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Expelling Russia from the UN Security Council — a How-to Guide

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Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, over the objections of Russia and a small gaggle of its allies, last week addressed the United Nations (UN) General Assembly and asked a long overdue question: why does Russia still hold a veto-wielding seat on the UN Security Council?  

Twice in the past, the United Nations has taken improvised steps to modify or restrict the participation of a member state when the organization judged such steps necessary. Similar improvision, adapted to the circumstances, can work again. 

A General Assembly vote in 1971 gave China’s UN seat to the government in Beijing, effectively removing Taiwan from the UN. Three years later, the General Assembly declared that South Africa’s government no longer had a right to address the Assembly or to cast votes there. In neither case did the Assembly follow any script provided by the UN Charter. It relied instead on creative use of the UN’s credentials procedures — the seemingly arcane procedures that determine who represents a given member state. 

What would justify putting Russia’s Security Council credentials to a vote? How would such a vote take place? And why would credentialling a representative from Ukraine be the right solution to fill the seat Russia vacates? 

Under UN Charter Article 23(1), the five veto-wielding members of the Security Council are “[t]he Republic of China, France, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, the United Kingdom . . . and the United States of America.” The USSR seat, since December 1991, has been filled by representatives of the Russian Federation. The text of Article 23(1) has not changed since that time.  

International lawyers often describe this state of affairs as having arisen automatically. However, it did not. A Russian representative filling the USSR seat resulted from an agreement. The agreement, both tacit and express, was part of the overall peaceful transition to a new political order in Russia and to Russia’s largely seamless inheritance of a vast array of Soviet rights, privileges, and assets. 

Other outcomes were possible. As of December 1991, although nobody pursued the possibility at the time: two UN Members besides Russia were also, in principle, suitable to fill the USSR Security Council seat. Ukraine and Belarus had both been Union Republics of the USSR — and both were also “original Members” of the UN, i.e., founding member states. No other UN member had or has those characteristics as negotiated at Yalta and accepted at San Francisco in 1945 — both had Union Republic status in the former USSR and original membership in the UN.  

But one of the two, Belarus, has since February 2022 aided and assisted Russia in aggression against Ukraine, thus disqualifying itself by any reasonable measure.  

That leaves Ukraine as the sole original member of the UN that has remained faithful to the organization’s principles and was also a constituent of the USSR. It, therefore, has a credible claim to the USSR’s seat. 

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How to make good on that claim? The first step would be for Ukraine to issue credentials to one of its diplomats to fill the USSR seat. No doubt Russia’s representative would insist that he, not a Ukrainian, keep the seat. Other Council Members, however, would be free to object to the Russian’s presence. An objection would give rise to a matter requiring settlement.  

Here, the Security Council’s seldom-noted credentials rules would come into play. Under Rule 17 of the Security Council’s Provisional Rules of Procedure:  

[a]ny representative on the Security Council, to whose credentials objection has been made within the Security Council, shall continue to sit with the same rights as other representatives until the Security Council has decided the matter (emphasis added).  

So Russia’s representative would “continue to sit” on the Council until a decision was made. Deciding the matter — i.e., deciding an objection to the credentials of a Security Council representative — falls under the rules on procedural matters. These are decided by a nine-member majority on the 15-member council. Under UN Charter Article 27(2), such matters cannot be vetoed. Russia would be powerless. 

Is there any justification for this? As it happens, there is. The Council would be asked to recall the agreement under which Russia initially filled the USSR seat, and by drawing attention to Russia’s subsequent violation of that agreement. In December 1991, Russia agreed to respect the UN Charter, including, specifically, the sovereignty and territorial integrity of its neighbors. Russia expressed the same intention in numerous other forums and instruments, including in the Alma Ata Protocols and Budapest Memorandum. In return, Russia obtained numerous significant benefits, ranging from the USSR’s strategic nuclear assets and the former Soviet space infrastructure, to the privilege of representing the USSR under Article 23(1) of the Security Council. 

This settlement of questions of state continuity and state succession in the 1990s, which was very much to Russia’s liking, took place through highly bespoke transactions, not through the automatic application of general international law. Of indispensable importance in the settlement was Russia’s pledge to accept as final the sovereign frontiers of its neighbors and never to use force or threat against them.  

