The curious case of Itu Aba and Spratly Islands: Epochal ruling by an International Court (Permanent Court of Arbitration) on South China Sea dispute under UNCLOS (Philippines v. China) (Part 3 of 4)

On the China’s claim of ‘nine-dash line’ to support its case, the tribunal observed that it first appeared on an official Chinese map in 1948 when the Ministry of the Interior of the then Republican Government of China published a “Map Showing the Location of the Various Islands in the South Sea”. A similar line had also appeared in privately produced cartography as early as 1933. In the original form, the map featured 11 dashes. The two dashes in the Gulf of Tonkin were removed in 1953, rendering it a ‘nine-dash line’, and the line appeared consistently in that nine-dash form in official Chinese cartography since that date. The length and precise placement of individual dashes, however, do not appear to be entirely consistent among different official depictions of the line.

Also in 2009, China sent two Notes Verbales to the UN Secretary-General in response to Malaysia and Vietnam’s Joint Submission of the preceding day to the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (CLCS) wherein China stated that it has indisputable sovereignty over the islands in the South China Sea and the adjacent waters, and enjoys sovereign rights and jurisdiction over the relevant waters as well as the seabed and subsoil thereof. The above position was consistently held by the Chinese Government, and is widely known by the international community. Appended to China’s notes was a map depicting the same ‘nine-dash line’.

The Tribunal held that on the basis of China’s conduct, China claims rights to the living and non-living resources within the ‘nine-dash line’, but (apart from the territorial sea  generated by any islands) does not consider that those waters form part of its territorial sea or internal waters.

Also as between the Philippines and China, the Convention defines the scope of maritime entitlements in the South China Sea, which may not extend beyond the limits imposed therein. The Tribunal concluded that, as between the Philippines and China, China’s claims to historic rights, or other sovereign rights or jurisdiction, with respect to the maritime areas of the South China Sea encompassed by the relevant part of the ‘nine-dash line’ were held contrary to the Convention and without lawful effect to the extent that they exceed the geographic and substantive limits of China’s maritime entitlements under the Convention. The Tribunal concluded that the Convention superseded any historic rights or other sovereign rights or jurisdiction in excess of the limits imposed therein.

The curious case of Itu Aba and Spratly Islands: Epochal ruling by an International Court (Permanent Court of Arbitration) on South China Sea dispute under UNCLOS (Philippines v. China) (Part 2 of 4)

The Arbitral Tribunal had earlier issued its unanimous award on the jurisdiction issue. According to Article 288(4) of the Convention, in the event of a dispute as to whether a court or tribunal has jurisdiction, the matter has to be settled by decision of that court or tribunal. Also Article 9 of Annex VII to the Convention requires that where a Party does not appear before the Tribunal, the arbitral tribunal must satisfy itself not only that it has jurisdiction over the dispute but also that the claim is well founded in fact as well as in law. It held that Philippines and China were parties to the Convention and that the provisions for the settlement of disputes, including through arbitration, formed an integral part of it.  Although the Convention specifies certain limitations and exceptions to the subject matter of the disputes that may be submitted to compulsory settlement, it does not permit other reservations, and a State may not except itself generally from the Convention’s mechanism for the resolution of disputes. The Tribunal also rejected the claim of China alleging abuse of the Convention holding that mere act of unilaterally initiating arbitration in itself cannot constitute an abuse of the Convention.

China contended that the Parties’ dispute is actually about sovereignty over the islands of the South China Sea and therefore not a matter concerning the Convention. It also contended that the Parties’ dispute was actually about the delimitation of the maritime boundary between them and therefore excluded from dispute settlement by an exception set out in the Convention that States may activate by declaration.  China contended that it had already activated the exception for disputes concerning sea boundary delimitations when it made a declaration in 2006.

The Tribunal observed that though there was a dispute between the Parties regarding sovereignty over islands, but yet the matters submitted to arbitration by the Philippines did not concern sovereignty. On the second issue the Tribunal observed that a dispute concerning whether a State possesses an entitlement to a maritime zone is a distinct matter from the delimitation of maritime zones in an area in which they overlap.  While a wide variety of issues are commonly considered in the course of delimiting a maritime boundary, it does not follow that a dispute over each of these issues is necessarily a dispute over boundary delimitation.  Accordingly, the Tribunal held that the claims presented by the Philippines do not concern sea boundary delimitation and are not, therefore, subject to the exception to the dispute settlement provisions of the Convention.

