As an outstanding academician and a chief spokesman of the developing countries, Professor R.P. Anand examines the various problems facing international law and suggests how it should be changed and modified to meet the challenges of tomorrow. The present system of international law is a legacy of the western Christian Civilization and was developed to suit their needs and aspirations. But then, the admission of new African and Asian states to the United Nations really broke open the exclusive club of western powers. These new states not only belong to a different religious, social and cultural background but a majority of them are extremely poor and underdeveloped. International law in order to remain effective must change according to the structure of the new international community is in short the message which the author to convey throughout.
The book is a collection of nine essays which-were published by the author in different world class journals of anthologies during the last few years. All the nine essays in one form or another try to evaluate the traditional law and the process of change that it is undergoing to become a common law of mankind.
The first essay ‘Influence of history on the literature of international law’ proves how the East Indies constituted the meeting ground of the Dutch, the English, the French and other European East India Companies on the one hand and Asian sovereigns on the other. The more these contacts became intensified, the more they affected each other’s practices with a common framework of diplomatic exchanges and treaty making. But the sad part of this aspect is that the influence of Asian practices of inter-state conduct on the early development of European international law by classical jurists has been lost in the pages of political history written during the colonial period. The author, while sympathizing with the approach adopted by the classical writers for ignoring our contribution tells the readers that universalism was the life-breath of ancient Indian civilization and universality of the application of international law is a distinct contribution of ancient India.
The author forcefully argues that the doctrine of the freedom of the seas advocated by Hugo Grotius was not a new doctrine. It was not only known as a doctrine in Roman Law, but was being practiced in his time in another part of the world with which Europe was beginning to have wider contact (p. 89). Even though these Asian states have contributed much to the development of inter-national law Euro-centrism in legal and political thinking dominated. The wealth acquired by the European nations as a result of the Industrial Revolution made them regard the Asians as coloured and inferior, backward and uncivilized. Later in the guise of trade and commerce they used force. When we come to the twentieth century only seven Asian-African countries, some of them European colonies, were included among the 45 original members of the League, A change in this attitude can be seen after the formation of the United Nations. The author is very critical of the traditional law with its strong individualistic features. It was a lead created by, and for, prosperous nations. Today international law has passed from the phase when it was primarily a law of coexistence to a new law of cooperation.
In his essay on ‘Sovereignty of States in International Law’ the author throws much light on the confusion reigning around the concept sovereignty in international law and tells the readers that is very largely due to the fact that the sovereign state was first defined by individuals like Bodin, Hobbes and Hegel, who whatever they were, were not international lawyers and did not pause to think whether the theory would fit the facts of international relations, (p.77). The inclusion of the general principles of law recognized by the civilized nations as a source of law under article 38 of the statute of the International Courts of Justice is a clear departure from the strictly consensual basis of international law. Today the sovereignty of a state is limited by treaties. Great inroads to the traditional concept of sovereignty have been made by the creation of international organizations. The author is of the opinion that limitations upon liberty is the price which must be paid for all social process, whether it be local, national or international. Many states have often found that their own security and welfare could better promoted by surrendering their sovereignty and uniting in a federal union than by remaining independent.
In another brilliant essay on ‘New International Economic Order’, the author has probed deeply into the existing economic disparities between the rich and the poor and gives ample evidence how these resources are concentrated by less than 1/3 of the population when the other 2/3 are living in utter poverty. This is, essentially, observes the author, ‘a legacy of the colonial age’. The developing countries ever since their achieving independence have been urging the developed countries to help them in making the economic system more inequitable so that the vast gap between the rich and the poor may be reduced. A discussion on the salient features of the Charter of Economic Rights and Duties have been taken up together with the legal forces of the New International Economic Order. The only way to have a peaceful world is to help the poor countries in their development.
The essay on ‘The General Assembly at Crossroads’ demonstrates the emergence of the General Assembly as a powerful organ under the present day international law. This process of change has begun since 1950 from its Resolution on Uniting for Peace in the Korean Crisis. The adoption of the New International Economic Order, the suspension of South Africa from the twenty-ninth session of the General Assembly, inviting Yasser Arafat to present his appeal to the General Assembly are some of the classic examples of the increasing boldness of the weak and poor states and their continued pressure for their never ending demands in the General Assembly. The author emphatically points out that global problems require a global approach and a global approach is not possible without an effective international organization —The United Nations. None can imagine the world without the United Nations. The developing countries have an immeasurable faith in the United Nations. It is only through cooperation with big powers, and not by confrontation, that they can hope to progress.
The article on ‘Development and Environment’ highlights the cause and effect of the problem of pollution. The author is of the view that poverty is the greatest source of pollution. In both the towns and villages, ‘not merely the quality of life, but life itself is endangered by poor water, housing, sanitation, and nutrition, by sickness and disease and by natural disasters’.
In another interesting article on ‘Mid-Ocean Archipelagos’ the author has concentrated on certain issues like the historical reasons given by Philippines and Indonesia for the adoption of the archipelagic principle, implementation, and its acceptance under the III conference on the law of the Sea. An extensive reading material have been made use of by the writer and it can be ascertained by looking into the footnotes cited by him.
The various problems faced by the developing and underdeveloped nations in exploiting the living resources is the main theme of another article on ‘the New Legal Order for Fisheries’. The reasons for asking the extension of the zone, the emergence of the concept of Exclusive Economic Zone and the rights of the coastal states over the zone under the III conference on Law of the Sea (UNCLOSE III) are some of the major issues which have been examined thoroughly. As a champion of the cause of developing countries, Professor Anand forcefully argues that the developing countries should secure for themselves the full utilization of their natural resources including marine resources.
The last article on ‘International Police Force’ gives an insight into the various proposals discussed by the League and the United Nations to establish an international force. The author has rightly assessed that in the absence of great power unanimity and small power inability and reluctance it is neither feasible nor perhaps desirable to have a permanent stand by force even for the limited functions of the United Nations.
The book certainly throws much light on the contribution made by the Asian and African states to the field of international law. While analysing some of their basic and genuine problems the author is very specific in mentioning the role played by these Asian and African states to keep the United Nations in tact. The book is perhaps the first of its kind written by an Indian. The printing and get up of the book is excellent.
T.R. Subramanya is Reader in Law, School of International Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi.