Category Archives: United Nations

What is happening in Honduras?

After reading reactions at Catholicgauze, Coming Anarchy, Half Sigma, and Zenpundit, and following the news in China Daily, I am confused why the United Nations, President Obama and others are condemning the actions in Honduras.

As I understand it, the Supreme Court ordered the arrest of the President. The Congress has acted to administer the country. In other words, this appears to be a the whole point of a tripartite separation of powers: any two divisions can act against a third.

If the Congress and the President of a country acted together to impeach a Supreme Court Justice, would the US be similarly angered?

I realize I am getting only a slice of the news here in China. What am I missing?

The Chinese Systems Administration Force

Very good news. The end of colonialism was a disaster around the world. Growing East and South Asian interest in Africa promise to return SysAdmin work to the farthest reaches of the globe:

Chinese Boots on African Soil – Online Africa Policy Forum
BUKAVU – Holed up behind barbed wire and sandbags, two soldiers gaze over the green landscape of Congo’s Kivu Province. The forested hills around them are silent, but they are guarding a hub of activity. Meticulously stationed military vehicles surround a few dozen troops marching around a flag planted in the middle of a dusty parade ground – a Chinese flag. “We are here to maintain order and regional stability,” explains a young lieutenant in impeccable French. Deployed in the resource-rich heart of Africa, this army unit forms only a small part of the Chinese troops that have been sent to six different African states.

Perhaps in 2014 we will finally be back up to the level we were at in 1914, when things went sour.

Of course, this promising article includes its fair bit of stupid. In typical eurospeak, “unilateral” means “not being governed by the United Nations.”

All of China’s troops in Africa are participants in United Nations peacekeeping operations under UN mandates – in contrast to the 1,400 or so U.S. troops deployed unilaterally in the Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA), part of the Bush Administration’s Global War on Terror.

These are good first steps for China.

But I’ll be happier when China’s operating in Africa with the same “unilateralism” as the United States.

(Hat-tip to Nykrindc for sharing this article on Google Reader.)

Try Hugo Chavez in the ICC

Colombia: Latin America tries to defuse escalating crisis | csmonitor.com

Colombian President Álvaro Uribe said Tuesday that his government would ask the International Criminal Court to try Venezuelan leader Hugo Chávez for financing and supporting Colombia’s main rebel group.

While the International Criminal Court is neither free nor independent from the United Nations , it and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights both provide forums where the President of Venezuela can be tried, and spend the rest of his life languishing in prison.

Now, to actually get Mr. Chavez in custody…

The Military-Industrial-Sysadmin-Complex in the context of International Law

I’m not a fan of international law, said “law” being merely a compendium of the arbitrary decrees of those despots who proceeded us — but Adrian was kind enough to highlight some interesting developments in the field that related to the Military-Industrial-Sysadmin-Complex (MISC) that is needed to shrink the gap.

Specifically, he pointed me to the article “For a Capability to Protect from David C. Gompert in Survival 48(1). The article highlights two stages of post-Westphalian thought: the right to protect and the responsibility to protect, as well as an emerging one: the need for a capability to protect.

Gompert emphasizes that the idea of a United Nations standing army is going nowhere, and cannot provide true worldwide peace-enforcing capability.

The MISC is such a capability. We need a flexible force, supported by industry, the bureaucracy, and the government, that can “surge” peace into any area of the globe.

Homeland Security Secretary Blasts International Law

Chertoff says U.S. threatened by international law,” Reuters, 17 November 2006, http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/N17445714.htm (from Democratic Underground).

Secretary Chertoff has joined Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts in attacking “international law”:

A top Bush administration official on Friday said the European Union, the United Nations and other international entities increasingly are using international law to challenge U.S. powers to reject treaties and protect itself from attack.

International law is being used as a rhetorical weapon against us,” Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, a former federal appellate judge, said in a speech to the Federalist Society, a conservative policy group.

Chertoff cited members of the European Parliament in particular as harboring an “increasingly activist, left-wing and even elitist philosophy of law” at odds with American practices and interests.

But he said the same pattern could be seen in the policies of the United Nations and other international bodies.

“What we see here is a vision of international law that if taken aggressively would literally strike at the heart of some of our basic fundamental principals — separation of powers, respect for the Senate’s ability to ratify treaties and … reject treaties,” Chertoff said.

While it’s bastard twin foreign law has been criticized by the Attorney General and Justice Scalia, it is good to see so-called “international law” attacked as well.

International Law and Foreign Law are both attempts by legalistic factions who cannot impose their will democratically, so they use legal-sounding words to try to get in through the back door. The world is better off without them.

