F.R. Duplantier reporting Behind The Headlines
Week of:
February 27, 2000
Helms: U.N. Must Respect Sovereignty



F.R. Duplantier

by: F.R. Duplantier

The United Nations is the servant of its member states, not their master.



In his address last month to the United Nations Security Council, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Jesse Helms informed the assembled ambassadors that "many Americans sense that the UN has greater ambitions than simply being an efficient deliverer of humanitarian aid, a more effective peacekeeper, a better weapons inspector, and a more effective tool of great power diplomacy. They see the UN aspiring to establish itself as the central authority of a new international order of global laws and governance," Helms asserted. "This," he declared, "is an international order the American people will not countenance."

Senator Helms demanded that the UN "respect national sovereignty. The UN serves nation-states, not the other way around," he affirmed. "This principle is central to the legitimacy and ultimate survival of the United Nations," Helms warned. "The sovereignty of nations must be respected. But nations derive their sovereignty -- their legitimacy -- from the consent of the governed," he emphasized. "Thus, it follows that nations can lose their legitimacy when they rule without the consent of the governed; they deservedly discard their sovereignty by brutally oppressing their people."

Helms pointed out that the United States has "a long history of coming to the aid of those struggling for freedom." He noted that "America has assisted freedom fighters around the world who were seeking to overthrow corrupt regimes. We have provided weaponry, training, and intelligence. In other cases," Helms continued, "the United States has intervened directly. In still other cases, such as in Central and Eastern Europe, we supported peaceful opposition movements with moral, financial, and covert forms of support. In each case, however, it was America's clear intention to help bring down Communists regimes that were oppressing their peoples -- and thereby replace dictators with democratic governments."

Helms rejected the "fanciful notion that free peoples need to seek the approval of an international body (some of whose members are totalitarian dictatorships) to lend support to nations struggling to break the chains of tyranny and claim their inalienable, God-given rights. The United Nations has no power to grant or decline legitimacy to such actions," he asserted. "They are inherently legitimate."

Helms assured the members of the Security Council that the democratic impulse is alive and well in the United States, if not elsewhere. "Today, while our friends in Europe concede more and more power upwards to supranational institutions like the European Union, Americans are heading in precisely the opposite direction," he observed. "America is in a process of reducing centralized power by taking more and more authority that had been amassed by the federal government in Washington and referring it to the individual states where it rightly belongs. This," Helms concluded, "is why Americans reject the idea of a sovereign United Nations that presumes to be the source of legitimacy for the United States Government's policies, foreign or domestic. There is only one source of legitimacy of the American govern-ment's policies," he asserted, "and that is the consent of the American people."


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