Eyes wide shut
“Where is the conscience of the international community? Who is representing it?” These rebellious questions were posed by Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu when he gave a speech April 12 during the second Istanbul Conference on Mediation organized under the auspices of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Davutoğlu admitted that Turkey’s mediation efforts and the policies of the international community in general have been unsuccessful in Syria to stop the carnage. He also complained that no one has been able to mobilize the United Nations Security Council, which failed to adopt even a single resolution on Syria. Davutoğlu emphasized the need for a new system for the international order based on a new set of values, the principal ones being justice and order. He also underlined the need for global actors to work together on a regional vision and for more regional involvement.
The need for the restructuring of the nation states was another item in his speech. Accordingly, the technological transformation destroyed the old binding elements between the state and the people. There remains only the psychological link that binds the state and the citizen nowadays. States that try to keep the Cold War structures would suffer. To illustrate his point, he said that when Hosni Mubarak, the former Egyptian president, came to power, we all used typewriters. He was still around when our lives were computerized, then overtaken by the Internet and when mobile phones became ubiquitous. He even rode the Facebook era. However he couldn’t survive through Twitter. In the age of Twitter, entities that do not adapt themselves to the new context would be kicked out of the game.
This very same context also constitutes the biggest dilemma we ever faced. Today we are mutually more dependent than ever before. However we have completely lost the sense of being part of an international community. It is this essential void that causes the current tragic lethargy of international law and institutions. And in a globalizing world this absence is a fatal defect as we witness today in Syria. The international community in its entirety is completely incapable of responding to new challenges and is therefore responsible for the current tragedy in Syria. The United Nations, which embodies the international community, has been basically sitting on the fence since the beginning of the crisis. It was revealed once again that the U.N. is hopelessly deadlocked due to the abuse of the permanent members’ veto power in the Security Council. A structural change in international institutions has never been more urgent.
The international community is supposed to be more than the sum of its parts, the mere collection of states. However it seems that nothing has remained of the international community at all. Those with their eyes wide open do not count for much while the whole international community keeps its eyes wide shut. It remains to be seen if the parts will ever be able to build up a sum.