The Tribunal thus held that China’s non-appearance in the proceedings did not deprive the Tribunal of jurisdiction and Philippines’ act of initiating this arbitration did not constitute an abuse of process. It also found that the 2002 China–ASEAN Declaration on Conduct of the Parties in the South China Sea, the joint statements of the Parties, the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia, and the Convention on Biological Diversity, did not preclude recourse to the compulsory dispute settlement procedures available the Convention.

The curious case of Itu Aba and Spratly Islands: Epochal ruling by an International Court (Permanent Court of Arbitration) on South China Sea dispute under UNCLOS (Philippines v. China) (Part 1 of 4)

On July 12, a five-judge tribunal in Hague delivered a landmark award on maritime entitlements in the South China Sea. The arbitration concerned disputes between Philippines and China regarding the legal basis of maritime rights and entitlements in the South China Sea, the status of certain geographic features in the South China Sea, and the lawfulness of certain actions taken by China in the South China Sea.

Both Philippines and China are parties to the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (Convention or UNCLOS). It has even been ratified by 168 parties. The Convention was adopted in order to settle all issues relating to the law of the sea. But the Convention does not address the sovereignty of States over land territory. Also it does contain provisions concerning the delimitation of maritime boundaries. The Convention includes a system for the peaceful settlement of disputes which is set out in Part XV of the Convention, which provides for a variety of dispute settlement procedures, including compulsory arbitration in accordance with a procedure contained in Annex VII to the Convention. It was pursuant to Part XV of and Annex VII to the Convention that the Philippines commenced the arbitration against China in 2013. China had made a declaration in 2006 to exclude maritime boundary delimitation from its acceptance of compulsory dispute settlement, which the Convention expressly permitted for maritime boundaries. The Tribunal thus refrained from delimiting any maritime boundary between the Parties or involving any other State bordering on the South China Sea.

Primarily Philippines sought to resolve a dispute concerning the source of maritime rights and entitlements in the South China Sea. Philippines sought a declaration from the Tribunal that China’s rights and entitlements in the South China Sea must be based on the Convention and not on any claim to historic rights as claimed by China. It further sought a declaration that China’s claim to rights within the ‘nine-dash line’ marked on Chinese maps were without any lawful effect. It further asked the Tribunal to resolve a dispute concerning the entitlements to maritime zones that would be generated under the Convention by Scarborough Shoal and certain maritime features in the Spratly Islands that were claimed by both the Philippines and China. The Spratly Islands is a constellation of small islands and coral reefs in the southern portion of the South China Sea.  It is the site of longstanding territorial disputes among various of the littoral States of the South China Sea. Considered as a risk to navigation, it is identified on nautical charts as the “dangerous ground”!

The Convention provide that submerged banks and low-tide elevations are incapable on their own of generating any entitlements to maritime areas and that rocks which cannot sustain human habitation or economic life of their own do not generate an entitlement to an exclusive economic zone of 200 nautical miles or even to a continental shelf. Philippines sought a declaration that all of the features claimed by China in the Spratly Islands and Scarborough Shoal, fall within one or the other of these categories and that none of these features generates an entitlement to an exclusive economic zone or to a continental shelf.

Though China did not participate in the proceedings, yet in its Position Paper China argued that the Tribunal lacked jurisdiction because the essence of the subject-matter of the arbitration is the territorial sovereignty over the relevant maritime features in the South China Sea and China and the Philippines had agreed, through bilateral instruments and the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea, to settle their relevant disputes through negotiations. It further stated that the disputes submitted by the Philippines would constitute an integral part of maritime delimitation between the two countries.  In the international sphere, China has taken the position that it has indisputable sovereignty over the South China Sea Islands and the adjacent waters. China’s sovereignty and relevant rights in the South China Sea, formed in the long historical course have been reaffirmed by China’s domestic laws on many occasions and protected under international law including the Convention. China has further taken the stand that in the issues of territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests it will never accept any solution imposed on it or any unilateral resort to a third-party dispute settlement since as a sovereign state and a State Party to the Convention it is entitled to choose the means and procedures of dispute settlement of its own will. As per China, since the 1990s China and Philippines have repeatedly reaffirmed in bilateral documents that they shall resolve relevant disputes through negotiations and consultations. The Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea explicitly states that the sovereign states directly concerned undertake to resolve their territorial and jurisdictional disputes by peaceful means through friendly consultations and negotiations.

