Ilana Mercer, September 4, 2002

When he demanded, at the United Nation’s World Summit for Sustainable Development (WSSD), that the world’s poor be liberated from poverty, South African President Thabo Mbeki was not inviting the upliftment that results from voluntary and peaceful trade, but summoning the force of a centralized Global Government.

The WSSD’s social engineers began by inking reams of paper with their odes to diversity, which is code for homosexuals, lesbians, and the gender-challenged, those living with the consequences of rampant sexuality, namely the HIV-inflicted, poor non-whites, women and witch doctors.

The problem, as these central planners see it, however, lies not with the culturally exotic, but with the differences that dare not speak their name—the natural inequalities between men which also happen to drive development and innovation.

This is the diversity they want to eradicate.

To end the variety that leads to “global apartheid,” Mbeki and the stakeholders at the conference want to use the steamrollers of the “democratic system of global governance.” The bluntness of global governance stems from its overarching nature—a global government constitutes the ultimate monopoly because it straddles all nations. Once subject to global enforcement, inhabitants of nation-states, whose leaders have betrayed them by becoming signatories to global wealth-distributing agreements, have no escape routes. They cannot contest UN policies by upping and leaving. Well aware of this, the UN is working diligently to homogenize laws the world over. Once the same laws and regulations blanket all nations alike, citizens will be trapped.

Shrewdly, Mbeki figures that a lunge for wallets not his own starts by counterfeiting “human rights” and compelling “global society” to slake them.

Contrary to and notwithstanding the UN’s rights minting, the only rights of man are the rights to life, liberty, and property. These rights exist irrespective of governments. Rights always give rise to binding obligations. In the case of natural rights, the duty is merely a duty to refrain from doing. My right to life means you must refrain from killing me. My right to liberty means you cannot enslave me. My right to property means you should not take what is mine, or stop me from taking the necessary action for my survival, so long as I, in turn, heed the same strictures.

If to exercise a right a person must violate someone’s life, liberty and property, then the exercised right is not a right, but a violation thereof. Because my right to acquire property doesn’t diminish your right to the same liberty, this right is known as a negative right. Negative rights are real or natural rights because they don’t conscript me in the fulfillment of your needs and desires, and vise versa. They merely impel both of us to keep our mitts to ourselves.

Which brings me to a different set of rights; those manufactured by governments and interest groups, also known as positive rights. Still under construction, this list of rights is defined by Harvard scholar Richard Pipes as “the right to the necessities of life at public expense, i.e., the right to something that was not one’s own.”

Access to clean water, sanitation, health care, energy and “food security,” as specified at the WSSD, don’t just materialize. Someone must be made to work in order to provide for those who’ve been granted the right to live “healthy productive lives in harmony with nature.” Equally, the right to have one’s debt forgiven means that someone will be defrauded.

And it won’t be the UN. Neither the UN nor any other government has wealth of its own. To deliver these “rights,” the UN must steal from taxpayers. This is why the rights dreamed up at the WSSD by its many initiative-yielding conferences have no moral authority; they are predicated on forcibly taking property that is already spoken for, and thus on the violation of the individual rights of other human beings.

Some argue that making some people supply others with work, water, and medical care will increase overall liberty in society. At best, this is a dubious claim. Like all welfare programs, the UN’s initiatives compound the problems they are supposed to cure. As economist Hans-Hermann Hoppe points out, taking from original owners and producers and giving to non-owners and non-producers discourages ownership and production, and encourages non-ownership and non-production. In short, while overriding the rights of its unwitting funders, the UN underwrites and perpetuates parasitism on a global scale.

Even if this were not the case, liberty is not an aggregate social project. Every individual has rights. And rights give rise to obligations between all men, including those who are in power. That men band in a collective called “government” doesn’t give them license to violate rights. No politician has the right to enslave some for the benefit of others, not for any reason whatsoever.

Much less is it legitimate to claim, as the democracy demagogues do, that the democratic process licenses entitlement programs. (Despite being crowned at the WSSD as “the most universal and representative system in the world,” the UN doesn’t even pass the flawed democratic test.) The position that the law is always just because it was arrived at through majority vote is a species of legal positivism. In opposition to classical natural law theory, legal positivism equates justice with the law of the state. According to this reasoning, Hitler’s actions must be considered legitimate. Did he not come to power democratically? Clearly, that over half of the voters voted for a government which then murders, launches unjust wars, and takes from some to give to others doesn’t legitimize the immoral actions. Theft or murder at the behest of majorities is still theft and murder.

Neither will it do to resort to the Constitution for a license to steal. If I sign a contract giving, for evermore, a portion of my income to you, you do indeed have a positive right to this income because I’ve voluntarily consented to give it to you. Although it authorizes the levying of some income taxes, not one of us was consulted or got to personally ratify the Constitution. Taxes by constitutional fiat are thus theft. To the extent that the Constitution sanctifies the natural rights of man—those to life, liberty and property—it is legitimate. To the extent that it enlists generations of non-signatories in the fulfillment of the needs of others, it is illegitimate.

If anything, the Constitution is the thin edge of the wedge that has allowed U.S. governments to cede the rights of Americans to the UN. Specifically, the “Supremacy Clause” in Article VI states that all treaties made by government shall be “the supreme Law of the Land,” and shall usurp state law. Article VI has thus further compounded the loss of individual ri
ghts in the U.S.

To recap, a right is a legally binding claim against other human beings. Recognize the rights of all people to a guaranteed income or to certain life conditions and you also recognize the right of a bureaucrat to garnish property and enslave its owner to fulfill these “rights.” The rights the World Summit for Sustainable Development wants to fabricate are not genuine human rights, but a means through which the UN seeks to expand its control.


September 4, 2002

CATEGORIES: Africa, Government, Individual rights, Natural rights, South Africa, UN

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