Hezbollah v. the Lebanese Nation, Hezbollah v. the United Nations

Hezbollah v. the Lebanese Nation, Hezbollah v. the United Nations

In a recent post, Mark described the violence Hezbollah intentionally inflicts on the Lebanese people

As Hezbollah is a semi-4GW organization, it obeys no recognized rules of warfare yet escapes much in the way of blame, and intentionally seeks maximum civilian casualties among Lebanese Shiites from Israeli retaliation, there are certain political realities that cannot be ignored:

Yet the common people of Lebanon are not the only victim’s of rejectionist violence in Lebanon’s Civil War. The Party of God is also targeting United Nations missions:


Sites of Terrorist Attacks

The geographically-aware Catholicgauze has blogged on the War in Lebanon before.

American Supreme Court Ignores International Court of Justice

Bench Memos and Opinio Juris celebrate the Supreme Court’s latest rejection of “international law” and the UN’s International Court of Justice in Sanchez-Llamas v. Oregon

… the ICJ has interpreted the Vienna Convention to preclude the application of the procedural default rule to Article 36 claims. The LaGrand Case… and the Case Concerning Avena and other Mexican Nations… were brought to the ICJ by the governments of Germany and Mexico, respectively, on behalf of several of their nationals facing death sentences in the United States. The foreign governments claimed that their nationals had not been informed of their right to consular notification. They further argued that application of the procedural default rule to their nationals’ Vienna Convention claims failed to give “full effect” to the purposes of the Convention, as required by Article 36. The ICJ agreed, explaining that the defendants had procedurally defaulted their claims “because of the failure of the American authorities to comply with their obligation under Article 36.”… Application of the procedural default rule in such circumstances, the ICJ reasoned, “prevented [courts] from attaching any legal significance” to the fact that the violation of Article 36 kept the foreign governments from assisting in their nationals’ defense…

Under our Constitution, “[t]he judicial Power of the United States” is “bested in one supreme Court, and in such inferior Courts as the Congress may from time to time ordain and establish.” Art. III, § 1. That “judicial Power… extend[s] to… Treaties.” Id §2. And, as Chief Justice Marshall famously explained, that judicial power includes the duty “to say what the law is.” Marbury v. Madison, 1 Cranch 137, 177 (1803). If treaties are to be given effect as federal law under our legal system, determining their meaning as a matter of federal law “is emphatically the province and duty of the judicial department,” headed by the “one supreme Court” established in the Constitution.

It’s not a slam dunk. An even cooler court would have gone farther in showing “leading international law scholars” that their goal of a Progressive Ulema is unachievable. Still, a large majority agreeing that ICJ rulings are not binding is a good thing.

Thank you, Supreme Court.

John Roberts and the Supreme Court Disparage "International Law." Good.

Gonzales, Attorney General, et al. v. O Centro Espirita Beneficente Uniao do Vegetal et al.: On Writ of Certiorari to the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit,” by John Roberts et al, Supreme Court of the United States, 21 February 2006, http://www.supremecourtus.gov/opinions/05pdf/04-1084.pdf.

While not quite as succinct as Justice Antonin Scalia’s criticism of international law, Chief Justice has officially put “” in its place

john_roberts_international_law
John Roberts: Lord of International Law


The case, which struck down a federal drug law, was well decided. That is good. The government gave an incompetent and lackluster defense. That is typical. But what’s wonderful is this paragraph

The fact that hoasca is covered by the [U. N. Commentary on the Convention on Psycho­tropic Substances], however, does not automatically mean that the Government has demonstrated a compelling interest in applying the Controlled Substances Act, which implements the Convention, to the UDV’s sacramental use of the tea. At the present stage, it suffices to observe that the Government did not even submit evidence addressing the international consequences of granting an exemption for the UDV. The Government simply submitted two affidavits by State Department officials attesting to the general importance of honoring international obligations and of maintaining the leadership position of the United States in the international war on drugs. See Declaration of Gary T. Sheridan (Jan. 24, 2001), App. G to App. to Pet. for Cert. 261a; Declaration of Robert E. Dalton (Jan. 24, 2001), App. H, id., at 265a. We do not doubt the validity of these interests, any more than we doubt the general interest in promoting public health and safety by enforcing the Controlled Substances Act, but under [the ] invocation of such general interests, standing alone, is not enough.

In other words, the Court has affirmed two principles

  • First, treaties have to meet a “compelling interest” before they trump certain domestic laws, such as the
  • and Second, international law is only valid in the context of “international consequences,” not as laws unto themselves

Those who support America’s submission to “international law” often cite the second paragraph of Article VI of the US Constitution

This Constitution, and the laws of the United States which shall be made in pursuance thereof; and all treaties made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the United States, shall be the supreme law of the land; and the judges in every state shall be bound thereby, anything in the Constitution or laws of any State to the contrary notwithstanding.

The Constitution lists three sources of the “supreme law of the land”

  • the Constitution itself
  • the laws of the United States
  • all treaties made

However, in the same sentence, the Constitution instructs all judges to be bound by that, notwithstanding

  • “anything in the Constitution,” or
  • “the laws of any State”

In other words, the Constitution identifies three sources of Supreme Law (the Constitution, Laws, and Treaties), and then identifies the Constitution and the Laws as the most important of these. The Supreme Court may listen to government pleas that it has an interest in some treaty, or that some treaty beneficial consequence to the United States.

