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Bruce Sterling says: Marry the UN and the Net 343

An anonymous reader writes "SF writer Bruce Sterling is guest-posting on the global-eco-tech blog Worldchanging today and thinks we ought to marry the Internet and the United Nations. 'The UN has cumbersome rules, no popular participation, and can't get anything useful done about the darkly rising tide of stateless terror and military adventurism. The UN was invented to "unite nations" rather than people. The Internet unites people, but it's politically illegitimate. Vigilante lawfare outfits like RIAA and MPAA can torment users and ISPs at will. The dominant OS is a hole-riddled monopoly. Its business models collapsed in a welter of stock-kiting corruption. The Net is a lawless mess of cross-border spam and fraud. Logically, there ought to be some inventive way to cross-breed the grass-rootsy cheapness, energy and immediacy of the Net with the magisterial though cumbersome, crotchety, crooked and opaque United Nations.' It's obviously part tongue in cheek, but it does make you think."
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Bruce Sterling says: Marry the UN and the Net

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  • by mind21_98 ( 18647 ) on Sunday October 03, 2004 @04:06AM (#10418480) Homepage Journal
    Without the International Criminal Court (and the cooperation of every nation in the world), this kind of system simply won't work. It'd also bring up a lot of juristiction questions, such as whether it's okay for the Internet Police to make arrests in the United States, above the authority of the FBI and such. Also, who would watch them if they even had this power? Corruption in the Internet Police would be impossible to stop.
    • by Bi()hazard ( 323405 ) on Sunday October 03, 2004 @06:47AM (#10418907) Homepage Journal
      Screw the ICC, I'll give you some reasons why this won't work, bitches.

      1. After reading the article, the closest thing I could find to an actual point is the suggestion that UN "sherpas" could be more effective and populist by doing some of their work online. I wouldn't exactly call that a "marriage" of the UN and the internet, it's more like adding modern technology to internal UN processes.

      2. "sherpas"? Seriously, that nutcase is calling mid and low level diplomats "sherpas". here's a place with real sherpas. [shangrilatrek.com] And they're already online. OH SMACK, UN bitches, you just got an information technology beatdown from a bunch of professional hikers in the Himalayas. UN IT department gets "served" by a pack of llamas!

      3. You'll notice I called the article guy a nutcase in #2. Well, he calls himself "Bruce Sterling, Worldchanging Ally#1 [worldchanging.com]" What is he, some kind of super hero? Does he hang out at the World Changing Headquarters in spandex with Captain Planet, sidekick Democracy Boy, and Womens' Rights Woman? Check out what he's standing in front of in his picture: read about all their stunning adventures in this month's edition of Amazing Stories--featuring the fearsome Ghost of Mars!!!

      But just click on the "Worldchanging Ally#1 link in the article. You'll see the home of the Viridian Curia, a secretive mailing list of the world's most powerful superheroes. They apparently trade links to modern art reviews, and make comments like "(((Christmas is coming. Are you Viridian? Go buy something "Tech Nouveau" and flaunt it! Give it to your best friends! Go consume it, for heaven's sake! Waste not an hour.)))"

      Yes, they surround everything in triple parentheses. They don't even match parentheses between lines. That's sooo TECH NOUVEAU, omg omg.

      But it gets better. Follow the link in Viridian Curia (viridian curia???) site to worldchanging.com. Down the page you'll see lots of fun superhero plotting against evil, like this review of a book reminiscing about their greatest battles against the evil Globalization Cabal of Ultimate Doom [worldchanging.com]. It includes a comment by the famous Dr. Menlo himself, to his site www.corpse.org. Exquisite Corpse [corpse.org] (yes they actually call it that!) is a site mascotted by a pair of dancing multicolored day-glo skeletons and secret communiqes from the great Doctor Menlo himself describing the Battle in Seattle. booyah!

      4. wow that was some good shit. but getting back on topic here, let's look at the one crazed article slashdot did link to. Last paragraph-the #1 Worldchanging ally lays the smackdown with his name-dropping superpowers! Actual quote: "bigger than the self-appointed Davos Forum, faster and smarter than the Porto Alegre contingent, less cranky than the Soros initiatives, less creepy than Bilderberg, more potent than MoveOn, and faster-spreading than Napster." Well, I've heard of Napster and Soros. So maybe name-dropping isn't his most awesome power. But he sure is into this superhero stuff!

      5. And, as befitting his #1 status, Mr. Worldchanging unleashes a KAPOW! on his rivals with the bold statement "The Malaysian Super Corridor tries hard to look really Super." Dizzamn yo, when the Malaysians' translator gets back from his coffee break there's gonna be an earth-shattering epic gladiatorial tableaux in the inimitable Stan Lee style!!

      6. ???

