The creation of the UN stemmed from a perceived necessity to stem the Axis tide in 1942. After the war, the organization adapted to become a forum for fostering peace and global social unity. Another key condition at its inception was the creation of international law, so that frameworks could be drafted to establish what we as a society deemed to be morally reproachable. The effectiveness of international law has been called into question since it’s inception, for good reason: it’s very existence calls into question its enforceability in issues of conflict with sovereign regulation.

The principle of only being able to choose two of three between democracy, global integration of economic systems and sovereignty rings true. As evidenced by recent populist movements throughout the globe, the benefits of global integration are being questioned by modern voters over issues such as border control, national identity and the opportunity cost of participating in larger global systems.

But what if they weren’t? What if, instead of concern for issues of independence, we leaned into the UN? What if we adapted to a more federalist approach in which state actors became just that: states in a larger whole? What if we effectively aligned the size of our global democratic politics to align with our growth engine: the markets? Doing so would be bureaucratic (see EU for example), but would present an interesting vision of adapting the UN to a more prominent role.

A slightly more palatable approach might be that of placing greater emphasis upon addressing trans-national issues. Despite the complaints of the American public, a global refugee crisis does not often supersede a re-election campaign regarding importance in the eyes of a politician. But retaining capacity for sovereignty in times of non-international crisis would allow for national identity to exist in some form, albeit a reduced one. An argument could be made that many Western nations use this particular model already by continued membership into international bodies – however, these bodies do not have the ability to overrule decisions made by a national governing body. Should they?

In the end, the exercise is purely academic. Any economic union or trade agreement clearly demonstrates the realist argument of the dangers of actors within a system. States require an ability to do what is in the best interest of their people, lest they fall victim to a bipolar global power struggle in a Col War-esque fashion. Nevertheless, as with all things, the potential exists, if it were only to be embraced.

 

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