Invoking International Law to Avoid Nuclear War in Kashmir

The military confrontation between India and Pakistan, two nuclear-armed neighbors, has the world in a state of jitters. With each country mobilizing its forces–together totaling about a million troops along their 1800 mile border–there is a high probability that the current face-off may lead to the outbreak of yet another war between these two countries. Although such a war–if it eventuates–is likely to involve a conventional exchange of weapons as happened in the 1947, 1965, and 1972 wars, there is reason to fear that it could escalate into a nuclear war. If such a catastrophe were to occur, American intelligence estimates that about 12 million people would be killed and 7 million would be injured.

What has been the response of the international community to this crisis? President Bush has urged President Musharraf of Pakistan and Prime Minister Vajpayee of India to exercise restraint and stop cross-border attacks. President Jacques Chirac, President Vladimir Putin and other European officials have echoed similar sentiments.

In the meantime, Mr. Vajpayee accuses Pakistan of waging a 20-year campaign of terrorism to dislodge India from the predominantly Muslim state of Kashmir. He also rejects Pakistan’s repeated requests for dialogue or negotiation. And the U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan reiterates his requests to General Musharraf to crack down on Islamic militants penetrating the Line of Control separating the Pakistani sector of Kashmir from the Indian sector.

Forty-three years ago the U.N. put forth a potentially reasonable solution to the conflict by conducting a plebiscite on the status of Kashmir–whether it should remain part of India, or become part of Pakistan. These two options could be supplemented by (1)outright independence for Kashmir; or (2) shared sovereignty between India and Pakistan over Kashmir. Thus far India has dismissed the idea of holding such a plebiscite.

Clearly missing from all responses so far to the looming nuclear crisis is an argument for using international law to resolve the India-Pakistan conflict over Kashmir. This striking omission underscores, on the one hand, the widespread commitment to power politics and the use of war as a means of resolving international disputes and, on the other hand, a fundamental distrust of international law to resolve international conflicts.

As it happens, both India and Pakistan are parties to the 1899 Hague Convention for the Pacific Settlement of International Disputes. The United States is also a party to this 1899 Convention. Article 8 is the brainchild of the United States. It establishes a procedure for special mediation. The states in conflict would each choose a power to which they would respectively entrust the mission of entering into direct communication with the power chosen by the other side for the purpose of preventing the rupture of pacific relations. For the period of this mandate, which could not exceed thirty days, unless otherwise agreed, the states in conflict would cease all direct communication on the subject of the dispute, leaving it exclusively to the mediating powers. In case of a definite rupture of pacific relations, the mediating powers were charged with the joint task of taking advantage of any opportunity for peace.

The threat of nuclear war between India and Pakistan directly affects the vital national security interests of the United States: The nuclear fallout would poison America and its people as well as the peoples of other countries. So the U.S. government, joined by others, must formally and publicly invoke Hague Article 8 against both India and Pakistan, and demand the required 30-day cooling-off period so that this special mediation procedure could take place.

The U.S. government joined by others must also invoke the requirement of Article 33(1) of the United Nations Charter providing that the two parties to the dispute over Kashmir “shall first of all, seek a solution by negotiation, inquiry, mediation, conciliation, arbitration, judicial settlement, resort to regional agencies or arrangements, or other peaceful means of their own choice.” U.N. Charter Article 33 expressly by name requires the pursuit of the “mediation” procedure set forth in Hague Article 8, including the mandatory 30-day cooling off period.

Time is of the essence when it comes to invoking Hague Article 8 and averting a nuclear war!

Williams M. Evan, Professor Emeritus of Sociology and Management at the University of Pennsylvania, is the author of several books, the most recent of which (with Mark Manion) is Minding the Machines: Preventing Technological Disasters, published by Prentice Hall.

Francis A. Boyle, Professor of Law, University of Illinois, is author of Foundations of World Order, Duke University Press, and The Criminality of Nuclear Deterrence, Clarity Press. He can be reached at: FBOYLE@LAW.UIUC.EDU




More articles by:
March 19, 2018
Henry Heller
The Moment of Trump
John Davis
Pristine Buildings, Tarnished Architect
Uri Avnery
The Fake Enemy
Patrick Cockburn
The Fall of Afrin and the Next Phase of the Syrian War
Nick Pemberton
The Democrats Can’t Save Us
Nomi Prins 
Jared Kushner, RIP: a Political Obituary for the President’s Son-in-Law
Georgina Downs
The Double Standards and Hypocrisy of the UK Government Over the ‘Nerve Agent’ Spy Poisoning
Dean Baker
Trump and the Federal Reserve
Colin Todhunter
The Strategy of Tension Towards Russia and the Push to Nuclear War
Kevin Zeese - Margaret Flowers
US Empire on Decline
Ralph Nader
Ahoy America, Give Trump a Taste of His Own Medicine Starting on Trump Imitation Day
Robert Dodge
Eliminate Nuclear Weapons by Divesting from Them
Laura Finley
Shame on You, Katy Perry
Weekend Edition
March 16, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Michael Uhl
The Tip of the Iceberg: My Lai Fifty Years On
Bruce E. Levine
School Shootings: Who to Listen to Instead of Mainstream Shrinks
Mel Goodman
Caveat Emptor: MSNBC and CNN Use CIA Apologists for False Commentary
Paul Street
The Obama Presidency Gets Some Early High Historiography
Kathy Deacon
Me, My Parents and Red Scares Long Gone
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Rexless Abandon
Andrew Levine
Good Enemies Are Hard To Find: Therefore Worry
Jim Kavanagh
What to Expect From a Trump / Kim Summit
Ron Jacobs
Trump and His Tariffs
Joshua Frank
Drenched in Crude: It’s an Oil Free For All, But That’s Not a New Thing
Gary Leupp
What If There Was No Collusion?
Matthew Stevenson
Why Vietnam Still Matters: Bernard Fall Dies on the Street Without Joy
Robert Fantina
Bad to Worse: Tillerson, Pompeo and Haspel
Brian Cloughley
Be Prepared, Iran, Because They Want to Destroy You
Richard Moser
What is Organizing?
Scott McLarty
Working Americans Need Independent Politics
Rohullah Naderi
American Gun Violence From an Afghan Perspective
Sharmini Peries - Michael Hudson
Why Trump’s Tariff Travesty Will Not Re-Industrialize the US
Ted Rall
Democrats Should Run on Impeachment
Robert Fisk
Will We Ever See Al Jazeera’s Investigation Into the Israel Lobby?
Kristine Mattis
Superunknown: Scientific Integrity Within the Academic and Media Industrial Complexes
John W. Whitehead
Say No to “Hardening” the Schools with Zero Tolerance Policies and Gun-Toting Cops
Edward Hunt
UN: US Attack On Syrian Civilians Violated International Law
Barbara Nimri Aziz
Iraq Outside History
Wilfred Burchett
Vietnam Will Win: The Long Hard Road
Victor Grossman
Germany: New Faces, Old Policies
Medea Benjamin - Nicolas J. S. Davies
The Iraq Death Toll 15 Years After the US Invasion
Binoy Kampmark
Amazon’s Initiative: Digital Assistants, Home Surveillance and Data
Chuck Collins
Business Leaders Agree: Inequality Hurts The Bottom Line
Jill Richardson
What We Talk About When We Talk About “Free Trade”
Eric Lerner – Jay Arena
A Spark to a Wider Fire: Movement Against Immigrant Detention in New Jersey
Negin Owliaei
Teachers Deserve a Raise: Here’s How to Fund It