U.S. Constitution and International law
crossf at MAIL.UTEXAS.EDU
Thu Oct 17 10:40:11 PDT 2002
On the democratic legitimacy of the UN:
Professor Martin correctly notes the existence of questions about what
democracy requires and how the Senate is plausibly a departure from
democracy. But let's compare the Senate to the UN.
1. The Senate fails to account for population disparities among states,
but the UN does likewise among nations, and the disparities are much
greater among nations.
2. The Senate is part of a bicameral system, where it is balanced by a
House that has proportional representation. The UN is not.
3. All of the members of the Senate are democratically elected by their
state. This is not the case for the UN. A substantial minority, about a
quarter, have virtually no democracy. Another substantial number have a
highly imperfect democracy. This is a very serious problem. Democracies
will not all vote together. On contested issues, the ultimate decision may
turn on the vote of the substantial bloc of non-democracies.
I think the UN performs an extremely valuable service to the world and is
due some deference from our nation. I don't thin it has the legitimacy to
make that deference automatic.
Herbert D. Kelleher Centennial Professor of Business Law
University of Texas at Austin
Austin, TX 78712
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