[extropy-chat] Does international law exist and is itintheinterests of US citizens?

Brian Lee brian_a_lee at hotmail.com
Mon Aug 16 17:11:13 UTC 2004

While at the time of founding, the 5 permanent members of the UN security 
council represented the major military powers of the war, now only the US is 
a major military superpower. As such, it's really the only country that 
really matters when it comes to international law (in that the US will 
invade someone if they think they are "evil" enough).

The UN Security council has no power in and of itself because if it passed a 
resolution banning something, there is no one to enforce the resolution. 
This doesn't even take into account what happens when the council disagrees 
(like what happened in Iraq).

So there is really no "international law", just some suggestions.

In order for international law to exist, countries must defer to some 
authority (and I don't see the US doing this any time soon).

As far as power, the UN is really just a forum for discussion, etc. It's 
most effective at fund raising and humanitarian efforts.

I think that transhumans will be better off gathering in specific 
sympathetic countries, or forming their own (a la Greg Egan's "Distress") 
rather than hoping that major powers will give up their hopes for hegemony 
(don't see the US or China or Brazil bowing to the UN any time soon).

Plus, a lot of transhumanist issues can be resolved "off the radar" or 
within current rulesets and can be moved from country to country should laws 
become unfavorable.


>From: "Brett Paatsch" <bpaatsch at bigpond.net.au>
>To: "ExI chat list" <extropy-chat at lists.extropy.org>
>Subject: Re: [extropy-chat] Does international law exist and is 
>itintheinterests of US citizens?
>Date: Tue, 17 Aug 2004 02:35:57 +1000
>Brian Lee wrote:
> > .. The problem with international law is that there is no one willing
> > to threaten enforcement.
>I can't agree with you on that Brian. (I'm talking from memory rather
>than giving you specifics so reserve the right to tidy my language if
>this argument gets interesting), in the case of the first gulf war on
>George H W Bush's watch, the UN Security Council authorised
>the use of force to eject Saddam from Kuwait.  International law
>in this case the UN Charter which is sort of a like the constitution
>for internation law, not only threatened enforcement, it delivered
>Speaking loosely again I'm a humanist rationalist atheist - I don't
>normally talk in terms like righteous and just war but that one was.
>And George H. W Bush got criticised for not exceeding the authority
>of the existing UN resolution but in my opinion that restraint was to
>his credit as a statesman.
>I think the real problem with international law is that in a world with
>only one remaining military super power the temptation to bulldust and
>spin gets very high and the citizens of most of the developed western
>nations which have an understanding of their own laws and constitutions
>(sometimes) don't really have much of an understanding of how the
>UN security council works. This is understandable but I think it is
>a big part of the problem. If the US citizens had had a better
>understanding of the UN Charter I think that George W Bush would
>have more domestic pressure and more good advice and he may have
>found a better solution to the new post september 11 problem of rouge
>countries having weapons of mass destruction.  He may have IF he
>was operating in good faith which I am less confident of now than
>I was at the time of Resolution 1441.
> > I don't see the US signing up for any international law program
> > because it doesn't benefit. If you take a look at stuff like WTO
> > and NAFTA then that's more likely the only international law
> > that will hold any power.
>The US was a founder of the UN. It not only signed the UN charter
>but it holds (from memory) all the original signatures. The UN Charter
>is the document into which (I think from memory) almost all other
>international laws bolt in.
>The power behind the UN Security Council is the power of the 5
>victorious countries in WW11 that make up the permanent members.
>The US, the UK, Russia, China, France. There are 10 other
>non permanent security council members that are elected from
>time to time.
>Because the UN Charter is mostly aimed at maintaining international
>peace and security the security councils powers are limited. Any
>one of the permanent 5 can veto and action that the others might
>want to take thereby making a resolution unreachable and no lawful
>action taken. If you consider the cold war and that China and Russia
>were often on different sides of political issues to the US, the UK
>and France then it is not so surprising that these 5 often could not
>come to agree that certain actions should be resolved to be taken
>- often it was one of these five that was causing the problem in the
>first place.
>To understand the UN charter its necessary to understand that
>none of the permanent 5 could have a UN Resolution passed to
>enforce international law upon them because they'd veto it.
>Most lay-folk don't get that.  The whole subject area seems to
>esoteric or boring to them. Its not where they live.  Thats unfortunate
>because international law, its development and existence is the
>best hope for the future of just about all of them.  Without it I
>think the free market may produce an Orwellian future.
>I don't think transhumanist causes have a hope without international
>law. (I should be honest here and say I don't think a lot of transhumanist
>causes have much prospect anyway). Conflicts will distract too much
>of the attention.  Terror (that which is real and that which is contrived
>by domestic politicians for their political advantage) will not give hope
>a chance.
>Brett Paatsch
>extropy-chat mailing list
>extropy-chat at lists.extropy.org

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