Democracy and the rule of International Law: Part IV.

The World is a fine and lovely place – when seen through rose-tinted spectacles. The view through Khaki Specs is spoilt by a thin layer of goose-shit!

  Blog No 143.

Of my previous ten blogs, at least seven have addressed this pressing problem of global governance. To help focus your mind on the seriousness of the situation, it is worth reading the hyperlink below.

It becomes immediately apparent that, given the trajectory humanity is now on, the Paris Accord, as it stands, is not going to save it from extinction through climate change-induced loss of habitat.

Irrespective of the above, the Paris Accord, even in the unlikely event that it should come to be effectively implemented, could well be pre-empted by the combo of US foreign policy and the world’s growing nuclear arsenals. These, between them have the full potential to achieve human extinction in a far shorter time-span than the impact on the Earth’s ecology of the so far, barely obvious and barely mitigated, climate change.

Global governance remains in the hands of leadership elites entrapped within the matrix of capitalist democracy. Both leaders and led are exposed to extraordinarily effective opinion manipulation techniques wielded by the main beneficiaries of this current system.

This has resulted in governments controlled by the elites of a global population addicted to the idea of perpetual economic growth for the purpose of self-gratification.  Its response to the fast approaching calamity seems to be an astounding insouciance. Don’t worry: be happy!

In parallel to this Earth-harming and self-harming mind-set, nation states continue to develop ever more effective genocidal and ecocidal armouries. At the same time, international conflict resolution mechanisms remain neutered by the Security Council veto and the effective absence of internationalist and humanist controlled enforcement mechanisms.

While this situation persists, the dangers facing humanity will become ever more pressing.

To place what follows in context, this series of blogs, of which there are several yet to be posted, consists of the following:

1. Blog No 131. “No is not enough.” Naomi Klein and her NGO activist solution.

2. Blog No 132. “The SIMPOL solution.” Using the electoral system to harmonise international policies.

3. Blog No 136. “The Pirate Ship: The USA’s hard-power option.” As the soft-power of the American Empire ebbs away, it is becoming increasingly reliant on its hard-power of military superiority to bend other nations to its will and to the despite of international law.

4. Blog No 137. “The Rule of National Law – without which, international law has little chance.” Wilfred’s and Shipp’s cases against the USA’s CIA led, shadow government, which is not interested in the international rule of law or peace and harmony between nations.

5. Blog No 139. “Democracy and the Rule of International Law: Part I.” WPTL (World Peace through Law.) James Ranney’s book based on Bentham’s three-legged stool: reduced weaponry; an international court with compulsory jurisdiction and enforcement mechanisms (both military and economic) at its disposal. The court, being the final resort should compulsory negotiation, mediation and arbitration fail to resolve a conflict.

6. Blog No 141. “Democracy and the Rule of International Law: Part II.” Review of Daniel Ginsberg’s “The Doomsday Machine” revealing just how close the USA came to annihilating the world with Ike’s reckless nuclear policy.

7. Blog No 142. “Democracy and the Rule of International Law: Part III.” NZ needs to revoke its alliance with the USA and prepare international structures to prevent war between China and Russia.

8. Blog No 143. “Democracy and the Rule of International Law: Part IV.” Brave attempts to save the world from ecological disaster – Client Earth – Mission Lifeforce – which could also be deployed in other fields, such as poverty and disarmament. On their own, they will not suffice.

James Ranney in the book that was the subject of my Blog No. 139 (see above) sets out the nature of the problem. However, to my mind, he retains an unjustifiably optimistic view of porcine aerodynamics and of where our current course is likely to lead us. Somehow, the USA will ‘come right,’ place itself under the sovereignty of UN enforcement agencies and lead the world into an era of peace. Yeah; Right!

Typical of such enviable optimism, is Ranney’s statement “We are already reducing nuclear forces down to ‘minimal deterrence levels.” If true, it would appear that for a paranoid American empire, even ‘minimal deterrence levels’ involve the capability to eliminate all life on Earth – several times over.