‘Universal Jurisdiction’ enters African continent: The landmark verdict of the Extraordinary African Chambers (Senegal) in the Hissène Habré “Africa’s Pinochet” case.

After a long and tortuous wait for more than 25 long years, justice has been finally delivered to tens of thousands of victims of Hissène Habré. The case moved from domestic to regional to International Court of Justice and was finally decided by an African court formed specially for this trial, the Extraordinary African Chambers, with its seat in Dakar, the capital city of Senegal on May 30, 2016. Hissène Habré was President of the Republic of Chad from 1982 to 1990 when he was deposed by Idriss Déby Itno. Habré has been living in exile in Senegal ever since. Habré was first indicted by a Senegalese judge in 2000 when a group of Chadian victims filed a complaint against Habré in Senegal. But the appellate courts dismissed the case on the ground that Senegalese courts lacked competence to try crimes committed abroad.

Some Habré victims who were Belgian citizens of Chadian origin, then filed a case against Habré in Belgium in 2000. The Belgian authorities investigated the case for four years and in 2005 the Belgian investigating judge issued an international warrant in absentia for the arrest of Habré, indicted as the perpetrator or co-perpetrator, of serious violations of international humanitarian law, torture, genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes, on the basis of which Belgium requested the extradition of Habré from Senegal. But in November 2005, the Chambre d’accusation of the Dakar Court of Appeal ruled against Belgium’s extradition request, holding that as a court of ordinary law it could not extend its jurisdiction to matters relating to the investigation or prosecution of a Head of State for acts allegedly committed in the exercise of his functions.

In July 2006, the African Union called on Senegal to prosecute Habré on behalf of Africa before its own courts. Senegalese law was amended to give the country’s courts explicit universal jurisdiction over international crimes, including torture and crimes against humanity. Then the Court of Justice of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) ruled that Habré should be tried before a “special ad hoc procedure of an international character.” But Senegal again withdrew from the negotiations.

Then Belgium bought the matter before the International Court of Justice which found that the Republic of Senegal, by failing to make immediately a preliminary inquiry into the facts relating to the crimes allegedly committed by Habré and also by failing to submit the case of Habré to its competent authorities for the purpose of prosecution, had breached its obligation under the United Nations Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. It thus held that the Republic of Senegal must, without further delay, submit the case of Habré to its competent authorities for the purpose of prosecution, if it does not extradite him. The new Senegalese government of Macky Sall (after the ouster of the Abdoulaye Wade who was considered as shielding  Habré from prosecution) reacted quickly to the ICJ judgment and negotiations resumed between Senegal and the AU which lead to an agreement to create the Extraordinary African Chambers to conduct proceedings within the Senegalese judicial system. The Extraordinary Chambers were then instituted in Dakar.

The process before the Extraordinary African Chambers was governed by its own Statute and the Senegalese Code of Criminal Procedure. The chambers have four levels. It consists of an Investigative Chamber with four Senegalese investigative judges, an Indicting Chamber of three Senegalese judges, a Trial Chamber, and an Appeals Chamber. The Trial Chamber and the Appeals Chamber each have two Senegalese judges and a president from another African Union member state.

On 16 February 2015, the Court charged Habré with the crimes of torture, homicide, executions, illegal detention, breach of physical integrity, torture, and abduction of civilians. There were various allegations including the repression of political opponents, the population in the the south, the Hagarai, and the Zagawa. After Habré took power, he began to undertake mass arrests. Initially, these were carried out against political opponents but later any Chadian citizen suspected of being part of the opposition was arrested. A 1992 Chadian Truth Commission accused Habré’s government of systematic torture and said that 40,000 people died during his rule. Most abuses were carried out by his political police, the Documentation and Security Directorate (DDS). This included extrajudicial arrests and interrogations conducted by the DDS and the BSIR, followed by incarceration in N’Djamena in DDS prisons where systematic torture was undertaken.

The Court held that there were attacks against the civil population in Chad constituting the crime of torture and crimes against humanity. Also women were forced to have sexual relationships with the DDS officers, prisons authorities, and soldiers of the BSIR which amounted to torture, rape, and crimes against humanity. There were also crimes against humanity for sexual slavery regarding the offenses in the camps. The Court thus found Habré guilty of the crimes against humanity of rape, forced slavery, murder, mass executions, kidnapping and disapearing, torture and the autonomous crime of torture. It further found him guilty of war crimes of murder, torture, inhuman treatments and illegal detention. He has been awarded life imprisonment. It is for the first time that an African Union backed court had tried and convicted a former ruler for human rights abuses.

