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Consent Or Control?

Coen Van Wyk

Posted on March 18, 2022 03:33

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War, genocide, ideology and fake news campaigns are at the order of the day. Have we come around to a balance of terror? Surely humanity can develop a better way to run international relations? Should the peoples of the world be ruled with their consent, or will they be under control of unrepresentative peoples?

In 1945 heads of states and governments met in San Francisco to propose ways to prevent future wars. The representatives of "We, the Peoples of these United Nations" set up a balance of power that would guarantee the sovereignty and territorial integrity of each nation state and the rights of citizens. 

 

Over the past 75 years, the United Nations system prevented many wars, kept the peace where agreements had been reached, and in some situations had to make peace. However, creative interpretations of international law and the invocation of national sovereignty allowed many leaders to oppress citizens, support and finance proxy forces, and promote ideological interests that lead to genocide. The wars in Yemen, Eritrea, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and the occupation of Palestine and Tibet were precursors, as were the wars in Chechnya, Nagorno-Karabakh, and Osettia amongst others.

 

Clearly, relations between leaders who are supposed to represent 'we, the people' is influenced by the degree of representation, the quality of democracy and the real oppression of minorities by majorities. Yet sovereignty of states is supposed to derive from the sovereignty of the people themselves.

 

Supranational bodies achieved some success in guaranteeing rights of individuals – the European Ombudsman regularly hears cases where citizens challenge decisions and policies of their governments. The Southern African Development Community (SADC) had a tribunal that once ruled in favor of a (white) farmer who had been dispossessed of this land. The tribunal was, shortly thereafter, emasculated by other leaders who did not want their own diktats challenged. President Mugabe claimed that the decision impeded the sovereignty of Zimbabwe.

 

Aggrieved people may consider secession. This is not outlawed under International Law, but it has not happened since 1945 and is not a likely solution. Secession by the Russian-speaking peoples of Ukraine may have helped prevent the present war, but China is hardly likely to allow Uighur lands and Tibet to secede.

 

Another problem is that of economic interests. On an international level, but also within many national states economic interests skew democratic systems. As in the dying days of the Roman Empire it seems any election can be bought in one sense or another. 

 

A super-government sounds attractive, provided it can enforce common values. But 'Who will guard the guardians?' 

 

Perhaps the concept of odious debt may provide a solution. Consider: A universal code for electoral procedures and criteria, elections observed by professional and rotating teams of observers who certify elections. Rulers who argue that it does not matter how people vote, as long as the right people count the votes, will then be unable to secure loans as these may be repudiated as odious debt. This could be extended to trade relations, thereby democratizing international economies.

 

The present international system of balance of power and terror cannot build a future where the real issues of global warming, population increase, and economic pyramiding threaten survival.

The next generation needs alternatives.

Coen Van Wyk

Posted on March 18, 2022 03:33

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Source: Al Jazeera
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Russian community groups and Russia-related businesses abroad say they have faced threats amid Moscow's deadly invasion.

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