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UN Government

Fall back to a UN committee
  [vote for,

Often, countries let their political scene become so disordered that the elected government is overthrown; or the previously elected government fails to relinquish power. A military coup is frequently involved at this point.

A military government can never be legitimate because they obtained and maintain their power through force or the threat of using force. The failed government is often untenable and often should be replaced due to ingrained corruption and abuse of civilians - propping them up against the military is in nobody's best interest.

My idea is a third solution, which is that the constitution of the country be amended during a time of peace to state that if any person or group of persons makes a claim to power or causes the fall from power of the elected government *without this being the result of a free and fair election* that the UN Emergency Government Committee becomes the new government.

This emergency government will be convened only outside of the country and must hold elections within six months to return the choice of government to the people of the country; which are to be as free and fair as they can possibly make them. The committee will have the power to put in place such laws and procedures as they feel necessary and expedient to produce a more fair election; and as such they are free to administer the election without the aid of state election bodies or civil service machinery where it is felt this could negatively impact upon the fairness of proceedings. The police and military shall be under their direct command, enabling them to do what they can through the command structure to restrain violence or intimidation (e.g. by shipping the bulk of them off abroad for a month of field exercises).

Likewise, powers of prosecution and pardon will be in their hands; suitably limited to politically based cases such as the detention or imprisonment of politicians by the opposing party, or former previous government officials be brought to trial where clear evidence exists of wrongdoing - in these cases the court will be limited to a sentence which bars the person from political office and a recommendation for a full trial to proceed once government is restored. This ensures that silenced politicians (who are still alive) get their voices returned and that corrupt or criminal politicians (who were hitherto above the law) are not allowed to stand in the forthcoming elections.

I acknowledge that the result of the elections will often not be as fair as is possible, but it does mean that any would-be military dictator would have to be tested at the poll booth before taking power. For the people of the country, this is a much less traumatic experience - if they support the military in bringing down the old government they know that it will be up to them to pick the new one - not the generals of the army.

vincevincevince, Mar 05 2009


       So when the military junta come to power, and the UN Committee invokes it's right to lead, how do they enforce this? The UN has no standing army. Even if it did, it would seem mad to use it invading and occupying countries for 6 months at a time.
Germanicus, Mar 05 2009

       No military occupation, this is a constitutional provision which provides an immediate, automatic and irrevocable transfer of power. The UN Emergency Committee gains legitimacy by being nobody's enemy; and through the national constitution. The wayward general doubtless has good cause to claim the former government has lost its legitimacy and hence justify his campaign; however such a charge cannot be levelled against the UN Emergency Government which is new, constitutional and independent of national political issues.   

       The military coup will not be able to seize power because the moment power is lost, it is assumed by the UN, outside of the national borders. To overthrow the UN Emergency Committee would require a military coup against the UN.
vincevincevince, Mar 05 2009

       I'm pretty sure this would lead to such countries falling de facto into US hands. I don't want to offer an opinion concerning whether this would be a good or bad thing, so i'm abstaining, but i am interested in knowing whether other people think that would happen too.
nineteenthly, Mar 05 2009

       so to recap...
A government makes a promise that if they get kicked out then the country belongs to the UN... and the people that boot them out abide by it ?
FlyingToaster, Mar 05 2009

       No. The constitution of the country is amended to require this. Constitutions tend to stumble when things like coups or highly disputed elections arise; this amendment means that there is a clearly required course of action. At present, following a coup, the ousted government is logistically incapable of governing and the military are legally incapable of governing. As logistic impossibilities are harder to bend than laws, the country ends up with the military government. Now add the third option of a legitimate and logistically able international 'neutral' government and there is no need to allow an illegal military government out of the necessity of avoiding anarchy.
vincevincevince, Mar 05 2009

       I appreciate your use of the inverted commas, [vvv]. I also think any government is far from neutral, and whoever has the gold makes the rules. Since the US is the most powerful country, a government which takes over another country would be friendly to the US and therefore not neutral. In a country whose culture is very different than the US, such as those of the Middle East, that would be likely to lead to conflict. It could also be a question of perception, in that even if this weren't the case, it would probably be perceived as such.
nineteenthly, Mar 05 2009

       //A military government can never be legitimate //

Go tell it to the Spartans.
DrBob, Mar 05 2009

       //Go tell it to the Spartans.//   

       What is your point here, [DrBob]? Do you think that the brutal police state of classical Sparta was in some sense legitimate? Granted, it was fascinating, much like a major road accident. Granted, it mostly kept to its own laws, much like the Taleban. Granted, it was admired from a safe distance by many outsiders, much like the early Soviet Union. But legitimate?
pertinax, Mar 05 2009

       I think the Spartans may have elected a new people, as the saying goes, and with the right conditions and rhetoric, that's often an option. It's like that age-old question about the Daleks - would it make any difference if they had a liberal democracy? I wrote an essay on that once when i had too much time on my hands.
nineteenthly, Mar 05 2009

       I'm not endorsing the values of the ancient Spartan regime which, as you say, was brutal & dehumanising, but that was the form of society that the Spartan's chose to have. Another example, which I am sure you are well aware of, is the Roman Republic which occasionally elected Military Dictators in times of emergency.

So, what I was trying to point out, in as terse a way as possible, is that making blanket generalisations about which forms of government are legitimate and which are not is a dangerous way of thinking. If people want to live in a police state (as we seem to be bit-by-bit re-implementing in the UK) or in an elected democracy or have no government at all then that is their prerogative.

Of course, the difficulty with that argument is the perennial question of "when is it legitimate to intervene in the affairs of a foreign country"? To my mind that is something that has to be judged on a case-by-case basis and sweeping generalisations are not helpful in making such decisions.

Terse was a lot less effort.
DrBob, Mar 05 2009

       //But legitimate?// What's legitimate is what people allow to be legitimate, and what people allow to be legitimate seems to be based on who can raise and control the dominant local organised force.   

       The Taliban, Sparta, Rome, Hitler, Stalin, Napoleon, Tzars, Kings, Queens, Emperors and (so they say) whispering Cabals of Crocodile People have all been able to do this to varying degrees of success - it's just that these days, your average henchman is likely to be more attuned to the pervading cultural norms of being fairly reasonable, following the rule of law, democracy and all that - but if you're able to get enough henchmen who are happy to do it for loot and kicks, I'm sure that would be legitimate too, until such time as someone else managed to figure out a trumping henchman strategy.   

       Democracy is just henchman by proxy.
zen_tom, Mar 05 2009

       Problem is that a lot of these despotic regimes sell cheap resources to developed nations. A democratically elected government would never invite foreign corporations in to take all their natural resources. Dominant nations like the US or China are more likely to give them military hardware than try to overthrow them, and in many cases may be behind the coup in the first place. They will not vote to reinstate a legitimate government and will veto whenever they can. It just won't happen
Bad Jim, Mar 05 2009


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