Wednesday, October 10, 2001

UN declares US attacks on Afghanistan as acts of self-defense

A day after the US attacked Afghanistan, the United Nations Security Council passed a unanimous resolution recognizing the US right to "individual or collective self-defense." US Ambassador John Negroponte said the attacks on Afghanistan were "actions designed to prevent and deter further (terrorist) attacks on the United States." The US claimed that it only bombed Taliban stations and the Al Qaeda terrorists installations and not civilians. The US also claimed that simultaneous with the bombings, US jets dropped food, medicine and other supplies to populated places in Afghanistan. The explanation came even as thousands of Muslims all over the world protested the attacks.

Under Article 51 the UN Charter, the determination of the validity of the exercise of the right of self-defense is placed upon the UN Security Council. Thus, in view of the UN Security Council resolution, as far as compliance with international law formalities is concerned, the legality of the attacks on Afghanistan is beyond inquiry.

Yet, international law issues do not appear to have been resolved by the UN Security Council resolution. To begin with, the Taliban is not a direct aggressor of the US. While it is charged with harboring bin Laden, it is not bound to give him up to the US since no formal extradition treaty exists between the US and Taliban. Bin Laden himself is not considered a criminal in Afghanistan. Worse, bin Laden has only been charged in a US Court and has not been convicted. Political rhetoric from Pres. Bush and Prime Minister Blair also shows that another reason why the Taliban is being attacked is because of its rigid interpretation of the Islamic faith. Clearly, this is beyond the realm of self-defense. Thus, the Muslim protests against the attacks all over the world may not be easily dismissed as simply fanatical.

Monday, October 08, 2001

Did attack on Afghanistan violate international law?

While the world reacts in various ways to the US-led attack on Afghanistan on October 7, 2001, international law observers ponder an issue that threatens the very existence of international law as a discipline: Did the attack violate the international law prohibition on the use of force against the territorial integrity and political independence of any state?

In the case Nicaragua v. U.S., the International Court of Justice (ICJ) declared that the non-use of force principle as embodied in Article 2(4) of the United Nations Charter is a customary international law that is binding upon all the nations of the world independently of any treaty that may embody it. Only two noted exceptions are allowed under the rule: self-defense and UN-approved enforcement actions. None of these exceptions have so far been invoked as a legal ground under international law to justify the attack. None of them also appear to be existing.

While questions of this kind seem academic in the face of an almost overwhelming support for the attack in reaction to the World Trade Center bombings on September 11, 2001, not to mention that the chief proponents of the attack are the superpowers of the world, the question is relevant if only to confirm that there is such a field of law as public international law that states are bound to obey. Indeed, if international law was violated by the attack, who will impose the sanctions on the errant nations?

Sunday, October 07, 2001


Yahoo Messenger Installed

We have installed Yahoo Messenger in order to provide greater interactivity to our site visitors. If we are online, we will be available to answer simple legal querries on Philippine law. Our expertise lies in labor, media, contracts and general business law. However, as this is a public site, please be aware that we cannot ensure confidentiality. To protect your identities, please do not give details. Just click the icon, login to Yahoo Messenger and type your message. This service is free.

Tuesday, October 02, 2001

US Will Not Consider National ID System

According to, US president George W Bush will not pursue a national identification card system despite calls from parts of government and industry following the 11 September terrorist attacks.According to the White House Spokesperson, they are not even condering the idea.

The White House's declaration came as a reaction to a recent surge of interest in national ID cards, which included an offer from Oracle chief executive, Larry Ellison, to have his company bear the software costs for such a system. Furthermore, research by the US-based Pew Research Centre found that most Americans are in favor a national ID card, although most balked at government surveillance of phone calls and e-mails.

In the Philippines, Pres. Gloria Arroyo has already expressed her support for a national ID system which drew immediate opposition from human rights advocates. During his term as president, former President Fidel V. Ramos passed an administrative order establishing a national ID system. Senators challenged the constitutionality of the order before the Supreme Court which declared its unconstitutionality.