The role of developing countries

Hussein Hassouna
Tuesday 23 Apr 2024

Developing countries remain actively involved in the formation of rules that reflect their interests and concerns, writes Hussein Hassouna


On the occasion of the seventieth anniversary of the promulgation of the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence by China in 1954, we must recall that these principles have been adopted by the overwhelming majority of the developing countries in seeking a fairer international political and economic order. They have played a significant role in promoting peace and cooperation worldwide.

The developing countries have further played a leading role in the progressive development of international law, and it is of paramount importance that they remain actively involved in the formation of rules of international law that reflect their vital interests and legitimate concerns. Their approach to international law is founded upon their strong support for the UN Charter, the principles of the sovereignty and equality of states, and non-aggression and non-intervention.

The developing countries support the respect for and the implementation of all human rights, and while recognising the basic civil and political rights of individuals, they also emphasise the importance of social and economic rights. They further consider that the UN approach to human rights should be guided by the principles of universality, impartiality, objectivity and non-selectivity within a context of dialogue and cooperation. 

They remain in favour of a strong, effective, and democratic UN that adopts objective and fair approaches to world problems, undertaken within a process of comprehensive reform in which all states, including UN Security Council members, give precedence to the rule of law over their national political interests. 

The developing countries are now facing new challenges as a result of emerging humanitarian crises including climate change, the spread of epidemics, the scarcity of water resources, the increase of drought, the threat of international terrorism, the devastation of aggression, the developing arms race, and various internal conflicts. Confronted with such crises, the developing countries ought to play a major role in providing solutions based on cooperation, legality, and justice.

There is no doubt that the most challenging humanitarian crisis is currently occurring in the Middle East, where Israel through its aggression against Gaza is violating international law and humanitarian international law on a daily basis. Israel’s crime of genocide against the civilian Palestinian population has been referred to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) and unanimously condemned by the developing nations. 

Let me conclude by stating that there can be no lasting peace in the Middle East without a settlement of the Palestinian problem based on the Palestinian right of self-determination and the creation of an independent Palestinian state living in peace and security with Israel.

* The writer is former assistant foreign minister and member of the UN International Law Commission.

* A version of this article appears in print in the 25 April, 2024 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly

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