The Globalization of the Law: A chimera
In the year 2018, Humankind still does not have an effective Global Administrative Law enforcement mechanism so how can we speak of globalized values?
You would have thought that by the beginning of the Third Millennium in the Christian Era, not to disrespect the dates used in any other calendar, basic human values would be globalized, implemented, enforced and enforceable by a global legal system. Following the precept that humankind needs to establish rules, needs to follow them and expects to have them imposed through judicial systems and processes, mechanisms of jurisdiction and judgement, where we are today is a shocking glimpse into reality.
And the reality is that international law is still a chimera, a quixotean quest for something that exists only in the imagination. While the laws may exist on paper (the United Nations Security Council's deliberations are binding, for instance), there is no higher mechanism to enforce them. Let us say, for instance, that a nation or group of nations flouts international law, as was the case in Iraq and then in Libya, where every single crime in the book was committed. At most nations opposing these acts can make an official complaint and the culprits receive a slap on the knuckles.
Looking at thie nightmare scenario objectively, you can mass murder a million people, trash an entire country, steal its possessions, rape its women, decapitate its children, torture its men, blow up its water supply or electricity grid, poison its land, burn its fields of cereals outside any jurisdiction at all on an invented casus belli and walk away Scot free. All that will happen is that someone might proclaim "I say, jolly bad form, eh what?" and then everyone sniffs and walks away as if nothing had happened. War criminals walk among us, mass murderers sit in Senates and Universities and the House of Lords and the like and they continue to be held as senior respected citizens in societies which abhor such acts. At home. If they did at home what they did abroad, they would be tried as criminals and thrown into jail.
If you are black, or a Serb, you might find yourself kidnapped and hauled before the International Criminal Court at The Hague, where you will be murdered through negligence, presumed guilty before the case starts (and in the case of Milosevic, pronounced guilty by Prosecutor Carla del Ponte before the case had its first reading). If you are an American citizen because a document states that you are just because you were born one centimeter from an imaginary line called a frontier, nothing will happen because the USA has not ratified the Treaty which set the court up.
If you are British, or French, or Dutch, you can send money or aid or abet or support or train demonic terrorist outfits on your own list of proscribed groups, which the Foreign and Commonwealth Office was doing in Libya, for instance, with LIFG, as I pointed out to them at the time.
These nations are always proclaiming that the law exists and so and so much be punished or brought to account but where is the universal concept of the law? They are perfectly right when they make these claims, there should be clear rules set out in international law, these rules should be followed by all, not just a few, and there should be a mechanism to uphold them, to enforce them and to bring those who go outside these rules (and perpetrate crimes) to be tried.
So how difficult is it to set out a basic precept in a document, with a premble which reads something along the lines of the text that follows: We all cohabit together on this planet, we therefore have the same responsibilities.
It is as simple as that. To every action, there can be a reaction which affects us all, whether this be by not enforcing global anti-pollution laws, to enabling harmful objects such as drugs and weapons to circulate, to financing or helping violent groups, interfering in the internal affairs of sovereign nations, to damaging the environment by murdering animals, destroying their habitat or felling trees.
In a nutshell, and in three lines, you have almost one hundred per cent of the world's problems. However, they are virtually unregulated. What we have is merely the idea that things are regulated.
In politics, we have the idea that most countries have an established democratic system. What they have in fact is the opposite - the vote of the people is basically pointless and just legitimizes in many cases systems where the elected Members of Parliament of Congresspeople or Senators or Deputies - elected representatives - are no more than voices for the lobbies which control them. You will not find this on the CVs of those who govern us, but the fact is that they are chosen for their positions from the personal career and the job description is written for that person and that career. "We need someone who is 43 to 45 years old, has never worked in the public sector, who speaks Albanian and has a collection of Japanese stamps" (unwritten: who is also in bed with the plastics lobby who will pay him to implement their policies). Guess who gets chosen.
What (s)he will do in Parliament or Congress will be to defend the interests of the plastics lobby. (S)He might sigh with tedium and show up at the Constituency from time to time to make false promises and mix with the plebs, who in turn will make cooing noises and announce loudly at Aunty Mabel's tea party that they met the local Member of Parliament who was "ever so nice" and promises to do something about the travellers encamped on The Common. And as for the electors themselves, have they in fact any idea what they are voting for? Look at the mess the United Kingdom is in with that stupid Brexit nonsense, when half the country (the uneducated, uncultured half) voted on the basis of barefaced lies, and now the Government states that to have a second vote is a betrayal of "democracy", in other words to protect the lie which caused the problem. Watch the UK slide off a precipice into utter bedlam, massive unemployment, under-qualification, social chaos and misery.
What will happen to David Cameron, the man who started this ridiculous situation with a stupid election promise to hold a referendum if he got an absolute majority, then did not add a caveat that it would be binding only if there was a two-thirds majority, which anyone with any sense would have done? Nothing, Cameron couldn't care less because nothing will happen to him under the law but he has destroyed an entire nation single-handedly.
In economics, we have the idea that trade is governed by international laws. Sure, the World Trade Organization imposes the law on some while forgetting about others. Sure, Anti-Money Laundering laws exist for banks and insurance companies. Sure, you can place your money in the Cayman Islands or base your residence on the Isle of Man and escape the laws which apply to everyone else. If you are rich, of course.
In summary, the notion that we have an international legal system is an idea, nothing more. It functions more or less in certain niches and applies to certain individuals or groups, which is the antithesis of the expression "globalized law". What is needed is a supra-national organism which has the authority to enforce precepts which apply to all (see above). The precepts are three lines long, it is hardly rocket science.
We seem able to come together when it comes to matters related to space, to medical science, to eradicating diseases (until some bright spark decides to reproduce one in a laboratory) but the existence of that stupid, invisible line called a frontier and that stupid little book called a passport, underlined by the misuse of religion by those wishing to play power games are the impediment which prevents us from attaining any meaningful globalized legal system.
Will we ever surpass these innate characteristics? No, because Humankind is as sophisticed and advanced as an ants' nest, a herd of deer or a shoal of fish.
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*Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey has worked as a correspondent, journalist, deputy editor, editor, chief editor, director, project manager, executive director, partner and owner of printed and online daily, weekly, monthly and yearly publications, TV stations and media groups printed, aired and distributed in Angola, Brazil, Cape Verde, East Timor, Guinea-Bissau, Portugal, Mozambique and São Tomé and Principe Isles; the Russian Foreign Ministry publication Dialog and the Cuban Foreign Ministry Official Publications. He has spent the last two decades in humanitarian projects, connecting communities, working to document and catalog disappearing languages, cultures, traditions, working to network with the LGBT communities helping to set up shelters for abused or frightened victims and as Media Partner with UN Women, working to foster the UN Women project to fight against gender violence and to strive for an end to sexism, racism and homophobia. A Vegan, he is also a Media Partner of Humane Society International, fighting for animal rights. He is Director and Chief Editor of the Portuguese version of Pravda.Ru. He is an official translator, a coach, a consultant and a professor.