The International Economy, International Regimes and the Relations of Global Disparities Essay

The key to understanding the international political economy is the understanding of the nature of International regimes. Stephen D. Krasner defines regimes as sets of implicit or explicit principles, norms, roles and decision making processes around which actors expectations converge in a given area of international relations. In addition to Krasner, Kal Hosti proposes that regimes exist when the following three factors are present: Firstly, perceptions of community interest must be apparent (such as state interests). Secondly, a notion of a common destiny for the regime and the allocation of where the regime will fit within the international system are critical. Lastly, there must be a clear sense that self-restraint is necessary to achieve a common goal among international actors.

Regimes are, however, not the same as international law or international organizations. These are simply examples of one of the elements that make up part of the regime. Regimes are more flexible than law. Law comes out of legal principles; regimes are explicitly political creations. Oran Young further defines regimes as containing the following functions: Firstly, that they are comprised of set standards that are measurable and quantifiable, for example percentage of greenhouse gas emissions allowable. Secondly, they must set obligations that require enforcement potential from non-governmental organizations (NGO’s) or international governmental organizations (IGO’s).

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Thirdly, in some instances, they must allocate resources effectively, for example fisheries regulations regimes should encompass some form of quantitative quota. Finally, regimes must provide explicit prohibitions, i.e. what not to do. For example, this may include the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which sets out prohibitions on the atmospheric testing of nuclear bombs. Regimes are also recognized as interactions between states and between many other actors, whom all play an important role in determining state structure and behavior. These interactions result in the culmination of regimes.

According to Young, regimes originate in three ways: Firstly, they result from the act of explicit bargaining. This is where states get together to negotiate an issue, such as international trade. Secondly, regimes can result from spontaneous action and less through structured negotiations. Usually a severe problem arises in which the international community must respond promptly, such as the case for hunting elephants for ivory with the aim of ensuring continued existence of the species. Finally, there is coercive leadership by a dominant state actor or hegemonic leader. This would include the regime created around the war on terrorism that is currently being advocated by George W. Bush in the USA.

Regimes can also be characterized by their effectiveness in the international system; they are recognized as either weak or strong. Strong regimes are sometimes referred to as institutionalized, meaning that they have a solid foundation. This is characterized by a clear consensus on the purpose of the regime, how it is going to happen and who will pay what to ensure its effectiveness. Centralized IGO assistance is also critical to a strong regime; they are perceived as neutral and can carry out functional jobs of analyzing data and administering decisions.

Strong regimes have more explicit procedures for decision making and more effective and established dispute settling mechanisms. Alternatively, the features that characterize a weak regime include ad hoc style structures, no common interest or destiny, no common agreement on principles and tend to be caught up in establishing what the interest or destiny is. A weak regime may be based on voluntary compliance with no consequences for violations and lack evaluation and monitoring capabilities. They may be lacking in support with a minimal community of interests or lacking in major state actors such as the USA in the Kyoto Accord.

So, the question at this point is where exactly does the international political economy (IPE) fit in terms of its effectiveness as a regime? The evolution and characteristics of IPE will be further discussed with the goal of identifying its strong regime characteristics. There are a number of features that help to reveal the characteristics of the modern day IPE regime, namely financial structure, central banks, and other international monetary regimes. Firstly, there is its financial structure. The mode of production determines the monetary supply which in turn will generate the general economic direction of a country.

Part of the financial structure includes monetary policy, which is how a government regulates its own economy. A government can accomplish this by restricting dollars in circulation by controlling interest rates, or it may hold high levels of reserves in banks to effectively tighten its money policy to slow growth or combat inflation. Another element of the financial structure is individual government fiscal policies. This holds the same objective as the former; however, it accomplishes this through government spending and taxation. For example, a reduction in taxes may help to boost a declining economy.