      7. Profit!

      8. But don't fret, you mere mortals who don't have Worldchanging Ally-class superpowers! from the article: "Here Kofi Annan offers you a personal invitation [wsis-online.net] to log right on to the dizzy apex of global policy-making." Yes, much like the decoder ring in your ceral box or the mutant sea monkeys purchasable via mail order from the back of your fine comic book, YOU TOO can fight e
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 03, 2004 @04:11AM (#10418501)
    Cats meow and dogs bark. I know! Let's marry them and get an animal that can do both!
  • by Antony-Kyre ( 807195 ) on Sunday October 03, 2004 @04:15AM (#10418519)
    The Internet should be for the People, by the People, and of the People. There has to be a better solution than having the U.N. get involved.
    • The Internet should be for the People, by the People, and of the People. There has to be a better solution than having the U.N. get involved.

      As the Internet gets more and more controlled, you'll see three forces at play.

      1. Corporate
      2. Government (ie: 1. Corporate)
      3. The anarchy/democratic/social/liberty interests

      Now, if you can get 2 to cede to the UN (a body that often finds it can't do anything much of importance), we'll still have a strong 3, and now a weakened 2. And with a weakened 2, 1 will have l

      • That's an interesting point of view and I think there's some truth to it.

        On the subject of three, it's interesting to consider that technologically the people do currently have control. The internet is a co-operative effort and to subvert it, the Powers That Be, need to subvert either people's control over their individual PCs (such as with Trusted Computing) or the connection (such as increasingly vicious legislation on the ISPs, making them responsible for their customer's actions).

        We've been seein
  • Add to the list (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Dachannien ( 617929 ) on Sunday October 03, 2004 @04:17AM (#10418529)
    Sterling forgot to mention that the UN is as rife with corruption as its member states are.

    • Re:Add to the list (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Python ( 1141 ) on Sunday October 03, 2004 @01:22PM (#10420654)
      Sterling also as forgot to mention that most of the members of the U.N. are not democracries, but are instead a collection of dictatorships and monarchies. Not there is some other fantastic alternative to the U.N., but its not a legitimate organization in the same sense that another elected body would be. The U.N. isn't supposed to be a world government, its supposed to be a means to keep governments talking. No one should surrender sovereignty over anything to the U.N., as, unfortunately, the U.N. is not a legitimate reflection of what the people of the world want. Its not a government, its not representative and there is nothing, you citizen of the world, can do if the U.N. does you wrong. You can't re-elect them or kick anyone out of the U.N. Sterling was surely joking folks. The U.N. is possibly the last organization you want governing anything. Its not a government!
  • How about this (Score:3, Interesting)

    by quintessent ( 197518 ) <my usr name on toofgiB [tod] moc> on Sunday October 03, 2004 @04:19AM (#10418538) Journal
    Take all the UN delegates and let them telecommute. Send them to the UN wiki sight, and let them go at it. Resolutions, pronouncements, the whole bit all resolved through wiki edit wars.

    All the world's problems would be solved instantly. Or at least it would be entertaining to watch.
    • [UN wiki]...Or at least it would be entertaining to watch.

      "Open covenants of peace, openly arrived at." - President Wilson

      Would be brilliant but I doubt it would happen that way!

  • U.N. and the Tele (Score:3, Insightful)

    by PerpetualMotion ( 550623 ) on Sunday October 03, 2004 @04:22AM (#10418548)
    Why not marry the UN and the telephone? That would make about as much sense. The United Nations is a government entity, the Internet is a service.
    • Why not marry the UN and the telephone?

      Do you mean like this? [wikipedia.org]

      I don't know what you mean by "the Internet is a service", as it's more of a network over which services can be provided. Similarly, the UN provides a framework over which certain services can be provided.

    • That was tried with extremely mixed results by the International Telecommunications Union, an IGO (intergoverernmental oragnization) that pre-existed the UN. As far as a body for purely technical standardization, it had some success.

      However, the Soviet Union saw it as a way to legitimize its and its client states' control over information (under an early version of anti-globalization) throughout the 70s. Instead of promoting local content, it propped up government control of telecommunications networks and
  • by Usquebaugh ( 230216 ) on Sunday October 03, 2004 @04:23AM (#10418551)
    ...and I'm here to help!

    The internet is driven by it's users, the UN, the protoype world goverment, is driven by power.

    The internet has intelligence at it's ends, the UN intellegence is centralised.

    The internet routes around censorship, the UN is censorship.

    He's from the goverment and all he does is cost money and fuck things up.
    • The internet is driven by it's users, the UN, the protoype world goverment, is driven by power.

      Power, but I'd it politics. You know, it has been practised since foverer and is fundamentally a good thing? Internet is becoming way too important economically and politically to be left in the direct control of the "users" (citizens).

      The internet has intelligence at it's ends

      And this distributed intelligence you speak of has been just how successful in dealing with crap like spam?