Russia, through its aggression against Ukraine, has egregiously violated that pledge and, thus, its presence on the Security Council has lost its legal basis. The Council has the procedural tools to respond to Russia’s violation and to recognize Ukraine’s fealty to the UN Charter.  

If it wishes to affirm its own vitality and that of the UN as a whole, then the Council should use those tools without delay. 

Dr. Thomas D. Grant is a Fellow of the Lauterpacht Centre for International Law at the University of Cambridge and writes on geopolitics and international law. (See Aggression Against Ukraine: Territory, Responsibility, and International Law (2015) and International Law in the Post-Soviet Space, volumes I and II (2019)).

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satadru
3 days ago
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An argument for giving the UNSC seat to Ukraine as a successor state to the USSR, just like China's seat was given to the PRC and taken from Taiwan.
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The Raid- - - - - - For anyone who enjoyed my crow story “HOP!”...

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The Raid

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For anyone who enjoyed my crow story “HOP!” last October and would like a hardcopy, I have put it back in my store. There’s only a small box of them left, so get it while you can!

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satadru
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Politics hasn’t been this simple in centuries.

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I’ve ruminated before on the two main types of people who make up the MAGA movement. The first type are the born radicals, who hate the conventional American system and who have wanted to burn it all to the ground since long before you-know-who made his fateful elevator ride. But far greater in numbers are those who do not have any real convictions at all besides the need to be on the winning side. These are the senators and pundits who were very much opposed to Trump in 2016 and who now present themselves as his angriest defenders.

All major conservative sites have purged themselves of anyone not signed on with the new natcon consensus, or at least not willing to remain silent. Like Trump himself, they do not mind if you used to hold on to the old conservative values circa 2016, just as long as you’ve fully betrayed them. There was a curious exception over at hotair dot com though, the case of the guy calling himself “Allahpundit.” As his handle suggests, he started life as a politically incorrect bombthrower, hired by none other than Michelle Malkin, a woman who definitely qualifies for “true believer” status. But as his side went, in the words of the current president, “semi-fascist,” he refused to go along, and started aiming most of his bombs at his erstwhile allies. Unlike the vast majority of righty media people like him, though, he wasn’t given his walking papers in the 2017-2018 period, persisting all the way through the greater half of 2022 until he finally announced this week his employer has had enough of his obstreperous ways. How he persisted this long on a mainstream MAGA site is a mystery, but Allahpundit gives a hint when he says “It would scandalize you [Trumpers] to know how many of your heroes sound like you in public and like me in private.” As with the average Republican congressperson, Hotair’s mucky-mucks probably agree with AP privately but have resigned themselves to goosestepping in line publicly.

Less of a mystery was where Allahpundit would wind up next.

Just as there are two main flavors of Trumpers, there are two main flavors of NeverTrumpers; conveniently enough, there are two Substack blogs that define the latter. One is the Bulwark, for people who now believe that it was all a lie; that the conservatism of Buckley, Goldwater and Reagan was made of nothing but sawdust, serving as a shabby veneer for the McCarthyite beast that was there all along. Bulwarkers are now correctly called liberals, even if they’re always be more centrist than, say, Bernie Sanders. Then there is the Dispatch, for those who still believe in the Old Conservatism despite everything, and who now despise today’s New Right as much as they have always despised the Democrats. It’s here that Allahpundit landed.

My tiresome political rants about conservatives are not really about conservativism at all. I never even voted for a Democratic presidential candidate until 2016 (well, except once when my gf at the time made me; yes, I’m one of those guys). It’s ultimately about basic morality.

Every last writer at the Bulwark and the Dispatch, without exception, faced some mix of loss of job security, FoxNews guest slots, political consulting gigs, book offers, and other material concerns for not crawling over to the New Right along with the vast majority of other conservative pundits and politicians. So did many more who never landed anywhere at all, forced back to nonpolitical day jobs and/or personal Substacks.

Why? Why did they give up such enviable jobs in the right-of-center world? Just about every freshman member of the College Republicans dreams of landing at FoxNews or National Review or similar, after all. They knew how good — and lucky — they had it. Why did they choose to throw that all away?