Central banks are a second characteristic of modern day IPE regimes. They act as key connectors between government, consumers, producers and the general economy. Central banks perform three key functions: they produce currency, they lend to banks and they hold government currency reserves. Central banks vary in characteristics; some are independent from government, others are not. The greater the central bank’s independence from government, the less direction of government interests will be pursued. Central banks were designed to manage the economy and to ensure economic stability. Major economic crisis, such as the depression of the 1930’s proved and instigated its necessity. There are, in addition, two key international institutions that deal with the regulation of monies.

Firstly, the Bank for International Settlement (BIS) is the oldest financial institution in the world and is highly influential. It is located in Basil, Switzerland and was formed in the 1930’s to oversee German reparations. It is recognized today as the “central bank for central banks”. It provides advice to central banks regarding regulations for their own systems and offers a deposit place for central bank currency reserves. BIS representatives meet 10 times per year for consultation purposes and to solve international monetary issues as they arise. HERE 2 Finally the BIS is where head bankers meet, which is in stark contrast to where government ministries meet at International Monetary Fund (IMF) meetings, which is the second key international institution. The IMF is controlled by its 184 member-countries, each of whom appoints a representative to the Fund’s Board of Governors.

The Board of Governors, most of who are the finance ministers, meets once per year to discuss and arrive at consensus on major issues. The IMF is made up of highly influential economic states; the USA, Japan, Germany, France and Britain together control 40% of the negotiating power as a result of their economic predominance in the international system. The IMF was designed to promote international monetary cooperation, to facilitate the expansion and balanced growth of international trade, to promote exchange stability and the maintenance of orderly exchange arrangements among members, to assist in the establishment of a multilateral system of payments and the elimination of currency exchange restrictions, to provide temporary resources for states in need, and finally to lessen the degree of disequilibria in the international balances of payments of its members.

Thirdly, monetary regimes are a significant characteristic and have three distinctive attributes that exemplify its importance to IPE. Firstly, there is its liquidity, which is the money circulating for product purchases. Secondly, there is confidence, meaning that there is an expectation for currency to maintain its economic value.

Thirdly, there is the Triffin dilemma, which critically examines the former attributes. The dilemma suggests that a monetary regime that depends on a single currency will inevitably head for periodic crisis because confidence fluctuates widely with unstable liquidity. Essentially, the US dollar is overvalued because it used everywhere. As people lose confidence due to unstable liquidity, its value will drop. The US government will effectively address this issue by making financial decisions, such as fiscal or monetary policy adjustments to mend the value drop, which will consequently affect the entire world. Therefore monetary regimes require that the USA anticipate potential problems, which can be very difficult.

Lastly, exchange rate dynamics, such as dirty floating and managed floating systems, characterize modern day IPE. Dirty floating occurs when states try to manipulate exchange rates for unfair advantage (usually political). For example, if Paul Martin wanted to boost the Canadian economy, he could direct the Bank of Canada to sell its financial reserves so that the Canadian dollar would dwindle and the USA would consequently import more goods at low rates. This would enhance the Canadian economy strategically in time for the next election.

The 1970’s economic crisis that resulted from oil dependencies initiated the implementation of a managed floating system. By the 1980’s, central banks established and coordinated economic activities to manage excessive fluctuations in exchange rates by buying and selling currency. No one central bank has enough resources to coordinate this in its entirety, therefore banks need to coordinate their buying and selling accordingly, for example all banks will agree to support the Yen to counteract a monetary dilemma. This requires a number of participatory states to diagnose a cure.

It is abundantly clear that these characteristics of IPE fit quite accordingly to the aforementioned definition of a strong regime. To summarize, four things characterize IPE: its financial structure, the existence of central banks, monetary regimes and the dynamics of exchange rates. These features essentially expose that the international global finance system has no real center in any one state and that it is loosely regulated. Susan Strange described it in 1985 as “…rapidly coming to resemble nothing so much as a vast casino.” And it is for this reason that IPE has had such a significant impact on economic crises that have occurred in various regions around the globe, particularly in Asia.