      The internet routes arou

      • Politics has only really been around for about 15,000 years, not a long time in the evolution of man and certainly not forever. In fact we survived for a very long time with little or no politics. Only when our food supply was brought under lock and key did politics become neccessary.

        The internet is doing just fine without the goverment why fuck with something that works? In fact it could be held up as a model for what happens when goverment leaves well alone. Every time control is applied to the net i
        • by October_30th ( 531777 ) on Sunday October 03, 2004 @05:45AM (#10418787) Homepage Journal
          Only when our food supply was brought under lock and key did politics become neccessary.

          Uh. No. The moment there was more than two people together, there was politics. With the emergence of the first shamans, wise-men, tribal leaders and priests, the fight for socioeconomical control within the group just became more formalized. You're right in saying that the way how politics works has changed during our social evolution, but as one of the fundamental ways of how we organize ourselves, it will never go away.

          I have no problem with spam.

          I do and it has nothing to do with my mail-box getting clogged by spam. It hinders my work, because these days when I send critical work related information to someone by e-mail, I also have to fax it and sometimes even phone the recipient to make sure that he/she has got the information. Where do the e-mails go then? They disappear into spam filtters or simply get accidentally deleted when the recipient is purging his mailbox manually. The e-mail as a means for communication is getting more and more useless every year.

          Saying that spam is not out of control or that it isn't costing the infrastructure money is just wrong. Hiding your head in the sand won't make the problem disappear.

          The UN is politico organistation with aims and goals, they engage in PR. Do you think they publish every piece of information they recieve?

          Of course not. Why should they? It wouldn't serve any purpose. Withholding sensitive information from people who're not entitled to it is not censorship, but common sense. Any government does it and it's a good thing. If you want direct access to such information, get yourself involved in politics - if, like me, you don't want to do that, you'll just have to trust your elected representatives.

          Or are you going to tell me these services work and are worth money they cost?

          Where I live, they work and I would be willing to pay even more taxes to expand them. It would be horrific to live in a society where you'd be denied medical help just because "you haven't paid the last installment as specified in your contract with MediCorp(tm)".

          The question is did the goverment help or hinder the development?

          The Finnish internet backbone (funet.fi [www.csc.fi]) is a state sponsored infrastructure into which all the stream from private ISPs eventually flows. I'd say that the government involvement has significantly helped our access to the internet.

        • by h4rm0ny ( 722443 ) * on Sunday October 03, 2004 @06:04AM (#10418826) Journal


          To those who believe that the distributed intelligence of the internet (the users at its ends) is insufficient to manage itself, I'd say that the evidence is to the contrary. It is not the government that has provided us with ways of dealing with spam, of effective encryption and VoIP. It is smart individuals and groups that move much faster than governments.

          And if the users, who are not in fact users as the grandparent termed them, but actually comprise the internet itself, were insufficient to manage themselves, then there is an alternative to taking the control away and centralizing it, and that would be to increase the education level of these "users."

          More than any other systems, democracies and anarchies, require intelligent and educated people. Right now the internet is an anarchy and long may it remain so.
  • The tighter you squeeze Lord Annan, the more networks that will slip through you grasp.

    It would be like a fist full of jello. The tighter they try to make the controls the more you'll see independent and censorship free networks rise. Such as Area Wide Wireless Networks and sub networks like freenet.

  • Confused (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sql*kitten ( 1359 ) * on Sunday October 03, 2004 @04:38AM (#10418608)
    I'm confused here. Is Sterling proposing that the Internet be regulated to carry only the lowest common denominator of traffic? No political dissent, because China vetos it on the Security Council? No pr0n because a coalition of Moslem states raise a motion forbidding it, then use their block vote and the implicit threat of terrorism to force it through? RIAA and MPAA running hog wild because the US ties humanitarian assistance to acceptance of its IP agenda?

    Sterling really ought to stick to the novels, tho' having said that, apart from Difference Engine I haven't been impressed by any of his work.
    • Re:Confused (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 03, 2004 @05:51AM (#10418804)
      No pr0n because a coalition of Moslem states raise a motion forbidding it, then use their block vote and the implicit threat of terrorism to force it through?


      A slashdot story the other day showed the CHRISTIAN party in Australia trying to force pr0n censorship on the Australian people. Yes that's right, the EXTREMIST CHRISTIAN party.

      You media brainwashed types sicken me!

