin that infest their habitations. There is a dialogue between a tramp called Pepel and Luca, a pilgrim. Pepel asks the pilgrim:
“Hear, pilgrim, is there a God?”
And the pilgrim answers:
“If you believe in Him, there is a God; believe not, and none exists. What you believe in ….. exists.”
Perhaps, this is the right answer to those who ask whether international law really exists. It exists if we believe in it; as any law, even the most effective national law exists only if the individuals whose behavior this law regulates, believe in it. As far as international law is concerned, it is not the effectiveness of the sanctions that is being questioned but only where and how they are provided by the social order.
The international social order provides the means and wherewithal of developing international law into an effective centralized system of law capable of taking punitive sanctions against an international delinquent.
The United Nations is neither a super-state nor a suprastate. It does not possess the attributes of sovereignty yet its existence entails far-reaching derogation from the sovereignty of its member states. The members of the United Nations have solemnly renounced some of the most important of the classical attributes of sovereignty, namely to make war of to commit aggression. Article 2, paragraph 4 of the Charter stipulates:
“All Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the purposes of the United Nations.”
The member states are, therefore, pledged not to resort to force or the threat of force and instead to settle their international disputes by peaceful means in order that succeeding generations may be saved from the carnage of war.
Since the World Organization was founded, in that beautiful city of San Francisco in 1945, it has grown steadily in importance and strength.
To an ever-increasing extent the great powers are being constrained to bring the grave issues which affect international peace and security to the Security Council or the General Assembly. This is a historical trend which it would be difficult to reverse in the present conditions of international life.
The crises of the last few years, notably those relating to Suez and the Lebanon, and most recently the Congo, have demonstrated in no uncertain manner that the United Nations cannot be excluded from bringing to bear its pacifactory role on such situations which affect the maintenance of world peace and security. In fact, its intervention in such circumstances has become essential to resolve disputes between nations by peaceful means in accordance with the high principles of justice and International Law.
The 15th session of the General Assembly which has only recently concluded may well turn out to have been a historic one as a result firstly, of the admission of a large number of new states to membership of the United Nations, specially the newly independent states of Africa, and, secondly because of the active participation in the General Assembly of many chiefs of states and governments of the great powers and other nations.
The main concern of small Member States should be to strengthen and develop the Organization to turn it into a real bulwark of their security—their shield and buckler in a world dominated by the great powers and filled with the fear of a nuclear holocaust, US and USSR may, perhaps, be able to live it out without the United Nations. I say perhaps because it is doubtful if even these two great giants can live in a world without the umbrella of a World Organization.
As far as the smaller non-nuclear states are concerned—the states of Africa and Asia and Latin America—they most certainly cannot afford to expose themselves to the machinations and greed of the powerful states without the shelter of an arbiter and protector of a world society in which the smaller states can and have begun to play an ever-increasing role in bringing to bear peaceful counsel in a world divided by fear and suspicion.
It is in the United Nations that sovereign states gather to seek and evolve one paramount objective—peace. The smaller nations are justified in hoping that great nations of the world who have conquered space would teach us to conquer our passions and our vanities so that we may live in peace without fear. The great powers, if left to themselves without the restraining influences of the smaller nations in the United Nations, may have brought about utter disillusionment.
The course of world affairs over the last decade has demonstrated the fact that while at critical times the great powers dispense with the United Nations in both aggravating and easing tensions, it is the smaller countries the defenseless ones. that stand in need of the organization to protect them-sieves and to moderate the policies of the great powers.
It has been said of great historical figures that they stride across the world to make an epoch bless, confuse or appal. May I ask what kind of epoch are we about to make in this half exhausted 20th century in which breath-taking marvels of science and technology have enabled man to leave and return to his own planet?
The peoples of the world live in perpetual terror of annihilation. In a matter of minutes cities can be destroyed and the countryside laid waste. We do not believe that any of the nuclear powers, at present could deliberately launch a war of extermination, of the kind which neither the imagination nor the cruelty of Chengez Khan could conceive. However, the possibility of miscalculation mistakes or accident which may unleash such a calamity, cannot be precluded.
For 15 years the great powers have talked of disarmament but with what result? Not a single army division has been disbanded. nor a single tank destroyed by agreement. There has been some reduction of armed forces and presumably of some armaments. However, these reductions have taken place by unilateral action, not by agreement. There is therefore, nothing to prevent their unilateral increase. In securing the peace of the world through disarmament, undoubtedly the end is no more important than the means.
The 15th session of the United Nations General Assembly highlighted the importance of the disarmament problem which is undoubtedly the problem of problems facing humanity. Had it not been for the pulls and the pressures which this world -forum generates we would not have been able to make any headway.
Admittedly, there has been no practical or substantial progress on this critical issue but the very fact that the General Assembly is the focal point for the ventilation of this problem is in itself a significant factor. The survival of mankind is a race between disarmament and catastrophe.
The race is heading towards a dangerous and accelerating crisis and. as I have said earlier, for fifteen years world leaders have been seized of this problem but have demonstrated a signal lack of political and moral courage to lead the world towards disarmament; to deliver it from the fear of war.
It is evident to all of us that the present military balance is a precarious one. Here again we, who represent the smaller nations of the world, can urge and bring the full brunt of our moral weight to bear on the well armed great powers to search for a more permanent and secure basis for peace.
Our appeal and our efforts can best be made in the General Assembly. And this indeed is what has been happening. By doing so we are not only exercising a right, but are discharging the direct responsibility of the United Nations for achieving disarmament and fortifying the edifice of peace.
Disarmament like peace must begin in the minds of men and what better platform is there than the General Assembly for the initiation of the crusade for disarmament, for the appeal to the great powers of the world to lay down their arms? The peoples of the world are looking to the United Nations to ease the tension between the East and the West.