A number of different events over the years resulted in the Asian Crisis. Firstly, there was an ever-enhancing global finance system that grew out of the development of Japan and Europe, as they acted as centers for the recycling of oil money or Petro-dollars. Oil producing states where paid money for oil and would invest in European and Japanese banks, who in turn would lend those dollars to other states to allow them a more profitable return on investment. The result was oil money circulating the globe, mostly in big business. Private banks looking for highest rates of return looked to newly industrializing countries (NICs).

Secondly, fixed exchange rates were terminated and floating rates were implemented at the end of the 1970’s, this resulted in risky financial business. Thirdly, the 1980’s were characterized by significant regulatory changes in banking systems in NICs and economically developed countries (EDCs) such as Canada, the US and Britain. Also, significant erosion of capital controls (limits on moving money out of a country) was apparent. Finally, technical factors effectively intensified the situation, particularly in the 1990’s. Super fast computers and an increase of instantaneous world wide communication resulted in a market that could run 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Market relations became financially interconnected. Essentially, these economies were hustling.

Neo-liberalism promoted these events optimistically, particularly by Margaret Thatcher and eventually by Ronald Reagan. The advantages including the removal of restrictions on the free-market that effectively resulted in homogenous currencies, thereby making it easier to measure and count. Also, it furthered the protection for monetary deterioration, the mere inhalation of transportation costs and it would work as a vehicle for addressing balance of trade issues. International banks and state banks began merging their resources and pushed for international markets to liberate their finances. The excitement was great, and perhaps somewhat blinding, as all of these perks had a very severe underlying potential devastating consequence- that it was essentially an extremely high -risk situation.

By the mid-1990’s, problems in Mexico resulted in Canadian and US “flight to quality”, meaning that they were seeking the best rate of return possible. Asia was by far a better quality investment. The Asian governments responded by lifting foreign exchange limits, allowing capital flow into domestic stock markets and permitting citizens to invest into foreign markets. This change of regulations allowed banks to borrow US dollars from foreign banks. At the same time, corporations were borrowing dollars from the same banks. In addition, an increase in available monies due to oil money was becoming more and more apparent.

This economic boom in North America resulted in an increase in savings, that thereby resulted in more available monies globally, for example pension funds being invested oversees as opposed to secure Canadian bonds and stocks. The result was a foreign content in mutual funds, RRSP’s etc. In addition, a massive baby boom generation was intensifying the available money. At this point, everyone was looking for a place to go with their money; relentlessly questing for the best rates of return and mutual fund managers were promoting directing the masses to Asia. This meant that a new domestic and global interconnectedness was created that had never been seen before.

By 1996, private capital into Asia peaked at 170 billion dollars. As a result, Japan experienced economic downfall and purchases were dropping. Finally, by 1997, Thailand’s balance of payments was showing severe deficits. In July, Thailand decided to devalue the Bat and pegged it to the US dollar. Thailand investors consequently began selling and putting money into foreign currencies. Eventually, the central bank ran out of financial reserves, bankruptcy skyrocketed, stocks fell drastically, exchange rates plummeted and its devaluations spiraled into the Indonesian economy by 1998. Indonesian wages started falling and prices doubled within sixteen months; the entire once perceived “miracle economies” plummeted to a crash.

There were three parties that were blamed for the crisis. And all of the blames were coming from various perspectives. Firstly, the governments of these countries were blamed for domestic policy problems, which included corruption and mismanagement. This thereby resulted in IMF structural adjustments, which decreased government spending. Secondly, investors were blamed, as they were not loyal to the countries that they invested in. They engaged in narrow-minded and short tem thinking, some referred to this as the “stupid herd mentality”. Finally, the global financial structure was blamed. The claim was that the IMF did not respond to growing concerns quickly enough, and when it finally did, it went about it wrongly. In addition, the IMF did not initially respond with any set reforms.

