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.

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