      • Re:Confused (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Valar ( 167606 ) on Sunday October 03, 2004 @10:35AM (#10419553)
        I was going to reply to one of the child posts, but I couldn't decide which one was more illogical and/or ridiculous, so I'll just post a general rebutal to the "MUSLIM==TERRORISM" crowd. Firstly, not all terror _is_ committed by Muslims. Remember a certain federal building in Oklahoma? Also, Muslims aren't the ones bombing women's clinics for giving abortions. Secondly, the followers of islam who commit these acts do so in violation of religious law, according to most of the other members of their religion. Lastly, even if every last terrorist were muslim, that would still mean that the vast majority of the muslim world is composed of normal, law abidding people.
    • Not sure how this troll was modded insightful. Masking racism or prejudice with mild sarcasm doesn't remove the prejudice.
  • Before too many people start saying "the UN is powerless", please think what the UN actually is.

    The UN is a place to discuss problems between countries, to discuss world-wide problems. It is a place to organise solutions with regarding to global problems. It is an umbrella under which people can operate without having to worry from which country they are coming.

    The UN consist of, included but not limited to, the Security Counsel, UNICEF (childrens fund) and the UNHCR (refugees). Don't judge the whole UN by the (in)capabilities of one section.

    The UN itself doesn't have much power, they have as much power as the contributing countries give them. If the world cries "UN, help them!", but the countries don't give men and material, the UN can't help.

    The UN is a place to resolve problems if everybody wants to resolve them, it is not a power which can resolve problems on its own.
    • You're mostly right, but you're forgetting an important point -- UN is useless if it is powerless against powerful agressors.

      Germany grew to be powerful, and when it attacked, most countries did nothing to stop it. You may go ahead and draw the analogy.

      Sure, the UN does a lot of other things, such as provide aid and what not. Mind you, so did the League of Nations [wikipedia.org] - which was founded after WW-1 to prevent agressors. UN could no do anything to prevent the Cold War, and neither can it stop aggression today.
      • by Anonymous Coward

        ...Human Right abuses in a nation that's a member of the Security Council ...

        Be prudent, you risk to infuriate all american slashdot readers.

      • UN is useless if it is powerless against powerful agressors

        That's mostly a problem of the participating countries which do not want to solve it.

        It's quite pointless when you are not solving the bigger problems

        The UN is helping in this. But you expect it to happen overnight. That's not going to happen.

        Education and medication is a first step in helping people. Once people understand what is going on in their world, they will take care of their dictatorship-based governments themselves.

        It is not that
        • That's mostly a problem of the participating countries which do not want to solve it.

          And that was exactly my point.

          The UN is helping in this. But you expect it to happen overnight. That's not going to happen.

          Nope. People have been "expecting" it to happen for 65 years. My point was merely that the UN has been powerless to stop aggression or the genuine problems that threaten us.

          The UN is a global organisation which can survive empires, which can survive governments and which can survive empires beca
      • The UN is not a entity which has power in itself. It is only as powerful as its members empower it.

        But even then, the task of the UN is not to tell how a nation is to be run. (Or do you think the USSR or China would have agreed and participated in such an organisation). The UN is a public forum of the nations.

        Instead of private meetings between various ambassadors, you have a public discussion. And the behaviour of the nations representatives are judged by other nations.

        And I'd say that is quite powerful
    • Exactly (Score:5, Insightful)

      by SmallFurryCreature ( 593017 ) on Sunday October 03, 2004 @05:46AM (#10418790) Journal
      It isn't just true for the UN but for peace in general. Wether it is organisations like the EU, the benelux or for that matter the United States of America, all of them can only work if all the members want it to work.

      Even peace can only work if both sides want peace. After WW2 the european nations more or less decided that there were to be no more wars (on european soil between european nations, the rest of the world was still open season) and because all of them decided it it happened. Even though spain and england have a dispute over the rock of gibraltar. Even though Ireland and England are in dispute. Even though most of the nations have a long long history of war with each other there has been peace.

      But even in europe there are still wars, Northern Ireland and Baskenland, because in those cases one side doesn't want peace.

      Or maybe I am using the wrong word. It is not so much a case of wanting or not wanting peace. It is a case of the various sides wanting or not wanting things but not considering war to be a way of achieving those wants.

      Simple example. Drugs. The Netherlands has a rather liberal policy on it, France does not. In the past the frence goverment wanted holland to change its policy but not so badly as to go to war. Unlike america wich has gone to war over drugs.

      The UN can only work if all the sides involved consider war not really to be an option. It is like those pub fights were arguments flare up and things get out of hand. In some cases both the fighters can't back down but really want a third person to step in and stop the fight allowing both to save face. If however one in the fight really wants the fight to happen the third party is powerless.

      Of course the world is not a pub. In a pub you got maybe 4 sides, the two fighters, those who want to watch a fight and those who don't. The world has got close to two hundred countries with each country often having conflicting intrests. The fact that the UN still exists may be considered an achievement.

      • Three other factors were:

        - 50M people dead in world war II. Europe couldn't afford another idustrialize war.
        - Common threat from the USSR.
        - The United States maintaining troops in Europe more or less permantly and said, "We'll provide the Guns...you all worry about butter".

