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Keywords:

  • just cause for war;
  • human rights;
  • collective action problems;
  • global governance;
  • league of democracies;
  • Habermas;
  • Walzer;
  • Luban;
  • Orend;
  • state sovereignty;
  • United Nations;
  • public goods;
  • crimes against humanity

ABSTRACT

The primary purpose of government is to secure public goods that cannot be achieved by free markets. The Coordination Principle tells us to consolidate sovereign power in a single institution to overcome collective action problems that otherwise prevent secure provision of the relevant public goods. There are several public goods that require such coordination at the global level, chief among them being basic human rights. The claim that human rights require global coordination is supported in three main steps. First, I consider Pogge's and Habermas's analyses as alternatives to Hobbesian conceptions of justice. Second, I consider the core conventions of international law, which are in tension with the primacy of state sovereignty in the UN system. Third, I argue that the just war tradition does not limit just causes for war to self-defense; it supports saving innocent third parties from crimes against humanity as a just reason for war. While classical authors focused less on this issue, the point is especially clear in twentieth-century just war theories, such as those offered by the American Catholic bishops, Jean Elshtain, Brian Orend, and Michael Walzer. Against Walzer, I argue that we add intractable military tyranny to the list of horrors meriting intervention if other ad bellum conditions are met. But these results require us to reexamine the “just authority” of first resort to govern such interventions. The Coordination Principle implies that we should create a transnational federation with consolidated powers in place of a treaty organization requiring near-unanimity. But to be legitimate, such a global institution must also be directly answerable to the citizens of its member states. While the UN Security Council is inadequate on both counts, a federation of democracies with a directly elected executive and legislature could meet both conditions.