June 17, 2008
Horse 885 - The UN-Constitutional UK
I find in the Telegraph this week the following article:
Link found here.
The UN Human Rights Council said the UK must "consider holding a referendum on the desirability or otherwise of a written constitution, preferably republican".
The council has 29 members including Saudi Arabia, Cuba and Sri Lanka.
It was the Sri Lankan envoy who raised concerns over the British monarchy.
The resulting report said Britain should have a referendum on the monarchy and the need for a written constitution with a bill of rights. The monarchy costs each adult in Britain around 62p a year but even groups representing taxpayers said there was no case for getting rid of it.
Matthew Elliott, chief executive of the TaxPayers' Alliance, said: "With so many human rights abuses around the world the UN should be busy reporting on issues of starvation, execution and the denial of the vote to huge numbers of people around the world.
"Saudi Arabia and Cuba should pay a little more attention to their own human rights record."
The UN report was also critical of the UK's treatment of immigrants from Sudan.
Syrian representatives accused the UK of discriminating against Muslims and Iran complained about the UK's record on tackling sexual discrimination.
A royal source said: "People here certainly haven't detected any appetite for a referendum. The Queen is a focus for national unity, identity and pride."
I have a submission I'd like to present to the UN consisting of just two words; the second one is "off" - you can guess the first.
I've already reviewed previously the fact that the UK has not one but THREE Bills of Rights in Horse 882, but perhaps more intruguing is the question of why the UN would want to review the UK's politcal process in the first place.
The League of Nations which existed from 1919 until 1946, was largely toothless and ineffective; especially when it came to the agression of the Axis Powers and the causes of World War II. So when Roosevelt, Churchill and Stalin proposed an allied council in 1943, the idea was retained and the UN proper came into existence on 24 October 1945, after the Charter had been ratified by the five permanent members of the UN Security Council — China, France, the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom, and the United States — and by a majority of the other 46 signatories.
Then there is the case of the little known declaration of the "United Nations" from which the UN itself eventually came from which was united in the cause to dismantle "Hitlerism".
I don't see what would be acheived through writing a constitution for the UK. There exists a vast mass of parliamentary legislation as well as well-established but uncodified conventions which exist. The Queen herself has reserved but largely unused powers which history has shown in both the UK and in cases like Australia on the 11th November 1975, is better to be left unwritten and unexplored.
It makes sense that the UN should look into making sure that elections are free and unbiased in places like Zimbabwe or Iraq where there are the breaks from a pure dictatorship, but the UK? Surely a parliamentary process which was born from the ashes of a rump parliament and based on the principles that people had the right to vote for their sitting member in the first place counts as a democracy? I could of course be totally wrong here. What of the countries which existed as a result of the British Commonwealth and have their own parliamentary democracies based on the halls at Westminster, what of someone like... I don't know... Sri Lanka? What is your game here? Do 1948 and 1972 mean anything to you? No?
Further to this I suspect that within the 21st Century, the UK will probably change into a republic but what form that will take I know not - this will be for the people themselves to decide at a referendum. That is of course the point of all of this, it is the people's self-determination that ultimately gives government its power; not the documents and the instruments through which its vested.
The UN is very quickly in danger of turning into Ouroboros but instead of the snake eating itself, its in danger of disappearing up its own fundamental orifice; perhaps they should extract their head?
Posted by Rollo at 10:18