        Irony was that Wilson and the United States told the Europeans this would have been best after World War I instead of punishing Germany and leading to world war II. The United States never ratified the Treaty of Versailles.


      • Even peace can only work if both sides want peace. After WW2 the european nations more or less decided that there were to be no more wars (on european soil between european nations, the rest of the world was still open season) and because all of them decided it it happened. Even though spain and england have a dispute over the rock of gibraltar. Even though Ireland and England are in dispute. Even though most of the nations have a long long history of war with each other there has been peace

        There was peac
    • The UN is a place to discuss problems between countries, to discuss world-wide problems.

      Well yes. But which problems that plague the Internet are "problems between countries", that can only be solved by bringing the Internet under the control of the UN? If you're thinking about things like spam; the UN would solve that in a heartbeat by mandating a new email protocol... but so would any other centralised entity if it were given control of the Internet. If there is a problem with the Internet between c

  • I can see the charter now:

    1. Notice spyware problem.
    2. Announce commission to study spyware problem.
    3. Approves resolution condemning spyware problem.
    4. Watch as spyware problem continues.
    5. Repeat steps 3-4
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 03, 2004 @04:57AM (#10418666)
    Has it ocurred to anyone that the reason the UN "can't get anything useful done" is that the US owes close to $600 Million in dues? The US also routinely withholds money whenever it feels it can gain leverage on an issue.

    Add to this the fact that the US has veto power over most issues (meaning it can skew any issue to suit its' purposes) and refuses to recognise the need for anything like an International Criminal Court and you have a recipe for a dysfunctional organisation.

    The UN fails in its' role due to the often devisive action (or inaction) of the US. Perhaps if the US were a better global citizen the UN might have a chance of actually working?

    my 2c
    • Woah.. $600 million is all it takes to fix the UN?! Wow.. I would think the other members of the organization could pool that kind of money together and fix the UN themselves.

      Keep in mind that a nation must dow aht is in its best interest, not the interest of the world. Whether their decisions are correct or not is of little importance so long as the nation does as it sees fit. You dont see the world get into a big tissy whenever some nation decides to buck the UN and do their own thing. Why should the US
      • Keep in mind that a nation must dow aht is in its best interest, not the interest of the world.

        Why the hell would that be so? Why can't nations act in a way that's in the interest of the world? That's a worst case assumption, some nations might act in that way - many do, I guess - but it's not a "must". The same goes for individuals; just because some people are jackasses and only look out for themselves, that doesn't have to apply for everybody.

        You dont see the world get into a big tissy whenever some
    • I'm sorry, but that's baloney. The U.S. is not the only nation that owes past dues, and other nations have neglected to pay for long enough that they've lost their right to vote. [unwatch.org] The U.S. is also not the only nation with veto power, and as the link from the other respondent shows, these other nations with veto power have often been the (successful) target of bribery.

    • Has it ocurred to anyone that the reason the UN "can't get anything useful done" is that the US owes close to $600 Million in dues?

      Yeah. That's it. The UN can't manage to pass a resolution condemning genocide in Darfur 'cause they can't afford the inkjet cartridges to print one up, or the copier toner to run off enough to hand out to the General Assembly.

    • U owe /. an apology (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Shadowlore ( 10860 ) on Sunday October 03, 2004 @07:54AM (#10419057) Journal
      For such a misinformed post. Oh wait, nevermind, it is /, after all.

      Has it ocurred to anyone that the reason the UN "can't get anything useful done" is that the US owes close to $600 Million in dues? The US also routinely withholds money whenever it feels it can gain leverage on an issue.

      So you believe all you hear, right? Have you ever considered which national military makes up the bulk of the UN "peacekeepers"? Did you know the US is billed for 25% of the UN's operations (over 30% for the "peacekeeping" operations), in addition to the non-dues support it provides (which has estimates ranging from 15-20+ Billion in the last 8-10 years)?

      Indeed, between 1992 and 1997, the US provided "voluntary" (in truth all of it is voluntary, the UN has no rightful or legal claims to *any* national treasury) support topping 11 billion dollars --just for "peacekeeping" activities. A march 1997 report showed US troops supporting such actions numbered approximately 68,000.

      Hey, maybe we can just "pay our dues" and stop making all that voluntary contributions. Whaddya say? Wanna trade that 11+ Billion for 600 Million? No? Didn't think so.

      Did you know that in fact, when it comes to peacekeeping forces, more than half the member countries refuse to make payments? Indeed, the UN thinks it is owed some 5+ BILLION in USD, yet we don't see you, or other UN apologists, pushing for the rest of the member countries (about 2/3rds any given year) to pay up (BTW, France is included in the top 5 list).

