UN: The Moral Power

What I took away from our meeting with the Bolivian United Nations:

Acting as the global mediator, the United Nations holds the heavy responsibility of enforcing the desires of the majority of it’s global participants. Bolivia, then, is currently a country of focus due to its subversion to global interest on the illegality of the coca plant. Acting as both national president and head of the coca plant union, Evo Morales claims to advocate for the production of coca as a protection of indigenous culture in its medicinal use for overcoming altitude sickness. However, according to Robert Brockmann, only 15% of the total production is used for medicinal chewing coca; the remainder is then exported to Peru, Columbia, and eventually Brazil to be refined into cocaine and exported abroad on the black market. At this point I’m wondering what measures the UN takes in preventing such illegal activity considering this one country is almost single-handedly responsible for feeding cocaine to the entire world. Apparently, the Bolivian UN is unable to inhibit this illegal trade other than by attempting to enforce the production restrictions established by the UN, yet this seems futile considering more than twice the legal amount of coca is being produced, leaving this issue continuous and unsolved.

Then, I inquired about the proposition of establishing a nuclear department that will be advanced on the next voting ballot, but the Bolivian UN claims it has no opinion on the matter. The United Nations, who supposedly advocates for the betterment of the majority of this world, has no opinion or position on a matter that could potentially affect all mankind…

So if they can’t make any large steps in preventing the creation and global trade of cocaine and they have no real opinion on a proposal that could demolish existence as we know it, what is the purpose of the Bolivian UN? These are issues that affect not only the Bolivian nation but the world at large, hence the creation of a United Nations. I just can’t seem to understand the logic of this situation. I do understand the delicate position in which the organization stands, it has only as much power and influence as the nation allows, but it seems that issues as ubiquitous and pervasive as these should prompt a stronger opposition from the “moral power” of our world.

One thought on “UN: The Moral Power

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  1. It’s important to remember that the UN is, as Robert Brockmann stated, “not a sovereign entity.” The UN has no enforcement power, at all. It exists as a treaty that binds member states together, based on mutual consent. So the UN is in Bolivia because Bolivia is a member of the UN. But Bolivia, unlike the UN, *IS* a sovereign entity. It’s not just Bolivia, btw, that seems to flaunt UN mandates. For example, the US hasn’t paid its membership dues for most of the last 50 years. The UN also has a series of mandates about rights (such as for prisoners, immigrants, native peoples, access to health care, etc.) that some argue the US regularly violates. The UN mandates equal treatment for women, yet Saudi Arabia (a member of the UN) won’t let women drive cars or travel without a male guardian. My point is just that the difficulties of the UN operating in Bolivia are unique (regarding coca, for sure), but that it’s part of an overall dilemma that the UN has. I think in the US we often have an idea that laws are absolute (even in the US they aren’t, and aren’t equally enforced, just as Black Live Matter). But internal relations law is much, much, much murkier and enforceable only when states want to enforce them. Iraq invaded Kuwait, and the US lead a coalition to drive Iraq out. Russia invaded Ukraine (Crimea), and no country has suggested war. This happens all the time. And, yes, it’s very frustrating to watch.

    A good question from this observation might be to think about how “small states” navigate international law. That is, why does the US have to actively negotiate with the UN at all over issues of noncompliance, when larger states (like the US, France, Saudi Arabia) don’t have to? Or what kind of leverage do small states have in international relations that help them compensate for their lack of “hard power”? For example, Robert Brockmann pointed out that up until about 10 years ago the UN “footprint” (and influence) in Bolivia was very large (it could significantly drive government policy). Then, as Bolivia’s income from oil/gas boomed, and the balance between Bolivian government money and foreign aid shifted, Bolivia became more “independent” from the UN and foreign donors. How does that reflect on international relations for developing countries?

    Liked by 1 person

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