Global lawgiver?: The UN Security Council arrogantly considers itself the lawgiver for the world, and the Bush administration's submission to its Resolution 1373 puts U.S. sovereignty and liberty at risk. (United Nations).
The Security Council is not a body that merely enforces agreed law. It is a law unto itself. If it considers any situation as a threat to the peace, it may decide what measures shall be taken. No principles of law are laid down to guide it; it can decide in accordance with what it thinks is expedient.
Since the September 11th terrorist attacks, the Security Council has certainly been acting accordingly. In matters concerning terrorism, as the Security Council has repeatedly made clear, it considers itself the highest authority. Unfortunately, it's also becoming clear that officials in the Bush administration are willing to kowtow to the Security Council's claims of supremacy.
On September 28, 2001, the Security Council approved Resolution 1373, which set requirements for member states to follow in combating terrorism. These were not to be construed merely as guidelines, as the resolution's language makes crystal clear; paragraph 1 begins with the phrase "Decides that all States shall:" (emphasis in original), and paragraph 2 opens in similar fashion. Resolution 1373 requires states, among other things, to impose strict controls on financial activities, weapons trafficking, and issuance of forgery-proof identity papers and travel documents, to fight the threat of terrorism. The resolution also sets up, under paragraph 6, a special committee "to monitor implementation of this resolution" and demanded that states "report to the Committee, no later than 90 days from the date of adoption of this resolution and thereafter according to a timetable to be proposed by the Committee, on the steps they have taken to implement this resolution."
In accordance with paragraph 6, the Security Council set up the new Counter-Terrorism Committee, with Jeremy Green-stock of Great Britain as chairman.
By December, member nations began responding to Resolution 1373's reporting requirement. The U.S. government submitted its report of compliance with Resolution 1373 on December 19th.
This extraordinary report illustrates the degree to which the UN Security Council is now allowed to dictate terms to the Bush administration. In the introduction, the U.S. report affirms that "this historic resolution  established a body of legally binding obligations on all UN member states.... Most states will have to make changes in their laws, regulations, and practices.... As this report that follows makes clear, the United States is ready to provide technical assistance to help in these efforts.... Our report details only some of the many steps that we have been taking to combat terrorism and comply with UNSCR 1373. But, we intend to do even more to ensure that we have taken all appropriate measures." (Emphasis added.)
The report then lists some steps the U.S. government has taken, including:
* "On October 26, the U.S. enacted the USA PATRIOT Act, which significantly expanded the ability of U.S. law enforcement to investigate and prosecute persons who engage in terrorist acts."
* "On October 29, the U.S. created a Foreign Terrorist Tracking Task Force aimed at denying entry into the U.S. of persons suspected of being terrorists and locating, detaining, prosecuting and deporting terrorists already in the U.S."
* "The U.S. has signed and expects to ratify in the near future the UN Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism and the UN Convention for the Suppression of Terrorist Bombings."
* "The U.S. has met with numerous multilateral groups and regional organizations to accelerate the exchange of operational information laid out in UNSCR 1373."
* "Our Federal Bureau of Investigation has created an interagency Financial Investigation Group to examine the financial arrangements used to support terrorist attacks."
* "We have designed a new tamper-resistant U.S. visa, and we have upgraded passports to prevent photo substitution."
The report makes extensive reference to the USA PATRIOT Act, claiming, among other things, that "the PATRIOT Act ... expands the President's powers to confiscate property under the International Emergency Economic Powers Act ... when the U.S. is engaged in armed hostilities or has been attacked." The report also states that the federal government's already intrusive powers over private financial and currency transactions have been further enhanced: "Pursuant to the USA PATRIOT Act, there is now specific authority to forfeit currency and other monetary instruments if someone 'knowingly conceals' those instruments to evade a reporting requirement. The U.S. plans to pursue that authority fully."
All of this is cause enough for concern. But more alarming still is that all of these measures -- minute scrutiny of financial transactions, "improvements" in passports and visas, expanded presidential authority to confiscate property, among others -- are touted as compliance with UN diktats. Not only that, but, as Resolution 1373 makes clear, the process of compliance monitoring and reporting is to continue indefinitely; and, by our government's own admission, our leaders "intend to do even more" in the future to comply more fully. Stay tuned.