NationStates Jolt Archive

A comment on recently observed trends in the UN

15-06-2005, 05:25
Over the last few days while debating the Chemical Weapons Ban currently under vote (and unfortunately seemingly destined to pass) and trying to fix the sorry state of affairs that is the current UN legislation on Biological Weapons I've noticed a couple disturbing trends.

First: There are an awful lot of UN members who appear to be under the serious misconception that the title of a proposal = the actual effect of the proposal regardless of the CONTENT of the proposal. I actually just encountered another member arguing that opposing a proposal based on what the proposal actually contains isn't something that should be done. So I see a lot of people are voting for the "Ban Chemical Weapons" proposal just because it says "Ban Chemical Weapons" on it and hey, that's a good thing right?

I hate to break this to all those people that applies to, but the names of resolutions have absolutely no practical effect whatsoever. If I call a resolution the "Establish Happiness For Everyone Initiative" but then within the content of my proposal I outline no practical, feasible means by which happiness for everyone can actually be acheived then passing that proposal accomplishes exactly nothing.

Example: UN Resolution 16. Elimination of Bio Weapons

Sounds good right? Who wants Bio weapons around? They're nasty, incredibly dangerous things which are terrifyingly, unpredictably destructive when deployed. Eliminating them would be a great thing... let's vote for it!

One problem. This is the ENTIRE content of the resolution:

Description: Biological weapons, if used during warfare or covertly, represent an enormous risk to the well-being of not just the target of said weapons, but potentially everyone on the planet. It is therefore imperative that nations eliminate these heinous weapons.

Oops. The first warning sign that should just scream that something is wrong here is that the entire resolution is two sentences long. This does not inspire confidence that a lot of thought went into this.

And upon actually paying attention to what those sentences say it becomes worse. The first sentences simply says Bio weapons are dangerous. Fine. Nothing wrong with laying out a problem statement. But now we've got one sentence to go that is supposed to provide a full legislative basis for what we're supposed to do about that problem. And what does it tell us?

It tells us it's urgently important to get rid of them.

And then it ends.

Does it define what specific weapons it's talking about? No. Attack dogs are biological for cripes sake and they can certainly be consider weapons.
Does it resolve that UN member nations MUST get rid of them immediately? No.
Does it resolve that UN member nations MUST get rid of them AT ALL? No. It just resolves that doing so is important.
Does it forbid the production of Bio weapons? No.
Does it forbid the use of bio weapons? No.
Does it forbid the trafficking of Bio Weapons? No.

It doesn't actually DO ANYTHING.

But somehow it passed 13,023 votes to 5,449.

Who wants to wager at least half the people who voted in favor did so just because they liked the idea described in the title? And so now we have a large percentage of the UN membership under the dangerous misperception that Bio weapons have been eliminated when no such thing has happened.

Any nation can currently research, manufacture, trade in AND deploy biological weaponry without ever once being in demonstratable violation of UN resolution 16. Hence my current campaign to have it repealed ( and then replaced by an effectively worded resolution (

Second: There appears to be an equally disturbingly large number of members who believe that precision and rigor in outlining the finer details of a proposal is unimportant and that if a proposal does not make some detail central to the objectives of the proposal clear it doesn't matter because people will "just know" what the real intention of the proposal was through common sense.

More bad news for those people who fall in this category. You cannot rely on common sense interpretations of vague legislation to make them operate in a diverse community because sense isn't common. With the number of nations involved in the UN I will guarantee one thing right now. Whatever your "common sense" interpretation of some vague article in a resolution is there are a LOT of nations out there whose "common sense" is telling them something else entirely. Which means you're passing legislation which, when it comes time for it's practical enforcement, comes down to your opinion against someone else's opinion with NO LEGISLATIVE BASIS for deciding the issue, rendering the resolution effectively impotent.

Example: The "Ban Chemical Weapons" proposal

While this proposal is far and away superior to the "Eliminate Bio Weapons" proposal it still suffers from a crippling lack of attention to detail.

It does not define what it considers to be a "chemical weapon". This is therefore left up to the interpretation of member nations. One nation can decide they're supposed to ban everything right down to pepper spray, another can decide that their massive stockpile of sarin isn't technically a "weapon" any more than an electrified fence is a weapon because they only intend to deploy it in the path of invading armies who cross their borders while ignoring the "beware of deadly poisonous gas cloud" signs. And since there's nothing in the resolution which explicitly states that either of their interpretations are incorrect there's nothing that can be done about it.

