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I VISIT THE WORLD COURT
LAST CHANCE FOR PEACE?
By Herbert W. Armstrong
WHAT POSSIBLE significance could the International Court of Justice - better known as the World Court at The Hague in the Netherlands - have in your life and mine? Chances are, many of our readers know very little or almost nothing about this court.
Yet it is man's final and ultimate instrumentality developed after four thousand years of striving to put an end to wars.
On invitation from one of the Court's distinguished justices, I visited the World Court to bring you the plain truth about man's ultimate machinery to produce world peace.
The invitation came from my good friend, Dr. Nagendra Singh of India, now a justice on this world's supreme court. Justice Singh is one of the most distinguished advocates for world peace by rule of international law. I first met Dr. Singh in New Delhi on one of my several visits with President V. V. Giri of India. Dr. Singh was then executive secretary to the president.
Because we both work for world peace - I, by means of education in the way that is the cause of peace, he, by means of rule by international law - Justice Singh and I have become good friends. He has addressed our Ambassador College student bodies - twice on the British campus and also at Pasadena.
Justice Singh has earned the highest law degrees in a number of famous universities and has worked all his life for world peace. And now, by vote of the United Nations' General Assembly and also its Security Council, he is a justice on the world's highest court. As soon as he received this distinguished appointment, he urged me to visit the Court.
This legal court arm of the United Nations is the world's greatest and ultimate supreme effort to stop wars and usher in a peaceful world. Some try to stop wars by mob demonstrations against wars. But at The Hague are serious and able men who have devoted their lives to the study of international law, hoping to achieve peace by that peaceful means.
On the night of my arrival at The Hague in Holland, a banquet was held in my honor. It was attended by several justices of the World Court, including the president and the dean of the Court, and the U. S. representative, Justice Hardy S. Dillard, and their wives, in addition to ambassadors from a number of nations with their wives and other guests. I was privileged to address this distinguished gathering.
The following morning, I met with Justice Singh and Justice Manfred Laehs, president of the Court, at the impressive and monumental headquarters of the Court, opened for the Court in 1913, a gift from Andrew Carnegie. President Lachs escorted me, accompanied by Stanley Rader, our Ambassador College general legal counsel (who usually accompanies me on international trips), throughout the entire building, and we four were photographed together by a Court photographer.
You are reading a magazine of understanding. It's vital that you understand the reasons for wars - of a world filled with violence - and that you understand what mankind is doing to try to bring peace. Have these sincere and dedicated scholars, who advocate the rule of international law, finally come up with the real solution to humanity's greatest problem?
For six thousand years, national leaders and world leaders have been striving for world peace. Yet wars and violence increase! Why? We need to understand.
Five-and-a-half decades ago, we came to the first WORLD WAR. The blood of tens of thousands streamed through the muddy trenches of the Somme and Verdun. The voices of millions said, "This kind of slaughter has got to stop!" Voices of world leaders proclaimed: "This is the war to end all wars!"
Millions really believed war had at last become so terrifying no one would ever dare start another. When the Armistice came, November 11, 1918, much of the world really believed war, at last, had come to an end FOREVER! I was living in Chicago. My wife and I were caught in the wild, frenzied, hilarious, victory-crazed celebration, with millions crowding into Chicago's loop. We were carrying our six-month-old first child, trying to elbow our way through the shouting, crushing mobs from my office to an elevated train. Torn bits of pages from thousands of telephone directories were floating down from skyscraper windows like a heavy snowfall.
Oh joyous, happy day! There would never be another war! PEACE, AT LAST!
The world has suffered through more than 100 wars since then, including the still greater, more horrible World War II. Now we have nuclear weapons. Now we have weapons so powerful they can blast all humanity off the earth! Now again, the world is saying: "No one would dare start a nuclear war!"
Yes, it's time we understand! Humanity cannot afford a nuclear war! But can it be prevented? Can the World Court prevent it? Or the United Nations?
Look back through history. Making war has been one of mankind's chief preoccupations. Since the beginning of recorded history - by computer calculation - there have been nearly 15,000 wars. And all through those centuries and millenniums, men have been striving for peace! Whether we have war or peace, there has to be a CAUSE. To prevent war, we need to find the way to stop it - to cause it to stop. To have peace, we need to find the way that will cause peace. Sound simple? There really is a way that will cause world peace!
Leaders have tried to find a way to settle international disputes, designs and needs peaceably. There simply has to be a way! It's a matter of survival!
So our advocates of international law reason this way: Within nations, laws have been created to preserve the social order in peace and stability. These laws establish norms of conduct for persons within the nations. Police enforce them, and courts interpret them and try violators.
