Goal number one this week is portraying a bit more chipper writing attitude as opposed to the last two weeks rather dystopian outlooks.  I lay the blame on social isolation J.  The common theme running through this weeks’ reading is how statute sovereignty hamstrings OIs such as IJC, International Criminal Court, NATO and so on.   I found a couple things interesting in these articles as they are quite old, none more recent than ten years ago.  First, de Nevers (2007) mentions NATO alliances agreed upon spending for defense.  Defense Department’s budget request for research and development for FY 2007 is $57.9 billion. This figure has more than doubled to $107B or 38.6 percent of all R&D budget for 2020 (CRS 2020) and has been a central focus point of the current US administration (Haltiwanger 2019).  I interpret de Nevers (2007) framing of NATO’s international security role as a US “It’s my way or the highway”.  The argument is reinforced with actions such as the US unilateral invasion of Iraq and the underlying reasons.  Paulson (2004) notes (concerning the IJC, “In an increasing number of cases, however, a party refused either to appear or to participate in stages of the proceedings, and unwilling participants were less likely than others to accept the Court’s judgment”.  Mirror that with views of former UN Ambassador and former National Security Advisor, John Bolton, when referencing the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court (Bolton 2018, Bolton 2001):

           “The United States will use any means necessary to protect our citizens and those of our allies from unjust prosecution by this illegitimate court. We will not cooperate with the ICC. We will provide no assistance to the ICC. We will not join the ICC. We will let the ICC die on its own. After all, for all intents and purposes, the ICC is already dead to us.” 

The extent of US objection to the ICC is it agreed to more than 100 bi-lateral agreements stating countries would not turn over US service members to the Court and passing legislation, American Service-Members’ Protection Act in 2002, dubbed “the Hague Invasion Act” (Bolton 2018), that the US would use “any means necessary” to retrieve members from confinement at The Hague, essentially saying it held the right to militarily retrieve service members.  Those examples may seem extreme but, in Bolton’s view, it centers on state sovereignty.   Similar arguments flow throughout the articles be it whether the IJC judgments in Chad and Libya are observed (Paulson 2004), whether NATO is important to the spread of democracy (Reiter 2001), and so on.  The core of each argument is state sovereignty and the debate as to whether an international organization has any sway over a nation’s actions.  Such arguments have been made concerning NATO since its inception (U.B. 1958).  

As John Bolton (2018) notes, 70 percent of the worlds’ population (including the US, China, Russia, India) are not signers to the International Criminal Court (Tao 2015).  The World Bank and IMF face unprecedented challenge with the COVID-19 outbreak, “call on all official bilateral creditors to suspend debt payments from IDA countries that request forbearance” (World Bank 2020).  NATO faces concurrent pressure from the Trump administration on funding and calls for expansion to the Middle East (Oprysko 2020).  Honestly, I have no idea how IOs face and make headway to these challenges aside from make small steps and hopefully they turn into bigger steps.  It is my view that any major IO follows US direction as it has the largest economy, the largest military, and the largest global influence.  Small rebuffs to the US happen, for example with the EU on climate (Tamma and Oroschakoff 2019), or the G-7 rebuff to jointly referring to COVID-19 as the Wuhan-virus (Finnegan 2020).  But my mine is a narrow view because, honestly, the US is what I know, what I listen to, what I hear, and what I read.  IOs success and failure is not completely dependent on US reaction though I frequently view it through that lens as it is the only lens I have.  IOs do achieve tremendous success.  It’s just really hard for us to hear about it.

Response 2:

Mayerfeld very succinctly summarized the problems with international justice with his question “how can the world institute the global enforcement of fundamental human rights in a manner that is fair and accurate and does not inflame international tensions?” (2003, 2)  The problems with security and justice, much like the behavior of states, are the result of the nature of the international system.  Any state that is judged by the International Court of Justice to be guilty of human rights crimes, will naturally dispute that ruling and call the court unfair, as will its allies, most likely.  This is why “in order for their cases to be heard, states must agree to abide by the decisions of the ICJ.” (Lesson 5)  Accepting ICJ and ICC authority requires the states to willingly give up some measure of sovereignty, allowing a higher court to punish their citizens and hold them accountable.  This is why none of the great powers (US, China, and Russia) have ratified the Rome Statue establishing the ICC. (Mayerfeld, 2003, 3)  Without all nations of the world accepting the authority of the ICJ and ICC, it is nearly impossible to enforce any fair rulings without inflaming international tensions.

