Donnerstag, Dezember 09, 2004

NGOs Redux

Here is yet again a good piece by Andrea McCarthy: just what is international law?

To be honest, it's a crock. International law is not merely written agreements, such as treaties, etc.. If it were it'd be simple to interpret: written law has the advantage of being (fairly) immutable. If a treaty says Gibraltor belongs to England, then it does and nothing Spain can do short of war or getting a new treaty is going to change that.

While written agreements usually can't be ignored, they aren't the bread and butter of "international law": "customary" principles, unwritten rules that "are said to" reflect "universal understandings" (right); principles expressed in treaties and protocols, even (and especially those) unratified; writings by "specialists"; opinions and resolutions by international bodies; and finally "judicial" decisions by "international tribunals".

(Shucks, I think I'm going to set up an International Tribunal for Love, Peace And Justice. I've just decided to outlaw pink postage stamps as discriminatory to homosexuals: now we've established a principle of international law. You may link and quote at your leisure, you heard it here first!).

I've used a lot of Reuters-type "scare" quotes for a reason: everything in these quotes is a matter of opinion and not a matter of law. IANAL, but there isn't such a thing as customary principles, there isn't such a thing as universal understandings. There are local interpretations of what activists think should be customary principles and universal understandings: as McCarthy so beautifully puts it: "Cabals of self-interested countries, NGOs, scholars and, of course, "international law experts" convene". Repeat and repeat and repeat and aspirations start to appear as principles and end up appearing in print as "international law".

Let's keep it simple: International Law (with capital letters) exists only when it is written in treaty and/or established by an international executive. There is no international executive, regardless of what people think of the UN.

And McCarthy has it absolutely correct: No one in the United States voted for these people.

The international community - whoever they are - can't make a claim on the US that violates US laws: the US did not give away its sovereignty to nameless and faceless institutions.

And in my opinion it's the NGOs that are the worst offenders. We've got to find a new name for these folks: non governmental organizations is simply a misnomer. How about International Interest Groups? You could really call them International Parasites and Bloodsuckers, but IPB isn't so catchy.

And McCarthy correctly points out that the International Court of Justice is a travesty. The ICJ wants nothing less than the ability to make domestic law in countries whereever it may choose to do so.

Who elected these busybodies? Want the rule of International Law? Fine: walk the walk. Try and get a World Constitution - or call it whatever you like - and get the countries of the world to transfer power to such constituted bodies that are included in such.

But don't try and sneak international obligations based on hidden agendas and sleazy politics.

If you want a International Court of Justice, you have to have an International Congress and an International Presidency as well: otherwise you have international law with absolutely no legitimacy whatsoever.

No powers without responsibilities, no powers without limits. Why do people keep on forgetting this?

You might even make the case that the activists are their own worst enemy: by pushing things to fast and raising alarm bells, they are undermining exactly what they are trying to achieve: the robbing of sovereignty by an unelected, illegimate group of activitsts with no controls or limits whatsoever.

The International Court of Justice, right now, has about as much international legitimacy as the International House of Pancakes. And what they are trying to force down our throats is a lot less tasty.

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