      And FYI, the "withholding" of US funds has been tied directly to reforming functional aspects of the UN, such as the portion the UN allocates, the funding of conferences and organizations directly opposed to the United States (something no country should have to support -- organizations that oppose it), and a proper accounting of the US' military support which has far exceeded it's "assigned share".

      Add to this the fact that the US has veto power over most issues

      So does Russia, so does China, France. All five of the permanent members of the UNSEC have veto powers, but that is ONLY limited to the (in)Security Council. "The council's five veto-wielding permanent members are China, France, Russia, the UK and the US."

      Indeed, do you know which country has used their veto power more than the rest? Bzzzt, no it isn't the US, it is USSR/Russia.

      In the early days of the United Nations, the Soviet commissar and later minister for foreign affairs, Vyacheslav Molotov, said no so many times that he was known as "Mr. Veto."

      The Soviet Union was responsible for nearly half of all vetoes ever cast. Molotov regularly rejected bids for new membership because of the U.S. refusal to admit the Soviet republics. The United States has invoked its veto power 76 times, usually to ward off actions against Israel.

      -- http://www.peace.ca/securitycouncilveto.htm

      In the UN General Assembly, there is no veto power. Indeed, the UN GA can override the SC through UN resolution 377 which allows the General Assembly to recommend collective action "if the Security Council, because of lack of unanimity of the permanent members, fails to exercise its primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security".
      http://www.un.org/Depts/dhl/landmark/a major.htm

      And guess which country pushed for that ability? Yup, the nasty old United States, in 1950. But that action has rarely been used. Indeed, only ten times since it's inception has it been used. Why was it not used in the Iraq affair? not enough support. If the majority did indeed oppose it, they were apparently unwilling to go on record as being against it.

      Given the actual layout of functions and powers in the UN, your claims fall flat on their face, as the US does not have "veto power over most issues ", that the USSR has used the veto power more than any other member of the SC, that veto is no

      • So you believe all you hear, right? Have you ever considered which national military makes up the bulk of the UN "peacekeepers"?

        According to the UN [un.org], no country made up the bulk of the contributions in August 2004. The largest contributor was Pakistan, who contributed 8600 out of 60000 peacekeepers. The USA ranked 26th on the list, contributing 430.

        But maybe Iraq is a distraction, so let's go back to August 2001 [un.org]: in that month Bangladesh was the biggest contributor, with 6100 peacekeepers, and t
  • Using the existing institutions is not an option, as they are thoroughly corrupt, for otherwise they would have been unable to exist through the last few decades. The credibility of the UN to do anything has been forever ruined after the preventable genocide in Rwanda [visiontv.ca].

    If you want world democracy, start from scratch. A political party entirely ruled through direct democracy and consensus is possible. That means that even if the party becomes part of a state or national government, all its political decisio

  • by CdotZinger ( 86269 ) on Sunday October 03, 2004 @05:10AM (#10418695)
    ...the millions of corpses that only a government could provide.

    Our glorious, progressive 20th century institutions gave us about a hundred and fifty million real, rotting bodies to enjoy, while this vile anarchic 21st century internet has given us a only few hundred pictures of corpses--and most of them are the same old dead people from the 1900s!

    It's just uncivilized.

    Projecting from today's numbers, the internet will have produced not even a dozen violent deaths by century's end. Something must be done to end this lawless barbarity before it corrupts us all!

  • by Japong ( 793982 ) on Sunday October 03, 2004 @05:25AM (#10418742)
    Did any of you RTFA? This is more about implementing a system for UN diplomatic underlings to get work done online than having the UN "take over" the internet. The concept of having a secure, government to government electronic communication system probably would be faster, cheaper and more effective than gathering in Geneva every time we want to discuss the price of cod fish.
    • IOW the system would stop the UN and various UN subgroups from meeting is various exotic/expensive locations?

      Do you think that ANYONE at the UN will go for this? They love to travel to such places, it's even better that someone else is paying for it all.

      You can't get good Food/Sex/Drugs via the internet system.
  • by TheNarrator ( 200498 ) on Sunday October 03, 2004 @05:25AM (#10418744)
    How Idealism works:

    1. Point out things you are unhappy with, no complaint is to small to be totally blown out of proportion. Make sure you compare whatever exists to a perfection that need not be possible to attain.

    2. Propose solution! The solution is to always get rid of the evil conspiracy holding back progress, because the answers to how to do really complicated things on a large scale are clear to everyone and all that stands in the way is the conspiracy.

    3. Leave all the details for later (and there are a lot of details). Explain that you or your favorite know-it-all organization have to be in charge of things before you'll even bother with figuring out the details.

    4. Get in power, screw up far more than what was there already and blame it on the continuing legacy of the conspiracy.

    5. Propose even stronger more drastic reforms. Continue from here to step 4 until people are totally sick of you and tell you to get lost or you've totally destroyed what you were trying to fix to the point that nobody cares about it anymore.
  • by Gentlewhisper ( 759800 ) on Sunday October 03, 2004 @05:36AM (#10418766)
    Erm, nevermind the UN, but the net...

