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The Violation of international norms by an alliance of states

Updated: Feb 6

The author Annalisa Clarizio of the article:" The Violation of international norms by an alliance of states".

Publication date: 20.09.2023

International law highlights numerous cases of complicity between States to commit violations of international standards. Recent cases of this interstate complicity can be identified in the sale of arms and war material.

There have also been intelligence communications to countries involved in internal or international armed conflicts. This happened for example in favor of Saudi Arabia in relation to the brutal air military campaign conducted in Yemen to counter the Houthis insurgents.

The notorious practice of “extraordinary renditions” is also widespread. In relation to this practice, several European and non-European countries have become accomplices of the United States. So, the purpose of this practice is to arrest and transfer to detention centers secret individuals involved in terrorist actions.

Complicity in International law

Theoretical and practical questions of complicity in international law differ significantly from those of national legal systems. These concern the nature, content and practical application of the international rule on complicity between States. In particular, they are codified in art. 16 of the draft of the Commission on International Law on State Liability approved by the UN General Assembly in 2001.

This rule was deemed to correspond to a general international law standard by the International Court of Justice in its judgment of 26 February 2007. Although this rule has a limited scope in practice there are cases of financing and support of a military nature by States against non-state actors.

Non-state actors are, for example, armed groups. This emerges in the dispute between Ukraine and Russia in relation to Russian support for the armed factions operating in East-Ukraine.

Legal regime on complicity of international organizations

There are rules that apply in cases of complicity of international organizations in the commission of wrongdoing by states or other organizations. Also there are rules to apply when a state helps or assists an international organization in the commission of an offense. These forms of international complicity may occur when carrying out UN peace-keeping or peace-enforcement operations.

Russian protests

The complicity of states in the violation of human rights

Amnesty International’s 2022-2023 World Human Rights Report has recently been published. The invasion of Ukraine by Russia has given rise to numerous war crimes. This situation also has generated a global energy crisis and has fostered a further fracture of a weakened multilateral system. Moreover, it highlighted the hypocrisy of the Western states. In fact they reacted to Russian aggression but were complicit in serious human rights violations elsewhere.

The case of Ukraine invasion by Russia

The invasion of Ukraine has also caused one of the worst humanitarian crises and human rights emergencies in recent European history. The conflict has led to mass displacement and global food and energy insecurity and has also raised the dreadful specter of nuclear war.

This situation received a rapid response from the states. The western states imposed economic sanctions in Moscow and sent military assistance to Kyiv. The International Criminal Court instead launched an investigation into war crimes in Ukraine.

Finally, the UN General Assembly condemned the Russian invasion as an act of aggression. However, this approach has been considered contrary to previous human rights violations by Russia and other states. This also happened with the shameful response of states to conflicts such as those in Ethiopia and Myanmar.

The need of a regulation

It can be considered that the Russian aggression has demonstrated the importance of an international order for the future of the world. This order must be based on effective and consistently applied rules. In fact all states must redouble their efforts in the direction of a new rule-based order for the benefit of all people, everywhere.

Amnesty International’s report found inadequate responses to human rights violations by complicity between states that fuelled impunity and instability. This has happened to the human rights situation in Saudi Arabia where there has been lack of action by states. There was also a refusal to oppose the Israeli apartheid system towards the Palestinians.

Amnesty International’s report

inadequate responses to human rights violations

Amnesty International’s report also notes the use of heavy tactics by China to prevent international action on crimes against humanity that it has committed. The intervention of regional and international institutions also failed because of the selfish interests of the Member States. This has happened in particular in the situation of the thousands of killings in Ethiopia, Myanmar and Yemen.

The violation of International Norms

We can conclude by saying that it would be necessary to limit and stop any violation of human rights. This has to happen not only when the violation comes from a single state. In fact this must happen particularly when it is caused by a multitude of states.


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