Presentation made at the European Tribunal of the Enviroment, on October 26, 2006, in Trancoso, Portugal.
I would like to congratulate the organisers of this multidisciplinary congress ?The Origins of the Future?, in their aim of assessing and estimating the tendencies of the future, and their foundations, through the contributions of several thinkers on their respective areas of exportise. This important exercise is reminiscent of that great Luso-Brazilian Renaissance scholar, Father Antonio Vieira?s ?History of the Future?. It is up to me address the legal sector. In order to achieve this propose, I have transported myself to the year 2106.
The military conflict of the early 20th century, from the start of the 1930?s in Asia, and later in Europe from 1939, became known in China as The War of Resistance, and in the Union of Soviet Socialists Republic (USSR) as the Great Patriotic War. More generally, it became known as the Second World War.
The unequal Treaty of Versailles, which regulated over the terms and conditions imposed to the losing party of the previous war, lasting from 1914 to 1918 . Imposed a draconian imperialistic order and a resulting legal system upon the majority of the world population. The treaty thus sustained an imperialist and colonial structure divided in influential areas between the three main world powers, the United States of America (USA), the United Kingdom (UK) and the French Republic.
Throughout the first half of the 20th century, either within or outside the great military confrontations there were many violations of human and collective rights of vast populations. People in the former regions of India and South Africa were still being oppressed by the British Empire. The Middle East was divided for the Imperialists? convenience for the exploration of petrol, a commodity that was to become very precious and has already been exhausted.
In China, an important part of the territory was occupied by the Japanese Empire. In the Americas, the United States took the first measures for the expansion if its empire, consolidating the territories that were taken from Mexico, representing two thirds of the latter?s original area. They also settled in the former regions of Puerto Rico, Cuba, Hawaii and Philippines.
At the same time, there were many incidents of massacres of oppressed populations. In Africa, the colonialist impious yoke was responsible for wide spread carnage and for the systematic extermination being carried out in regions such as The Congo, by Belgium. In Asia Minor, the Armenian ethnic population was substantially eliminated by the Sublime Porte or Turkey. In Asia, the Chinese were the subjects of huge atrocities being performed by their Japanese conquerors. In Central Europe, regimes were systematically exterminating political criminals, as well as those of opinion and Jews. The extermination of Jews was called the Shoah, or Holocaust.
Therefore, at the end of the Second World War, in 1945, the winning world powers seeked the common interest of creating a new world order that could limit all the abuse that had taken place. In fact, at that point in history, the world was divided by two main contradicting ideologies.
On one hand were the United States, United Kingdom and France whose capitalism, which they had politically organised with basis on universal suffrage, had a partially private quality. On the other hand, still among the winners, were the USSR and China, the latter going through a transformation process which would be consolidated in 1949 due to its regime of State Capitalism and political organization founded on the leadership of the communist party.
As was the case with most other countries, representing the majority of the world?s population, the losers, former Germany, Italy and Japan, did not have a role in the establishment of the new world order. Consequently, the international law which was conceived to rule the new order was characterized, according to an eminent professor of that time, by its ?basically oligarchic? characteristics, that is to say that it was conceived by a small group of world power countries to serve and to legitimate their own interests ?.
The international legal system created at the time had at its apex the United Nations Charter, signed in 1945. Later, in the following decade, a whole new system of international laws was created through several conventions and multilateral organisations. Most of the conventions and international organizations that were established were inspired by the USA, the emerging imperial power, and by the United Kingdom, the declining imperial power and the former?s new client state.
Consequently, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) were established on December of 1945 through the Bretton Woods Agreements. Similarly, the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) was signed in 1947, regulating a multilateral legal system with respect to international trade issues. Such treaties, epistula non erubescit, aimed at maintaining the economic and financial leadership of hegemonic powers and at promoting the selective prosperity of small group of countries, in the expense of all the others.
On the other hand, towards the end of 1948, the UN adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and signed the Convention for the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. In 1949, the four Geneva Conventions for the Protection of War Victims were signed. Later, international law evolved with treaties aiming for the non-proliferation and disarmament of nuclear weapons, the promotion of human rights and others.
