Jeremy Rabkin, in his Law Without Nations? and Michla Pomerance ("Defending the S-Word," Azure 29, Summer 2007) both expose the myth that morality, peace, and human rights would be better served without national sovereignty. The slogans of "global governance" and "world federalism" emerged from the murderous extremes of European nationalism and racism during the twentieth century, in opposition to, rather than in support of, the principles of liberal democracy.
On this basis, the anti-democratic majority in the United Nations and the self-appointed moralists and ideologues who control wealthy non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have gained power without the accompanying accountability or responsibility. According to the dominant myth (called the "halo effect"), unelected NGO officials who control massive budgets are somehow morally superior, automatically credible, and immune to the private interests and dogmas of democratically elected representatives.
European governments (and, to some degree, Canada) are largely responsible for funding these political NGOs–a further reflection of the anti-sovereignty ideology. Aid agencies run by the European Union, as well as Britain, Sweden, France, Finland, Norway, Switzerland, and other countries (often funneled through church groups such as Christian Aid and DanChurchAid), provide millions of Euros in taxpayer funds to gngos (government non-governmental organizations). Europe is infatuated with "civil society," based on the conceptually absurd belief that the officials of organizations that operate outside the system of checks and balances and are not subject to the democratic process are somehow less corrupt and more representative of the general welfare than elected officials.
These government funds are used to promote the private ideological agendas of NGO officials (including the anti-Israel and anti-American campaigns in Europe), and in efforts to manipulate the civil societies of other democratic countries. European taxpayers, for example, support dozens of Israeli political NGOs that actively oppose and campaign against the anti-terror policies chosen by the Israeli public and their elected representatives. B’tselem, Gisha, Bimkom, Peace Now, Yosi Beilin’s "Geneva Initiative," and many more groups receive millions of shekels allocated by sympathetic European officials in order to initiate legal actions, publish reports, buy newspaper advertisements, and the like. The Israel Committee Against House Demolitions (icahd), a small NGO whose coordinator, Jeff Halper, travels the world demonizing Israel and supporting boycotts, received over 400,000 Euros under the misleading "EU Partnership for Peace" label.
The political power of politicized NGOs is particularly apparent in the "Durban strategy" adopted by the leaders of 1,500 organizations that participated in the infamous NGO Forum of the 2001 UN Conference on Racism, and in the vital role they played in legitimizing the 2002 Jenin "massacre" myth and promoting the UN General Assembly resolution that sent the "apartheid wall" to the misnamed International Court of Justice. Most recently, the Durban NGO network led the political war that accompanied Hezbollahu0012s rocket attacks, with the NGO Human Rights Watch (HRW) obsessively publishing over thirty reports, press releases, op-eds and other statements condemning Israeli military actions, using "facts" largely based on the unverifiable claims of local "eyewitnesses" and sympathetic journalists who happened to be in areas of Lebanon controlled by Hezbollah.
These and many similar examples highlight the illusion of an international legal system that lacks the legitimacy provided by national sovereignty and the consent of the governed. Many of the institutions that claim to embody international law, such as the International Court of Justice, are political bodies that reflect the problems and limitations of global governance. And in this vacuum, and without authoritative decisions, highly ideological NGO officials have used their power and access to media to become the arbiters of a highly particularistic version of international law.
While the campaign against Israel is the most damaging illustration of the impact of powerful NGOs working in concert with the majority of dictatorships in the United Nations, similar political wars are being fought against the democratically elected governments of the United States, Britain, Australia, and others. And NGOs are only one dimension of the efforts to promote institutions based on the amorphous and unaccountable "global governance" frameworks. Europe will eventually realize that while democratic sovereignty is far from perfect, it is (to paraphrase Churchill) better than all the other forms that have been tried. The question is whether this realization will come too late to preserve Europeu0012s own sovereignty.
Gerald M. Steinberg
Bar-Ilan University, Tel Aviv
NGO Monitor, Jerusalem