When a state or nation decides to act in its own interest without consideration of prevailing international law it is “excepting” itself from that law. When a minor state acts in this way (North Korea, Libya, Iran or Syria, for example) it is said to be a rogue state. Such a state is singled out for ridicule and sanction. When the United States of America acts without restraint by international law it too is acting as a rogue state, but US political leaders assert exceptional license. In either case when minor or major states act without regard to the rule of law they do harm to the fabric of international law that contributes to global social, economic and political stability.
Some of the greatest violence is done against Fourth World nations by states choosing to except themselves from the rule of law. In Chechnya the Russian government has violated international laws by its violent attacks and destruction of people and property since 1994. Despite this behavior states like the United States and United Kingdom that applaud themselves for the promotion of human rights and the rule of law simply let Russia’s exceptionalism stand without challenge. When India and Pakistan make attacks of vicious violence on Kashmiris European states and the United States and Canada simply make mild protestations.
Fourth World peoples the world over remain the objects of violence and violent exceptionalism that crosses the lines of civilized law and order.
The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples goes before the UN General Assembly in the coming Fall session. It will be opposed by the United States of America, the government of Nambia and the Russians. Just when the rule of law guiding the conduct of state relations toward Fourth World nations comes before the world for civilized consideration, rogue states move to undermine the emergence of international order.
Failure to adopt this important declaration without weakening its language invites disorder, more violence and discord in the international arena. If the declaration is rejected or set aside and violence does raise its ugly head, it will be the states that except themselves from the rule of law who will be at fault. They will have set the stage for the further erosion of civilized order between nations and states. The states seeking to except themselves from the commons of international law will have caused international disorder.
(c) 2007 Center for World Indigenous Studies
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