IRDC.IR: The fortieth anniversary of the Iranian Revolution is nearly upon us. From the point of view of the 1946 Charter of the United Nations, we can look at the legal foundations of this country reborn in 1979 after suffering for twenty-five years following the 1953 counter-revolution.
The 1946 Charter of the United Nations established new rules based on the principle of the sovereign equality of nations and of non-intervention in the internal affairs of a country. Article 2 of the Charter requires that countries respect the principle of the sovereign equality of all its Members and that all Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the Purposes of the United Nations.
In simple terms, powerful countries cannot intervene directly or indirectly by proxies to effect regime change or policy change in weaker countries since it is inconsistent with the purposes of the United Nations. This framework has certainly not work fully but thankfully, it remains the basis of international law.
After 1946, the old imperial world continued as before and many peoples of the world suffered from imperial intervention. Iranians have first-hand information about the military coup organized by Kermit Roosevelt and the CIA on 19 August 1953 against the legitimate Mossadegh government ending of Iran’s long struggle for democracy and national sovereignty. The many setbacks, regime change operations and wars operated by the United States and its allies include, to mention a few, Vietnam, Indonesia, Chile, Korea, the Bay of Pigs in Cuba, Haiti and the Dominican Republic.
On the other hand, many peoples were inspired by the principles of the United Nations. The period following the Second World War was marked by the decolonization of Africa, India and much of the world. The principles of international law are entirely valid but will only be respected if the peoples fight for their rights.
The terrible reverse in Iran did not end the Iranian people’s quest for liberty. The successful 1979 Revolution against the Shah was a courageous example to the people of the world and a setback for the USA. The Iranian people overthrew the western dominator in 1979 and embarked on the creation of sovereign country, a country that does not bully anyone and does not allow itself to be bullied. Iran has never had colonies or neo-colonies subjects and has never imposed sanctions on other countries. I understand it has no intention to do so.
The 1979 Iranian revolution is a crystal clear example of the application of the principles set out in the United Nations Charter which inspired many of us in the West. The new Iranian leadership knew very well that the United States was its enemy whence the Iranian hostage crisis and eventually US Sanctions on Iran happened—which Iran has resisted in a dignified manner. We observed that horrible war on Iran by Iraq inspired by the United States of America. Recent history has seen the illegal imposition of new sanctions on Iran following the 2015 Iran nuclear deal (JCPOA).
I have seen the speech of Ayatollah Khamenei on 27 December 2017 who made a long presentation to the Coordination Council of Islamic propagation. In it, he stated:
The system of domination means dividing the world into two groups of countries and nations: the first group is the dominator and the second is the dominated. We have destroyed this wrong system and wrong formula in the world. We have shown that a nation can exist which is neither a dominator nor dominated. This nation neither wants to bully others nor does it want to accept others' bullying. The people of Iran have shown this in practice. Well, they write such things in books. Thinkers and political analysts say such things in books, but how can books and writings be compared with reality? It was the Revolution which created this reality. The Islamic Revolution changed structures in the world. :
This statement by Ayatollah Khamenei is the practical application of the principles of the United Nations and has been won by struggle and vigilance of the Iranian people who have learnt how to build a country and how to foil attempts at counter-revolution.
This is an example of how international law is applied in reality. From 1979 to 1981, the strength of the people, prevented a successful direct American intervention. It will be very difficult, almost impossible to overthrow the Iranian Revolution.
Sometimes, people say that international law is useless, that it has no force. I do not agree. It is a necessary foundation for international relations. National sovereignty will be preserved if, and only if, there is a political and/or military will to enforce this sovereignty. Once established, it is hard to set aside and subject a country to foreign domination.
International law is omnipresent in the modern world. I recall a private speech made by former US Secretary of State, John Kerry, in 2015. It was recorded secretly when he spoke to Syrian opposition groups in Europe. Asked why the US did not intervene directly in Syria, Kerry complained that they could not do so since the Russians were there on the invitation of the Syrian Government and international law prevented their intervention.
The inspiring speech made by Ayatollah Khameini on 27 December impressed me in many ways. I am not Iranian and am not a Muslim. His approach is inspiring. He spoke to the people about how to be a real revolutionary and not just a lifestyle revolutionary. He explains how war by the enemy is much more than military war. That the enemies attempt to divide the country by many means and that Iranians must be self-reliant to preserve Iranian independence and thereby force the respect for international law. With this type of approach, the coordinated attempts by the CIA to destabilize Iran are bound to fail. There is nothing like truth to rally a people.
There are examples in recent history of successful leaders who have inspired their people and succeeded in the near impossible efforts to defeat or reverse unjust situations imposed by the western dominator. Fidel Castro led his country for almost 50 years in resisting the United States blockade. He retired in 2008 as a hero. One of his most important characteristics was his ability to speak to the people honestly and gain their respect. Hugo Chavez, the late President of Venezuela, also had the gift of speaking frankly to his people confronted by the opposition by the United States. We remember how the people rallied in his support in April 2002 with the attempted military coup. Other modern leaders such as Vladimir Putin and Nelson Mandela have rallied their people to surmount almost impossible difficulties. Both are characterized by their capacity to speak to the people who participate in the resistance movement and succeed in moving ahead in the face of massive challenges imposed by the West led by the United States of America.
In the west, our so-called leaders rarely speak honestly to the people. It is mostly ideological double talk detached from reality. Ironically, when Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders actually spoke some half-truths to the people in the 2016 campaigns, they galvanized American politics and created some hope! Hillary Clinton spoke no truth whatsoever. The election results, however, and the subsequent US policies were disastrous, as we all know.
No one can take Donald Trump seriously when he supports protesters in Iran knowing his government has provoked the organized violence. Chrystia Freeland, Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs, known for the pro-Nazi links of her grandfather and her admiration of him, also made a statement about human rights in Iran on 3 January 2018. A so-called progressive in Quebec politics, Amir Khadir, also spoke out 2 January against the Iranian Government. There is no good coming from North American politicians.
I have not yet visited Iran but as an observer of International relations and as an attorney working in international law, I am very optimistic about the future of Iran. The West has no lessons to give to Iran on the issue of democracy and economics and has no right to impose regime change in violation of the principles of the United Nations. The West will not succeed.
*John Philpot is a Canadian lawyer working in international criminal law. www.johnphilpot.com