Let’s revive FDR’s four freedoms and the Atlantic Charter



Photo source: BanyanTree – CC BY-SA 3.0

Current US, UK, EU and NATO policies vis à vis Russia and China violate the letter and the spirit of the United Nations Charter as well as many previous declarations, commitments and treaties that are the basis of modern international law.

Western policies of ‘exception’ and ‘unilateralism’ have directly fueled an atmosphere of intransigence and hostility, which makes reasonable talk of dialogue and compromise look like cowardly ‘appeasement’, even betrayal.

It turns out that “appeasement” is the only path humanity can take in the nuclear age. This is the path charted by our ancestors in the Charter of the United Nations, when “we the people” demanded action to spare future generations the scourge of war. Our leaders, however, are simultaneously provoking two nuclear powers with vast stockpiles of nuclear weapons and the means to deliver them. It is highly undemocratic, because people do not want war and do not consent to unnecessary provocations. People want and have a right to peace and prosperity. It is the corporate “elites”, the military-industrial-financial complex who want war. Indeed, there are too many war profiteers around us.

Of particular concern is that quiet voices like those of Professor Emeritus Richard Falk at Princeton, Professor Jeffrey Sachs at Columbia University, or Professor John Mearsheimer at the University of Chicago, are drowned out by fakes. news and propaganda spread by “narrative managers” in the mainstream media, who seem to prefer the role of attack dogs to that of watchdogs.

The deliberate escalation of tensions against Russia and China leads to multiple violations of the purposes and principles of the United Nations, ILO, WHO and UNESCO. Moreover, this escalation has led to violations of the Rome Statute, namely aggression, war crimes and crimes against humanity.

The current American and British administrations are acting in a manner inconsistent with Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s “four freedoms”, expressed in his State of the Union address of January 6, 1941 and repeated, with Winston Churchill, in the Charter of the Atlantic of August 14, 1941.

For example, the massive censorship of Russian news sources, including Sputnik and RT, violates FDR’s first freedom, namely freedom of speech, which necessarily entails freedom to access all information, freedom to know what is relevant to form an opinion, our own judgment, that we can express. Freedom of speech is not just about echoing the nonsense we heard last night on CNN or the BBC.

The United States’ draconian sanctions policy is inconsistent with Roosevelt’s declared third freedom – “Freedom from want – which, translated into contemporary terms, means economic arrangements that will assure every nation a healthy peacetime life for its people. – around the world.” This means among others food security, access to water and sanitation, affordable energy, freedom of trade and freedom of the seas. Among the obvious negative effects of American, British and European sanctions are starvation, despair and death. The sanctions imposed on dozens of countries including Belarus, Cuba, Nicaragua, Russia, Syria, Venezuela have already caused tens of thousands of deaths and constitute a crime against humanity within the meaning of article 7 of the Statute of the International Criminal Court.

US, UK and EU policies are also inconsistent with FDR’s Fourth Freedom, “freedom from fear.” It is remarkable that human rights NGOs like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have not focused on Peace as a human right. This is what the Spanish Association for International Human Rights Law has promoted in its “Declaración de Santiago”[1] of 10 December 2010, which built on General Assembly resolution 39/11 of 12 November 1984 and ultimately became the draft resolution on the right to peace[2], adopted by the advisory committee of the United Nations Human Rights Council, later torpedoed by the American, British and European delegations who argued within the intergovernmental working group on the right to peace that it does not There was no right to peace and the HR Council was not the right place anyway. The resolution finally adopted by the GA on December 19, 2016[3] was significantly lower than what the GA had already acknowledged in 1984. Likewise, all the initiatives of the United Nations Conference on Disarmament were gutted by the United States, the United Kingdom, the EU and the countries of NATO, as if they were saying to the world: “we actually prefer war”. As the United Nations independent expert on international order, I have attended every meeting of the Human Rights Council’s working group and have been appalled to hear the patently flawed arguments put forward by the US, UK and EU delegations, arguments that a first-year law student would already recognize as “false law”.

“Freedom from fear” necessarily means a worldwide reduction of armaments to such an extent and in such a complete manner that no nation should be able to commit an act of physical aggression against a neighbor anywhere in the world. the world. Article 6 of the Non-Proliferation Treaty commits all States possessing nuclear weapons to negotiate in good faith towards nuclear disarmament. But it seems that the nuclear powers, whether or not they are members of the NPT – including China, Russia, the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Israel, India, Pakistan – are determined to impose fear and terror on the rest of humanity.

The US, UK, EU and NATO sanctions policies against Russia and China are also inconsistent with the principles set out in the Atlantic Charter, namely:

1. Territorial adjustments must be in accordance with the wishes of the peoples concerned (for example by referendum in Nagorno-Karabakh, Crimea and Donbass). If the ideological leaders of the Western powers refuse to recognize the fact that the vast majority of the population of Crimea does NOT want to live in Ukraine after the unconstitutional 2014 putsch, they should invite the UN to organize and monitor a new referendum. In March and June 1994, I was the UN representative for the parliamentary and presidential elections in Ukraine. Undoubtedly, the people of Crimea and Donbass speak and feel Russian).

2. All peoples have the right to self-determination (eg in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo — but similarly in Nagorno-Karabakh, Abkhazia, South Ossetia and Transnistria). This right to self-determination has been incorporated into the United Nations Charter and countless Security Council and General Assembly resolutions. It is also common article 1 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

3. Trade barriers must be lowered. Sanctions regimes imposed by the United States and its allies have essentially destroyed the benefits of globalization for millions of people and permanently disrupted supply chains and energy sources, leading to a decline in international trade, gross domestic product, bankruptcies and unemployment.

4. Global economic cooperation and the promotion of social welfare should be the rule and not the exception.

5. All countries that have joined the Atlantic Charter are committed to working for a world free from want and fear.

6. All countries committed to advancing freedom of the seas as defined by Hugo Grotius mare liberum.

7. All countries have agreed on the disarmament of aggressor nations and common disarmament after the war.

It is the tragedy of generations after World War I that the lofty principles contained in President Woodrow Wilson’s 14 points were flouted in the Treaties of Versailles, Saint-Germain and Trianon, leading directly to World War II. It is the tragedy of the post-World War II generations that the goals proclaimed in the Four Freedoms and the Atlantic Charter were abandoned. It is the tragedy of our post-Soviet Union generation that our leaders failed to keep their 1989-91 promises to Mikhail Gorbachev and deliberately chose the path of NATO provocation and expansionism, which has resulted in tensions leading to Russia’s illegal aggression against Ukraine and NATO’s proxy war against Russia – to the last Ukrainian. Why did our leaders ignore the advice of George F. Kennan, Jack Matlock, Richard Falk, Jeffrey Sachs, John Mearsheimer and Henry Kissinger?

To get out of the mess our leaders have gotten us into, we need to build bridges – not just for belligerents to escape, but for belligerents to talk to each other.


[1] http://www.aedidh.org/sites/default/files/Santiago-Declaration-en.pdf

[2] https://www.ohchr.org/en/instruments-mechanisms/instruments/declaration-right-peoples-peace

[3] https://www.hhrjournal.org/2017/01/the-right-to-peace-from-ratification-to-realization/

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