Carry it further: When disputes (why not be honest and call them "conflicts of interest"?) arise between states or provinces within a nation, they normally take their controversy to a high national court for decision.
One step further: This has led many to ask, "Why couldn't we create such a system in the international sphere to preserve world peace and stability? Why couldn't laws be established setting norms of conduct for nations? Why couldn't nations bring their controversies to a world court for resolution rather than going to war over them?"
It seemed a noble idea. Former Prime Minister Clement Attlee of Britain said: "Some rule of international law in the world is necessary if we are not to perish."
But, as Justice Singh has stressed in addressing our student bodies, law without force is impotent, and force without law is anarchy. In the World Court we have law, but without force. So, at this point in history, the achievement of a rule of international law seems a long way off!
And with nuclear warheads poised, ready to erase all humanity off the earth, we don't have that kind of time available.
Justice Singh told me that at the time of my visit, no nation, to his knowledge, had ever yet refused to comply with a decision of the World Court. But since then, France and Iceland have refused to heed World Court injunctions. France refused to call off its decision to test an H-bomb in the Pacific. This was not a case in which France was one of the parties submitting its controversy to the Court. The Court acted on its own in this case. Normally, the Court considers only cases submitted to it by two or more nations voluntarily. The same situation occurred in the case of Iceland, whose representatives declined to appear in a case involving the limits of territorial waters.
But why is this potential of rule by international law not being realized? Why do we have, in the World Court, international law without force?
Look, for a moment, at developments of the recent past, leading to the establishment, of the present World Court.
Actually, it all began in the 16th century. A body of international law - defined as the body of rules, principles and standards generally observed and regarded as binding by nations in their relations with one another - began to take shape. Some of these rules developed through long years of custom. Others had been agreed upon in treaties.
Rules dealing with the rights of merchant ships in. foreign ports, extradition of criminals, rights of ambassadors and diplomatic agents, and rights of passage through territorial waters are just a few examples of rules that were developing into international law. Then there were laws of war, such as rules for the treatment of prisoners of war and rules against attacking undefended cities and towns.
Of course, many of these were frequently violated. That only demonstrated that what was developing was international law with no power of enforcement. A prerequisite for rule of international law among nations is a court to interpret this body of international law and to render decisions based on it. Today, many see in the International Court of Justice at The Hague the embryo of a court that would be as effective as national courts within nations - a World Court backed by force. But at that point we encounter the real problem - how to establish force over an international decision.
Many today pin their hopes for the world on the future of this body.
Scattered through the blood-drenched pages of history are a few examples of nations agreeing to settle some controversies by judicial settlement instead of by war. They set up occasional and transient tribunals, known as ad hoc tribunals of arbitration. But what was most needed was a permanent court.
At The Hague Peace Conference in 1899, the selection of competent and impartial jurists was made a little easier for nations wishing to arbitrate. The conference created the Permanent Court of Arbitration. In reality, this prestigious institution was neither permanent nor a court in the true sense. Toward the end of World War I, this court and The Hague Peace Conference of 1899 came to be much in the news. President Woodrow Wilson of the United States was gaining much space in the public press with his determined insistence on making that war the war to end all wars by his League of Nations.
The next step in developing the present court came in 1920. That year saw what had been started in The Hague Peace Conference created into the Permanent Court of International Justice by the League of Nations Covenant.
So here, at last, was a permanent body that was a real court to which nations could come at any time. I say "could." It was entirely a voluntary matter. The opponents of Woodrow Wilson's League of Nations were loudly protesting the whole thing as absolutely impotent, because "it had no teeth," as Theodore Roosevelt loudly contended. I heard many speeches along that line. And, as Justice Singh says today, law without force is impotent, and force without law is anarchy - and we witness both in the world today!
This Court, as organized in the League of Nations Charter, was a standing court of 15 jurists who had no other professions, devoting full time to the Court. But the Court was powerless to prevent wars. It, like the League of Nations, had "no teeth" - no power to enforce its decisions. It ended in 1945, with the end of World War II.
After World War II, in 1945, the work of the League of Nations was taken over by the newly formed United Nations.
I attended the entire San Francisco Conference where the U.N. charter was drafted. I heard great speeches by world leaders, saying this was the world's "last chance" for peace. Yet as soon as the plenary sessions, for public show, were over, and the diplomats met in private sessions, they were tearing at one another's throats like mad dogs, each fighting viciously for selfish advantage, each out to "get" and to "take" from the others all he could. This, in fact, is the way diplomats have been "fighting for world peace" for 6,000 years!
The League of Nations' permanent Court of International Justice was succeeded by the United Nation's International Court of Justice. Attached to the U.N.'s Charter as an integral part of, it is a 70-article statute setting out the organization and procedures of the World Court.
