Canadian journalist Donna Laframboise. Former National Post & Toronto Star columnist, past vice president of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association. New posts: Mondays & Wednesdays.
Goodbye self-determination. Hello conformity.
The United Nations tells us it was established in the aftermath of World War II, at a time “when the world wanted peace.” Seventy years after its founding, it says it’s still maintaining “international peace and security.”
In fact, it’s concerned with far more than keeping things friendly between nations. Now it’s in the business of “upholding international law” and “promoting democracy.”
But those ideas are in direct conflict with one another. Democracy, as I’ve observed elsewhere, is about a specific group of people residing in a specific geographic location. Democracy occurs when these people exercise self-rule, determining their own fate, steering their own ship – all the while acknowledging that citizens of neighbouring nations have the right to steer their vessel in a contrary direction.
International law is the opposite of self-rule. Decisions get made elsewhere, out there in the great beyond. Those decisions override national decisions. Democracy is eviscerated. Conformity is imposed.
Citizens who must live according to laws that are imposed upon them, who have no mechanism by which to repudiate such laws, are not charting their own course. They’re being shepherded. Like children, or sheep.
The international law crowd – judges, lawyers, EU and UN operatives – answer to no one. They’re unaccountable. Untouchable. Forever beyond the reach of mere voters. And they’re oh-so-certain they’re working for the greater good.
International law is the Borg, those smugly superior Star Trek villains. In the 20-second video clip at the top of this post, an exchange between a Borg spokesperson and a Klingon captures this dynamic perfectly:
“Why do you resist? We only wish to raise quality of life for all species.”
“I like my species the way it is.”
“A narrow vision. You will become one with the Borg.”
In the fictional Star Trek universe, Klingons are culturally distinct. They have lots of rough edges. It isn’t difficult to argue that a bit more international law and a little less Klingon self-determination would be a good thing for the Klingons themselves, as well as for the larger community.
But as appealing as this sounds, it’s a terrible idea. A world in which Klingons aren’t free to determine their own norms, in which norms are forced upon them, ends in a Borg-like civilization.
Goodbye liberty and self-determination. Hello authoritarian conformity. That’s what international law does.