March 25, 2011

The UN and individual rights

The United Nations has a very mixed record on human rights. This is a direct result of their historic tendency to view human rights not as natural and inalienable, but as being collective and derived from the authority of government. Today, however, I stumbled across this:

Boston Globe: UN rights body ditches "defamation" idea

I cannot begin to express what a profound difference this makes. Granted, at the moment this is limited to one tiny area of human rights. On the other hand, this reflects a complete shift of the very foundation that the UN's definition of "human rights" rests upon. If the UN, like the U.S. Constitution, defines human rights on the basis of the individual rather than the collective, then they must also transform their global political role from a defender of minor governments (most of whom are totalitarion) to individuals regardless of what country they live in.

For most of my adult life I have hated and reviled the United Nations. The UN Charter reeks of Marxism, big government, and society as a paternalistic overlord dedicated to defining how the individual lives, contributes, and participates in society. George Orwell's "Big Brother" is woven into the UN Charter so deeply I have never once considered that the UN might someday find the wherewithal to redefine itself into a global body politic dedicated to the genuine preservation of individual human rights. It would be absolutely stunning if they follow up their redefinition of "freedom of religion" with a complete reworking of the entire charter.

I have long contended that if we must have a global government, and surely someday soon we must, then that government must be predicated on the protection of the individual's right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. The only way a global government could ever be a greater benefit than burden would be if that government focused on three simple areas: preservation of natural rights, preservation of private property, preservation of the common defense. To expand that role into the realms of food regulations, local crime enforcement, and whatnot would necessitate a bureauracy so vast and monolithic it would crush both freedom and economy throughout the world.

All governments are by their very nature parasitic. They must bleed off the production and livelihood of the people they protect. If we expect too much from a government (as we do with any kind of socialism) then our society very quickly reaches the situation we find ourselves in today where the parasite is larger than the host and as a result, the host is dying.

We definitely need a global government. We definitely do not need a global dictatorship. The vast majority of legal protections must be created and preserved at the local level by small, fast-acting local governments. The only real purpose of a global government is the clear defining of individual human rights and the creation of a mechanism that provides incentives for local governments to comply with those rights. Any form of punitive measures on a global scale wind up in expensive, poorly coordinated, poorly executed military adventures such as Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan, Rwanda, Somalia, and so on. Whether the current situation in Libya will turn into a success like South Korea or an abject failure like Somalia is anybody's guess. The only certainty is it will be expensive and bloody at a time when the world no longer has the resources to fight another major war.