    Getting married with her sure sounds exciting!

    **Maybe I can have flings with PCs and Macs when the net is busy transiting to IPV6 too!
  • The UN is about government force. It chooses by politics, pull, and muscle. It operates by coercion, subtle or overt. To the extent it has any high minded ideals, they operate like laws: instructing everyone how to behave, and threatening punishment for disobedience.

    The internet is about freedom and choice. Partly, it works because of mutual cooperation for mutual profit. Partly, it works because of the liberty to NOT cooperate, be a maverick, and invent something new (which might be better), and sell it o
  • The General Assembly is a joke. Look at most of its committees. Either chaired by the very people they are need to investigate or totally impotent because they spend their entire time bashing Israel?

    Jump over to the Security Council where VETO power protects the big 5 from any world responsibility or rebuke.

    This same organization cannot even stop obvious cases of genocide because they take too damn long to act. They always want to review the issue, then sanction the bad guy, and only act after the opp
  • by lkcl ( 517947 ) <lkcl@lkcl.net> on Sunday October 03, 2004 @08:03AM (#10419076) Homepage
    from the exerpt you gave, it's not the slightest bit tongue in cheek.

    in a very short paragraph, he's expressing some views which basically say that the effects of capitalism - which you are taking for granted as sacrosanct - are causing some really serious world-wide problems; that the internet is viewed by those who support capitalism is a threat _to_ capitalism.

    except he's not quite come out and said that directly, because, of course, capitalism _is_ sacrosant.

    i recommend anyone who believes that capitalism is good, or that corruption and bribery is bad for trade, or that racism extends just to skin colour, to read _all_ of Ian Macleod's sci-fi books, back-to-back.

    if you can't hack Ian Macleod then at least go read some of Anne McCaffrey's co-authored books.
  • by Gentlewhisper ( 759800 ) on Sunday October 03, 2004 @08:36AM (#10419153)
    I'd say marrying the UN and the net is really CRAZY. We are talking about an organization that can sit happily while people are dying and all the officials know is probably to sit in their nice offices and collect fancy paychecks.

    What should be the best solution?

    We, the users take the "cyberlaw" into our own hands! The only crime will be that against freedom of speech and the only recourse will be a permanent disconnection from the net!

    Once the People have spoken, everybody on the planet (presumably we all will have one small client running) will start sending little packets to those turds.

    That should teach them!

    Spam from china?

    Scam from nigeria?

    Well, if nobody does anything, their entire nation's link is not going to live very long under the People's action!
  • by stankulp ( 69949 ) on Sunday October 03, 2004 @08:42AM (#10419170) Homepage
    ...resolved (or at least acknowledged by the mainstream press), giving the UN any more power or legitimacy is out of the question.

    Saddam Hussein would have fallen from power long ago and the Iraq war never occurred had Kofi and Company not taken billions of dollars in bribes in return for helping Saddam circumvent the trade sanctions levied against Iraq after Gulf War I.

    United Nations Oil for Food Scandal [google.com].

  • by Arcturax ( 454188 ) on Sunday October 03, 2004 @08:52AM (#10419191)
    Is it just me, or is griping about the internet the new fad of late?

    Oh god, the internet is broken, oh god, the internet is doomed. Oh there's no control over the internet (isn't that a GOOD thing, even with some of the bad stuff?)

    I keep hearing over and over from certain individuals that the internet is broken and doomed. I get on it every day and read up on topics of interest, chat with others, download files, etc and it doesn't seem very broken to me. Yes there are a lot of unsavory types and sites out there, but the same applies to the real world. The internet right now seems to work just fine as is, so why made such a radical change to who runs it if most of the problems on the internet are avoidable today? How is making the UN run things going to change the corporate corruption and 'stock kiting?' I don't see how this helps or changes anything.
  • The right of self-determination -- for any people, however they define themselves -- to the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them [state.gov], is the "microkernel" of legitimate governance. The "kernel" is founded upon the microkernel: a new age of enlightenment through human experimentation at the frontiers of life [slashdot.org] as differing peoples seek out their differing ways of life free from the imposition of centralized dogma.

    The United Nation's policies on self-determinati

  • Stateless anarchy + entrenched beauracracy = goodness? I don't think so.
  • I don't know who I have less respect for: an undemocratic institution like the UN or loony under-educated geeks who toss around verbiage like "business model" as a subsititute for legitimate thinking.

    If something as important to me as the Interent is going to be regulated, I want then regulation done by someone I can vote out of office. I can't vote for my UN ambassador (neither can you).

