Bayou Calvinist

A Somewhat Eclectic Discussion by a Law Student Concerning All of Today's Major Topics, as well as, a Few Not So Major Topics

Friday, October 14, 2005

All States are created equal?

This great piece over at the Weekly Standard's website brings up several issues I have been grappling with for the last few weeks.

I am currently taking international Public Law at school and throughout, I have been amazed at how much the world order is premised on the view that the highest good to be sought is international peace. It is not that I do not value international peace. In fact, I tend to consider international peace as one of the most noble goals to be sought after. That being said, should it necessarily be set above individual freedom, life and liberty--above respect for the individual?

Not only do I question the paramount position given by the UN to the idea of a world without international conflict, but I also question the method through which they intend to reach it. In order to maintain world peace, the UN assumes we must maintain equality of states. The problems with this assumption are too many to list in this short post; but just to name a few consider the following: the bringers of war and conflict are not always states-and so the equalities of the states will not always affect them (but instead as I would argue is shown by experiences in the War on Terror, state equality makes it easier for non-state actors to threaten the peace); by allowing all states to be equal, all forms of government are given the legitimacy to pervert their nations and in so doing may eventually become a threat to peace themselves; equality of states makes the enforcement of any sanctions nearly impossible, especially when a martial response is needed (done only twice through the UN in its history).

But back to my first problem and how the equality of states comes into play. Not only does the primacy of international peace as a UN goal many times lead to the destruction of individual liberty (including unlawful imprisonments, torture, enslavement and death) but the sacrosanct equality of states often leads to the further erosion of individual rights. For the reasons why this is the case, see the article I linked to above. Also because the above article focuses on the beliefs of Abe Lincoln in opposition to this very viewpoint, it reminded me of one of my favorite Lincoln quotes:

We shall again be able not to declare, that "all States as States, are equal," but to renew the broader, better declaration...That "all men are created equal."

After reading the above article consider to what extent these intellectual disagreements may be good examples of the Lockean vs. Hobbesean outlooks on human nature, governance and law/justice.


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