Sonntag, Dezember 16, 2007

Let's Not Forget This...

One of the persons who drove me to blog no longer does. Steve den Beste was, nomen est omen, one of the best out there, and here's a link to his best.

Most of his writing has to do with international politics until 2004, when he stopped blogging for health reasons.

To put it simply, the watermelons of our time (green on the outside, red on the inside) are trying, once again, desperately, to bind and control. As in my last post, I said I would talk of the GWB, Global Warming Business, but let me use this post to lead to that one.

Let's remember what "international law" actually means: it is in and of itself a chimera, it means exactly what the sayer intends it to mean, since there is in and of itself no such thing.

To repeat: "international law" is a crock. If there is anything even remotely approaching international law, it is the set of treaties that state that the signatories agree to behave in the way and manner described, with a set of conditions for entering, following and leaving said treaties. This isn't my definition alone: see here for more.

That is, bluntly, the entire meaning of "international law". Nothing is written in stone, nothing beyond what is stated in those treaties means anything.

Why is this?

Because there is no international law. International law doesn't imply international courts - that's the other way around - but rather international law implies international law-givers, those that make the laws.

The UN is not that body. There is a World Court attached to the UN, but it deals with UN-specific questions and problems and derives its authority from the UN: only states agreeing to bind themselves to the decisions of the court are subject to the authority of that court. The US withdrew its agreement to be bound in 1986 in the wake of increasing politicization of the court's decisions. The World Court is weak: it can only make judgements based on political willingness to obey the court's decisions. This doesn't happen much: the US, for instance, tried to use the court to condemn Iran for illegally seizing US diplomats in 1980, but this failed; the court is and remains, fundamentally, political, as it needs the UN Security Council to back up its decisions.

The EU is also not that body. Really, there is no body, no political group out there that has the mandate to be the international law-givers, the ones who develop and codify the laws.

What is law anyway?

According to Merriam-Webster Online, law is a binding custom or practice of a community, a rule of conduct or action prescribed or formally recognized as binding or enforced by a controlling authority .

That is the key word: controlling authority.

Let's go back, then to Kyoto. Kyoto has meaning only for those who signed up for it.

The follow-on, Bali, led to a non-binding commitment to reduce greenhouse gases, non-binding in the sense that there were no set goals to be met. Almost anything qualifies, which means that the agreement is nothing but smoke and mirrors.

My point right now is that within the realm of international law there is no controlling authority, no law-givers, no court system in place that has any sort of utility, legitimation or weight of law that has any existence beyond the voluntary agreement of all parties involved, and that the latter, the voluntary agreement, is only good as long as those involved actually live up to their agreements.

Let's simply not forget this as we talk about the GWB. It's critical to understanding how truly absurd the rhetoric is, how toothless the agreements are, and how other countries simply ignore what doesn't work, ignoring the spirit and letter of "international law" for their own national benefit.

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