Letter: Conflict in Kashmir

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The Independent Culture
Sir: In your leader, "The UN may be the only hope for peace in Kashmir" (29 May), you argue that it is right for powerful states such as the US and the UK to undertake enforcement operations without Security Council authorisation as long as their cause is just. To international humanitarian organisations like Save the Children, this represents a dangerous position.

If the UK and the US are prepared to go to the UN when they are assured of its support (as you say they should do in Kashmir), but ignore it when they risk incurring a veto (as you say they were right to do in Kosovo), then both their own moral authority and that of the UN itself will be undermined - perhaps fatally.

The UN is more than a political body; it is also the custodian of human rights. We cannot have it both ways: either we are ready to accept the rules laid out in the UN Charter, or we might as well forget altogether the idea of an "international community" that takes action to protect human rights in accordance with a universally endorsed set of principles.

If the Chinese or the Russians pursued a doctrine of "pragmatic and piecemeal intervention" outside the framework of international law, there would be protests - justified protests - in Washington and London. In the long term, double standards will make it impossible to secure human rights and will undermine international peace and security.


Director General

Save the Children Fund

London SE5