Treaties are the least democratic source of “law,” because they are enacted by the joint action of the President (who is indirectly elected through the Electoral College) and the Senate (which represents the States, and thus has equal representation for states regardless of the population). Under our democratic system of government, treaties are rightfully deprived of much power and influence.

As the historian Mark Safranski wrote:

Most of what passes for ” International Law ” are simply arguable moral claims advanced by interested parties. The most solidly ” legal ” core of international law is considered binding because nations-states have agreed almost universally to restrict themselves with certain provisions out of self-interest. Enforcement comes only in the cases of the most egregious violations when the moral outrage of the world can be coupled with the selfish interests of the great powers to intervene. That is about the best we can expect from such a system and if ardent advocates of International Law Theory get their way, we won’t even have that much.

International law is best taken with a healthy dose of common sense.

The recognizes this.

Good.

Quackers quaketh "Quack," quackly.

I just finished The Fog of War, which had been recommended to my by Curzon of Coming Anarchy. A brilliant documentary of Robert Strange McNamara which puts Vietnam in the context of his early career. Highly recommended. The parallels in mannerism to Donald Rumsfeld are striking.

Meanwhile, at The Duck of Minerva, Dr. Dan Nexon and I have entered a discussion following his post, “States of exception (part vi)“.

Dr. Nexon argued that

no detainee – even if suspected of war crimes such as the murder of civilians – may be subjected to torture, corporal punishment, or humiliating or degrading treatment

The basis for this appears to be the United Nations Convention Against Torture, which reads (Article II, Section 2):

No exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat or war, internal political instability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification of torture.

However, UNCAT appears to be overridden by the Charter of the United Nations, specifically articles 51 and 103

Article LI, which guarantees the right of self defense

Nothing in the present Charter shall impair the inherent right of individual or collective self-defence if an armed attack occurs against a Member of the United Nations, until the Security Council has taken measures necessary to maintain international peace and security. Measures taken by Members in the exercise of this right of self-defence shall be immediately reported to the Security Council and shall not in any way affect the authority and responsibility of the Security Council under the present Charter to take at any time such action as it deems necessary in order to maintain or restore international peace and security.

And Article CIII, which asserts the primacy of the Charter over all other treaties:

In the event of a conflict between the obligations of the Members of the United Nations under the present Charter and their obligations under any other international agreement, their obligations under the present Charter shall prevail.

The UN Charter Against Terrorism absolutely forbids torture.
The UN Charter absolutely affirms the right of self defense.
Absolutely forbidding torture is an abandonment of self-defense

Therefore

The UN Charter absolutely trumps the UN Charter Against Terrorism.

(Long-time tdaxp readers will not I asked Big Cheese a similar question).

The Majestic International Community

Dr. Demarche of the American Future has asked “What is the international community?”

“My questions for the project are: is there such a thing as “the” international community? If so who are its members? In what arenas does this community act? What is America’s role in this community, and that of the U.N.? Finally, what is the future of such a community when Iraq is terrorized by those who oppose democracy and no “community” reacts, genocide in Rwanda goes unchecked and N. Korea is still run by a madman?”

The Glittering Eye, Mark from ZenPundit and Callimachus at Done with Mirrors have given their take, so here’s mine:

The international community is that society of actors that can influence the relations between states.

Almost by definition the international community includes states themselves. The United States is clearly able to influence relations between the United States and Mexico, just as Palau is able to influence relations between Palau and Iraq. A Realist would say that States are the only members of the international community.

Additionally, many Inter-Governmental Organizations (IGOs) are also part of the international community. The most powerful of the are the World Trade Organization, the International Monetary Fund, and the World Bank. These economically-oriented institutions provide cash and new markets for States, so it is profitable for most States to join them.

Likewise, powerful Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) are members of the international community. These include such household names as processes.

A “Liberal Institutionalist” would say that States, NGOs, and IGOs are teh only members of the international community.

However, as a Constructivist would say, the international community is broader than this. Some individuals have the ability to change the friction of states directly. Even if all believed he was speaking only for himself, Bill Clinton’s words would still carry weight because of his personal friendships and acquaintances. So would ’s. Properly speaking, we are all part of the international community, each and every one of us, and all of our networks and groupings, without exception.

However, the power law applies to the international community, just as it applies to the blog community. Perhaps only the uper .001% of humans and networks effect interstate relations substantially on their own It is this top tier — the USAs, WTOs, the al Qaedas — that we think of when we say “the international community”

As to what the future of the international community is…

What will be will be. The community will continue to exist as long as states interact with each other. Bad things go on in good states, worse things go on in worse states, and the international community abides. There are seriously plans to make the international community more effective, but no part of the international community’s definition requires the international community to be a force for good in any way.