Saturday, April 28, 2012

world government: War Court to prevent the use of war

What would the world government do?

I see two key functions: 1) prevent war and 2) shame governments and other institutions into behaving.

If the people in power were behaving, there's nothing particularly inadequate about the existing institutions. (Some of the international financial institutions and trade agreements need... reform, but most of what we have is decent if the people in power behaved themselves.)

How is this government going to prevent war?

It's going to primarily be a court system.

The War Court (working title) is going to be above the UN Security Council and national governments. For a government (or other human organization, including non-state actors and corporations) to use lethal force beyond its territorial jurisdiction, it must go to the War Court and prove that it has exercised all remedies short of using deadly force. The provocation cannot be addressed by an remedy short of deadly force and that the provocation rises to the level of requiring deadly force. The party pleading for the prerogative of going to war must also write the war resolution as narrowly as possible. Also, the war resolution has to be approved through the UN Security Council.

Imposing these reasonable requirements would make it pretty hard to go to war.

What are the consequences of violating the War Court's rulings and going to war anyways?

The people who violate the law will be criminals and subject to prosecution: from heads of state down to soldiers and including diplomats, legislators and judges who went along. For the rest of their lives, they will be criminals or fugitives. When history is written, they will be labeled what they are: murderers and war criminals.

I'll write more about shaming later.


  1. We can write the rules any way we want. The only real question is whether the world's superpowers will choose to obey them. The other members of the UN Security Council made it clear that Bush's invasion of Iraq was illegal. Consequences? Legally, there were none. Were we shamed into not doing something like that again? Maybe.

  2. Creating legitimacy is not an easy task.

    However, the credibility and legitimacy of the United Nations and nation-state system is weak too.

    If there was a court system that was widely recognized, I think it would be politically difficult for nation-states to simply ignore it.

    Going to war requires that the domestic population buy into the legitimacy of the war.

    Say, Country X failed to get approval and went to war anyways.

    I think this would empower and embolden the peace movement in Country X.

    I think members of the military who refused to participate would be liberally granted assylum in other countries.

    How much of the military hss to refuse orders to cause the system to break down?

    My guess is that even 1% of the military refusing orders would make warfare difficult. Somewhere between 3-12% and it would be impossible.

    The League of Nations model of states enforcing the rulings hasn't worked. The people need to enforce our expectations on our governments.

  3. I believe the International Criminal Court is a version of what you're suggesting here, Carl. Like all international institutions, it's not perfect, but moving in the right direction. After 2017, aggression will fall under its jurisdiction and state parties could be prosecuted. Those who do not become parties will become increasingly shamed as global pariahs as the international system continues to develop around them.

    This said, I would favor the development of a global democratic assembly as a preference to a court system as the basis for a worldwide government. Bringing into global negotiations some regard for the consent of the governed, along with the apochryphal notion that democracies never go to war with each other would likely be much more likely to prevent war in the first place than require its adjudication after the fact.