These differing perspectives identify the arguments that are derived from various interested parties within the international community. There are two competing analyses. Firstly, there is the structuralist approach, which suggests that more regulation, and better regulation is needed in the international community. This crisis was merely a result of the capitalistic nature of “drop and boom” economics. The neo-liberal approach suggests international control must be minimized and internal domestic policies need greater transparency and increased order. They also claim that despite the crisis, Asia is nonetheless better off than they were before it happened.

These differing perspectives have evolved from years of interactions between wealthy and poorer states and can be seen in the financial trade and aid relationships between them. Development, trade and foreign aid will be discussed here to help demonstrate the reasons why international economic regimes need to be altered to help solve the problems in the developing world.

Aid can be defined as any confessional aspect to a transfer in terms of loans at less than market rates, grants, forgiveness of loans, credits, expert assistance, loan guarantees and military assistance. Some forms of aid come with attachments, and others without. It is essential that when making calculations that the repercussions of tied aid (with attachments) be considered. Also, military assistance is quite high and should be filtered out when making general aid assessments. Japan, Sweden and Switzerland tend to make untied aid donations, where the USA and Spain have attachments. It is also important to consider where aid is being directed and for what reasons. Political connections often result in transferring of aid, either as a result of political, cultural or historical reasons, some of which include morality, self-interest or obligation due to past exploitations.

There are three foreign aid models that identify how aid exchanges are commonly made in the international community. They are as follows. Firstly, there is the disaster relief which is assistance offered during times of disaster, such as earthquakes or landslides. This form of aid can be problematic, for example Canadian powdered milk donations to lactose intolerant societies in the past had grave consequences that exacerbated the crisis. Secondly, there is the missionary model, which is designed by agencies and is donor multi-lateral.

These methods fund and initiate programs however, they leave soon after, leaving it up to the country to sustain its existence. The problem associated with this is that complexities are often unforeseen until it is too late. For example, the Netherlands assisted an African coastal community by building a fish processing plant that eventually did not have enough electricity resources to sustain its prolonged existence. The result was a defunct fisheries plant. Thirdly, there is the OXFAM model where local people determine their own needs and work on small-scale projects. For example this model may build a school in a needy community and pay locals to build it.

These forms of aid are benevolent, however they fail to deal with the fundamental problem- debt. The issues of trade will be briefly discussed here to expose the wealthier states perpetual action that keeps poorer states from progressing. Trade is considered by some as the route to development, to others it is the root to poverty. The problems associated with trade on poorer countries are that most trade is from EDC to EDC, only 24% is from poorer countries. Most of these countries have massive trade deficits already and are heavily dependent on exports of primary product for relative stability. Poorer nations are averaged to be 2.5 trillion dollars in debt. This is 132% of their export earnings. Over the years, poorer countries have paid a total of 292 billion dollars in interest, which is 18% of their export earnings and the result was a debt that barely budged to be paid.

In summary, the international political economy is characterized by a strong international regime that is predominantly dependent on large state powers and whom advocates for a free-market economy as a means for solving the ailments of an ever increasing dependency of poorer countries on wealthier countries. The critical perspective to this suggests that the concept is flawed in this fundamental way. Firstly, progress is only characterized in terms of human needs from a capitalist market perspective.

Community, environmental well-being, culture, family and traditions are entirely ignored. This clearly demonstrates the neo-liberal imperialist approach of ideas, or hegemony, is only best suited for the individuals who promote the ideology- neo-liberals. The solution lies in rethinking the whole nature and concept of development that relates to economic sustainability that considers global perspectives and various needs, other than that of monetary success. Though this notion is nonetheless the underdog of international politics, it is not necessarily the underdog of the masses. It is well known that the elite classes of society predominantly run state and political actions. The solution lies in educating the mass non-elites to take an active role in the political sphere. Only then, will varying perspectives be heard.