Trump’s “Trumpism” trumps: The GOP nominee!

Donald Trump has edged out others and is now the presumptive nominee of the Republican Party for President of the United States in the 2016 election. His political positions on various issues like illegal immigration, free trade agreements, H-1B visas, tax laws, rising crime and poverty have raised many eyebrows.

On illegal immigration from Mexico, Trump alleges that Mexico’s leaders have been taking advantage of the United States by using illegal immigration to export the crime and poverty in their own country. This has resulted in loss of hundreds of billions in healthcare costs, housing costs, education costs, welfare costs. He has proposed making a boundary wall and also Mexico should pay for the wall and, until they do, the United States should, among other things impound all remittance payments derived from illegal wages, increase fees on all temporary visas issued to Mexican CEOs and diplomats, increase fees on all border crossing cards, increase fees on all NAFTA worker visas from Mexico and further increase fees at ports of entry to the United States from Mexico.

He has also heavily come against the Schumer-Rubio immigration bill as he sees it as nothing more than a giveaway to the corporate patrons who run the political parties. Real immigration reform puts the needs of working people first and not wealthy globetrotting donors. Those who come to the United States on temporary visas but refuse to leave will have to subjected to penalties as such people are threat to national security. Individuals who refuse to leave at the time their visa expires should be subject to criminal penalties as this will also help give local jurisdictions the power to hold visa overstays until federal authorities arrive. Alleging disastrous consequences of failed government policies, he rues that nearly 40% of black teenagers and nearly 30% of Hispanic teenagers are unemployed. For black Americans without high school diplomas, the bottom has fallen out as more than 70% were employed in 1960, compared to less than 40% in 2000.

Commenting on the unabated influx of foreign workers, he has criticised it as it holds down salaries, keeps unemployment high, and makes it difficult for poor and working class Americans, including immigrants themselves and their children, to earn a middle class wage. Nearly half of all immigrants and their US-born children currently live in or near poverty, including more than 60 percent of Hispanic immigrants. Thus there is need to control the admission of new low-earning workers in order to help wages grow, get teenagers back to work, aid minorities’ rise into the middle class, help schools and communities falling behind, and to ensure our immigrant members of the national family become part of the American dream.

On the issue of H-1B visas, more than half of H-1B visas are issued for the program’s lowest allowable wage level, and more than eighty percent for its bottom two. Raising the prevailing wage paid to H-1Bs will force companies to give these coveted entry level jobs to the existing domestic pool of unemployed native and immigrant workers in the U.S., instead of flying in cheaper workers from overseas. Again this will improve the number of black, Hispanic and female workers in Silicon Valley who have been passed over in favor of the H-1B program.

Trump had supported the Project Exile where if a violent felon used a gun to commit a crime, he was prosecuted in federal court and was imprisoned for five years with no parole or early release. Trump has also criticised the Obama Administration decision of releasing 76,000 aliens from its custody with criminal convictions since 2013. He suggests that all criminal aliens must be returned to their home countries, a process which can be aided by cancelling any visas to foreign countries which will not accept their own criminals, and making it a separate and additional crime to commit an offense while here illegally.

On the tax front, Americans are now promised a simpler tax code with four brackets – 0%, 10%, 20% and 25%. The new tax code will eliminate the marriage penalty and the Alternative Minimum Tax while providing the lowest tax rate since before World War II. No business of any size, from a Fortune 500 to a mom and pop shop to a freelancer living job to job, will pay more than 15% of their business income in taxes. This lower rate will make corporate inversions unnecessary by making America’s tax rate one of the best in the world.

Trump alleges that America fully opened its markets to China but China did not reciprocate. Its Great Wall of Protectionism uses unlawful tariff and non-tariff barriers to keep American companies out of China and to tilt the playing field in their favour. Trump has threatened that America under his presidency will bring China to the bargaining table by immediately declaring it a currency manipulator. It will also protect American ingenuity and investment by forcing China to uphold intellectual property laws and stop their unfair and unlawful practice of forcing U.S. companies to share proprietary technology with Chinese competitors as a condition of entry to China’s market. It will also try to reclaim millions of American jobs and reviving American manufacturing by putting an end to China’s illegal export subsidies and lax labour and environmental standards.