By the time the end of World War II had reached its tenth anniversary, the incipient, yet limited, international legal system had been established. In it, there was a noticeable interest in human rights and in maintaining world peace, an extremely important concern at the time, considering the development of nuclear arms by opposing hegemonic groups.
However, second-generation human rights, involving rights to economic development, enjoying a decent quality of life, and equal growth opportunities, were no longer being taken into consideration. This inevitably resulted in the concentration of income in countries that either dominitated the global system of control, or those that surrounded them, mostly in the Northern Hemisphere, leaving the remaining 80 percent of the world population to free fall into poverty.
Due to the collapse of the USSR in 1991, through the Alma-Ata treaties, the USA lost its strategic opposition, and its contention as international legal order was not yet strong enough to oppose such a strong obstacle. Moreover, American strategists foresaw an opportunity to impose a unilateral legal system, jus imperium, to the rest of the world.
Indeed, the former USA abandoned all efforts to develop international law and many important international treaties were not signed or ratified by them. These included the environmental Kyoto Protocol; the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women; Convention on the Rights of the Child; and The Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.
Moreover, the USA and its client states began systematically violating several international treaties, as can be exemplified by the invasion of former Iraq, a blatant violation of article 2 (4) of the UN Charter that was in effect at the time.
Not only was the illegal military action marked by a series of violations of important international treaties, but it also marked the suppression of individual rights domestically; both the USA and the United Kingdom institutionalised torture, reestablishing the rule from Nicholas Eymerich?s ?Directorium Inquisitorum? of 1376, that states: omnes torqueri possunt, or anyone can be tortured.
During the Iraq War, the illegitimate occupation forces, tyranni absque titulo, were responsible for the death of 650 thousand civilians during a 3-year-period, which was entirely characteristical of crimes against humanity as according to international legislation of the time.
By 2006, The USA had more military and nuclear power than the combined force of all the other countries in the world; it had nearly a thousand military bases around the world. In fact, prisoners held by the USA were being transported for torture sessions in some of its military bases located outside its territory, such as the Guantanamo Bay detainment camp, which actively and habitually made use of torture methods.
In the same annus horribilis, the US Congress approved a law to suspend the immensely traditional Bill of Rights, and abolish habeas corpus, thus validating torture, restricting the right to counsel, legitimising the use of illegally obtained evidence, authorising imprisonment without being proven guilty and granting the power to ?interpret? international conventions to the president of the country. American homeland security financed the development of software that enabled the government to monitor international opinion, by the universities of Cornell and Utah. Wiretapping was legalised, and the United Kingdom installed a system for in which Universities had to denounce opinions from within the establishments.
Still in 2006, the US government declared its sovereignty over the entirety of outer space, and Congress approved the construction of a 1,300-kilometer-wall across the Mexican border, its former partner in the North American Free Trade Agreement, or NAFTA, an condemnable commercial initiative. Although NAFTA?s declared objective had been to spread prosperity through trade, its hidden objective was to implement prosperity among US commercial agents in such a way that it brought huge poverty to Mexico.
As a result, emigration, usually illegal, of Mexico?s destitute became the Country?s major economical activity. The sum of these emigrants? remittances became much greater than that of foreign investments. The USA decided to build the epithetical wall of shame in an attempt to obstruct the illegal immigrants? passage, arrayed with both regular and irregular troops, as well as vigilantes, who are tolerated by US forces.
To all of the former developing Countries, emigration had become their only hope, despite being illegal. In fact, because of the World Trade Organization?s (WTO) unfair economic arrangement that replaced the GATT, global wealth was being concentrated in developed countries, and therefore the amount of impoverished migrants escalated to tens of millions.
It is estimated that, in 2006, around 100 thousand destitute people were arriving in Spain every month. Huge amounts of people were also arriving by boat in the Italian Republic. There was also a constant influx of people entering legally into territories as tourists, only to become clandestine later.
This degree of human population interchange had been without precedents since the 376 AD, when under enormous pressure from the moving masses, the Roman Empire allowed the entry of Goths and Vandals. They would later defeat the Romans in the Battle of Adrianople in 378 AD, thus initiating the new period of Late Antiquity.