It is improbable that optimism alone will see the US leadership shed the leopard-skin coat of global dominance it has become habituated to wearing in the post-war years. It is equally improbable that the emergent advocates of a multi-polar system, will meekly comply with the USA’s insistence that its dominance be recognised. Ranney’s goal of a global governance system based on ‘World Peace through Law’ would almost certainly represent humanity’s best hope of survival. However, optimism alone will not achieve it. Pressure will have to be brought to bear on the problem of functional global governance. That possibility will be the subject of subsequent blogs.

In the meantime, we must seek to seize and optimise whatever stop-gap opportunities for improving the situation present themselves. One such initiative is illustrated in a book that I have just finished reading: “Client Earth” by James Thornton and Martin Goodman.

The book is named after a legal firm operating out of offices in London, Brussels and Warsaw. The firm is funded by wealthy philanthropists (of which the world has far too few.) Client Earth specialises in taking governments to court for failing to enforce those environmental protection laws, both national and international, which have already been enacted. Its scope is greatly enhanced by the Aarhus Convention of 1998 (The United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) Convention on Access to Information, Public Participation in Decision-Making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters) ratified by forty-seven countries including nearly all the EU countries and several others to the East. Client Earth’s track record of success is recorded in its Wikipedia entry

A key factor in Thorndon’s previous success in the American courts had been the fact that in public interest environment protection cases, even should the case be lost, costs are not levied against the plaintiff. In multiple other countries, such as the UK, this is not the case. It is the plaintiff and not the citizen or citizens, in whose interest the plaintiff is acting, that risks having to bear the costs should the case be lost. Needless to say, this represents a major deterrent to the bringing of public interest cases to court.

One of the book’s most interesting and comforting chapters was on Client Earth’s consultancy work in China. While the US government is busy demolishing its Environmental Protection Agency, the Chinese government, not having to leap through burning electoral hoops, is getting on with a long-term plan to establish ‘an ecological civilisation.’ A key element of this policy is that environmental laws and regulations should actually be enforced. Client Earth has been contracted by the Chinese government to set up a system to train its magistrates in the enforcement of such laws.

Were more wealthy philanthropists prepared to get behind Client Earth, much more could be achieved – and in other fields, not just that of the environment. A nuclear exchange would in a day, do far more damage to the environment than a century of enhanced fossil fuel emissions. There is a World Court ruling just begging for multiple, but alas too expensive, citizen initiated court hearings.

An equal litigious opportunity in the USA is pointed out in this article by Prof: Stephen Starr He quotes from the Environmental Protection Agency’s website “The National Environmental Policy Act [NEPA] requires federal agencies to integrate environmental values into their decision-making processes by considering the environmental impacts of their proposed actions and reasonable alternatives to those actions. To meet NEPA requirements, federal agencies [must] prepare a detailed statement known as an Environmental Impact Statement.”

As Starr says, “If that’s the case, why not require Defense to create an Environmental Impact Statement for the more than 1,000 U.S. strategic nuclear weapons now on high-alert?”

Should such cases get to court, they might well be (and initially, almost certainly would be) lost, but the potential they have for changing both the general public’s and their leaders’ attitudes to the environment and to nuclear war are immense.

Following where Client Earth has led, in the past month, the City of New York has announced that it is suing the oil majors for the damage they have done to the climate and the damage the climate has done to New York. Given recent weather events in California, one can anticipate that that state will also join the action. Given their massively deep pockets, it is improbable that big oil will end up paying any costs or reparations. However, the extent of their ecocide and criminal misrepresentation will become increasingly obvious to a public that will become increasingly alarmed and outraged.

Another such valiant move in the development of public awareness and international law is the recently established Mission Lifeforce and its effort to get ecocide (alongside such as genocide) recognised a s a crime in international law. Alongside many such efforts to enhance the enforcement and scope of international law this is an organisation that stands out as deserving the support of every individual who cares about the Human future.

At the end of the day, or hopefully before it, the fate of humanity is dependent on national leaderships. Even under regimes that are more authoritarian than democratic, that ultimately boils down to what the public will tolerate. I have already written several blogs on the manipulation of public opinion. I deem this one, though written while NZ still had a National government, particularly relevant to our present situation. My next blog will have more to say on this subject.

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