Balkan route influx now to a trickle: EU-turkey deal paves way for visa free travel for Turks but raises concern in Europe.

New arrivals on the Greek islands now are down to less than a hundred than from an average 10,000 a day at the peak last October. Also the latest figures from Turkey’s Coast Guard show that the EU-Turkey deal is working, with the number of migrants intercepted at sea only 1,536 in April whereas 8,100 people were intercepted in March. This has led the European Commission to declare that Turkey has broadly met the criteria for early visa liberalization and would be asking EU governments and the European Parliament to approve the decision by the end of June. This will allow visa-free travel to Europe for millions of Turks, as a reward for having reduced a flood of refugees and migrants into Europe to a mere trickle.

On 18 March this year, following on from the EU-Turkey Joint Action Plan activated on 29 November 2015 and the 7 March EU-Turkey statement, the European Union and Turkey decided to end the irregular migration from Turkey to the EU. EU and Turkey have agreed that all new irregular migrants crossing from Turkey into Greek islands as from 20 March 2016 will be returned to Turkey but in full accordance with EU and international law. The agreement stipulates that all such migrants will be protected in accordance with the relevant international standards and in respect of the principle of non-refoulement. As per the agreement, migrants arriving in the Greek islands will be duly registered and any application for asylum will be processed individually by the Greek authorities in accordance with the Asylum Procedures Directive, in cooperation with UNHCR but migrants not applying for asylum or whose application has been found unfounded or inadmissible in accordance with the said directive will be returned to Turkey. The agreement further stipulates that for every Syrian being returned to Turkey from Greek islands, another Syrian will be resettled from Turkey to the EU taking into account the UN Vulnerability Criteria. A mechanism will be established, with the assistance of the Commission, EU agencies and other Member States, as well as the UNHCR, to ensure that this principle will be implemented as from the same day the returns start. Priority will be given to migrants who have not previously entered or tried to enter the EU irregularly.

As per the agreement, Turkey will take any necessary measures to prevent new sea or land routes for illegal migration opening from Turkey to the EU, and will cooperate with neighbouring states as well as the EU to this effect. Once irregular crossings between Turkey and the EU end or at least have been substantially and sustainably reduced, a Voluntary Humanitarian Admission Scheme will be activated.

On the monetary aspect, the EU will further speed up the disbursement of the initially allocated three billion euros under the Facility for Refugees in Turkey and ensure funding of further projects for persons under temporary protection identified with swift input from Turkey before the end of March. A first list of concrete projects for refugees, notably in the field of health, education, infrastructure, food and other living costs, that can be swiftly financed from the Facility, will be jointly identified within a week. Once these resources are about to be used to the full, and provided the above commitments are met, the EU will mobilise additional funding for the Facility of an additional 3 billion euro up to the end of 2018. Also the fulfilment of the visa liberalisation roadmap will be accelerated with a view to lifting the visa requirements for Turkish citizens at the latest by the end of June 2016. The EU and its Member States are further obligated to work with Turkey in joint endeavour to improve humanitarian conditions inside Syria, in particular in certain areas near the Turkish border which would allow for the local population and refugees to live in areas which will be more safe.

The Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan recently warned that it would stop implementing the deal with the European Union on curbing the flow of refugees to Europe if the EU failed to fulfill its promises under the agreement. Now the EU hastily seems to fulfil its commitments under the deal so that Turkey does not renege from its commitments. But allowing of visa free travel to Turks have not gone down well with few European nations who are voicing their resentment quite openly. In the coming days it will be interesting to watch how the EU tackles the objections of the member states in fulfilling its commitments made to Turkey

Justice for Bosniaks and Croats; Radovan Karadzic, the “Butcher of Bosnia”, convicted by ICTY for Srebrenica massacre and seige of Sarajevo.

The war in Bosnia and Herzegovina in the early 1990s was the worst conflict in Europe since World War II. It was a civil war that tore apart the former Yugoslavia and left more than 100,000 people dead and two million displaced. Radovan Karadzic, nicknamed the “Butcher of Bosnia”, after a protracted trial was yesterday held guilty by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, an adhoc court the United Nations established to prosecute serious crimes committed during the conflicts in the former Yugoslavia, of genocide and other crimes against humanity over atrocities that Bosnian Serb forces committed during the Bosnian War from 1992 to 1995 and has been sentenced to 40 years in prison. He was the President of the National Security Council of the Serbian Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and on 12th May 1992, he was elected as the President of the Presidency of the Serbian Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina. From 17th December 1992, he was the President of the Republika Srpska. He is the most senior political figure to be convicted over the violent Bosnian wars. Slobodan Milosevic, the Serbian president who was another high profile accused, died in March 2006 pending his trial before the tribunal.

