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International law regulates relationships between governments. Whenever governments begin acting outside the bounds of their respective territories, that is, internationally; whenever they start to affect interests of other governments, disputes, conflicts and wars emerge. The history of mankind is the history of wars and blood. On the average, we start a war once in five years. And so, we had to ask ourselves how to control these things. Here comes international law. It lays down the rules of conduct on the international scene for 200 countries that exist and will be existing. Morals can't be used for the same purpose, since opinions often differ nationwide, let alone the international scene, where completely different cultures and confessions get to act. Some people believe, that international law is something lumps do, presidents do. Mere mortals have nothing to do with it. Is that really so? A lot of people here, in the audience, deal with space hardware and with internet. I was lucky to be involved with creation of space law. It determines governments' behavior in space, based on the 1967 agreement and a number of other documents. Let's take the geostationary orbit for example. All of you probably know that its height is about 22 thousand miles, and that it's very important for satellites and telecommunication. And so, in 1974, a number of equatorial countries—Ecuador, Colombia, Indonesia—claimed, that since the orbit went above their territory, they had the right to property. All the other countries were supposed to ask their permission to place satellites there, and, of course, pay the rent. You can imagine the cost of these systems, were these countries to succeed, as well as the impact on all of us here. Since I'm such a space law aficionado, here's another example: satellites not only fly above countries, they also violate the air space of these countries, which is a part of their territory. You can't invade a country without asking permission first, can you? Could thousands of satellites revolve around Earth, at different times, passing over territories of other countries? I think not. This particular agreement and others like it have set up the principles of governmental activity in space, freedom in space. There's a question, however: where does it start? Where is the bottom of the air space? Where the sovereignty ends? And so, a decision was taken, yet again, based on the principles of international law. The space starts at about 68 miles above Earth — everything above that imaginary line is free space. These examples demonstrate that everyone on Earth is involved in these things, because satellites help us to explore Earth and so on, and so forth — you know what I'm talking about. So international law is useful, after all. In the middle of the last century, after painful cataclysms, revolutions, world wars, the UN Charter was introduced, and became, so to say, the Bible of the international law. For the first time in history, it war banned as means of resolving conflicts. During three thousand years wars had been legal, and then became prohibited. It's a brilliant development that helps to support peace. The interval between the first and the second world wars amounted to 20 years. Right now all of us have been living during the last 60 years, enjoying peace, more or less. This trend — enforcement of this provision, extending rights of the Security Council, that used to deal with international wars, now it deals with internal wars and mass human rights abuse. If there's a wholesale slaughter, Security Council will see to the protection of human rights, that saves tens of millions of lives. I can continue in this fashion, to further demonstrate the importance of the international law. Lately we heard the Japanese prime-minister resound Japanese claims for Kuril islands. According to international law, Japan dropped these claims long ago. We need to use international law, and not the historical events Japan refers to. A new bill is being considered at the moment—with respect to protecting Russian citizens abroad, using armed forces, especially in cases of genocide, mass destruction and so on. There's a question, however: what does international law have to say about that? I could keep providing you with examples that demonstrate the importance of the international law, but time is slipping away. I would like to conclude my talk with a couple of points. International law has to develop and will be developing. It is something everyone should be concerned with. This process also depends on whether people understand it, and understand their responsibility. Civil society. I could give you a handful of examples. Tony Blair had forced to resign by public opinion, because of starting the war in Iraq, clearly, a violation of international law. I'll try to agitate you for the fight in support of international law. I mean the web. It has its advantages, though it has certain disadvantages as well. One can use it for terrorism, for financial crimes, and so on, and so forth. Right now some governments try to control the web by means of national law. It can't be done. National law isn't supposed to deal with such kinds of issues. If some kind of activity relates to many countries, steps outside many boundaries, it should be regulated with international law. Oi! Unfortunate? You will all get hurt. I mean, not only you, all of us will get hurt. If things go fortunate, however, it will be very effective, we will have freedom of activity. You should use the existing experience. Normally these things are developed at the UN. For example, the European Human Rights Convention has been developed under the great influence from society. By the way, about human rights. Some time ago human rights were considered an internal issue; governments, by means of law, defined the regime. After this convention had been brought to existence, human rights became an international issue, hence legitimatizing demands from one government to another regarding maintenance of these laws. It's not intervention. Moreover, we have been developing a system of control mechanisms. A number of conventions specify that members should render reports on how they meet their obligations. International law has a positive impact on development of a country, on its internal laws, democratization. Let me take a couple of steps back now. World public was very active in terms of creation the laws regarding human rights. We could see the same while discussing environmental issues. I strongly believe, that web community is able to feel the regulations we need at the moment to regulate relations among governments in terms of web. Inside a country, a government creates laws, but under pressure. Our president is very interested towards the web, try to talk to him, try to talk to the UN, try to lobby your interests. This is how international law is shaped—a new, fundamental way, to solve problems ahead of us. Thank you very kindly.

Video Details

Duration: 9 minutes and 51 seconds
Country: Russia
Language: Russian
Genre: None
Views: 74
Posted by: tedxvideo on Nov 7, 2009

TEDxPerm Oleg Khlestov 11-09-2009
Олег Хлестов «Международное право: ключевой фактор будущего»
// Oleg Hlestov "International law: the key factor of the future"

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