Since the aftermath of the cold war, many politicians and scholars have criticize US unilateralism in international relations, which means taking decisions and performing them without considering the US allies and the rest of the world. But recently in Trump presidential term, this approach seems to be amplified. This has consequences for the US, the UN and the world, which some will be discussed below.
Today, diplomacy and multilateralism are important mechanisms towards a more democratized international order. Philosophically unilateralism is against diplomacy and multilateralism. US unilateralism undermines diplomacy and international law as well as neglecting the UN, its agencies and other international organisations and mechanisms as the fruits of multilateralism. That’s why following Trump’s denial of the deal, The European Union’s foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini said JCPOA was a firm decision and no one country could break the deal concluded by Britain, France, Germany, Russia, China and the European Union.
For Example, US unilateral withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal (JCPOA) was ignoring more than one decade of continuous multilateral negotiations and applying peaceful solutions to international disputes. Also, re-imposing unilateral sanctions against Iran after the UNSC 2231 (20 July 2015) lifting UN sanctions was an evident violation of a credible global resolution and rejection of international enforcement laws.
As well, The US unilateral sanctions against Iran are clear violation of international human rights, especially the right to development. Iran sanctions are “Unjust and Harmful”. Says Idriss Jazairy, United Nations Special Rapporteur on the negative impact of the unilateral coercive measures in UN office in Geneva (22 August 2018).
He adds: “The re-imposition of sanctions against Iran after the unilateral withdrawal of the United States from the Iran nuclear deal, which had been unanimously adopted by the Security Council with the support of the US itself, lays bare the illegitimacy of this action. This illegitimacy was confirmed by the opposition of all other permanent members of the Security Council and indeed of all international partners. The UN Charter calls for sanctions to be applied only by the UN Security Council precisely to ensure such wanton attacks on nations are avoided.”
Also, such kind of decision-making on issues related to international peace and security and enforcing them unilaterally and out of the United Nations system is undermining this organization and the multilateral culture inherent in it. This may also be interpreted as “US bullying”, which means to force the other members of The United Nations Security Council just approve the issue. So the US unilateralist approach is resulting in misusing international organisations specially the UN as a tool for reaching the aims of the US foreign policy.
But Iran is not alone in facing US unilateral sanctions. “The diplomatic relations between Pakistan and the United States has a long history, but this should be said that sanctions were imposed against our country at a time when the government of the country was doing the most with allies.” said Pakistan Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs, Shah Mehmood Qureshi in a trip to Multan City (22 Aug. 2018), and then he addressed to the distrust in Pakistan-US relations.
So, one of the main consequences of the United States’ unilateral approach is to create a sense of distrust towards this country. This is one of the main reasons why, after the US withdrawal from JCPOA, the Iranian authorities said they no longer trust Americans and do not know if the next government will not pull out of a deal again if they sit back and negotiate again.
Another important example of new US unilateralism is the United States withdrawal from 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change mitigation which is a historic environmental treaty signed by 195 Parties and ratified by 146 countries plus the European Union. The Secretariat of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) formally announced its regret for this unilateralist act by the United States on 01 JUN, 2017.
On the other hand, The USA Unilateralist approach is often associated with isolationism for itself. US unilateralism also undermines America’s position in international order and will result in the lack of confidence that the United States wants and can play a role as a mediator in resolving international crises. The Global Times, a Chinese newspaper, wrote that America’s reputation as a major power would be undermined in the eyes of the world if it reneged on a deal simply because of a transition in government (newyorker. Retrieved 27 October 2017).
Contributed by Hamaneh Karimikia.
Published in Melange Intl. Magazine September 2018.