Almost always, it was due to moral conscience.

When faced with a moral choice, the good choice is pretty much never the easy one. It is the bad choice that gives your worldly money and comfort and the good choice that takes it away. That’s kind of why moral choices are hard; it’s why the majority of conservatives failed it. Nobody lost their seat in Congress for being too submissive to the orange tyrant or for acquiescing to the kind of constituent who sends death threats to children’s hospitals and election officials.

None of this is a new observation. Here’s a column from clear back in 2016 also arguing that MAGA is a test of character. I’d add that this is why some lefties of a more malevolent disposition such as Glenn Greenwald and Mike Tracey have gone over to the New Right: they correctly see it has nothing to do with surface-level issues and everything to do with moral character. Greenwald was correct in concluding that he had far more in common with Tucker Carlson than he had with the staff of the Intercept, outward stances on the environment or what have you be damned.

On that note, liberals who act superior over this-or-that latest MAGA scandal should remind themselves that they have not faced the same stark crossroads in good versus evil. If some horrible authoritarian or communist trend seized the left; if some would-be dictator unleashed all of the left’s most horrible Gulag Archipelago instincts, their need to just hurt people without even a thought to progressivism’s positive promises; how many of them would bend the knee and take the easy way out? And how many moral consciences would instead force them to refuse — and immediately face real-world penalties as a result?

I suspect that if Trump had decided to take over the left as a new Huey Long instead, the number of liberals finding themselves at a mirror Bulwark or Dispatch, or finding themselves as a mirror Liz Cheney or Justin Amash, would also be uncomfortably miniscule.

Anyway, there is one other prominent righty media heretic: Kevin Williamson. This post serves as my prediction that the Dispatch will feel compelled to offer him a job by the end of the calendar year.

It’s not often that politics become a black-and-white moral choice. It hasn’t been in America since 1865; it certainly wasn’t a decade ago. But it is now. It has nothing to do with gun control or abortion or other specific issues. It’s a simple moral choice, one that sophisticates who dismiss moral choices as the childish fantasies of comic books and Khan Academy can’t wrap their minds around. Sometimes, though, not often but sometimes, it really does come down to two checkboxes, one for good and one for evil. And if even some asshole who’s chosen nom de plume exists just to trigger Muslims couldn’t check the ol’ evil box… what’s your excuse?



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satadru
9 days ago
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Fix it with eyes, Unicode edition

jwz
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Proposal to revise the glyph of CYRILLIC LETTER MULTIOCULAR O:

Doc Type: Working Group Document
Title: Proposal to revise the glyph of CYRILLIC LETTER MULTIOCULAR O
Source: Michael Everson
Status: Individual Contribution
Action: For consideration by JTC1/SC2/WG2 and UTC
Date: 2022-01-09
Refer to: N3194R (L2/07-003R)

This document requests the replacement of the glyph of U+A66E CYRILLIC LETTER MULTIOCULAR O. A tweet by Étienne FD @etiennefd brought to my attention an old error on my part. Taken from his tweet:

The multiocular O is a rare form of the Cyrillic letter О. How rare?

Rare enough to occur in a single phrase, in a single text written in an extinct language, Old Church Slavonic.

The text is a copy of the Book of Psalms, written around 1429 and kept in Russia.

The image in Figure 42 of N3194R which served as evidence for the encoding of the character was not a very good scan from Karsky 1979; that image is given again in Figure 1 below. Better images are shown in Figures 2 and 3. Essentially the glyph that I drew had seven eyes, but the source character has ten. (No, I don't know why I drew seven. Perhaps I miscounted what was in Karsky's reproduction.) The following shows the change being requested.

Bibliography
Karsky, Yefim Fyodorovich (Карский, Е. Ф.). 1979. Славянская кирилловская палеография. Москва: Наука. (Reprint of 1928 edition, Ленинград: Издательство академии наук СССР).

Figure 1. Sample from Карский 1979, showing MULTIOCULAR O in the phrase серафими многоꙮчитїй (abbreviated мн҄оꙮчитїй) 'many-eyed seraphim'.

Previously, previously, previously, previously, previously, previously, previously.





