I found this Clark Forum to be exceptionally informative on the events happening in Gaza. As a student of international relations I found it very clarifying of how international institutions are thinking about the topic, as well as how they are legally involved. There was a lot in the talk that stood out to me as relevant to our course. 

The first of such points was the call for international superpowers to act more responsibly in their actions. This links closely to a theory in IR called responsibility to protect, in which states are considered not just responsible for their citizens wellbeing, but also a responsibility in protecting the wellbeing of those outside of their state who are unable to protect themselves. The United Nations doctrine of erga nomes standing closely aligns with this. The Latin translates to standing for all, and it argues that states have a responsibility to the international community, whether or not they are effected. Professor Sadat talked about how currently in international institutions such as the United Nations, states and superpowers are considering their own interest before upholding the values and treaties that the organization put into place.

International institutions play a larger role in this conflict than I thought, and I appreciate that Professor Sadat provided historical examples of how the UN has responded to conflicts like this, as well as their ongoing participation in this conflict. One topic I knew more about going into this was the complicated role the veto in the security council plays in this.

It is in the veto that I see Professor Sadat’s criticism of the major powers as most important. The superpowers are limiting the ability of international organizations such as the UN to operate effectively. One key part of international institutions efficiency is participation and collaboration. One quote that effectively demonstrates this notion that “the point of international law is that the rules apply to everyone all the time.” If certain states are barred from entry to the United Nations, or certain are not held accountable for their actions then the purpose of the UN as an institution that protects all citizens is not met. 

One reason collaboration is failing is because, according to Professor Sadat rhetoric between the security council members has already degraded by other international conflicts such as the war in Ukraine.  

One thing that surprised me was learning about the use of artificial intelligence in military decision making. This point raised for me a lot of questions legally about who is held responsible if only individuals can be prosecuted. Additionally, how would international law manage artificial intelligence in considering law and war. 

One thing that I didn’t know before going into this presentation was that countries can’t be prosecuted for crimes, just individuals. However, countries can be held responsible. This made me think about our discussion of sanctions and how often sanctions do a lot more harm, and don’t affect regimes that much. Are sanctions a way of punishing countries, or limiting their state capacity? Additionally, it made me consider how powerful actors operate within their states.

This conversation then led to discussion on the reality effectiveness of an International Justice Court ruling. As I understand it, willingness to participate is also crucial to its effectiveness. 

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