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Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The League of Democracies: An idea that needs to be discussed

The UN was a wonderful idea that has turned into a dismal failure.

Its waste and corruption and paradoxical jokes like its having a "Human Rights" supervisory body containing countries like Libya, Cuba, China, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia have largely undermined confidence in its usefulness throughout the democratic world. This body of 192 member states, many of whom are undemocratic dictatorships, makes decisions that reflect the will of their dictators and not their people.

Canada's recent unsuccessful lobbying for a seat on the United Nation's Security Council highlights some of the inefficiencies and hypocrisies that are inherent in the world's diplomatic amphitheatre.

It's time to get past the UN and Canada should lead the move towards establishing a global decision-making body that reflects responsible, democratic principles, rather than is subject to the whims of totalitarians in Iran and North Korea.

John McCain proposed a the formation of a League of Democracies 2 years ago. It's an idea whose time has come.

McCain wrote in the Financial Times:

"We need to strengthen our transatlantic alliance as the core of a new global compact – a League of Democracies – that can harness the great power of the more than 100 democratic nations around the world to advance our values and defend our shared interests.

At the heart of this new compact must be mutual respect and trust. We Americans recall the words of our founders in the Declaration of Independence, that we must pay “decent respect to the opinions of mankind”. Our great power does not mean we can do whatever we want whenever we want, nor should we assume we have all the wisdom and knowledge necessary to succeed.

We need to listen to the views and respect the collective will of our democratic allies. When we believe that international action is necessary, whether military, economic or diplomatic, we will try to persuade our friends that we are right. But we, in return, must also be willing to be persuaded by them.

The nations of the NATO alliance and the European Union, meanwhile, must have the ability and the will to act in defence of freedom and economic prosperity. "


Anonymous said...

I agree with you that the UN was a great idea and a dismal failure. There are many reasons for that.
However, keep in mind that the UN wasn't created, or at least it doesn't seem to me, that it's goal was to be a democratic organ. It was to be an international forum - thus why undemocratic countries are represented in UN subforums, like the Human Rights one. You can't just have one side of the medal to have a rightful discussion.

Also, I'm not sure what a Democracy Alliance would do better -it would turn out to be the same-decision makers that have always grabbed the head of large institutions.
And in fact, as much as the US wants to be an example of pure democracy, compared to Canada, or in fact just by analyzing their own report card, there are many events where freedom of expression and free elections (read not supported by who has lobbied the bigger groups or who has offered the most money to media) are quite underplayed. In fact, I would even argue that US elections are like a Leviathan..

Richard K said...

The difference between a body where the members are democratic states and one that includes dictatorships like North Korea and Libya is that the governments being represented would be accountable to their own citizenries. If the UN wasn't created to be a democratic forum, then why are there UN votes and resolutions?

It's a ridiculous paradox in which undemocratic countries try to impose regulations on the free world through a process which they deny to their own citizens.

The UN may continue to have a certian value even with the establishment of a League of Democracies. But the UN has long outlived its usefulness as a serious forum, since its credibility has long been undermined. Powerful countries act independently of UN decisions and unless the United States agrees to any major UN motion, it is irrelevant.

A League of Democracies as a serious decision making body would also create incentives for undemocratic countries to liberalize and to stay that way. It would be embarassing for them to be exclused from the world's real council of nations and there would be internal pressures on those countries not included to achieve the necessary reforms.

Just as countries now aspire to be included in groups like the EU, the G8, and G20 and have made economic reforms for that purpose, they would have political incentives to liberalize to be included in the League of Democracies. The beneficiaries of something like that would be both the citizens of currently undemocratic countries and the entire world.