The World Court, sitting at The Hague, is composed of 15 distinguished and highly competent judges from various nations. No two may come from the same nation. They are elected by unanimous vote by the General Assembly and the Security Council. Members are elected for a 9-year term, and they may be reelected. Elections are held every three years, five seats being filled or reelected at that time. A judge may not engage in any outside professions or in any political functions. A judge may be removed by the unanimous vote of the other judges.
All decisions are determined by a majority of the judges present, nine constituting a quorum. In case of a tie, the president of the Court has the deciding vote. The Court elects its president and vice-president every three years, and they are eligible for reelection. All decisions are based on the principles of international law. All decisions are final, and there is no appeal.
So here, at last, is a truly world court. It is composed of eminent, irreproachable, highly qualified judges of various nationalities, available for the resolution of international disputes by peaceful means.
All nations declare they want peace. Yet while armed conflicts rage in different parts of the world, the World Court suffers, today, from an acute shortage of cases. Why? Why such a paradox?
Nations say they want peace! World leaders since the dawn of history have been struggling for world peace. Yet nations are today continuing to wage war, even while the judicial machinery is available to avert it!
Is the World Court to blame? Certainly not. It is ready and willing and able to step in — if nations are willing to let it!
What's wrong? In the machinery of the World Court, we have law but no authority - no power - no force! And law without force is impotent!
The World Court has been given jurisdiction only when disputes are referred to it by nations on both sides of the dispute. Both sides must agree that their case should be heard and decided by the Court. If, for example, country A is engaged in a border dispute with country B, both A and B must agree to take the dispute to the Court for settlement. The Court has no power to order the two to appear for judgment, nor can country A haul country B before the bench against country B's will. The prospective defendant, not the eminent judges of the court, decides whether there will be a trial.
In other words, the idea of peaceful settlement by international law and court action, which settles disputes within nations, has not been inculcated into this world "Supreme Court."
I mentioned earlier the case of France's planned nuclear tests in the South Pacific. In May 1973, Australia and New Zealand appealed to the World Court in an attempt to halt the nuclear tests. France did not agree to submit the dispute to the Court, on the grounds that the Court's jurisdiction excluded disputes involving matters of national defense.
This lack of compulsory jurisdiction - lack of force - causes nations to resort to the World Court only when it appears to their advantage. Most decisions rendered by the Court have been on matters of relatively minor consequence.
Further, the Court has no power to enforce its judgments once a decision is rendered, even when both nations have agreed to take their case to the Court.
The World Court, as a result, has unfortunately had little impact on the behavior of nations. It is generally regarded as the weakest limb of the United Nations - but not through any fault of its own. It was set up by its founding nations so that it is powerless to frustrate the designs of a superpower, or, for that matter, of any power.
So now, where do we stand?
After thousands of years of human efforts to STOP WARS - to usher in world peace - we have a United Nations - as helpless and lacking in "teeth" as its predecessor, the League of Nations. And we have its judiciary arm, the International Court of Justice - the World Court.
Mankind has advanced to the point of having judiciary machinery to settle disputes. In spite of its limitations and lack of power, the World Court has made definite contributions to the maintenance of world peace. The submission of differences to the Court for decision has, at times, taken the heat out of disputes which might -otherwise have erupted into something much bigger. Also, some long-standing disputes have been resolved through negotiation, after one party threatened to take the case to the Court. And the decisions of the Court have served to clarify and strengthen existing international law.
Surely a beginning has been made. But from this beginning, will the World Court ever grow into a full-fledged supreme court of the world, as many suggest? Some say that as the body of international law grows, nations will gain experiences in being governed by it and allow it to grow even further and expand into more critical areas. Even so, that would take time - a long time. And with nuclear weapons threatening human survival, we don't have that kind of time.
And would it find its way into those critical areas which spell the difference between war and peace? The answer lies in the origin of international law.
There is no World Congress, World Parliament, Reichstag or Diet today making international law, and no "world executive branch" or WORLD GOVERNMENT with its own police and super-military force with power to force all nations to submit their disputes to the World Court, or to compel all nations to submit to its decisions.
Many had hoped that the U.N. General Assembly would evolve into a world legislature. It has not.
From where, then, did international law come?
Simply from the common consent of nations. This common consent comes out of their mutual self-interest in seeing such laws on the books. Nations observe these laws because it's in their own self-interest.
But what happens in areas where mutual interest is not served? Then there is no mutual consent, and consequently, no international law in those areas. And it is in these areas of conflict of national interest that wars generate.
What it all boils down to is this: The United Nations and the World Court can be only as powerful and effective as the nations of the world allow them to be. Sovereignty and nationalism are still potent.
