This date in 1926, the USA signed up to participate in the Permanent Court of International Justice, the judicial arm of the League of Nations.
That didn’t last long, so we signed up again in 1946 with the new International Court of Justice, the judicial arm of the United Nations.
We stuck with that one until 1984, when what is generally called the World Court handed down an opinion that we really didn’t like – the Court found in favor of Nicaragua in the case of Nicaragua v. United States.
The US was in violation of a previous treaty with Nicaragua and so our use of force was illegal under international law. We owed reparations, said the Court. So like the grown-ups we are, we took our marbles and went home.
We now participate on a case-by-case basis only.
Oh well, it isn’t like we’re the only ones – the UN itself doesn’t have to abide by court rulings. It’s set up so that any member state on the Security Council can veto a ruling, even when they have agreed to be bound by that ruling in advance.
Great. And if only this were a singular flaw in the operation of the UN, it wouldn’t be so depressing. The idea of the United Nations is a spectacularly brilliant one – the kind of civilized thinking that we associate with an advanced species.
But there is some basic weakness in the whole structure that keeps it from being really effective. Let’s face it – in areas of potentially serious conflict the world is better off sending in George Clooney.
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It’s Mozart’s birthday, so let’s give him a hallelujah chorus (his own) – Cecilia Bartoli is a little scary here, but she really works it, so start your day with some jubilation…