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Transcultural Friendship: Our Political Future

Chapter Five: The Emerging World Order

Section 7: The Rules of the UN and ICJ


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"Battle Drums on Mt. Jin", February 8, 1998, performed by Daphne Chang, Tina Ting, Jean Tseng, of the Academy of Chinese Performing Arts.


The United Nations is the natural forum for the development of a world-wide articulated and principled order. However, the designers of the ICJ (International Court of Justice) were wise in giving birth to a toothless child -- allowing it to practice decision-making without the power to enforce. As the ICJ establishes its credibility by refusing to reach beyond its powers and by demonstrating wisdom in its decisions, it will gain teeth in the form of expanded jurisdiction and enforcement powers. Again using Fisher's analysis, each player nation can see that it is to its long-term advantage to convey its willingness to abide by international rules. One way of accomplishing this is to submit to the authority of international tribunals -- for example, submitting to compulsory jurisdiction of the ICJ under Article 36.2 of the Statute of the International Court of Justice.



If parties do not voluntarily comply with ICJ decrees, other means of enforcement are available. President Carter has suggested using self-help enforcement against Iran. While self-help is a little more legitimate when backed by a court decree, there is too much opportunity for abuse and increasing bad feelings between the parties. Eventually, a more disinterested mechanism will have to be developed.



The ICJ has some theoretical, albeit limited, enforcement authority. Suppose nation A gets a judgment against nation B, which the latter refuses to pay. In a separate and subsequent matter, B gets a judgment against A. The court would be empowered to offset the first judgment against the second and B would have no mechanism or justification for protest.



Sanctions may be imposed by withholding benefits in the future. The US federal government has obtained control, otherwise unconstitutional, through the use of the spending power. The granting and withholding of federal aid to the states has been effective in protecting civil liberties, and, unfortunately, to influence elections. The UN may gain control through the International Monetary Fund or UNICEF funds. An example of a potential bonanza for the UN purse strings would come with the passage of the Informal Composite Negotiating Text (ICNT). Rights to explore and work the deep-sea bed would be tied to certain charges to be paid to the International Sea-Bed Authority, otherwise, appropriately known as "The Authority". The potential sums involved suggest that the U.N. will become a much more powerful force in future world affairs.



Consequently, because it is in the long-term interests of each nation, there will eventually be a strong United Nations. This process will be slow in unfolding as the compromises and adjustments necessary to make the system as fair as possible are worked out. One must realize, as Bozman points out in Future of Law in a Multicultural World, that the rules and the functions of the international community will be perceived and understood differently by different cultures. This will lead to confusion and misunderstandings, which will have to be dealt with on a case-by-case basis by the ICJ. Their decisions will narrow the chasms that separate different cultura1 world views. After all, this is just another aspect of the culture clash problems created by increasing national interdependence.







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