Does everyone have to fallow UN law?

For example, what if a nation leaves if the UN or isn't in the UN (a few nations aren't)?

Could the rest of the world bully that nation into doing what the UN says?

And if so, would that be the moral or legal thing to do?

The UN is similar to the EU in that it doesn't really have any more power than its members chose to invest in it. (Although this is more true for the UN than the EU). International law is far more along lines of codes of conduct than actual law and most, if not all countries break at least one or two and nobody really gives a shit. The UN can and do sit idly by (or mostly idly) while travesties occur but it can also act in force if there are enough countries willing to act on its behalf. Take for example many peacekeeping missions around the world.
Most countries currently not in the UN are either not widely recognised countries or brutal and paranoid dictatorships. They're bullied for entirely different reasons than not being in the UN so it's hard to say if a western democracy who decided to up and leave would be subject to international pressure.

Personally, I would prefer that we make steps towards coming up with a set of human rights that all superpowers can agree on and then attempt to make that hard international law that a government is not allowed to break without being replaced by international police action. It couldn't be too ambitious if we want the likes of China to sign. But I'm sure there are some things that all superpowers could agree on. The rest can then go fuck themselves if they disagree. But that is a very far off goal, sadly.

The UN can't even enforce its laws against its own members when they do something awful or decide to just not listen. The only thing stopping the major players from pulling out is the worry that doing so will strengthen someone else's position. Frankly I'm stunned most countries haven't ditched it already given that its just become a way of letting nasty regimes claim their fighting for the little guy.

the UN is a diplomatic/geopolitical "talking shop".

the mistake is expecting it to be anything else.

if you want "the UN" to do something what you actually want is other countries to take collective action under the auspices of an agreement reached through debate and consensus at the UN.

"the UN" is not an organisation that has the capacity to do anything on its own nor is it supposed to be.

sure it has a building or two, it has some clerical staff and no doubt plenty of translators but simplistically, without the direct support of nation states it. is. nothing. else. other than that "talking shop".

the programs you may think of as "UN" such as say the work of UNICEF are things that the member states have already previously agreed to help with.

you don't "ditch it" because it is the diplomatic/geopolitical nexus for the entire planet and even if your state hates another states leadership the cold hard fact is you still need a means to talk to them and it's through this simple act, of always leaving the channels of communication open, that the UN fulfils its ultimate mission which is prevent another global effecting "total war" with a sideline in trying to keep other types of conflicts to a minimum.

In a word: No.

In a lot of words: That really depends on what country you hold your citizenship and what their stance on it is. For example, if something in the US Constitution goes against some UN Resolution or Law you can bet that the US Government isn't going to throw you the the international sharks for favoring our own laws over the UN's. Frankly the only time I can think of the UN ever serving as a way to try criminals at all is in cases such as the Bosnian Genocide and the like. Everyday people don't need to worry about the UN to much in this regard.

Of course the rest of the world could bully a nation into doing what the UN says. The UN couldn't do anything without the support of one or more strong nations from the rest of the world though, as it has no notable military power of its own.

There is - or used to be - agreement that even countries which haven't signed any UN treaties nor attacked any other nation still can't violate "Ius Cogens". Which pertains to a few very extreme violations of negative rights, like practising slavery, ethnic cleansing, or institutionalized torture. The UN can only actually do something if it can beg support from parties which can conduct actual strategic warfare; its troops are mere peacekeepers, only capable of keeping a peace, not fighting an actual war for one.

The UN doesn't really have laws now does it? It's a bunch of treaties and standards that have been developed over time, because most western countries share them. The UN doesn't have any policing powers, and it can only act on the initiative of a powerfull country, ussually meaning a country willing to commit military resources to it.

Like the resolution on Mali. That one came there because Mali and France both wanted it. If France had shrugged and not cared, chances are Bamako would've fallen by now.

And especially in recent times, the UN has shown to be little more than a paper tiger, without standards or real power.

For instance the Iranian control of the human right's commitee. What rubbish has said commitee been spewing since... While Iran is a huge human rights violator themselves, and has been caught trying to colonise other countries by force. Like Lebanon and Somalia. Nobody made a big fuss because the Iranian army got wiped out on both occasions by respectively Israeli and Ethiopian forces that formed the other side in those conflicts, but fact remains Iranian soldiers were there and trying to work on occupying and colonising those other countries for a puppet ruler who's loyal to Teheran.

Israel is a good example too. The UN hypocrisy surrounding Israel is legendary. Look up pretty much any armed conflict: land seized by the victor is considered fair game for occupation, annexation and colonisation. For instance Indonesia became independant because the UN pressured the Netherlands to give the criminal nationalists (who slaughtered innocent civilians by the dozen, but hey) their way. First thing Indonesia did as a country, was invade several other countries that had declared independance, like the Moluccans. Indonesians hated Moluccans for cooperating with the Dutch and serving in the military, so they had to be subjugated. Ambon fell only after months of fierce fighting. The UN tolerated this knowingly, and when the Moluccans fell, the UN tolerated them being brutally subjugated and colonised. Nowadays Indonesia runs a scheme to islamise such islands by force, flooding them with islamic immigrants and stripping the native inhabitants of their land, sometimes just plain out executing them to make way for more Muslims. The UN knows this and is okay with it. It took an all out attempt at genocide on East Timor (Muslims supported by the Indonesian military attempted to exterminate Christians on East Timor) and Australia throwing its weight around before the UN gave a fuck, passed a resolution on it, and the Aussies sent troops to defeat the islamic militias and force the Indonesian army to cease their campaign of terror against the population.
A more recent example is Georgia. Georgia attempted to reclaim control over parts of Georgia that had long been under the control of Russian puppet warlords. Russia didn't tolerate it, and invadeded Georgia. The UN did absolutely nothing about it, and Russia re-occupied those parts of Georgia, and engaged in extensive terror bombing against the population. The UN hasn't uttered a word about this subjugation and annexation of parts of Georgia.