The charges against Karadzic were of genocide, crimes against humanity(namely persecution, murder, extermination, deportation, and forcible transfer) and violations of the laws or customs of war (namely murder, acts of violence the primary purpose of which was to spread terror among the civilian population, unlawful attacks on civilians, and the taking of hostages). The complete trial record amounted to over 48,000 transcript pages, over 95,000 pages of filings and over 190,000 pages of admitted exhibits!

The Court observed that during the war, the Serb Forces took control of municipalities in Bosnian Serb-claimed territory in Bosnia and Herzegovina. During the course of these well-planned and co-ordinated take-overs and after, there was an organised and systematic pattern of crimes committed against Bosnian Muslims and Bosnian Croats. Bosnian Muslims and Bosnian Croats were also removed from positions of authority and dismissed from their employment. Thousands of Bosnian Muslim and Bosnian Croat civilians were unlawfully detained in around several detention facilities across the Municipalities. There was also widespread looting of non-Serb property and extensive destruction of Bosnian Muslim and Bosnian Croat villages and property by Serb Forces in many of the Municipalities. Serb Forces also destructed mosques and churches. The Court held that the objective of his atrocities was to permanently remove Bosnian Muslims and Bosnian Croats from Bosnian Serb-claimed territory in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Also in early 1993, following a series of Bosnian Serb attacks in nearby villages, the Bosnian Muslim population fled to Srebrenica, which was proclaimed a safe area. But in March 1995, Karadzic issued a Directive, ordering the armed forces to create an unbearable situation of total insecurity with no hope of further survival or life for the inhabitants of Srebrenica. Following this, restrictions on humanitarian aid and UNPROFOR resupply convoys intensified, resulting in disastrous conditions in the Srebrenica enclave. He also eliminated the Bosnian Muslims in Srebrenica by killing thousands of men and boys of Srebrenica and forcibly removing the women, young children and some elderly men.  Also the civilian population of Sarajevo was shelled and sniped by members of the Bosnian Serb Forces. It conducted a campaign of sniping and shelling of Sarajevo with the intention to terrorise the civilian population living there resulting in thousands of killed civilians in the city. He also consistently and systematically provided misleading information to representatives of international organisations and the media. This verdict sends a powerful signal that the Head of States who order atrocities cannot escape from justice anymore.

Brexit: Tories dissension brings Carltona doctrine to the fore

David Cameron has finally set June 23rd as the date for a referendum on Britain’s continued membership of the European Union. But such announcement has kicked in new accusations and controversies. Indian orgin minister, Priti Patel, on behalf of Vote Leave campaign group has alleged that the civil servants are not cooperating with the Brexit supporting ministers. She said that the civil service must maintain impartiality during the EU referendum. Secretaries of state are responsible for their departments. For an unelected official to prevent them being aware of the information they need for their duties is wrong.

On the other hand international business leaders are warning United Kingdom of the serious complications that could follow a Brexit. Financial services, farming and millions of Britons living in Europe can be seriously affected if Britain chooses to leave European Union. Europhiles argue that UK’s withdrawal from the EU would mean unravelling all the rights and obligations – from access to the single market, to structural funds for poorer regions, to joint action on sanctions – that the UK has acquired during the accession to the EU. As well as negotiating its withdrawal, the UK would also want to negotiate its post-exit arrangements with the EU. A recent report suggests that a vote to leave the EU would be the start, not the end, of a process. It could lead to up to a decade or more of uncertainty! Labour’s shadow Business Secretary has been recently forced to defend Jeremy Corbyn against charges that he is privately against the continued membership of the EU. Even the pound is falling to its lowest level against the dollar since 2009.

G20 in a joint communique at the end of the recently concluded two-day meeting in Shanghai had warned that downside risks and vulnerabilities have risen, against the backdrop of volatile capital flows, a large drop of commodity prices, escalated geopolitical tensions, the shock of a potential UK exit from the European Union and a large and increasing number of refugees in some regions.