Just as had happened in 376 AD, the resettlement of the end of the 20th and early 21st centuries brought about a change to what had been the prevailing ethnicity, culture and religion. Many European countries started receiving immigrants from their past colonies. Therefore, Islamic issues arising in the Middle East and Africa were particularily imported into the former countries of France, Spain and the United Kingdom, changing social relations with the countries and increasingly generating internal conflicts. In the USA, immigrants mainly came from their ?almost?colonies? in Latin America, but also from Asia.
As of the portentous year that was 2006, the American Empire began its fall together with the erosion of the basis of its prosperity, the U.S dollar. In fact, consecutive American governments had given a false illusion of prosperity to its inhabitants through the continuous deterioration of the country?s macro-economical criteria. In this way, the US commercial deficit, which had been around US$688 billion in 2004, increased to US$742 in 2005 and US$1 trillion in 2010. The country began importing more than it exported.
At the same time, the US budget deficit reached US$400 billion in 2006 and US$800 billion in 2010 and liquid liability reached US$ 3.6 trillion in 2006, corresponding to 28% of its GNP. Incidentally, several countries had accumulated huge amounts of U.S dollars as reserve currency, investing them in American treasury shares. This outlandish equation permitted world trade to continue based on the illusion that the U.S dollar served as an exchange value.
In 2006 China had more than US$ 1 trillion in US treasury bonds. Other central banks had around US$ 11 trillion. The Chinese economy at that time developed approximately by 10% a year, a growth that was largely sustained by sales to the USA, despite the two countries being strategic rivals.
China was part of a group with other large, populous, developping countries, such as Brazil, India and South Africa, which strove for a multipolar world and the strengthening of a multilateral system that would allow for a fair division of responsibilities, economic growth and social development in all countries.
Due to the increase of international hostility in the early part of the 2010 decade, China and other creditor countries started to pressure the USA to increase interest rates of international loans. The US Public Debt became unsustainable and the government decided to dramatically devalue its currency. Because the USA owed in dollars, their debts decreased by the same percentage of the devaluation.
Nevertheless, the U.S dollar was no longer being accepted in international business or used as hard currency. The great crash of 2016, as it would later be commonly recognised, eliminated around 60% of the US GNP overnight as the Country plunged into poverty. American companies, already weakened by the managerial moral crisis, foundered and the stock exchange closed down due to lack of business. The economic crisis that followed surpassed that of 1929; the effects of it were felt universally.
Subsequently, a general fragmentation of global political power occurred. The UN was the first multilateral organisation to succumb, others then followed. The US demolished the UN headquarters in New York US in 2016, only to build the May the 1st Prison in its place, paying homage to the international bank holiday that the Country never had. The space was transformed into a new Dantesque asylum for international madmen, hosting lawyers, diplomats, religious people and jurists of all nationalities, and regularly submitting them to personalized torture.
Shortly after the coup d?etat, the USA began to be run by praetorian regime. One of the newly ruling Military Junta?s first feats was the destruction of the collections of the Library of Congress former. The regime created concentration camps within the US territory to detain inhabitants considered to be guilty of political crimes, crimes of opinion, moral crimes, and thoughtcrimes. Residents were also detained for heterodox deviations in religion, sexual orientation and behaviour, aesthetics and humour.
These concentration camps, of sad memory, became known as Bush Camps, in honour of George W. Bush, a former president of the USA, who could only have been matched by Nero in his capability to destroy, Caligula in his licentiousness and by Incitatus in his intelligence. Bush Camps were private organizations that obligatorily had to be administered by companies that had lost their profitable contracts with Iraq, in accordance to the Patriotic Institutional Act, which was passed by the Military Junta.
Later, in the USA, the ?Wall of Shame? was be breached by millions of starving men, women and children. The country would then secede into several republics; República California de Nosotros, The Republic of New England, and The Republic of New Liberia, of which the capital city became Malcolm X, formerly Washington.