It neglects to forbid the deployment of chemical weapons as a means of eliminating current stockpiles. So another nation could decide that this resolution just says they must immediately make use of their chemical weapons.

It unfortunately adds the qualifier "currently in existence" to the end of the article proscribing production and trafficking, meaning these proscriptions will only apply to chemical weapons in existence at the time the resolution is passed.

And there are several other problems. And yet this resolution appears destined to pass as well... which means we will end have a large number of member nations with the false perception that a wide range of hazards related to chemical weapons have been eliminated when they have not.

So in closing, I have a request.

To voters: Put in the effort to carefully read the text of a resolution you are voting on, because that IS what you are voting on, the text. Not the name of the proposal. And rather than just casting your vote based on whether or not you find the sentiment expressed admirable try to consider how it provides for actually being enacted and what effects it will really have.

To proposal writers: Put in the effort to carefully consider not only what it is you are trying to acheive but how you are going to acheive it... and say so IN the proposal. Think through the consequences of your choice of words. Try to anticipate any possible source of confusion, becase if an article can be misinterpreted it's a virtual certainty it WILL be misinterpreted and undermine the effectiveness of your proposal.
Venerable libertarians
15-06-2005, 06:38
Greetings from the Delegate for the Region of the Realm of Hibernia.
We agree with our esteemed colleague on many of his points. The Bioweopens resolution is indeed lacking substance and if i am not mistaken is one of the first resolutions to have ben passed by the NSUN from its early days. It is not alone however and it will be repealed, of that we have no doubt.
However yet again we see a cry of ineptitude and idiocy thrown at the delegates for not paying attention to and reading the proposals before they are approved. This my friend will always be the case as long as NS is a game and not reality. We would like to see changes to the criteria for becoming a Delegate and once elected criteria for staying a Delegate. However untill such changes occur you have to do what the rest of us do and carry on regardless.
We, for the record voted against the current Ban proposed.
Your points have been recognised but unfortunately this thread will join the many others in the archives mothballed and filed under "Protest". It will be in good company as a great many delegates have posted similar threads over the months. Our Advice! dont loose heart and remember your duties as a Delegate. Adhere to them rigidly and hope others follow in your example.
15-06-2005, 06:49
OOC: As much as you want them, changes will not happen to the delegacy, or representatives - that would change game mechanics.

There is a thick line between "what we want to happen" and "what will happen".
15-06-2005, 07:25
OOC: As much as you want them, changes will not happen to the delegacy, or representatives - that would change game mechanics.

There is a thick line between "what we want to happen" and "what will happen".

Mostly I just felt the need to get some of that off my chest after some recent frustrating encounters in this area. I really have noticed that there are quite a few UN members who are operating under the sincere impression that if the title of a resolution says something then that's what it does regardless of it's content... and as long as they are under that impression they're just not going to be able to make properly informed decisions on either how to vote on a resolution or how to formulate one.
15-06-2005, 07:35
OOC: Work with our theory.

The First Rule is "People are Stupid".

Living under the guidance of that, you'll live longer, and the UN will make a whole lot more sense to you.
15-06-2005, 07:58
The natural outcome of this stupidity, however, remains that one can manipulate it, if sufficiently clever. The question then becomes: are resolutions dealing with dolphins or tax structures the product of an incredibly clever mind or a credibly stupid one?
15-06-2005, 08:01
Occam's Razor would dictate "when in doubt, go with stupid". :D
Enlightened Aardvarks
15-06-2005, 09:54
This my friend will always be the case as long as NS is a game and not reality.

Are you suggesting that people in the real UN (not to mention national parliaments etc.) actually read proposals?? Keep on dreaming...
15-06-2005, 13:17
*The delegate from Darkumbria and the region of Northwind takes the podium*

"Hallaleuh, praise your favorite god and give thanks for this day. Why? Someone in the UN has made sense. I praise the delegate from Reformentia for his cander, courage, and tact in handling this. Indeed, you are correct sir. 99% of the junk that comes through is worthless, poorly worded, or...attempting to usurp our international power and turn it into one nation under the UN flag.

You, sir...Are my hero. If everyone would, simply, take away the last two paragraphs from their reading of this....we all be better off."