But Euroseptics continue to argue that EU was a “fundamentally flawed concept” that threatened the sovereignty of its members. London Mayor Boris Johnson said ‘It is the European Court of Justice, with its vast new remit over the charter of fundamental rights, that is making it harder month by month for the security services to get on with their job – whether it be expelling murderers or monitoring terrorist suspects. It is the border-free Europe, obviously, that makes it so much easier for our enemies to move around.’ Euroseptics further reason that post Brexit UK would have the ability to sign genuine FTAs with whichever nation(s) it wishes. There can also be tremendous advantages in a U.S.-U.K. free trade area. UK will reassert its commitment to international organisations like NATO and continue cooperation with the European nations in areas of common geopolitical interests.

The Britons are evenly divided on this serious issue. If Brexit happens, whether the UK would be more prosperous is a million dollar question which only time can answer.

Darwinism fails to annihilate Christianity: Evangelicalism resuscitates and Pentecostalism disseminates this ubiquitous faith: History of Christianity (Part 5 of 5)

And came down to Capernaum, a city of Galilee,
and taught them on the sabbath days.
And they were astonished at his doctrine:
for his word was with power.

And in the synagogue there was a man,
which had a spirit of an unclean devil,
and cried out with a loud voice,

Saying, Let us alone;
what have we to do with thee, thou Jesus of Nazareth?
art thou come to destroy us?
I know thee who thou art; the Holy One of God.

And Jesus rebuked him, saying,
Hold thy peace, and come out of him.
And when the devil had thrown him in the midst,
he came out of him, and hurt him not.

And they were all amazed, and spake among themselves,
saying, What a word is this! for with authority
and power he commandeth the unclean spirits, and they come out.

And the fame of him went out
into every place of the country round about.
Luke 4: 31-37 (King James Version)

The gradual decay in the Catholic Church’s values continued unabatedly, finally culminating in the ‘Reformation’. John Wycliffe was such an early proponent. But it was Martin Luther (1483-1546), an intellectual monk of the Order of Augustinian Hermits, who is known as the Father of the Protestant Reformation. He was much pained to see the corruption of the Western Church. He preferred the Augustine’s theology. But differences with the Western Church and specially on the ‘indulgences issue’ finally led to his dissociation with the Church. His famous and provocative ‘Ninety-Five Theses’ challenged the Western Church which led to the Church excommunicating him by promulgating a papal bull. Another major reformer was John Calvin (1509-1564), a French theologian who started a system of Christian theology known as Calvinism. The Lutherans and the Calvinists thus brought about the much needed Reformation.

All of this also resulted in the Catholic Church gradually introducing various changes and ushering reforms. Council of Trent, the most important ecumenical council, was convoked by Pope Paul III in 1545. Various decrees were passed. The Council issued condemnations of ‘heresies committed by Protestantism’ and also statements and clarifications of the Church’s doctrine and teachings were issued. The Church’s liturgy and practices were also discussed in great detail.

A more interesting event transpired in England. King Henry VIII was not able to procure an annulment of his marriage with Catherine of Aragon. His plans of marrying Anne Boleyn was thus getting delayed. The Pope was not granting him divorce primarily because Catherine of Aragon was the aunt of the Holy Roman Empire. Out of frustration, the king founded the Anglican Church. The Archbishop of Canterburry then declared the first marriage annulled. Thomas Cranmer, the Archbishop of Canterburry, through his ‘Book of Common Prayer’ introduced Protestant form of worship in the ‘Catholic Church in England’. But Queen Mary I, a Roman Catholic, executed him. Later Queen Elizabeth I (1533-1603) restored the Anglican Church and made it a Protestant establishment.

Europe was in the midst of various battles between the warring kingdoms. These were as much religious as political. French wars of succession, German wars as well as the Thirty Years War (17th Century) were fought with religious overtures too. But subsequently with the gradual advancement and development of natural and physical sciences, the Church started losing much of its significance. But Darwinism changed everything in the Nineteenth Century. The ‘Origin of Species’ published in 1859 and the ‘Descent of Man’ in 1871 completely shook the roots of Christianity. Darwin’s convincing ‘Theory of Natural Selection’ completely bypassed God in the evolution of Human race. Scholars like Karl Marx (1818-83) and Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900) also contributed immensely to anti-God proposition.

