The United Nations is an institution that has originally been set up as a mediator of state-to-state crises. The main objective of the UN is to coordinate the efforts of multiple states to ensure international peace and compliance. There are a lot of examples of the effectiveness of the United Nations in enforcing international law. In the 1950s, the UN managed to codify the establishment of maritime zones and the management of mineral resources by creating the UN Convention of the Law of the Sea (Mingst et al., 2018). A more recent example is the fact that Iran halted its nuclear development program since “it was coerced into doing so by the economic sanctions placed on it by powerful states acting through the UN Security Council” (Mingst et al., 2018, p. 255). Despite that, the world of modern international relations has undergone a transformation.
The result of these changes is the fact that there is no conflict between states exclusively due to the rise of non-governmental organizations (NGOs), corporations, and terrorist groups, which are all considered non-state actors. Ross (2016) notes that “conflicts involving al-Shabaab, Boko Haram or Islamic State originate from particular local circumstances but often have regional and global reach and consequence.” Since only members are often allowed to address “non-state” issues that do not even concern them, the council has no ability to listen to parties and individuals directly affected by its decisions. In addition, the UN has become dependent on the governments of the P5 veto-wielding members. As a result, the tensions in the South China Sea and Chechnya become taboo issues, “which are banished from the council’s agenda because it is “understood” but never publicly admitted that certain powerful countries forbid their discussion” (Ross, 2016). Finally, the United Nations suffers from bureaucracy and other problems that originate from institutionalization, which makes the organization stale and ineffective.
When it comes to the vertical enforcement of international law, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) is the most prominent example of an organ (established by the UN Charter) that deals with cases related to state compliance. Although the ICJ has successfully settled numerous legal disputes, it often fails to enforce international law due to various reasons. Firstly, the court hears very few cases, so “between 1946 and 2017, the ICJ has had 141 contentious cases brought before it and has issued only 26 advisory opinions” (Mingst et al., 2018, p. 252). Although the ICJ enjoys growing popularity in developing countries, it remains ineffective for cases involving strong and influential states since the court has no compulsory jurisdiction, and, therefore, no state is compelled to submit to its rulings. Secondly, the ICJ rarely hears cases that deal with the major issues due to the fact that modern controversies often involve non-state actors, including NGOs, terrorist groups, and corporations. The ICJ only allows states to initiate proceedings, which excludes the court from resolving contemporary disputes related to non-state controversies. Finally, it is important to acknowledge that without enforcement mechanisms, the International Court of Justice’s ability to enforce international law is limited.
Religion often guides Americans in every aspect of their lives, and, therefore, core principles of Christianity affect the public’s attitude towards US foreign affairs. In the case of the Middle East, religious differences between Christianity and Islam have been a source of tension, which resulted in a long period of American indifference toward the atrocities of war in the area. Most, if not all, of the violent actions of the US military, were attributed to the initial extremism of Muslims in the Middle East. However, it is important to acknowledge that the essence of American identity implies that whether one is a believer or not, their faith often comes second after the interests of their country. Conservative Christians in America usually believe that the United States has a certain mission in the world, which justifies its foreign affairs. On the other hand, Americans can tolerate the US indifference to humanitarian interventions due to past burdens. People tend to believe that because of the violence initiated by Americans in the past, they are better off not being involved in international affairs at all, no matter the intention.
Mingst, A. K., McKibben, H. E., & Arreguin-Toft, I.M. (2018). Essentials of international relations (8th ed.). W.W. Norton & Company.
Ross, C. (2016). The UN is Failing. Is it Heading the Way of the League of Nations? The Guardian. Web.