After a good night of rest, we found ourselves back at the First Euroflat hotel for our the 2nd day of our week-long security seminar. We began with an introduction to the intersection of international security and law. The basis of international law is two-fold. Laws are adopted out of necessity and the continuous application and compliance of the law gives it validity and legality in international community.
We then explored what international law states in relation to war. Specifically, in what context is war considered ‘legal’ and what are the rules and norms that govern conflict between nations. Additionally, we were introduced to the concepts of Responsibility to Protect (R2P) and the Right to Prosecute. The former highlights the foundation of humanitarian intervention however, it requires legitimate action and authorization without ulterior motives in order for it to be justified. Right to Prosecute was developed in response to WWII coupled with the establishment of international laws such as the Convention Against Genocide and the Decleration of Human Rights. With this however, comes a double standard as although international law acts as a detterent, the concept of sovreignty influences the issues of jurisdition and the willingenss to prosecute.
As we continued to discuss International Law, Brigadier General Cuzzelli provided real world examples of the implementation and limitations of International law. Specifically, we discussed Russia’s involvement in International organizations and their adherence to International Law. This topic was interesting as we had previously discussed it with our briefer at the Council of Europe regarding Russia’s relation to the parliment and the European Court of Human Rights.
We then moved on to a discussion of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), a defense alliance at the heart of the transatlantic relationship. NATO orignated as a counter to the USSR and Warsaw Pact satellite states during the cold war. The treaty is built around the idea of collective defense and all decisions are made unanimously. Our visit to the Supreme Headquarters for Allied Powers in Europe (SHAPE) and our lecture with a senior NATO official left us with a decent understanding of the organization and purpose of NATO in the international community. With Brigadier General Cuzzelli, we focused on the structure and workings of NATO, benefiting from his extensive background and insight in the organization and specifically, SHAPE.
NATO has been criticized recently, particularly by the Trump administration as being ineffective. We discussed the relevancy of NATO and its role as a security alliance that bridges the transatlantic relationship. Firstly, NATO provides necessary deterrence and a collective defense that is necessary in Europe, as each European member-state’s military would be extremely inadequate on its own. Additionally NATO, through collective defense, strengths solidarity within the European community and in turn, solidarity with the other transatlantic partners. NATO not only provides security for Europe but it also defines the security dynamic of Eurasia, northern Africa, and the Middle East. And Finally, NATO provides a military framework in which missions, under the auspices of the UN, can be conduced.
Studying the connection between International Law, International organizations, and security is crucial to understanding the security dynamic of the transatlantic relationship. As we continue our security leg of this program, tying them to our previous site visits, our understanding of security will give us the ability to analyze the current issues of an upcoming NATO summit, the Iran Deal, China’s expansion, and more.