Preserving security faces similar challenges and just as often inflames political tensions.  We studied NATO this week, an organization whose primary purpose is preserving security in Europe and North America.  However, naturally, its formation was seen as enough of a threat to Russia specifically, to prompt them to form the Commonwealth of Independent States.  The CIS is a twin organization to NATO, but consisting entirely of former Soviet states.  It is worth noting that not all former Soviet states have joined the CIS, with several opting for NATO membership instead.  This created a power struggle that arguably destabilizes Europe, rather than providing security.  We can clearly see the application of realist principles in this struggle.  The lack of trust between nations, in this case Russia and the US, led to the US gathering allies under NATO to control Russia, which led to Russia gathering allies under the CIS to balance against NATO.  Both of these IOs, however, are military alliances that are essentially extensions of their main state, the US and Russia.  Other IOs whose purpose is to preserve security include the UN Security Council and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.  These IO’s do not carry the stigma of being an extension of any one state, and so are able to communicate and work with other nations more easily.  Unfortunately, they lack the enforcements mechanisms that NATO and CIS have.  Both the US and Russia have massive militaries that make up the vast majority of their respective alliances’ military power, and thus NATO and the CIS can take action more efficiently and forcefully than the UNSC or OSCE.

Factors that affect how successfully IOs address these challenges are largely outside of the IO’s control.  Military support form member nations contributes significantly to the enforcement power of the IO, as we saw with the UNSC and OSCE.  How difficult the situation the IO is trying to control is also a huge factor.  Prosecuting human rights violations in Africa is significantly easier than prosecuting similar violations in western countries, which may be why the ICC has heard far more criminal cases from that part of the world, as our lesson this week pointed out.  While brokering peace between the US and Russia would be a significantly more difficult problem to tackle.  The political savvy of the IO will greatly affect their negotiations with nation states, as will the infrastructure they have to support such negotiations and the finances they have to support vast infrastructure and potential military action.  Thus far IOs have experienced limited success, primarily in weaker states.  For them to be universally successful they would have to have authority over all nations, which would require the great powers to not only submit to their authority, but enthusiastically support the IOs with their money and militaries.  That is not going to happen any time soon.

Response 3:

At the end of World War II, the International community sought to establish a system of international relations recognizing that “To deal with security problems arising from regional conflicts and humanitarian crises, states need institutions that have specific assets for mediation and bargaining, rest on a presumption of legitimacy, and operate by including problematic states” (Wallander 2000, 711), finding that the creation of international institutions will be the key to guarantee a more stable and real security landscape to prevent those horrible events from repeating.

At the same time, the United States and the USSR began the so-called Cold War, a situation that always threatened peace in the nations. The inevitable debacle of the USSR culminated in that situational state and could end the Cold War. From there, the focus changed, the problem of security moved for political, economic and social reasons, making the world panorama extremely complex, conditioned by many factors. This event led to an understanding that the global security landscape was going to go beyond, “peace-war” binomial, without leaving these factors out of importance in the system of international relations. But even when the world challenges changed some organizations such as North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) have persisted after the war threat ended, the main reasons for these are its focus “achieving transparency, integration, and negotiation among its members, and because it developed general assets that could be mobilized to deal with new security missions”(Wallander 2000, 712), ideas that were aligned with the world needs.

Since their creation, International Organizations (IOs) in general face the different challenges this constantly changing world present regarding; the unequal distribution of wealth, hunger among the poorest, pandemics and epidemics without adequate control, exhaustion of energy sources and natural resources, migrations and massive and uncontrolled displacements, increasing effects of environmental degradation and also guiding governments into fulfilling their obligations the protection of human rights (Mayerfeld 2003, 97).

The current international situation is characterized by the hegemonic policy of the United States which condition relations with its allies, collaborators, and enemies. The causes of armed conflicts in the current era retain the traditional spectrum that includes, among other factors: the struggle for political power in various scenarios and national situations; the achievement of economic benefits for certain sectors; ethnic and even religious disputes (Paulson 2004). These factors impose insecure conditions within the countries and, thus, in the world.

Among the IOs focus on fighting these challenges and preserving justice and security, the United Nations (UN) stands out. In this regard, it has made efforts to achieve the end of numerous conflicts, likewise, it has carried out various preventive tasks, so that, national, or international controversies do not lead to medium-high intensity wars or armed conflicts. The main dilemma for the IOs is whether it must intervene to protect civilians in danger. In civil conflicts, the Security Council of the UN has authorized innovative and complex peacekeeping operations, such as operations in El Salvador, Guatemala, Cambodia, and Mozambique (regions affected by internal conflicts). Other conflicts, especially those characterized by ethnic violence and genocidal outreaches, such as in Somalia, Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia, posed new challenges for the performance of the United Nations peacemaking function (United Nations Peacekeeping: Where We Operate n.d.).

The general problems of peacekeeping forces in major theaters of operations since 2008 have provided evidence that current peacekeeping missions have been ill-equipped to deal with a changing scenario. With the aggravation of little or inadequate international aid, reflecting that despite the efforts and many lives these efforts have safeguarded, it is undeniable there is still much to do not only in IOs but all international actors to guarantee security, justice, and peace in the world.

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