So the UN conventions about not annexing land are bullshit, they're null and void and clearly the UN doesn't care about you following them.
Except when your name is Israel of course. Then even policies that you can scarcely call annexation in the face of an opponent that can't be negotiated with are suddenly teh evilz and worthy of a few dozen resolutions.

We'd be better off if the answer was yes, but the UN has no real clout. The organization was our best chance for global peace and cooperation we have seen since the dawn of history, but the more powerful of its member nations, the US included, neutered it before it could do any real good. Now, unless it can wheedle military/political support from others, it is pretty much only capable of whining at those naughty law breakers.

UN members are only legally required to intervene in the case of genocide being commited and from the experience of handling rewanda it only takes a security council member in this case the usa saying "its not genocide" for that rule to be negated. so no they wouldnt get involved in a non members affairs

Hardcore_gamer:
For example, what if a nation leaves if the UN or isn't in the UN (a few nations aren't)?

Could the rest of the world bully that nation into doing what the UN says?

And if so, would that be the moral or legal thing to do?

Well, not directly, for most of the UN

It can propose treaties, but it cannot force members to sign them or enact them into law. Some nations, such as the US, the treaties don't become law until they are approved by Congress.

In theory the security consul has the ability to enforce edicts (mostly relating to wars) but good luck getting a unified vote on the matter (every permenate member has veto power).

you kinda have to remember the UN has zero force of its own.

all the "blue helmets" are military from other countries who have put their hands up to say "we'll do that".

as for the disappointment some people have that's because they expect the UN to be the some form of world government with the power to enforce agreed laws and standards apon all the nations of the world.

its probably never going to be that.

at the global level "international law" is little more than consensus (as there is no higher authority and no one wants there to be one) and within the process of building that consensus some states count more than others.

in reference to Blablahbs comment about Georgia and Russia for example no one was going to be able to do anything about that without going to war with Russia and who can do that ? fill in the blank.

that they didn't ("under the auspices of the UN") was ultimately their call and the rest of any allys who might have joined them could not hope do so without them.

plus ofc Russia has a security council seat and a veto and a nuclear arsenal.

we (say the US and NATO) could have gone to war with Russia over Georgia.

we could also all be lumps of smouldering radioactive dust by now.

i don't see the fact that we aren't as a failure of the UN.

part of the reason MAD capable states have security council vetos is to prevent that.

the whole set up is about pragmatism and realism.

a level of pragmatism and realism that often seemingly incompatible with an average persons absolutist ethical and moral outlook.

is it shit Georgia got kicked around ? yes.

but it would be decidedly shittier if we ended up with nukes flying through the stratosphere.

the end result is not as simple as Russia "getting away with it" either.

Is that nation able to ignore the actions of the rest of the world, or kick back enough so it's not worth it? If so, they can't really be bullied. Otherwise they can.

And...moral or legal thing? Surely that depends on what the UN is saying at the time.

Hardcore_gamer:
For example, what if a nation leaves if the UN or isn't in the UN (a few nations aren't)?

Could the rest of the world bully that nation into doing what the UN says?

And if so, would that be the moral or legal thing to do?

.
UN is a tool to mediate between countries and to prevent war. Other objectives are economical growth, promoting education, human rights, stateless people, etc. etc.

There's a thing called 'international law' which is a broad term for the international agreements some nations sign on. The most basic is the fourth Geneva convention, that had became the law of nations (that even if two countries that aren't signed on it or are UN members, they are still bound to this de-jure international law). Other agreements are in the air, ranging from war to global warming to Nuclear weapons... A nation is bound by the agreements it signs on. It can be coerced to sign on agreements, but that's just a deal between nations and not the UN.

If a nation breaks the treaties it is signed on, there will be repercussions. The UN can issue sanctions (with the agreement of a majority of nations), or even legitimize an invasion of coalition forces to other-throw the criminal regime. However that isn't happening... The UN is, after all, just a tool to be used by other nations.

The UN rarely acts except in extreme circumstances, even things like economic sanctions require nukes or abuses of a countries economy to the extreme.

However it does make you wonder what we could do in order to control a situation like locking up journalists or throwing homosexuals in prison. Economic sanctions would be helpful in some instances but a lot of the time that doesn't do anything except hurt the populace and possibly the country imposing the sanctions. Breaking diplomatic ties would be a good way to show a symbolic disagreement but if that country where to suddenly face invasion it's not like we could ignore the aggressors actions because that one country abused the human rights rules of the UN. I'm sure there are other actions that could be taken but there still wouldn't be enough support from most of the UN members in order to enact them.

It's all a messy business and it shows that if we actually want to change the world we need to change the UN but that won't be happening any time soon.

 

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