PART II

2. Human Rights and Humanitarian Intervention

The evolution of the concept of human rights has undergone a great number of successions. One of the first tangible documents that included human rights advocacy was the Magna Carta of 1215. This 13th century English document pioneered by King John delineated rights for the individual by limiting government powers which forced them to agree upon official “citizen rights”. It should be noted, however, that the term citizen excluded women and serfs and was basically limited to barons. Specifically found within the Charter was the right to trial, due process and fair and equitable punishment, the very foundations for the Rule of Law.

A number of influential philosophers and political thinkers, such as John Locke and Rousseau, came out of the Enlightenment period with liberal responses to oppressive religious absolutisms. Further along were Mill and Jefferson. Their agendas contained two significant principles. Firstly, private property and the right for one to do what one wishes to it and secondly, negative rights, i.e. limitations on governments or ideas about what a government can not do, for example discriminate against religion or personal expression of thought. These ideas were apparent in two extremely significant Human Rights documents of the era: the Declaration of Independence of 1776 (USA), and the Declaration of Rights of Man and Citizen of 1789 (France).

Despite these and other established documents, insistent violations persisted right on through to the 20th century. For example, Britain had clearly articulated a statement of rights; however they blatantly disregarded their theoretical intentions, as the magnitude of human rights violations of apartheid in South Africa were immense. This was also the case for the USA which claimed that civil liberties were to include African Americans post American Civil war, which took numerous more years to achieve. This also occurred in Turkey with regards to Armenian genocide. The one element that did distinguish the 20th century from the rest, however, was the unmistakable growing concern of the international community. The only significant issue keeping the violations at bay and unable to prosecute was sovereignty. For many years, sovereignty was absolute. Any actions that states were engaged in took precedence over human rights abuses, until the Universal Declaration of Independence.

President Roosevelt challenged sovereignty with this mid-twentieth century declaration. It recognized individual rights: race, color, sex, language, religion, political preferences and property, liberty and security of the person (though sexual orientation and age were excluded). Most remarkable however was the novel appearance of positive rights. These were delineated in article 23 as the right to work, rest and to leisure and to a standard of living adequate for the well being of himself and family and that everyone has the right to a paid holiday. Article 26 further delineated the right to an education. These rights are known as positive rights; they do not limit government’s powers, but rather oblige a government to take specific actions. In addition to this declaration the Civil, Political, Economic and Social Rights declaration was established in 1966 which took 10 years to ratify.

This covenant was as significant as the latter, for it demonstrated a shift from liberal individual rights to economic and communitarian rights. Further evolutions included the International Covenant on all forms of Racial Discrimination in 1956, the Convention all forms of Discrimination against Women in 1979, and the Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1989. Though these many affirmations existed to challenge state sovereignty in the name of human rights, they were all none the less covenants; non-binding legislation with no means for prosecution. Despite this, human rights continued to gain international attention and further actions came about to step in and protect them. Humanitarian intervention became one of those actions; a mechanism for change and a significant component of the evolution of human rights.

A number of international humanitarian intervention norms have been established over the years, primarily as result of public pressure due to colonialism, the media (television, movies, advertisements, radio, internet, news broadcasts) and liberal democratization aid policies. The UN spearheaded these initiatives. The UN’s charter is dedicated to conflict management by way of “collective security”, i.e. that the peace of the world is the responsibility of all states and that all states must act to ensure peace, even if it is not in their direct interest to do so. In addition, according to the charter, military forces are to be handed over to the UN under collective security (despite that this is seldom the case). Collective security is based on three key ideas: firstly that the aggressor must be identified. Secondly, that the Security Council is responsible for this identification and thirdly that the Security Council will set out a collective response depending on intensity, starting with diplomatic sanctions, then onto economic sanctions and finally, military sanctions. Under the premise of collective security, the UN has established four approaches to responding to war.