It is the duty of all member states, but first and foremost of the great powers, to deflect mankind from a course which can only lead to destruction. We cannot and we must not believe that we will fail.
There is no reason for despair. The General Assembly has and must continue to use all the force of its political and moral authority to demand and insist that the two sides have further discussions to reach agreement on general and complete disarmament under effective international control.
There must be true and effective disarmament—neither disarmament without control, nor control without disarmament. At the last session of the United Nations General Assembly it was my honour to make the proposal which received unanimous endorsement that the time had come to make a comprehensive study of the economic consequences of disarmament. It is vital that such a study be carried out simultaneously with our efforts to achieve disarmament for we have to create the necessary confidence and sense of security to achieve general and complete disarmament.
The fact that the world has become one, not only in terms of distance but also in the dissemination of ideas has several consequences. For one thing, the peoples of the underdeveloped countries no longer accept poverty as a part of inexorable destiny.
On the one hand they have reached the very edge of starvation, on the other; they are today exposed to the ideas and aspirations of people who live in the more developed countries, in societies that are affluent. New vistas have opened before them, giving shape to their suppressed longings. The age of humiliation and despair imposed on them for so long by colonial rule and domination has given way to an age of expectation and demand.
This phenomenon presents a unique opportunity and a great danger. It could be harnessed to the accomplishment of constructive tasks. On the other hand if the economic disparities between the rich and the poor keep steadily widening, as at present the resultant frustrations could only heighten world tensions. Whatever importance this crisis has received, has been due to the positive approach made by the underdeveloped member states in the General Assembly, where nations of the world gather to bring to the fore those issues on which the fate of humanity hinges. Had it not been for this one common world platform, nations would have gone their own way and people would not have realized the magnitude of the challenge posed by poverty.
The General Assembly has broken the barrier of isolation and has awakened mankind to its own basic and fundamental needs. It has created a machinery for the discussions—if not implementation—of these cardinal problems. It has brought about a uniformity of thought that the problem exists and that it is a serious one. The march of civilization must be harmonious.
Mankind does not progress in the real sense if a few nations leap ahead on account of historical circumstances and leave the rest of the world groping in the dark, in misery and in want. On the contrary such a lopsided surge creates problems of its own. Progress is achieved only when humanity as a whole goes forward. What good is it to the world if the per capita income of certain countries is 2000 dollars or 875 dollars or even 550 dollars, when a great bulk of humanity is living in squalor and in gruesome poverty? The central problem of economic development and industrialization of the poorer countries remained in a deadly stalemate and not as a world-wide challenge until the General Assembly of the United Nations heard about it year in and year out for the last fifteen years for it to become a potent and urgent challenge for the world.
The General Assembly has rendered another significant and noble service to humanity by contributing to the death of colonialism. Since the Charter of the United Nations was framed, almost every year new nations have gained admission to the United Nations. That continent which was called ‘dark’, but on which the light of freedom now shines, brought to the General Assembly at its last session 17 new states which came in freedom and in dignity to bring their youth and vigour to the service of humanity.
For many generations the Africans were held in bondage. Today they are free, and are respected and honoured members of the world community. They have brought with them from their great country the wisdom of their peoples and have now become partners in the mutual quest for a permanent peace based on the principles of justice and equity. From about the original 40 odd members, the General Assembly today is adorned by 99 Member States, most of them from the continents of Asia and Africa.
But the heart of humanity will continue to bleed until all people are free, for are not our thoughts and feelings with the peoples still struggling for freedom and equality? One may delay the deliverance of a people but then nature extorts a high price for it. The General Assembly is undoubtedly deeply concerned with these unsolved problems. Looking at the performance of the United Nations from the darker side one would be tempted to consider these failures, these unsettled problems, these unattained objectives, the hopes unfulfilled and the problems unrealized. Life, however, must be measured not only by failures but also by accomplishments. We are confident that the United Nations will succeed in the settlement of these problems.
We are hopeful, and recent events have given rise to these hopes, that soon that strife-torn land of Algeria will take its place in the United Nations. This single event in itself will make a great contribution to the cause of peace in the world. No people have struggled so bravely and so heroically as the patriots of Algeria. It will be an honour and distinction for the world body to acclaim the entrance of that brave nation. We admire the new efforts by the parties concerned to settle this human problem by peaceful means and soon, Insha Allah, a tragic chapter will close in history.
The world will then be left with one vital problem which has defied solution so far but the solution of which is imperative for the maintenance of peace in this subcontinent, and for Asia, if not the world, as it can very well shake and break the tenuous threads that maintain the balance of peace.
We have the opportunity and the means to avert a catastrophe and realize our legitimate aspirations by settling the Kashmir dispute.
It is only when this dispute is settled that the dream of progress towards a future unbelievable in this subcontinent will materialize. It is only then that we can order a full and united contribution to give our people a better life on earth, to give them the necessaries of life. Shall we have the will and the courage? We do have the means. It is, therefore, our moral duty to the peoples of Asia and to the peoples of the world to settle this dispute which threatens our future, to pull out this dagger from our hearts.
Obstinacy and reliance on might have never ushered in peace: only the use of sword. It is, therefore, incumbent on the parties concerned and on the United Nations as the arbiter of world peace to make a sincere and forthright effort to settle this dispute; otherwise a blind fate may move us towards self-destruction. Must we permit a blind will to drive us to doom?
It is for the great men who control the destinies of their people and who take part in that great congress at New York to prove that it is otherwise and that we can settle this issue according to the principles of Justice and equity embodied in the resolutions of the United Nations to enable us to make the fullest use of this age of glorious opportunity by the exercise of man’s free will and his determination to exercise this choice in freedom.