The United Nations has been described by some critics to be a World Government. Is this observation accurate?

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Question: The United Nations has been described by some critics to be a "World Government". Is this observation accurate and if not, why not?

Observation is not accurate. The United Nations cannot be said to be a world government as it does not rule over the world and neither taxes or polices the global population. The United Nations also does not govern any over defined borders or communities. It is an association which is controlled by the member states and does not have any authority over such member states as a government would. The United Nations does not control the nation but is rather controlled by the member nations. It does not raise any taxes from the member states. It is an association which is ultimately accountable to all its member states and not the entire global population. The association works for the entire global population but reports to the governments of member states. It also does not have any right to use force on its own account. Further, it does not have the sole right to use violence legitimately. It is just a multilateral organisation which takes decisions based on positions of multiple parties. Lastly, the United Nations cannot recognise a sovereign state in its own right. Based on these reasons, the United Nations cannot be said to be a world government.

Scenario question

Lord Mayor Crim Basilton runs the local administration of Tamania, a cosmopolitan town comprising numerous religious and ethnic groups. In June 2021, the Lord Mayor's office in the CBD bears witness to large protests by groups keen to oust him from power. In the riot following, police open fire on protesters, killing several. It is rumoured that many of these protesters are of the Irkun and Rakun religions.

Lord Mayor Crim Basilton is also thinking of getting the police of Tamania to forcibly remove the children of followers of the Irkun and Rakun religions to "teach them a lesson" by way of punishment. He is also posting messages on various websites encouraging Tamanian citizens to inform the police on where observers of the Irkun and Rakun religions live.

Wendy Watsonia is an intern for the Tamania Herald. She wonders how the international community will react to Lord Mayor Crim Basilton's conduct. What will she say in her article? What can be done internationally?

In answering this question, students should consider how the relevant actions in the scenario are defined in international law, what necessary limitations arise, and consider the international response, where relevant. Cite authorities (international conventions, literature, cases) where relevant.

Over the last decade, there has been tremendous rise in government restrictions on religions by way of laws, actions and policies by the officials of state which restrict certain religious beliefs and practices. This has led to increase in social hostilities. There are also cases of government favouritism towards religious groups where government is seen to be funding for certain religious education, clergy and properties, etc.

‘Freedom of religion or belief' is a human right and in the given case such right is being tested by the conduct of forcibly removing children of followers of the Irkun and Rakun religions by way of punishment. This threat is largely under recognised by the international community currently. Despite rise in similar cases across the world, there has been a perceptible gap in the response provided by the UN Security Council and international human rights contrivances in response to such events in the past. This case is an example of government force based on religion and belief.

It should be noted that the freedom of religion or belief is a human right which is recognised by the ‘Charter of the United Nations' and ‘The universal declaration of human rights'. The international community should awaken and protest the violence happening for religion.

The ‘Human Rights Council' along with the ‘General Assembly' and ‘Security Council' have also recently engaged on matters which are based on religion. The human rights Council has set an ambitious agenda to combat intolerance negative typecasting stigmatisation, discernment, incitement of violence against people based on religious beliefs. This resolution of the human rights Council urges member states to speak against any incitement to violence and criminalise such incitement. In order to combat such sufferings, the General assembly focuses on reinforcing the resolutions of human rights Council. The General assembly approved several resolutions of the human rights Council and created an International Day on August 22 to commemorate the victims of acts of violence.

Similarly, the Security Council has also taken actions against religious protests as a factor of conflict. The council also indicated that it would engage more actively with the FoRB as a matter of security.

From an international perspective, the Security Council should be enabled to engage more preventively on such situations. Any such warning risks should be identified and appropriate action should be taken in the country where any kind of religious violence occurs. Any action taken should not undermine other human rights or marginalised other religions or beliefs. Human rights of freedom of religion need to be enhanced within the United Nations system. Member states should be required to report on their progress and the council needs to stay engaged on such issues.

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