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satadru
9 days ago
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mkalus
11 days ago
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iPhone: 49.287476,-123.142136
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Unicode 15.0.0 adds more eyes to ꙮ

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The character “ꙮ” (U+A66E) is being updated in version 15.0.0. Because it doesn’t have enough eyes. It needs to have three more eyes.

This character is rare. Very, very rare.

Rare enough to occur in a single phrase, in a single text written in an extinct language, Old Church Slavonic. The text is a copy of the Book of Psalms, written around 1429 and kept in Russia.

Basically, in some old Slavic languages, authors would stylise the “O” in their word for eye (“ꙩкꙩ”) by adding a dot in the middle to make it look like an eye. If there were two eyes, two of these characters would be joined together (“ꙭчи”). The final evolution of this character was “ꙮ”, used only once in human history, in the phrase “серафими многоꙮчитїи”, which translates to “many-eyed seraphim”.

Here’s how this relates to Unicode: the person who originally added this character to Unicode made a mistake, and didn’t count the number of eyes correctly. There should be ten eyes, not seven. This error was discovered in 2020, and now it has been corrected.

Awesome.

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satadru
9 days ago
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I have of course been wondering why this character has been misrendering for some time...
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Is the World Ready for Extremely Effective Weight-Loss Drugs?

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The effective treatment options for obesity that already exist are under-used. Bariatric surgery, for example, can be an effective way to address extra weight. But surgery is seen as a drastic option, and Americans tend to think poorly of weight loss surgery. Without a comorbidity like diabetes, a prospective candidate typically needs a BMI of at least 40 to undergo the surgery—and only a small sliver of those who qualify get the procedure. That’s one reason why obesity experts see so much promise in the new drugs.

But there are big hurdles to widespread adoption, and not just questions of cost and approval that every drug faces on its way to the public. Weight loss drugs have a checkered past. “If you look back in the history of obesity, drugs that have been approved have then been taken off the market,” says Dr. Spencer Nadolsky, a physician who runs the obesity program for telehealth provider Weekend Health. Dangerous amphetamines were used as appetite suppressants, and more recent drugs, like Fen-Phen, a weight loss drug widely used in the 1990s, caused heart problems, leading to an FDA ban. Safer weight loss drugs began to reappear in the 2000s, but their efficacy was often mild.

Incretins, on the other hand, are only continuing to get more effective. The newest of these medications cause around 20 percent weight loss, within the same range that bariatric surgery achieves. And while common side effects include nausea and other gastrointestinal distress, it's a much less disruptive medical intervention than surgery. 

One obesity expert at Harvard Medical School, Dr. Fatima Stanford, told me that some patients have reacted so strongly to one incretin, semaglutide, that they’ve avoided surgery completely. “They went from severe obesity with diabetes to no diabetes and no severe obesity—into a healthy weight range,” she said. “It’s effortless for them—we’re changing the way their brains see weight.” This has major quality of life implications. “When you have higher levels of obesity,” said Jay, “losing 15 or 20% of your body weight is huge, right? It's huge for resolving comorbidities and preventing diabetes, and all sorts of things.”

One Washington woman in her 50s named Suzy, who asked to only be identified by her first name, has lost 26 pounds since starting tirzepitide. She has three siblings and two parents with type two diabetes. With the drug, she thinks she can avoid that disease. Another woman, Rachel McLaughlin, who started an oral incretin in 2021, said weight loss gave her the confidence to join an art class. “I don’t look like I’m carrying the weight of the world around,” she said.

But remarkable advances in medical technology don’t mean much if they’re impossible to access. McLaughlin faced that setback when she lost her job earlier this year. Losing health insurance increased the cost of her prescription from $25 to more than $2,000 per month. Off the medication, she regained 15 of the 25 pounds she’d lost. Progress only resumed once she found a new job in June that restored her coverage.

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satadru
9 days ago
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The big problem with GLP-RA drugs like the -glutides is that the mechanism of action of weight loss is delayed gastric emptying, which makes you feel full, so you don't eat as much. By which I mean you get nauseous when you try to eat, because your stomach tells you that you are full. Also after you eat your stomach stays full for a long time, so you get nauseous with activity. They work, but they're terrible drugs.
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mareino
10 days ago
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Washington, District of Columbia
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