The first is known as Preventative Diplomacy. This entails active involvement of the Secretary General and some positioning of troops for the purpose of aid relief and to mediate the conflict. The conflict in Slovenia purported this form of intervention. The second is Peacekeeping, similar to Lester B. Pearson’s intervention in 1956 in the Suez Canal area. The key feature of Peacekeeping is the consent of governments. The third is known as Peacemaking. In this instance, government consent is absent which is sometimes the result of an absence in government. The UN enters under a humanitarian mandate and can act solely on specific grounds, however active peace enforcement measures are taken, such as physically removing guns or weapons from the conflict areas.

This can effectively result in awkwardness because their mandates are subject to criticisms and can be deemed obscure and sentiments of bias tend to surface. The last and most extensive version of intervention is known as Peacebuilding. The goal here is to ensure that there is no resurgence of violence in the future. This tactic requires absolute consent from all parties and begins with Peacekeeping. The process then moves onto more active measures such as disarmament, followed by demobilization and finally by reconciliation.

The result is the possibility of rebuilding a shattered economy and civilian and government structures by creating an integrated armed force that deals with reintegration of refuges; internally and externally displaced peoples. Ideal is the establishment of a transitional government structure and assistance towards achieving a universally recognized government by legitimate electoral reform and its implementation. A case study in Mozambique was remarkably successful, however the costs are extremely high and countries are simply no longer willing or able to participate in these types of interventions. A number of case studies based on the aforementioned conflict resolution tactics have been attempted. Their evolution is as follows.

UN humanitarian intervention was first initiated in 1956 in the Suez Canal area by Lester B. Pearson, who was president of The Seventh UN General Assembly at the time. The Peacekeeping operation was still based largely on comunitarianism and was premised on the respect for state sovereignty. Lightly armed forces were physically positioned between warring states with the consent of all parties to allow them time to reach a settlement. Four criteria were present for the successful implementation of the operation. Firstly, the operation had authorization by the Security Council and secretary general. Secondly, forces were voluntary and thirdly, there existed a clear mandate for the voluntary forces to follow. Lastly, the operation was paid for by participating governments based on a special assessment statement under the premise that they would be reimbursed at a later date. Following the Suez operation was the non-traditional peacekeeping operation in the Congo in the 1960’s.

The peacekeepers in this instance became physically active in the conflict and as a result were accused of bias. Security Council authorizations were also questioned. The 1970’s through to the 1980’s saw the emergence of global superpowers in Cypress and the Middle East. The Turkey and Greece conflict peacekeeping operation held the conflict “in time” until the 1990’s where in the Middle East, peacekeepers were literally pushed out of the way by Israeli armies. The 1980’s laid at a low in terms of peacekeeping as a result of consistent no veto rulings by communist driven Russia. By 1990, the end of the cold war period, Gorbachev encouraged peacekeeping operations, but by 1991 the stability of the bi-polar period resulted in a dramatic increase in interstate war.

The aforementioned approaches to intervening in conflict clearly demonstrate the tangible evidence of international norms of humanitarian intervention. However, a number of these interventionist procedures were being criticized. One of these was that most of the measures of intervention were not based on long-term solutions, but on quick reactions. Furthermore, intervention was commonly driven by traditional national concerns, for example intervention that occurs as a result of the belief that refugees spreading to other areas will create problems, thus problems should be stopped to prevent them from moving. In addition to common criticisms, there are also a number of critical and politically ideological perspectives that exist which interpret the act of intervention and its varying degrees of success in a number of different ways.

When one questions oneself if it is possible to successfully intervene in internal conflicts and if the international community should become more actively involved in attempting to assist failed states, one must question and recognize what perspective a person is analyzing from. Political ideologies will tend to appeal to one approach more than another. Therefore to effectively expose the various interpretations, a number of approaches to humanitarian intervention will be discussed here, specifically realism, liberalism, socialism and constructivism. The two major approaches to humanitarian intervention are known as comunitarianism and cosmopolitanism. The former suggests that there should be no restrictions on the autonomy or sovereignty of states unless the restrictions come from their own population. States have no rights to interfere with other states affairs. The latter purports the opposite, where states do not have the right to autonomy or sovereignty if their actions are in conflict with moral rights of individuals or the common well-being of humanity as a whole. Political ideologies fall at different places along this spectrum.

