The Illegality of NATO: Violation of the UN Charter and the Nuremberg Principles
February 27, 2023
In recent years, participation in NATO has made European countries accomplices in US efforts to achieve global hegemony by means of military force, in violation of international law, and especially in violation of the UN Charter, the Nuremberg Principles.
Former UN Assistant Secretary-General Hans Christof von Sponeck – also a TFF Associate – used the following words to express his opinion that NATO now violates the UN Charter and international law: “In the 1949 North Atlantic Treaty, the Charter of the United Nations was declared to be NATO’s legally binding framework.”
However, the United Nations’ monopoly of the use of force, especially as specified in Article 51 of the Charter, was no longer accepted according to the 1999 NATO doctrine. NATO’s territorial scope, until then limited to the Euro-Atlantic region, was expanded by its members to include the whole world.”
Article 2 of the UN Charter requires 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.”
This requirement is somewhat qualified by Article 51, which says that “Nothing in the present Charter shall impair the inherent right of individual or collective self-defense if an armed attack occurs against a Member of the United Nations, until the Security Council has taken measures necessary to maintain international peace and security.”
Thus, in general, war is illegal under the UN Charter. Self-defense against an armed attack is permitted, but only for a limited time until the Security Council has had time to act.
The United Nations Charter does not permit the threat or use of force in preemptive wars, or to produce regime changes, or for so-called “democratization”, or for the domination of regions that are rich in oil. NATO must not be a party to the threat or use of force for such illegal purposes.
In 1946, the United Nations General Assembly unanimously affirmed “the principles of international law recognized by the Charter of the Nuremberg Tribunal and the judgment of the Tribunal”.
The General Assembly also established an International Law Commission to formalize the Nuremberg Principles. The result was a list that included Principles VI and VII, which are particularly important in the context of the illegality of NATO:
Principle VI: The crimes hereinafter set out are punishable as crimes under international law:
Crimes against peace: (i) Planning, preparation, initiation or waging of a war of aggression or a war in violation of international treaties, agreements or assurances; (ii) Participation in a common plan or conspiracy for accomplishment of any of the acts mentioned under (i).
- War crimes: Violations of the laws and customs of war which include, but are not limited to, murder, ill treatment of prisoners of war or persons on the seas, killing of hostages, plunder of public or private property, wanton destructions of cities, towns or villages, or devastation not justified by military necessity
- Crimes against humanity: Atrocities and offenses, including but not limited to murder, extermination, deportation, imprisonment, torture, rape or other inhumane acts committed against any civilian population, or persecutions on political, racial or religious grounds, whether or not in violation of the laws of the country where perpetrated
Principle VII: Complicity in the commission of a crime against the peace, a war crime or a crime against humanity as set forth in Principle VI as a crime against international law.
Robert H. Jackson, who was the chief United States prosecutor at the Nuremberg trials, said that:
“To initiate a war of aggression is therefore not only an international crime, it is the supreme international crime, differing from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole.”
Violation of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT)
At present, NATO’s nuclear weapons policies violate both the spirit and the text of the NPT in several respects: Today there are an estimated 200 US nuclear weapons still in Europe. The air forces of the nations in which they are based are regularly trained to deliver the US weapons.
This “nuclear sharing,” as it is called, violates Articles I and II of the NPT, which forbid the transfer of nuclear weapons to non-nuclear-weapon states. It has been argued that the NPT would no longer be in force if a crisis arose, but there is nothing in the NPT saying that the treaty would not hold under all circumstances.
Article VI of the NPT requires states possessing nuclear weapon to get rid of them within a reasonable period of time. This article is violated by fact that NATO policy is guided by a Strategic Concept, which visualizes the continued use of nuclear weapons in the foreseeable future.
The principle of no-first-use of nuclear weapons has been an extremely important safeguard over the years, but it is violated by present NATO policy, which permits the first-use of nuclear weapons in a wide variety of circumstances.
