The world system has not developed in an ethical and sustainable manner. In my opinion, the key challenge on the way of just development of the world is the politics of domination between the rich and the poor nations. The rich nations have for a long time dominated and suppressed the poor nations through policies that do not favor the social, economic, and political development of the poor nations.
This has led to global injustice and inequality. It has also denied the poor nations an opportunity to access justice on important global issues such as trade, environmental conservation, and respect of human rights. This paper looks at the key areas of global injustice and how the rich nations have been a stumbling block in the realization of a just world. The discussion is based on the international relations theory of realism.
This is a state-centered international relations theory that looks at states as the key actors in international politics. The theory is based on the works of historical writers such Rousseau, Machiavelli, and Thucydides (Edkins & Vaughan-Williams 2009). The main argument of realism is that international relations are characterized by anarchy, in which nations interact for their selfish interests. Realism, therefore, negates the mutual understanding of nations in their relations and puts more emphasis on the struggle of nations to amass as many resources as possible in order to advance their own interests. With realism, economic success is the leading interest in international relations (Booth & Smith 1995).
This is a politically derived philosophy that is formed on the assumption that the world is generally unjust and unfair. This means that the world is full of biases when it comes to matters of justice and especially in the distribution of power, economic resources, and opportunities (Beck 2000). Generally, the injustice is fueled by the politics of domination between nations of the world whereby the rich deny the poor justice in various sectors. In social relationships, the rich are known to manipulate the process of justice in their favor thus making the poor unable to get justice because they cannot afford to purchase it (Booth & Smith 1995).
The developed countries have been at the forefront in propagating the idea of globalization. These countries led by the United States (US) usually view the developing countries as their imperial territories. They always ensure that there are in place rules and regulations governing the economic, social, and political endeavors of the developing countries (Gills & Thompson 2006). They know that with global culture in place, they are able to remain ahead by using resources from the developing and the undeveloped countries for their economic, social, and political progress (Baylis, Smith & Owens 2010).
The developing countries are known as the markets of western culture. Culture in this context is taken to mean business, educational, political, and governance ideas. Many developing countries in Africa are known to have embraced what is referred to as export-based agriculture at the expense of subsistence agriculture. This has led to recurrent food shortages in many developing countries (Buckman 2004).
The trend began in the early 1980s through what was referred to as Structural Adjustment Programs (SAPS), which required countries in Africa and Asia to embrace economic development at the expense of social and political development (Kelsey 2002). This led to the ever-rising levels of poverty and population growth rates in the developing world, forcing them to comply with the policies of the new world order for the fear of economic and political sanctions from the developed countries (Konadu-Agyemang 2001).
The undeveloped countries are those which have high poverty levels and illiteracy. Most of these countries are found in Africa and are described as living in the wrong civilization or being uncivilized. These countries are the best dumping sites for western culture. Most of the undeveloped countries are characterized by poor governance, ethnic strife, and lack of basic social amenities (Robertson1992).
Many analysts have however argued that the poverty and lack of infrastructure in the undeveloped countries can be attributed to the imperial nature of their relationships with their developed counterparts (Baylis, Smith & Owens 2010).
International Law and Global Injustice
International law refers to the set of laws or principles which govern the relationships between sovereign states (Fichtelberg 2005). It was initially formed to govern the manner in which nations related to each other with a view of improving their relationships in regard to specific issues. International law initially took the form of treaties and agreements between states, which were either bilateral or multilateral (Clark 2004).
The protection of human rights moved the international law to create the international criminal court to try the perpetrators of crimes against humanity. Since its formation, the court has investigated several perpetrators of crimes against humanity like Charles Taylor of Liberia, Slobodan Milosevic of Yugoslavia and has issued a warrant of arrest against Sudanese president Omar Al Bashir for the chaos and atrocities in the Darfur region of Sudan.
However, the court has attracted criticism from political analysts who have accused it of double standards in that it only targets developing countries. The superpowers of the world like the US, which refused to be a signatory to the Rome statute which formed the court, have never been subjected to the court’s jurisdictions despite the fact that they have committed crimes of aggression against other states like the Iraq invasion in 2003.
Environmental conservation and global injustice
The issue of the environment has also made international law to be widened in scope to include environmental protection. This is mainly due to climate change which leads to global warming. Several treaties have been formed to address the issue of climate change. Examples include the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), the Kyoto protocol on climate change, the UN convention to combat desertification, and the Copenhagen talks.
However, there seem to be some double standards in honoring the agreements in the protocols and treaties on climate change because the superpowers of the world have refused to cut their greenhouse gas emissions as agreed in the treaties and have also refused to increase their contributions towards mitigation measures to match their greenhouse gas emissions which lead to global warming and climate change (Oliver 2008).
