by Rav B. Horovitz
International relations have acquired a new urgency because of the increasing destructiveness of war, the threat of nuclear, biological and chemical weapons. We have witnessed the rise of new ideologies, the decline of colonialism, and the establishment of universal organizations. In addition, there has been increasing interdependence of nations through modern transport, communication and trade.
Inadequacies in International Relations
(b) Today's International Law generally operates only between states. Internal affairs of state are not subject to any universal law. Minority groups have no authority to which they can appeal for wrongs committed. Stateless person remain unprotected. Wrongs done to foreign individuals are only rectified if an when their State takes up the claim.
(c) There is an absence of an absolute code of justice. Instead, this is replaced by a relative righteousness which is often corrupted by tyrants and false environmental trends. There is often no real freedom or equality, which is witnessed by unjust discrimination against minorities, races, classes and groups.
The Universal Noachaide Code
1. The principle of justice should rule all nations. For only by this means, can the integrity of international judicial procedure be upheld. The arbitration of disputes should be attempted. Nations who recognize the Universal Code are members of the world Government, and should unite to protect it. World-wide education should be pursued. Majority rule would be decisive. Individual procedure would be conducted with the greatest of integrity. Every case should be brought to trial; all evidence produced; bribery prohibited. Protection would be given to minorities, aliens and weak parties.
2. The prohibition of blasphemy demands the minimum respect for the Deity who is the prime authority over the Universal Code. As a citizen of the world created by G-d and governed by His law, man has an obligation to respect him.
All oaths and treaties which refer to G-d's name must be strictly honored. Examples are found in the covenant between Abraham and Abimelech (Genesis 21:22-32), which was respected by the children of Israel centuries later when they entered the land of Canaan (Joshua 15:63; II Samuel 24:10). The covenant made between Joshua and the Givonim, a Canaanite tribe, although made under false pretenses, was yet considered to be completely binding (Joshua 9:14-20).
3. The idolatry of our day takes the form of the worship of man, power, pleasure and state, and increased corruption. When an Absolute Authority is denied, decisions are governed by self-interest. The right of the state to issue commands is based upon the power it possesses. This may lead to tyranny. Laws are based upon the projection of the state as an absolute power or the self-idolatry of the leaders. Widespread religious education must be introduced to teach people to have respect for G-d.
4. Moral corruption is undermining civilization and international discipline. The "New Morality" is contributing to nihilistic tendencies, thus wakening the consciousness of an Absolute Authority. In certain cases even government leaders engage in inappropriate sexual behavior. If national representatives lead immoral lives, how can they uphold the Universal Code as an ideal for their country?
"When immorality engulfs a land, it is the end of civilization." (Gibbon) "The land shall vomit them out". (Lev. 18:28) To prevent this from happening, self-discipline and acceptance of the basic sexual code, prohibiting adultery and homosexuality, is essential.
5. Murder is common. In many places human life is no longer held sacred, despite increased education and affluence. Mass-murder and genocide are traits of the 20th Century. Because of the World Wars, the distinction between the killing of civilians and military forces has been weakened.
War is permitted only in self-defense or as a means to uphold the Universal Code if no other means is available. No direct cruelties are allowed. Captives must be humanely treated, and life and property must be spared. Treaties must always be respected, and the right of neutrals recognized. Envoys must be protected. During war each community is regarded ethically like an individual, and war becomes a collective responsibility.
6. The Universal Code prohibits theft, which the nations of the world should discourage through the realization of the brotherhood of man from the fatherhood of G-d.
Man has to curb his predatory instinct, which is a major source of international conflict. He should respect the rights and possessions of individual neighbors and of neighboring nations, in action, word and thought.
7. Cruelty to animals is still widespread and has a negative influence upon the human character. Cruel sports are still not prohibited in many states. Cruelty is depicted on films, television and in literature, which has a damaging effect on the minds of the masses. The Universal Code demands a standard of mercy and kindness in all dealings with the animal world. Leaders in particular must be humane and merciful.
Application of the Universal Code Today
The United Nations Organization is striving to fulfill many of the principles of the Universal Code. The UN could well develop into an agency for implementing the Noachide Code, and bringing it to universal acceptance, as the basis for true harmonious International Relations.
World government based on the Universal Code of G-d could be introduced and maintained by a minimum use of force. Since the discipline and education of such a lifestyle is basically pacifist, little or no force would be required to maintain it.
What better approach for universal peace?