The Ukraine War and Nuclear Weapons
After his illegal and brutal invasion of Ukraine, Vladimir Putin put Russia’s nuclear forces on high alert, thus threatening the world with an all-destroying nuclear war. The threat brought back memories of the Cuban Missile Crisis, when the world was balanced on the edge of a suicidal and genocidal nuclear war. We are once again reminded of the urgent need for the world to rid itself of nuclear weapons.
War was always madness, always immoral, always the cause of unspeakable suffering, economic waste and widespread destruction, and always a source of poverty, hate, barbarism and endless cycles of revenge and counter-revenge. It has always been a crime for soldiers to kill people, just as it is a crime for murderers in civil society to kill people. No flag has ever been wide enough to cover up the atrocities of war.
But today, the development of all-destroying thermonuclear weapons has put war completely beyond the bounds of sanity and elementary humanity.
Today, the existing nuclear weapons have half a million times the power of the bombs that devastated Hiroshima and Nagasaki. A thermonuclear war would destroy human civilization, together with most of the plants and animals with which we share the gift of life.
Research has shown that fire-storms produced by a nuclear war would send vast quantities of smoke into the atmosphere, blocking sunlight, and blocking the hydrological cycle. The climate would become very cold for a period of about ten years. Human agriculture would fail. Plants and animals would also be killed by the nuclear winter.
Can we not rid ourselves of both nuclear weapons and the institution of war itself?
We must act quickly and resolutely before our beautiful world is reduced to radioactive ashes, together with everything that we love.
The Invasion of Ukraine Cannot Be Called Unprovoked
To understand how Russians feel about having western weapons and troops poured into a position on their nation’s borders, we should imagine how the United States would react if large numbers of Russian weapons and troops were stationed in Mexico or Canada.
In 1991, after the breakup of the Soviet Union, George H.W. Bush and his Secretary of State, James Baker, promised Mikhail Gorbachev that if he agreed to the unification of Germany, NATO would not expand eastward, toward Russia, “not one inch”.
The promise was broken almost immediately by Bill Clinton, who helped to bring the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland into NATO. Russians saw this not only as a betrayal, but also as an act of aggression.
The Monroe Doctrine
There is no document more fundamental to the foreign policy of the United States than the Monroe Doctrine. It states that interference in the Western Hemisphere by European powers would be interpreted as an attack on the United States, and would be opposed by the United States.
The Monroe Doctrine has been used to justify U.S. interventions in Central America and in the Caribbean. Understandably, the United States wishes to have its backyard secure. Why should Russia not have the same wish?
The U.S. Should Stop Threatening Russia
Russia’s fears are legitimate and based on historical suffering, the U.S and its allies should stop threatening Russia. Nuclear missiles should be removed from positions near the Russian border, and the eastward expansion of NATO should be halted
A Diplomatic Solution to the Conflict Is the Only Way to End It
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has urged Russia and Ukraine to negotiate an immediate cease-fire and a mutually agreeable settlement to end the conflict.
However, this rational solution is opposed by politicians in the United States and elsewhere, who are influenced by money from giant arms corporations. Thus, more and more heavy weapons are sent to Ukraine, pouring oil onto the flames, and enriching the merchants of death. This must stop, and a diplomatic solution must be found under Secretary General Guterres’ wise leadership.
Jens Stoltenberg Urges Production of More and More Munitions
NATO’s Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg recently urged member states to greatly increase their production of modern weapons and munitions, both for their own use, and to increase the armaments sent to Ukraine. Those of us who are on the side of peace are dismayed by this escalation of the conflict. It is the vast profits made by the armaments industry that perpetuate the institution of war.
About John Scales Avery
Read about Avery’s amazing life and work for peace here. In addition, he is a prolific writer, so we recommend that you visit – and browse extensively – his rich homepage here.
Finally, we at TFF are honoured to have John as a TFF Associate and friend over decades.