Thursday, 13 January 2011

Phony Treaties?


I shrunk and italicized my massive digression from the topic, for your convenience.

Say what you want about Fox News, love them or hate them, but this story seems pretty troubling to me.

I don’t feel that the specific circumstances are so troubling. We have an organization that is, at least allegedly, involved with advocating some type of algae to fight world hunger. Good for them. I don’t really care about what they are doing, its more how it appears they are organized that troubles me.

Now I have a natural and, I feel, reasonable distrust of the UN and most international organizations created by and in many cases affiliated with it. You have a group of unelected representatives making decisions that potentially affect the entire world and everyone on it.

My concerns don’t really lay with the US representative, being appointed by the president and confirmed by the senate they are changeable by us, pretty easily and regularly. Even with the reps from other democracies, I see a parallel with our legislative bodies here in the US, they are appointed by elected officials and thus have some accountability. I don’t elect the reps from other districts or the senators from other states, but they are accountable to the people.

Many member states are dictatorships, one party states such as communist countries and multitudes of other countries no one would want to be a citizen of, at least if they value basic freedoms. So here my concern lies. All of these countries have equal say as they should in such a body. Whether or not having a body like that is advisable.. I dunno. As usual I have gone way off course, so lets get back to it.

This organization, The Intergovernmental Institution for the Use of Micro-Algae Spirulina Against Malnutrition (IIMSAM), is apparently based upon treaties that don’t actually exist, namely with Italy.

Italy has no record of ever signing the treaty setting up IIMSAM. Almost 2 years ago Italy requested that the UN remove its name from the treaties on record, as they were never actually signed by Italy. There is more, but its even more boring, the link at the top takes you to the fox story which goes on forever with the specifics.

Like I said, I don’t really care what these guys are doing. Even if they did fudge some documents and somehow get the UN to register a treaty that was never signed by the country the treaty says signed it, I don’t think they are smuggling nuclear weapons around or poisoning wells anywhere.

The concerning thing is that IIMSAM appears to have gained legitimacy through illegitimate means. If they can do it, who else can? What are the ramifications of an organization being able to base itself on a non-existent or un-ratified treaty and actually have that ‘treaty’ be on hand, appearing legitimate, at the United Nations? I don’t really know and I won’t pretend to. It really concerns me though.

Treaties often have the force of law. In fact in the United States any treaty that doesn’t conflict with the Constitution can change federal law. There is also the added caveat that treaties can be made which take precedence over those powers which were reserved to the States, see the case law here.

To put that in a simpler perspective, the Constitution gives the states the power to regulate alcohol, Congress has pretty much no say what the states do, the drinking age in a given state for example. Congress has threatened to withhold funds if a states drinking age is below 21, but a state could still make it 18 or 16 or whenever you can see over the bar. Congress could do nothing about this. Were the President to sign and the Senate to ratify a treaty requiring the drinking age in the respective countries to be 12, that would become the law of the land.

A scary thought, at least to me.

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