International Law – A Heaven or Hell on Earth?
(Part 1 - International Aid Agencies)
by Brian Risman, Publisher and Founder, The Law Journal UK and Consultant in International Law
International Law promised a noble world at the end of the Second World War. Was that dream realised -- or was the dream a chimera? In this first of a series of articles, The Law Journal UK examines the promise -- and reality -- of International Aid Agencies, or Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs)
Is International Law an instrument for developing a peaceful, future world?
Or is International Law an instrument of war-mongering nations who only wish to destroy other countries to meet their nefarious ends?
Or is International Law growing in importance, or growing in irrelevance?
These are interesting questions. The intriguing answer to these questions is that they are all quite true.
Yet these questions suggest radically different realities.
One reality is of a world order promoting peace and co-existence. The other reality is one of world conflict leading to mass killing and destruction.
The United Nations Charter, when created at the end of the greatest conflict the world has ever known – the Second World War – promised a great world.
We would have international aid agencies helping the world’s poor and disadvantaged.
We would have a Declaration of Human Rights.
We would have great laws such as Article 51 of the United Nations Charter preventing nation attacking nation (though self-defence actions were permissible within strict limits).
What happened to this noble dream?
This is a big question, and hence I will be talking about these issues in a series of articles here in The Law Journal UK over the next year.
Let us start by discussing the first item mentioned above, namely helping the world improve via international aid agencies, or Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs).
Yes, we have international aid agencies which have engaged in some great works. Yet those very agencies have been the scene of massive corruption and political motivations far beyond the goals of the agencies.
Instead of improving the lot of third world residents, the only ones whose lot has improved is that of the corrupt government leaders -- who have seized aid packages and sold them on the black market.
Yet these international aid agencies say little about this corruption.
Rather, they spend their time railing against western countries and trade liberalisation policies which encourage employment in poorer countries. Employment is of course not what these agencies want – they want the poor residents of these countries to starve, to depend on handouts. Employment via trade liberalisation does not fit their goals.
An example of where International Law has been grossly misused by these agencies is in the area of International Tax Conventions. As with many such initiatives, a good purpose has been subverted by ideological agendas, to the extent that the initiative has lost any value.
The United Nations, with the prodding of social agencies and corrupt third world dictators, created an International Tax Convention by which countries – and companies – have a framework for operating internationally. A structure in which countries know what economic activities can be taxed in their country – and not by another nation – can facilitate international trade.
This sounds as if it is a great success for the United Nations and International Law. The reality is, however, that this United Nations International Tax Convention is an abject failure.
The reason for this failure becomes very clear when you consider that normally agreements and treaties are made between parties, where there are negotiations resulting in reasonable compromises of both party’s interests.
However, there have, in the past, been treaties which have been dictates by one side over the other. These treaties have, by and large, failed, since the ‘losing’ side eventually negates the treaty, frequently resulting in war or conflicts. The terms of the Versailles Treaty after World War One is perhaps the greatest example, where German nationalists – including Hitler – took advantage of popular resentment of the Treaty in that country to win power in an election, and eventually start the Second World War.
Now, we are not saying that the UN International Tax Convention is the same category as the Versailles Treaty – it is not. However, this Convention has failed due to the fact it was a UN- and international aid agencies-sponsored dictate by third-world despots against ‘have’ democracies. The tax terms of that treaty serve the interest of these dictators, and not the world at large. This orientation fits in very well with the anti-‘have’, pro-‘have-not’ ideology of the UN and the international aid agencies.
Hence, very few countries have ratified the Treaty.
Instead, most countries have ratified the OECD (Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development) Tax Conventions model, which is much fairer to all countries, not just a few. Hence the organ of International Law – the United Nations – is ignored by most of the world on this key issue due to it’s (and international aid agencies) agenda. Instead, nations have opted for the OECD trade liberalisation model, and not the ideological UN approach.
I mentioned the OECD trade liberalisation model adopted by most countries. Why is trade liberalisation so important to improving the lives of the world’s citizens? And, why do the ideological approaches of international aid agencies not work, and indeed make situations in ‘have-not’ countries even more disastrous?
We do not see international aid agencies advocating trade liberalisation reforms. After all, prosperous people have little need for the international aid agency industry. That industry, more than any multinational enterprise in the world, needs poverty to survive. Corporations want consumers who can buy their products and services, and hence advocate wealth; international aid agencies cannot survive unless there is unending want and hunger.
Accordingly, we see from international aid agencies political and ideological diatribes that will not improve the lot of these countries. Instead of condemning western society by assuming that their wealth is based on ravaging ‘have-not’ countries, maybe these countries and their agency friends should see that the land registration and the legal system promoting business and individual prosperity in these western countries should be emulated.
As proof, there are countries which emulate the Western example, and are the new ‘haves’, surpassing even many Western countries.
Think of Japan, destroyed after the Second World War.
Think of China, which while politically still nominally Communist, is becoming the capitalist country par excellance.
Think of India, which has competed on a price basis for high-end work, building their economy at the expense of many ‘have’ countries.
Given the aid-dependency created by international aid agencies, and the perversion of International Law by one-sided treaties sponsored by these agencies, have international aid agencies aided – or hindered – the goal of a better world under International Law?
I see little material gain in the quality of life of people as a result of the actions of international aid agencies. As discussed, I just see the misuse of International Law by the UN and these international aid agencies, in order to keep these bodies flourishing at the expense of the unfortunate.
The Law Journal UK will, in subsequent articles, continue this discussion of the impact of International Law.
Brian Risman, Publisher and Founder, The Law Journal UK and Consultant in International Law
Other Current Articles:
The Abuse Excuse -- One Size Fits All? - by James Castagnera - United States
Domestic Violence and the Problems of Poor Policing - by Karen Clark-Stapleton - UK
Freedoms of the Air - Changing the Patterns of International Trade and Commerce - by Aaron M. Daniels - Canada
Foreign Investment in the Russian Federation - Denis Biryukov - Russia
Indian Legal Profession in Transition - by Kamal Wadhwa - India
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