Former Secretary-General of the U.N., U Thant, puts it succinctly:
If the United Nations is to grow into a really effective instrument for maintaining the rule of law, the first step must be the willingness of the member states to give up the concept of the absolute sovereign state in the same manner as we individuals give up our absolute right to do just as we please, as an essential condition of living in an organized society....
This world - humanity as a whole - is still geared to the way of human nature.
This is the point where we need to understand!
There are, as I have said repeatedly and expect to continue saying as long as God allows me to draw breath, just two broad, general ways of life - two divergent philosophies of living. One is the SELF-centered way. This world is geared to that way. It has been for 6,000 year. It is the way of human nature - the way of vanity, self-exaltation, selfishness, greed, envy, jealousy, resentment. It is the way of self-concern, but with NO concern for the good or welfare of others. It is the way of resentment of authority. It is a way of competition, strife and war.
There is one other and opposite way of life. That way constitutes a law, set in motion as surely and relentlessly as the laws of physics, of gravity or inertia. You can't see those laws, but they work, and you see the effect they produce. This is the way of love. And love is ongoing - an outgoing concern.
Toward other humans, it is the way of giving, not getting or taking, the way of cooperating, serving, helping, sharing. It is the God-centered way - the way of humility, obedience, to authority, the way of believing our Creator, the source of all truth and right knowledge.
But humanity rejected that way six thousand years ago. That way is in itself an existing spiritual law - a law of physical actions, but of spiritual intent, attitude and principle. Like the laws of gravity and inertia, it is invisible - but it works, and you see the effect.
The effect you see for disobedience - going the way of human nature (breaking that law) - is the mountain of evils humanity has piled on itself - the strife, violence and war, the poverty, illiteracy, disease, filth and squalor, the crime, immorality and degradation," the fears, worries and frustrations.
Everything is a matter of cause and effect. Violation of this active, spiritual law has produced the evil effect we see about us. Obedience to that law would produce the effect of peace, happiness, joy, prosperity universally, security, assurance and abundant well-being!
It's time we quit kidding ourselves. The nations are not going to act contrary to human nature. As long as we have human nature, the U.S.S.R. is not going to turn its sovereignty over to the United Nations or the World Court. It would never have joined the U.N. without its veto power, which renders the U.N. powerless (except as a sounding board for communist propaganda).
The United States will not surrender its sovereignty to the U.N. or the World Court. It, like the U.S.S.R., would never have gone into the U.N. without its veto power, which renders the U.N. powerless!
The same is true of the People's Republic of China, recently admitted. The same is true of Britain, France and the others.
Humanity right now approaches the brink of human extinction from the earth. If humanity realized how close we are to that brink, how urgent is our number one problem of survival, they would go stark mad in frantic chaos! But humanity is asleep to facts and truth and doesn't want to be disturbed.
World renowned scientists say the world's only hope, now, is for a WORLD GOVERNMENT - One Super-power - one single military force - to rule all nations. In the same breath they say that's impossible!
I say, at the same time, the world's ONLY HOPE of survival is to change human nature! And man is just as powerless to do that!
Without a WORLD GOVERNMENT to back it and enforce its decisions, the World Court will be ineffective in preventing war and bringing world peace. Winston Churchill warned: "Unless some effective world super-government can be brought quickly into action, the proposals for peace and human progress are dark and doubtful."
The urgent necessity for what is prophesied is not the irresponsible shoutings of some religious zealot - but a stern fact, recognized by great scientists and able statesmen.
The Holy Bible - the down-to- earth source of the missing dimension in knowledge - reveals just such a world super-government is soon going to be established! And that not by man — but in spite of him!
I quote: "And he [Christ] shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more" (Isaiah 2:4).
Further, unknown to most, the Bible reveals also that, at that time, due to the resurrection, many former humans will be ruling with the glorified, all-powerful Christ in this super, world government. Christ himself said: "He that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron ..." (Revelation 2:26-27). This is stated again in I Corinthians 6:2: "Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world?"
The Bible reveals that what many scientists are saying is our only hope will come, not by man's initiative, but by God's. And that the world soon will be ruled by international law, but not through the efforts of mortal man.
Also, human nature shall be replaced with a right spirit and attitude. Says God: "A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh..." (Ezekiel 36:26).
So let's quit kidding ourselves! Unless there does exist the supreme Creator God of love and total power who is about to step in and intervene in world affairs, who has power to, and will change human nature, who will by supernatural divine power reveal Himself to a doubting, disbelieving and deceived world and set up the prophesied Kingdom of God on earth - with supernatural divine power and force ruling all nations - then the whole world has had it!
You are betting your life and your eternity on that only possible solution! And time is running out on us!