In Europe, the southern part of the continent became islamic republics, including New Andaluz in the Mediterranean, formerly Portugal and Spain. This was due to poverty that caused the arrival of over a thousand crowded boats at the beaches of Marbella, Algarve and Ostia. The latter, was located near Rome, which would later become New Carthage. The subsequent exodus into European countryside would bring-about a return to intense agricultural activity in the continent.
In the former United Kingdom, Parliament was privatised in 2016, as according to a decision made by Tony Blair, the Perpetual Protector, who had returned to politics. King Charles III, was overthrown after he published his book ?How to obtain sexual satisfaction by talking to plants?, immediately burned together with the others. In his place, a virtual king was put in throne, a computer called Deep Monarch. The former Oxford and Cambridge campuses were transformed into barracks for The Thoughts, Morals and Behavior Police.
Africa reverted to tribalism. Desertification worsened due to the greenhouse effect which was felt throughout the planet, and particularly in the African continent. There was also a significant population decrease, due to Aids, malaria and hunger. In the African continent colonial languages gave way to the traditional native languages.
South and Central America was divided in baronies, captaincies, principalities and republics, several of them divided by ethnics .What had been the southern part of northeastern Brazil, became the Black Republic of Axé, of which the capital city became Zumbi, formerly Salvador. The Amazon rainforest recovered its areas that had been converted into plantations. The semi-arid northeast of Brazil became a caatinga desert. Buenos Aires became the Capitania Lunfarda, under the leadership of a ?Caudillo Máximo?.
In the Middle East, there was a political concentration of ethnicity and religion after the former territory of Iraq was divided between Syria and Iran. In the south, the regional kingdoms, artificially formed during the Treaty of Versailles were overthrown and reunited under the Al Qaeda Caliphate, of which the capital city became the holy city of Osama Bin Laden.
China was split into kingdoms that had once already existed and, as in the past, entered an era of conflicts and favored a subsistence economy. The terrifying Gobi desert advanced and almost reached Nanjing, occupying areas that had been destined to agriculture. A family lottery system was established, by which the winning couples, participants of a raffle, had the right to have a child.
In former Russia, Tsar Putin I died having achieved of his greatest dream for the Country: the acquisition of Barcelona F. C. His heirs were responsible for the creation of a neo feudal system and servitude was reestablished. Japan closed down once again and divided into baronies. In India became the Dalit Republic, and the Capital City became Gurajin, in homage to Gandhi formerly Mumbai. Bangladesh dissolved into heightened anarchy, and the former political order was never substituted. This global period would become known as the Second Dark Age.
Around the annus mirabilis of 2048, as we all know, there was a movement directed by very wise men from all over the world, who saw the need for the promotion of Humanism. They shared the common principle that the only way in which their goal could have been achieved would be through the abolition of all national States.
Once the consensus humani generis had been achieved, there was a universal agreement to construct of an international legal and political order based on mankind and human rights. True humanism was being developed, called renovatio or rinascita as it imitated the first article of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948, which had never been fully accomplished: ?all human beings are born free and are equal in dignity and rights?. This marked the beginning of a new era of equality, justice and prosperity in which we now live in 2106.
The most recent part of our history is commonly known, so there is no need for me to elaborate on how we reached the New Enlightenment of the 22nd Century. All that is left is for me to evoke the roman poet Horatio, whose words were cited by Kant, one of the great thinkers of the first Enlightenment: sapere aude (dare to know).
Ladies and gentlemen, thank you very much.
1- Text based on a speech given in Trancoso, Portugal on the 28th October, 2006 as part of “The Origins of the Future” seminar. Translation from the Portuguese by Gabriela de Noronha de Goyos.
2- Qualified lawyer in Brazil, England and Wales and Portugal. Senior partner of Noronha Advogados. Arbitrator for GATT, OMC and CIETAC. Professor of post-graduate international trade law. Author of 39 books, including The New Public International Law (O Novo Direito Internacional Público) and The Fight Against Tirany (O Embate contra a Tirania).
3- The war lasting during this period was also known as the First World War.
4- J.P. Ridruejo, Curso de Derecho Internacional Público y Organizaciones Internacionales (Editorial Tecnos, Madri, 1996).