    Nor can I vote for the people running the Internet today. It may be supported by a lot of good people, and perhaps it
  • This was done a looooong time ago. It was called "UUCP"
  • Vigilante lawfare outfits like RIAA and MPAA can torment users and ISPs at will.
    You mean like SPEWS [spews.org] or SPAMHAUS [spamhaus.org]'s ROKSO [spamhaus.org]???
  • by Animats ( 122034 ) on Sunday October 03, 2004 @01:00PM (#10420506) Homepage
    This is basically "I went to an ITU meeting and thought it was cool". That's nice.

    But he wasn't there to get anything done. The hard part is when you're there to do a real job, like making global roaming for cell phones work.

  • by LionKimbro ( 200000 ) on Sunday October 03, 2004 @03:13PM (#10421433) Homepage
    It makes sense to me.

    We're making an Internet Hive Mind. [communitywiki.org]

    It's started with commited group efforts like Free Software. As communications technology develops, we start seeing things like Wikipedia. [wikipedia.org]

    As it develops further, we will see things like the project-space network, [communitywiki.org] and local economies and sharing networks. As it develops still further, local governments will be mediated over by well organized electronic communities online.

    Really, if this all seems strange to you, you have no idea the power of communications technologies.

    Before "wiki," a piece of software, there could be no wikipedia. After that piece of software, it's almost impossible for there not to be a wikipedia. Details could be different, but the basic idea is almost an inevitabilitiy.

    We are not done. There's still a hoard of communications software in the pipes. We're just now getting our event systems [taoriver.net] online. We'll start seeing things like "OverHear," [communitywiki.org] allowing you to hear your friends' public conversations, with voice even. As we get the ability to index the world's voice conversations (with voice-to-text software), we'll be able to ask, "Who in the last 5 minutes said this world," we'll see that the online world will become one gigantic OpenSpace [communitywiki.org] conference. We'll see the conferences, we'll see the group affiliations, we'll see the projects, we'll see it all.

    I predict that between 2015 and 2020, the Hive Mind [communitywiki.org] (by some other name) will be a recognized and powerful force. It will also recognize itself and it's own power. We could call this the day that the Hive Mind achieves "self-awareness."

    It may even have a military force- I don't know what else to call a gigantic networked mess of sympathetic hackers, chemists, biologists, and lawyers. It is not unthinkable that "the Internet" may become it's own "sovereign nation," of sorts, lack of an independent land be damned.

    So, connecting the idea of the UN and the Internet is not all that strange. I mean, what else? What else could it possibly be?

    Our next generation "communications software" isn't so much about making it so that messages can be sent from person to person in different ways, but about organizing the existing communications, and about organizing ourselves. We're putting in individual-to-group affiliations, and affiliations amongst groups with each other.

    There's no reason to believe that our communications will stop networking and developing.

    People do not have their attention on our trajectory. They see half the people downtown walking around with cell phones stuck to their ears, but they don't think that anything can "come next." But it will. There's much much more on the way.

    The "Hive Mind" will look less rediculous, I think.

    In 5 years, VoIP will be mature, and have basically taken over. Online group VoIP conferences may be primitive, but some ordinary people will be using them. Semantic web technologies like RDF [w3.org] will be in mainstream understanding and use (like XML right now), and our computers will be noticably "smarter" than the information desplay we have today. Tablet's will be cheap and accessible, and we'll tighten up the "I drew something"-to-"There it is on the web" loop. In short, our conversations will be full of napkin diagrams, Visual Language [communitywiki.org] will take off beyond web comics. Our user interfaces will have transcended (finally) the box-ish interfaces, because graph data-structures have taken on new-found importance, and with the new interfaces, we'll see component lan
  • by Triskele ( 711795 ) on Sunday October 03, 2004 @06:29PM (#10422673)
    rather than launching into a "UN is evil, corrupt and anti-American" rant?? He actually suggests using the net, you know web pages, forums, chat lines, all that kind of goodness we as netizens are used to to bring us all together (even if for a good slagging match). He is not suggesting that the UN should run the internet FFS.

    And I have to applaud this idea. We have all seen how good the net is at getting people to talk to each other from very far flung communities - here I am ranting against yanks yet again after all ;-) The processes and mechanisms of the UN are derived from the great committees and councils that were the best way we knew to organise nations over a hundred years ago. Now it is time to move on and utilise 21st century means of communication and organisation within the UN. Committees can now meet virtually on the web. Non-members can contribute even if not present. We can all see what is going on. Surely we netizens can appreciate the possibilities. Sure it may degenerate into flame wars again and again (much as the security council has done for the last 40 years when Israel comes up).

    Perhaps the United Nations of the 21st Century will be a Bazaar not a Cathedral [catb.org]?

"The number of Unix installations has grown to 10, with more expected." -- The Unix Programmer's Manual, 2nd Edition, June, 1972