Source: Edgar Serrano on Unsplash


"War is a necessary evil" is an old adage which seems to be true for all times. Sometimes, war appears to be the final arbiter amongst the nations at loggerheads in regard to the specific areas of conflict. As it happens in the case of humans, the most ordinary and inane issues of mutual interest are inadvertently not resolved in a facile manner. Such matters are unnecessarily prolonged, mainly because of the inefficiencies of their ruling class. Also, the clash of egos plays an important role in adding fuel to the fire. The megalomaniac mindset of the rulers has resulted in the two World Wars. Already we are in the throes of another major war. Martin Luther King, Jr. has rightly pointed out that "We have guided missiles and misguided men". But whatever may be the reasons for starting a war, it is certainly, not the culmination of the meeting of minds of the ruling class of two nations. Contrarily, it is the result of the nagging attitude of self-righteousness which pitches the warring factions at different wavelengths. That is how the twentieth century witnessed the two world wars, and the present century is almost ready for the third world war.

The currently ongoing Russia-Ukraine War is a classic example of casualness of approach of the leaders of the two powerful and prosperous countries. They are fighting a war over an issue which is seemingly unreal. The matter-in-issue could have been amicably solved between the two countries without much ado. Moreover, the ruling classes do not take heed of the citizens of both the countries. They have been subjected to the role of cannon fodder in the eyes of unscrupulous warmongers.

What would be the nature of the future world wars is an interesting question. Whether it would be a nuclear war or something else? Albert Einstein had opined that "I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but WW IV will be fought with sticks and stones". These are prophetic words indeed. Probably, after the third World War, the world will undergo the process of nuclear holocaust, and after that the human race will revert back to Stone Age. Regarding the enormity of the destructive power of the Atom Bomb, Robert Oppenheimer has stated "Now, I am become death, the destroyer of worlds". The message is very clear. Any kind of war brings destruction of unprecedented level. It is humanity which suffers the maximum loss. That is why the wars should be the last resort to tackle cantankerous issues pending between nations. There are certainly other means to resolve the impending crisis.

The evil consequences of war

Although war itself spells disaster in many respects, its impact on the following two aspects is most prominent:

1. Vulnerability of civilian population:

During war, the civilian population becomes most vulnerable to invaders' lethal attacks. The Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949, along with the Additional Protocols of 1977 expounds upon the general protection of population against certain consequences of war and the conduct of hostilities. It also elaborates upon the status and treatment of protected persons. Further, It also distinguishes between the situation of foreigners on the territory of one of the parties to the conflict and that of civilians in occupied territory. This Convention also highlights the obligations of the occupying power vis-a-vis the civilian population and spells out detailed provisions on humanitarian relief for populations in the occupied territory. However, during wars, these provisions are often ignored by the parties. On the 70th anniversary of the adoption of the Geneva Conventions, it was specifically mentioned by the human rights advocacy group, Amnesty International, in a report in 2019, that there has been a "blatant disregard for civilian protection and international humanitarian law in armed conflicts where four of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council are parties-Russia, the US, the UK and France". The report cited a few examples also. The US-led coalition's bombing of Raqqa in Syria left more than 1600 civilians dead. Wide scale destruction of civilian infrastructure and lives took place in Aleppo and Idlib by Russian forces, leading to mass displacement of millions. The Saudi Arabia and the UAE-led coalition, backed by the Western powers, killed and injured thousands of civilians in Yemen, kickstarting a full-blown humanitarian crisis. These instances pose a stark reality before mankind pointing to the fact that even when backed by the rulings of the International Criminal Court (ICC), the provisions of the Geneva Conventions cannot be enforced by third parties to the armed conflict. However, they have successfully stirred the conscience of the nations by focussing on the human rights violations across conflict zones. In the ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine, missile and bomb attacks on civilian buildings like schools, hospitals and residential buildings is not uncommon. (Narayan Lakshman, Geneva Conventions and the Russia-Ukraine war, Mar 13,2022)

2. Refugee problem:

Almost in any war, the migration of civilian population to safer zones in the adjoining countries is a normal phenomenon. In the recent Russia-Ukraine war, more than 30 lakhs people have crossed the borders of Ukraine to adjacent countries, Poland, Moldova and Romania etc. The process of migration is, indeed, very painful. People just get uprooted from their original moorings without knowing when they will return to their homeland in future. Or will it be possible anyhow? Recently, we saw a little boy,shedding tears and walking alone in the company of unfamiliar co-travellers heading towards the borders of neighbouring countries. His parents were missing and nowhere near him. Such pictures are heartrending. Forced migration is undoubtedly one of the greatest tragedies of all time. Unfortunately, there is hardly any law on refugees internationally. Refugees are not considered even human beings by most of the countries. They are taken to be a big burden on the resources of the country on whose soil the refugees take shelter. There are thousands of refugees who are living for a long time in different countries because no final resolution of war could take place even now. The life of refugees is extremely lamentable and the rest of the world seem to be oblivious of their plight.

Some issues at stake

1. Self-defence:

There was no apparent and concrete reason for starting a war between Russia and Ukraine recently. There was an apprehension in the minds of the Russian political class that Ukraine will soon be joining the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). So, allegedly Russia initiated the proceedings of war exercising her right to self-defence. Here, it may be noted that Article 51 of the United Nations Charter contains the provision of right to self-defence to the nations in exceptional circumstances. But the conditions pertaining to self-defence have not been defined anywhere in the Charter. Consequently, any country can start a war on flimsy and imaginary grounds. This lacuna needs to be filled up by the members of the world body, the United Nations.

2. International Court of Justice (ICJ):

The International Court of Justice is the top court of the United Nations for disputes between States. Its rulings have the binding effect but it has no direct means of enforcing them. As a consequence, the parties have ignored them in the past. On 16th March, the World Court ordered Russia to halt military operations in Ukraine. The Court held "The Russian Federation shall immediately suspend the military operations that it commenced on Feb 24,2022 on the territory of Ukraine", in a 13-2 decision. However, it is unlikely that Russia will honour the court verdict. (Stephanie Van Den Berg, World Court orders Moscow to halt military ops immediately, The Indian Express, Mar 17,2022)

The declining role of United Nations

The world body, the United Nations, came into being in the aftermath of World War II. Since then, the socio-political and geopolitical situation in the world has changed drastically. Right from the beginning, the world institution has a predominance of the five superpowers. Unfortunately, behind every war scenario worldwide, the presence and involvement, directly or indirectly, of these superpowers cannot be easily seen. Factually, this august world organisation has lost sheen and become toothless in modern times. That is the most horrifying issue in reference to peace and harmony of the world. Actually, we need a more potent world organization to replace the current structure.


Renowned philosopher, Bertrand Russel has once said that "War does not determine who is right-only who is left".
That is probably the best description of war. Sometimes, war helps in defining boundaries of the embattled states. Longstanding and cantankerous issues are thus resolved. But the real causality is humanity itself. The scars on the souls of the badly affected citizens of the vanquished country can never be scrapped. The plight of refugees is deplorable worldwide. The worst sufferers of any war are undoubtedly the survivors, be it the family of a soldier or the civilian population. The lesson of past history is that wars only provide temporary solutions. One war paves the way for another future war in search of a permanent solution which never comes in real life. World peace and harmony can only be achieved through mutual love and respect. That is the most pertinent lesson of war. The need of the hour is to spread this message throughout the world.

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