Surprisingly, revival of this faith came in the form of a movement known as ‘Evangelicalism’. It’s a kind of piety with no specific denomination. Last Century’s ‘Pentecostalism’ has also hugely added to the growing number of Christian believers. The long dissociation between Western Church and the Eastern Orthodox which had continued from excommunication of 1054 was partially revoked in 1964 when Pope Paul VI met Athenagoras I, the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople. Though communion could not be reestablished, at least the excommunication of 1054 was rescinded.  Yesterday’s historic meeting of the Russian patriarch (an important part of Orthodoxy) and Pope and their joint plea for persecuted Christians has led to a renewed chance of communion.

Carolingian Renaissance blitzkrieg recalcitrant Islam; Papacy puissance in scrimmage with Byzantine sovereignty: History of Christianity (Part 4 of 5)

How doth the city sit solitary,
that was full of people!
how is she become as a widow!
she that was great among the nations,
and princess among the provinces,
how has she become tributary!

She weepeth sore in the night,
and her tears are on her cheeks:
among all her lovers she hath none to comfort her:
all her friends have dealt treacherously with her,
they have become her enemies.

Book of Lamentations 1: 1-2 (King James Version)

Christianity was totally unprepared to face the sudden rise of a new faith, Islam. After converting the indigenous Arabic polytheists, within few years of Islam’s birth, the whole of Arabian Peninsula was into its fold. The established Caliphate quickly started tremendous military expansion. Within few years of passing away of Muhammad (570-632), the Caliphate had reached as far as Tripoli in the West and Kabul in the East. Then in the 7th century, under the Ummayad dynasty, the Islamic Empire engulfed even the North of Africa. Abbassid dynasty in the 8th Century further extended the Islamic territories. Baghdad, the capital of the Caliphate, became a place of art and learning.

The serious challenge of Islam to the Christian West was valiantly faced by the Carolingian Empire. A zealous Christian, Charlemagne (742-814) waged many wars against the pagans. His rising power and strong Christian beliefs led the papacy to crown him as the emperor in 800 A.D. Such an act, in defiance of the Augustus in Constantinople, was an act of great significance. This led to the formal end of Byzantine throne’s authority over all Catholic population.

The Western and Eastern Christendom were drifting apart rapidly in the 9th Century. But this did not put a halt in the revival of Arts and learning in the Byzantine world. The western world was witnessing the ‘Carolingian Renaissance’. The continuing fight between the sees of Rome and Constantinople reached its peak in the 9th Century with both sides convoking ecumenical synods and deposing rival members. The formal division of the ancient Catholic Church into Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholic Churches was in the year 1054 A.D. This ‘Great Schism’ broke the communion between the sees of Constantinople and Rome. Later the Latin Church in the 11th Century reformed many of its questionable practices.

The rising force of the Seljuk Turks became a gigantic problem to the Byzantine Empire. With no hope remaining of being able to survive their onslaught, the Emperor Constantine IX Monomachus was forced to seek help from the Latin Church. But such asking of assistance from Western Church by the Byzantine Empire was not kindly taken by the Eastern Church which further fuelled a renewed struggle between the Churches.

At the Council of Clermont, in 1095 A.D., Pope Urban II called for the First Crusade. It was mainly for protecting the Eastern Christians from the invading Turks. The crusader armies recovered Nicaea and other places but also massacred numerous people. Subsequently the Second Crusade was undertaken in 1145 A.D., but this time the Seljuq Turks routed them. Saladin led the Muslim opposition to the European Crusaders. His army defeated the Crusaders at the decisive Battle of Hattin in 1187, and thereafter wrested control of Palestine from the Crusaders. The fall of Jerusalem led the Pope to call for the Third Crusade.  The Holy Roman Emperor and the Kings of France and England jointly organised the forces. But they were unsuccessful in taking back the Holy Land and could only negotiate a treaty with Saladin.

Gradually during the 12th Century, the Eastern Christians started resisting the growing presence and influence of the Western Christians in their land. This situation aggravated continuously finally culminating in the Fourth Crusade. This Crusade was called by Pope Innocent III in 1198. And it involved primarily with the Byzantine Empire. In early 13th Century, the Crusader Army attacked and sacked the City of Constantinople.  Subsequent Crusades were not serious military campaigns and thus came the end of the age of Crusades. The Western Christian’s hope of ruling the Holy Land thus remained unfulfilled

World Politics, Economy and Law through my eyes …