Universal Declarations of Human Rights and global injustice
Every human being is endowed with certain inalienable rights and entitlements. These rights and entitlements exist as shared norms of human moralities and natural rights. The rights and entitlements underscore the importance of treating all human beings with dignity, fairness, and equality irrespective of their cultural backgrounds. These rights and entitlements are supported by strong reasons and legal basis at national and international levels. Human rights ideas emerged after the second world war when the universal declaration of human rights was adopted by the general assembly in 1948 (Darraj 2010).
Many states in the world have routinely continued to violate the tenets of the international human rights declaration. Despite this fact, human rights laws to some extent remain credible as a reflection of a global commitment to human rights. Each state has the obligation to protect human rights for its citizens (Guchteneire 2007). However, in the modern world, many states continue to deviate from the universal declaration tenets, especially the major powers of the world.
Evidence of declining commitment in observing and protecting this agreement has been rampant in the international community. Wars have been waged by mighty powers on states perceived as security threats thus exposing millions of innocent civilians to a humanitarian crisis.
It is surprising that these major powers like the US and its allies violate human rights yet they are always criticizing other nations on human rights abuse. Millions of people in Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, and Libya are facing critical humanitarian problems arising from the war crisis. Many developing states in Africa, Latin America, and Asia have also severely violated these tenets through their undemocratic governments and policies. In all these cases, nations have indicated their failure in the global commitment to the universal declaration of human rights.
The United Nations (UN) and Global injustice
The UN is an indispensable institution in the world. Through it, effective actions are taken to prevent and protect citizens of individual states against human rights abuse, deadly nuclear weapon proliferation, and in addressing emergencies, national and international security. Other institutions such as the international criminal court ensure that justice prevails at national and international levels by indicting personalities alleged to orchestrate crimes against humanity.
These international institutions play significant roles in building up democracies, checking the security issues that threaten international peace, and ensuring that states cooperate in the protection of human rights (Scholte 2005).
However, most of these international institutions have failed. The UN in particular has not been able to operate independently without the influence of particular members of the international community. In most cases, the UN’s efforts are blocked and undermined by powerful states. Politics in the UN security council have prevented it from reacting to serious cases like the Darfur war in Sudan. Major Powers like China watered-down UN Security Council resolutions condemning Khartoum because of China’s economic interest in Sudan. Lack of cooperation among democracies has also rendered these international institutions ineffective (Spielvogel 2010).
Over the years, the UN has shown that it is not capable of ending or preventing wars. Its credibility based on its founding principles of preventing war has been doubted especially after the United Nations Security Council breakdown which led to the invasion of Iraq in March 2003. The UN has continued to fail in addressing critical challenges in the modern society like nuclear weapon proliferation, rising terrorist activities, failing to stabilize states like Somalia, failing to intervene and prevent genocides like the one witnessed recently in Sudan, global warming, poor and selective response to emergencies as well as protection of human rights (Lee 2005).
International institutions are taken as convenient instruments for furthering the interests and policies of particular states. The US in particular has always had the opinion that an effective UN can only be possible if it exists to serve America’s interests. For instance, in one case, the US had the opinion that reforms in the UN were important and necessary but not sufficient enough to meet its interests. In March 2003, the UN failed to prevent the US and its allies from invading Iraq, a clear indication that the UN was not living to its full mandate of universal equality and justice but was serving the interests of few nations (Scott 2002).
The UN as an international institution has therefore failed in its principle of formal equality of sovereign states and fairness in the international system. This institution has been operating on the principle of the double standard of conditional and undifferentiated sovereignty to make distinctions among nations in its operations. In this respect, it portrays its weakness of serving the interests of few states while leaving the rest. For instance, the US has always been involved in serious gross violation of human rights, yet it is always the first in influencing the UN Security Council to sanction any nation perceived to be violating human rights (Hinnebusch, 2002).
In1968, the UN through the nonproliferation treaty legalized the possession of nuclear weapons to five nations while ruling out nuclear options for the rest. In another case, the US has sought unsuccessfully to accord itself special rights in the UN Security Council and the Rome treaty which established the international criminal court. This is a clear indication that the UN has been adversely used by powerful states as their convenient instrument to pursue and protect their interests and policies (Steger 2010).
It is therefore apparent that international institutions such as the UN exist as convenient instruments of pursuing interests and policies of powerful nations. For this reason, therefore, international institutions do not act as convenient instruments for pursuing the interests and policies of all participating states. If the UN hopes to effectively attain its objective, it has to avoid impartiality and stop being used by the mighty nations as a tool to dominate the less powerful nations (Lee 2005).
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