The realist perspective suggests that leaders have no right to endanger their citizens in order to help others based on a suffering humanity. Intervention is dangerous due to the danger of abuse and to the selectivity of where it takes place. In addition, potential misuse of intervention tactics makes it useless; it should thus be discarded. Short-term problems may be solved, but long-term problems of abuse are improbable. Secondly, the Liberal view looks at the problem of how to reach consensus and to negotiate a concept regarding gross violation. These gross violations of human rights legitimate intervention. The ideal is to start with non-violent intervention then move towards force. Intervention should always be based on the cultural values of those who have the power to carry it out.

Thirdly, the socialist perspective focuses on the continuing causes rather than the immediate solutions. If money were used for long-term solutions as opposed to immediate intervention solutions, many more benefits would be reaped. Finally, constructivists need to ask what the aim of each intervention is. One cannot deny that humanitarian intervention is culturally specific and has biases. Is the purpose of intervention to restore a failed political structure or is it setting it up for future failure? Constructivists suggest that all actions are for someone, for some purpose, therefore one must question the relevance of the intervention. For example, powerful governments may simply want to set up alliance governments. One must question if intervention is going to solve the problem or is it just going to switch one group of abusers for another and will it truly improve the lives of the people of the country?

Therefore, in asking if it is possible to successfully intervene in internal conflicts and if the international community should become more actively involved in attempting to assist failed states, I associate most closely with the constructivist approach. The international debates regarding these issues are unrelenting; as noted above, everything is for someone and for some purpose. For example, it seems evident that the UN Peacebuilding operation in Mozambique was successful; however a realist may deem it a failure!

To a realist the Mozambique case study could be nothing more than proof that intervention is far too costly and as a result has created massive disincentives for states to ever partake in such operations again. If humanitarian intervention is to succeed, it must be accomplished on a much more extensive level. It must demonstrate to the international community that the actions that are being taken are not debatable, but that they are required and effective. One of the most effective methods of achieving this would inevitably be the establishment of an effective and binding international organization to deal with the cause.

It makes little sense to me that there exists remarkably effective international organizations, such as the World Health Organization, the World Trade Organization and the International Monetary Fund, whose decisions and functioning criteria are adhered to by global governments and are in some cases binding decisions and agreements, yet, an international organization developed for the purpose of regulating murder and torture has yet to be conceived. If international courts for monetary issues are manageable and successful, then so should a court for humanitarian issues. Monetary issues are complex, as are humanitarian intervention issues.

It is difficult to even conceive of institutionalizing universal morals across such a diverse globe. For example, is self-determination more critical than contemporary economic interdependence? Or are the political rights of the individual more vital than the socioeconomic rights of the collective? The concept of human rights is relative to the types of people who are analyzing them; it is not universal. However, certain aspects of the concept must become more universal. The concept will never advance, nor will the concept ever increase to universalize if an effective international system ceases to exist to define the concept more effectively. I can imagine that 500 years ago, the idea of a national court system seemed unfathomable to society, however look at the streamlined effectiveness of the Bar association today in a Canadian society characterized by diversity, pluralistic complexities and cleavages.

Do I feel that it is possible to intervene successfully in internal conflicts? As a constructivist, the response depends on the individual who is analyzing; however a more streamlined and universal acceptance of human rights standards has to begin somewhere and can only come from an internationally binding legal institution. Should the international community become active in attempting to assist failed states? Yes! This is possible by way of a judicially independent international court system (no veto power or economic primacy here!), and not by imperial neo-liberal democratization and its materialistic definition of progress. Binding legal documents need to be established and human rights and human wrongs need to be universalized to end the fruitless debates about a critical issue that has yet to be valued for what it is truly worth- human life.

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