Snog, Marry, Avoid: International Institutions Edition


Smaller Nations are usually battered by international heavyweights, and to gain any influence have to marry a large through some agreement. China acts as Sugar Daddy through the temptation of money with the knowledge that it will not be repaid, with the ultimate aim of taking control of the asset created on an extremely long lease. The USA offers a seemingly sweet wedding, with the condition of an iron-clad prenup that ultimately allows the USA to walk all over the bride to be. International Institutions seem to be a way to create co-operation and project influence, without the one-sided marriage or a secret agenda of a generous third party. Let’s play snog, marry, avoid on some to see if they do this.

Snog the international criminal court (ICC). In practice, this institution could be a force for good, but needs love. With major nations such as China and the US not wanting to participate, criticisms of focusing only on African cases and having no method of enforcing rulings ( like many international institutions). The ICC sits in a grey area of having a focused agenda to achieve but no way to go around to get it results on the international stage.

Marry the international standards organization. With more reach and interconnectivity, standards are needed to ensure regularity between countries. ISO standards that led to containerization and mass global trade, standards for worldwide scientific studies and standards for internet communication are a landmark of this era. The ISO has to lead to global interaction on a scale never seen before- all while being optional. However, that could be its biggest weakness; A standard that could do major good, might not be approved by countries that would lead to widespread adoption.

Avoid the Security Council of the UN. Similarly to the ICC, the security council lacks a direct way to enforce rulings (excluding Peacekeepers whose usage is effective but contentious). However, having the backing of the US and EU countries offers a way to put in place sanctions. The issues that call for it being avoided is the well-known veto - which overrides all other non-permanent countries opinions. It also causes ruling on other countries that are committing atrocities to be vetoed by allies of the committing countries. The council has a majority voting system, however, it is made redundant by the existence of the veto. The veto is also highly grouped, with France, the UK and the USA voting together and not having distinct voices where they could do.

I wrote that international institutions can be a force for good where smaller nations are forced into one-sided relationships, yet, is their existence useful in the first place. If their job is to encourage cooperation, then some do. Do they then need to be international? Why not a set of bilateral agreements? Or if their aim is for international co-operation, how do you bring on countries that are seen as the real drivers of change when they do not want? If the opinion is that only major countries drive change, then we need to re-define where change comes from - not large to small, but small to large.

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